I've been trying to write a death fic for awhile. This just seemed the fandom that finally appealed to the muse. You will need a box of tissue handy if you decide to read. This was a difficult one to write.

Title: At the end
Author: Cindy Ryan
Pairings: Clint/Natasha
category: Death fic

The funeral had long since ended some leaving to continue their grief and remembrance in private. Others to raise a glass to honor the life cut too short. Even Steve Rogers had given up on his vigil and left the cemetery leaving Hawkeye to his own personal torment. Clint was grateful for his friend's concern but what he was dealing with he didn't want an audience. He was barely believing it was real that the events had occurred. That the impossible had happened.
Ironically at the end Clint Barton hadn't been there when his partner needed him most. When Natasha Romanoff had taken her last breath he'd been half way across the world. On a mission that had needed his special skill set. Since that fateful meeting in Budapest years ago they'd gone on so few solo missions that Hawkeye had assumed they'd be fighting by each other's sides when the end came.

For two loners, two orphans he and Natasha had created a bond neither of them could ever quite explain. As time passed they stopped trying. It was three years since they'd been a part of the team that had saved Earth from Loki and his alien army. To the people of Earth they were heroes for he and Natasha it was just another fight for survival.
The three years had been a whirlwind of battles, missions, romantic nights and epic arguments. Clint wouldn't change any of it except maybe to live a little less in the moment. Towards the end Hawkeye had started to think maybe he and Nat would have a future outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. Just the two of them against the world.

Now as Hawkeye kneeled at his partner's grave reality hit him with crushing force.
He was alone once more.
More than anyone Nat had understood the demons that came with how they grew up. Kicking, screaming , clawing for everything they had. No one but themselves to rely on.
Placing the single rose on the headstone Clint slowly stood. There was nothing for him to do but grieve. The others had taken care of Nat's killer. Stark had personally blown him to bits. So not only was Hawkeye not with Nat to say goodbye he couldn't even give her justice. Everything seemed empty.
Empty and raw.

Nothing held any meaning...all he had were memories. Memories that were threatening to overwhelm. His vision blurred and Clint let the tears fall unchecked. His hands balled into fists fingernails cutting into his palms as the anger returned. The one person who meant everything Clint had failed. Partners were supposed to protect. Hawkeye had allowed himself to be swayed that the solo mission was more important. That he was needed there and not with his team.
Not with his family.

Clint swiped a hand over his eyes clearing away the tears. Memories of the last time he'd seen Nat, held her surfaced bringing with it a surge of emotion so painful it almost dropped him. Their last kiss had just been a quick 'see you later' type as they parted after breakfast. Even being here at her grave it didn't seem real that she was gone. He could still feel her presence. Clint still expected to look up and see the Black Widow smiling at him telling him it was all a ruse. That she was fine and sorry he had to go through this. However, Hawkeye knew the cold hard ugly truth. He'd seen her body in the S.H.I.E.L.D. morgue. He'd made Fury show him the video footage.
There was no miracle this time.

"God, Nat."Clint whispered his voice strained and broken. "I'm sorry...should've been there..."

Hawkeye's voice failed him and he stepped back from the gravestone in a futile effort to regain some composure. It wasn't working. Everything seemed to push at him even the wind seemed angry. Clint swallowed hard and tried once more to say goodbye. Knowing it wouldn't be possible to truly part from Natasha. She'd always be with him. Part of his heart, part of his soul. You can't say goodbye to that kind of partnership and Clint didn't want to.
Lightly Clint touched the smooth marble of the headstone.

"I love you, Nat."Barton stated solemnly as he let go of the headstone."I always will."

Several long minutes passed along with the last rays of sunlight. Clint took a last look at the grave before he turned and slowly walked out of the graveyard.

end