Hi guys, how are you all doing? I am so, so sorry for the long wait with this update, but recently my dog just passed away and I didn't have the time or desire to actually write anything for a while, but here I am again, with Part Two! I do apologize for the long wait, but I hope you like it. Here is the second and final part of this story, please enjoy. :)
Thank you guys so much, by the way, for following, favoriting, reviewing, and reading this story, it means so much to me, thanks! :D
Please comment/review and let me know what you think of it, I would greatly appreciate it, thank you!
I OWN NOTHING; I DO NOT OWN THE AVENGERS.
. . .
Natasha sits there surrounded by thousands of other agents, all of them waiting for the ceremony to begin. She can feel her heart in her stomach, broken in half, as her emerald eyes dart forward, locked on the black casket that sits in front of all the chairs that are gathered around.
She sits there, with her arms folded across her chest and her right leg bouncing up and down in a fast pace. She sucks in a deep breath and does her best to hold back the tears that are threatening to spill over down her cheeks. She swallows hard, around the lump that has made its way to be stuck in her throat, and she clenches her jaw.
The casket holds the man she loves- or what is left of him, anyways. Once the flames were put out in the warehouse, both, firefighters and agents, went back inside to find bodies. The polished, wooden casket is placed on a plain table made out of wood, also. The casket has a dark purple cloth laid on top of it with two dozen red roses.
Natasha has to tear her eyes away so she can look down at the single rose that rests in her hands- hands that have killed so many people, but right now, at this moment, they are as delicate as a flower. She stares down at the yellow rose with red tips, a flower that represents "Friendship" and "Falling in Love".
She isn't sure how long she has been in love with her partner, but she knows deep down, she always had a connection to him. He gave her a second chance- he saved her life more ways than just one; he saved her life more times than she can count or remember.
Now looking up at the casket that holds the remains of Clint Barton, she can feel the air be sucked right out of her and she can feel her body go numb. She can feel a tear escape her eyes and begin to slide down her cheek, but halfway down, Natasha lifts up her shaky hand and wipes it away with the back of her hand.
"Why couldn't you find a way out?" She says in her head as she looks down at the flower, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, "Why couldn't you survive and come back to us? Back to me?"
One thing the Black Widow certainly was not is weak, but at a time like this, this is an exception. This is the one thing her fellow co-workers would see her fragile side- the side that is shield away deep inside her and only comes out when she truly feels lost- broken.
Vaguely, she can sense everyone around her walking around, chatting with each other while she sits silently in the chair right in front of the casket, only inches away. She sniffs and tries to control her emotions- there would be time later when she is alone to let go of everything she is feeling, but for now, she has to stay strong.
A hand gently touches her shoulder, making the Russian jump at the sudden contact. She leaps out of her seat, the rose still tightly in her hand, and her eyes narrow at the owner of the hand that touched her.
When Natasha's eyes land on the man who placed his hand on her shoulder, she lets out a sigh and runs her free hand through her red hair. She shakes her head and huffs, "Thanks, Tony."
Tony Stark raises his hands up in defense and offers her a small, sympathetic smile, "Er, sorry about that, Natasha. Didn't mean to startle you."
She shakes her head, "You didn't. I was just… lost in thought, I suppose." She sits back down and stares down at the rose, her fingers gently stroking the red tips of the bright, yellow rose.
Tony sits down next to her and gazes over to the casket, "You miss him." It was more of a statement than a question- he knows she misses him. The two of them were best friends, partners. They looked out for one another and now he is gone and she is left alone. Yes, she made friends with the rest of the Avengers and is acquaintances with a few other agents, but Clint was something else. They shared a strong connection and now with him gone, she feels like a huge part of her was ripped out and now missing.
She remains silent for a while before she manages to find her voice and reply to him, "Yes, I miss him." She bites down on her lip and shakes her head again, "I should have stayed back and tried to save him. He was my partner and I just turned my back on him when he needed me the most."
A humorless chuckle escapes passed Tony's lips as he shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes, "Oh yeah! So, you stay behind, 'try' to save him, and then you both go up in smokes. Yup, because that definitely would have been a better option."
"Oh? And letting my partner die while I save myself is such a better idea? He needed me, Tony. I wouldn't be here for so many different reasons if it weren't for him and how to I repay him? I manage to escape the warehouse and then I watch it explode with him still trapped in it." Natasha's eyes burn into Tony's and for a brief second, he's feels a bit scared of her; especially knowing and actually seeing what the legendary Black Widow can do, particularly when she is mad.
"Natasha," He begins with a bit hesitation, but he keeps his posture. He clears his throat when he continues, "I think Barton knew he wasn't going to make it out of there. I mean, I wasn't technically there, but-"
"Exactly," She cuts him off, her voice harsh as pain and rage lingers in her eyes, "you weren't there. You didn't see the look on his face as he realized he was going to be left behind. You didn't see the look on his face as he watched be backup to the entrance so I can escape while he puts a gun to his head. He said he wouldn't go in pain. I mean, no one understands. I knew him better than anyone else and I knew as much as he loved the job- he didn't want to go so soon."
A tear slides down her pale cheek, but she pays no attention to it, "I feel like I let him down. I'm 'The Black Widow', master assassin and one hell of a spy, fighter, you name it. You're telling me that I couldn't come up with a last minute idea to save the both of us? He died and here I am, breathing and living my life. It's not fair."
Instead of responding, Tong just wraps a hesitated arm around the redhead and allows her to lean her head on his shoulder. He tries to comfort her, but deep down, the billionaire knows there is no recovering from something like this. She will never be able to look herself in the mirror again and manage a smile or see someone worth living. She blames herself for the death of her partner and that is something that will haunt her for the rest of her life.
. . .
One after the other, agents went up to stand behind the casket and say a small speech in memory of Clint "Hawkeye" Barton. Director Fury spoke the longest so far and Natasha can't find the strength to go up there and speech in front of all these people who barely even knew Clint.
After Maria Hill finished speaking, all the Avengers –excluding Thor- went up and spoke: Tony, Steve, Bruce, and then there was Natasha, who was still figuring out in her head what she would say when she goes up there.
Once Bruce Banner finished, he takes a deep breath and then sits down on the other side of Natasha, Tony on her other side. Steve looks over at the Black Widow with a raised eyebrow and offers her a sad, but encouraging smile, "I think you're up, Nat."
"Nat," Natasha says in her head, the nickname Clint had for her- the nickname that slipped off his tongue with ease, although it took awhile for Natasha to actually allow him to call her that. She was never a fan of nicknames, that was, until Barton.
She squeezes her eyes shut and nods her head slowly. "Yeah," She breathes out, "I'm up." She sits there for another moment before she opens her eyes that no longer sparkle with life or determination. She glances next to her to see Tony nod his head, trying to encourage her to continue with her movements.
With the ceremony being outside in a large, empty field, Natasha thought it would be easier than being trapped in a small, dark room, but it's not. Nothing can make this easier for her. She clenches her jaw as she stands up and slowly makes her way to stand behind the closed casket.
Her eyes glance over at the large picture that stands a few inches away from the casket- a large image inside a beautiful picture frame of Clint Barton. She bites the inside of her cheek so she doesn't just lose herself right now in front of everyone and she sucks in a deep, shaky breath.
Forcing herself to remove her eyes from the picture of the smirking man in his SHIELD uniform, she lifts her chin up and looks at all the agents sitting there in silence, waiting for her to speak. She clears her throat and places the flower gently on top of the rest, "Clint Barton was certainly something else. He was different from any man I ever met… or killed."
A few, low chuckles were heard, making a small smirk tug at her lips. "He saved my life when he was supposed to kill me. He was ordered to exterminate me, but instead, he made a different call. I probably didn't deserve to live and I practically gave him hell for saving me. He didn't care and he never turned his back on me. He looked out for me and while everyone else ran from me and thought I should have never joined SHIELD, he never left my side. He never gave up on me."
She pauses for a second when she feels her knees shake and she can hear her voice begin to crack. She sighs as she stares down at the rose, her hair falling in front of her face, shielding the emotions that expose themselves to everyone watching.
"He didn't deserve to die, not like he did. His heart was in the job and he loved doing what he did, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he wasn't ready to go." She looks back up at everyone as she runs a hand through her wavy, red locks, "I miss him. We all do. He was one hell of an agent and a great, determined man. I honestly don't know what I would have done without him- I still don't know what to do without him now."
Natasha places a gentle hand on top of the casket as she closes her eyes, sighing, "He was not only my partner, but my best friend- my companion… I cared about him so much- I still care about him, despite the fact that he's gone now. He served his country and brought down a dangerous man in the process. He put my life before his own and… I can never thank him enough, but I also hate him for it."
Tony looks down at his feet, closing his eyes and shaking his head. He figured she would say something like that. He knows, whether she would admit it or not that she is- or was in love with Clint Barton. She loved Hawkeye.
Natasha keeps her eyes screwed shut as she tries to find her voice- she tries to form the right words. She would probably never confess her true feelings for her partner in front of all these agents. Although they shared a kiss, she never actually got to say she loved him. He never heard her say the three words, and, even though he probably already knew it, she still would have liked to say it to him. She isn't fond of those three words, she use to think love was for children, but the connection Barton and her have, it's something entirely different. They never needed words to understand each other and she knows, deep down, he loved her too.
"When I was in the warehouse with him, I refused to leave him, even when he begged me to. I yelled at him; I wasn't sure how he expected me to leave him. He simply told me, 'I'm not asking you to leave me, I'm asking you to save yourself'." Natasha shakes her head as she remembers Clint telling her that after planting a gentle kiss to the back of her cold hand.
"I hate him for making me leave him behind. It should have been me trapped in the warehouse when the bomb went off- not him. He did not deserve to die; I deserved it. His life was worth so much more than mine is. I was a monster most of my life- I took away so many lives while he saved lives. He was never a bad man- he was a hero and what Loki made him do wasn't his own fault." Natasha squeezes her eyes even tighter and tears leak out of the corners of her eyes, "I wish I can take his place. I wish he can be here, right now, continuing doing what he loves to do. I wish it was me and now that he is dead-"
"Whoa," A raspy, familiar voice cuts her off, "who the hell said I was dead?"
Every single one of the agents and the Avengers all turn their heads to stare at the man standing in the aisle between the two groups of seats. He stands there, with his arms folded neatly across his chest, and a raised eyebrow as he stares straight ahead at Natasha.
His eyes glance down at the casket, causing his eyebrows to furrow together, "Am I supposed to be in there?"
Natasha's eyes slowly open at the sound of his voice and she can feel her stomach twist as her heart clenches. She blinks hard as her emerald color eyes lock with his grey ones; a soft gasp escaping passed her lips as another tear rolls down her pale, scratched cheek.
Tony leans over and whispers to Bruce with a raised eyebrow, "You see him too, right?"
Bruce rolls his eyes, but nods his head, "Yeah, I see him standing there too… I don't know how though."
"Fantastic." Tony nods as he glances away from the man to set eyes on Natasha, who looks like she is having a hard time believing her eyes, like they all are.
Natasha wipes away the tears with the back of her hand and she slowly walks towards the man that stands there with a grin tugging at the corners of his lips. She holds her breath with every step she takes closer to him- deep down praying that he won't disappear when she reaches him.
"How…" She whispers, but she can't find it within herself to continue the sentence. She takes a deep breath and continues marching forwards, sensing every pair of eyes on her as she comes to a stop a few inches away from the man. "I… I don't understand."
The man goes to speak, but she shakes her head, cutting him off, "No, no this is not possible." She looks up at him with hard, cold eyes as she narrows them at him, "You're dead."
"I'm pretty sure I'm not." He says, trying to lighten up the mood, but when he receives a very deadly glare from the Black Widow, he shuts himself up. "Listen, I can expla-"
He stops in the middle of his sentence when he spots a single tear escape her left eye and begin to slide down her cheek. His heart sinks at the sight and he takes a step forward, placing a bruised hand on her cheek, his thumb gently wiping away the tear. "Nat, I'm here. I'm really here, alive, standing right in front of you."
"Clint," Natasha breathes out, the sound of his name sending shivers down her spine, "you're… here."
The man, Clint Barton, smiles down at her as he nods his head, "Yeah, I'm here. I know that it must be confusing, but I-"
A very hard and harsh slap cuts him off mid-sentence, making his neck twist and the sound of her hand colliding with his cheek almost echoing off. His hand covers his cheek where she slapped him and his jaw clenches as he stays perfectly still for a few moments.
The Russian stares daggers at him as he slowly turns his head back around so his grey eyes can reconnect with hers. His eyebrows knit together in confusion as he faces her angry expression, he frowns, "What the hell was that for?"
"What was that for?" She asks with her eyebrows shooting upwards as her eyes widen, "What the hell do you think it's for?" She lifts up her hands so they shove against his chest, forcing him to stumble backwards; he has to bite back the pain that shoots up and down his leg where he was shot in the thigh.
"You're standing here, surely alive and well, and all this time, you made everyone believe you were dead! How could you? How could you do that to me? I thought you were dead! I thought you died in that explosion! Wait… how the hell are you alive? There was no escaping that warehouse." She folds her arms across her chest and taps her foot impatiently as she waits for his response.
Clint keeps his eyes locked on her face, not even paying attention to all the other agents or the other Avengers. He only notices her as he takes a deep breath and does his best to ignore the massive amount of pain he is feeling at the moment. "Carter was planning on blowing the place up after he collected his money. I realized that at the last second."
"There was no time," Natasha argues and then adds, "Plus, I heard the gun go off and you… you promised you wouldn't go in pain and you pressed the gun to your head, Clint."
He runs a hand through his hair and sighs, "Carter had an escape hole he could crawl out of that was hidden behind a crate. When I saw it, I dropped my gun and crawled over to it as fast as I could, but my gun went off from the extreme amount of heat. I got out just in time for the place to blow up and I practically got buried when the warehouse went down. Also, I couldn't move my leg because of the bullet that was embedded in my thigh. By the time SHIELD came looking for bodies, I was already gone. I managed to leave and hide out somewhere because I couldn't have anyone know I was alive… yet."
"Why not?" She asks, her voice almost cracking, "Why couldn't you let anyone, especially me, know you were alive?"
"Carter's partner, second hand man, was still alive and I needed to take him out. He got the news that I died so he was off guard, a little. He knew you wouldn't come looking for him because you just lost your partner and he was going to continue the operation. I found him and took him out. Once he was taken care of, I came back. I came back to everyone… to you."
She raises her hand slowly so she can gently place it on his bruised cheek; the incident only happened a few days ago so the two of them still have bruises and scratches painted along their skins. "I'm so glad you're okay, Clint." She whispers and then leaps into his arms, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck as he wraps his arms protectively around her waist.
"I missed you," He whispers in her ear so only she can hear, "I missed you so much."
She smiles as she buries her face in the crook of his neck and she breathes in his scent. She closes her eyes and whispers back, "I missed you too." She then pulls her head back so she can look him in the eyes, "Oh, and Barton?"
"Yeah?" He watches the smile on her face be replaced with a deadly stare, "You do something like that again and I will actually kill you myself. Got that?"
Clint stares at her for a few seconds, a bit shocked at first, but then he grins, "I wouldn't expect anything else from you."
"Oh, and one more thing." She says as she presses her forehead against his own. He has a feeling what she is going to say and sure enough, she says the three words he always pictured her saying to him, "I love you."
He smiles as the words slip off her tongue and he then leans closer so he can press his lips against her own; the kiss is hungry with emotion and full of passion- neither of them caring that every agent of SHIELD is watching them right now.
When they pull apart, Clint kisses her forehead before whispering back to her, "I love you too, Tasha."
Natasha smiles at the familiar nickname that only he calls her and she laces her fingers with his own, locking their hands together. "I knew if there was going to be even the slightest chance of someone surviving something like that, it was going to be you."
"I'm glad that it was, that's for sure. Now I have the chance to be with you; really be with you." He grins down at her as a slight blush creeps its way onto her face. He chuckles and wraps one of his arms around her waist as he starts walking them over towards the rest of the Avengers who are waiting impatiently to greet him back from the dead and surely yell at him also for pretending to be dead, but he doesn't mind, he is just happy to be back and to see everyone again, especially Natasha.