A/N: So hopefully all of you are still here and if not all, then at least most. This is going to be the final chapter in this story but don't worry, there will be a sequel coming! The medicine side of this was messed with a bit so my idea would work so I know it may not be entirely true to life but I'm warping it a bit to fit into what I think could happen in the Marvel-verse. Please read and enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: I wish!
Watching your own funeral was a strange thing. Natasha never thought she would watch a casket lower into the ground in front of a tombstone with her name on it. It was surreal. And yet, she had done it. She'd watched as people mourned for her death and said kind words in her honor as an empty casket was slowly lowered into the ground. She watched her friends weep for her (well, Pepper did at least and she was fairly certain Tony's eyes were at least wet). More people than she ever would have thought were gathered around her grave. But there was one person missing from the group and his absence hurt more than fooling all of these people she was dead. He was the one she cared about the most and he wasn't even there.
But she also couldn't really blame him. After all, he'd watched her wither away in a hospital bed. Even if she wasn't really dying in that bed to him, she was. And there was no explaining that now. Not with so much else on the line. She prayed once her task was completed and she returned to him he could forgive her. But part of her knew that if it was her, if their roles had been reversed, she wouldn't be able to trust herself again. She'd lied in the worst way possible. She'd gone so far as to let the medics inject drugs into her system to keep her unconscious and when it was time they even injected her with a paralytic that simulates death. She woke up on a slab in the morgue. Something she vowed never to do again.
Fury was there when she woke up, this whole mission being his idea. And he didn't delay putting the photostatic veil on her face. No one else could know she was alive. Having two medics on board was already making her a little wary but they were needed to keep the ruse of her death up. The only thing that made her a little more comfortable was they had no idea what she would look like once the photostatic veil was in place and no one but Fury knew who she really was at that point. To the world she was Sarah Williams, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She wasn't anything spectacular. Her skills were good but not good enough to be on the radar. She was supposed to infiltrate a possible group of HYDRA agents within S.H.I.E.L.D. They had a leak within their ranks. Nutian and his men never should have known she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She and Clint were off the books and even in the New York incident their appearances were completely wiped from every single record. So the only way someone outside could know of them would be if someone on the inside was revealing the information. Natasha did not like traitors.
So here she was, watching as her partner slowly fell apart and wishing she could offer him some sort of comfort but knowing that could end this whole mission before it even began. Sometimes she really hated her job.
He missed her funeral. She was his partner and he didn't even bother showing up to pay his respects as she was buried because he was a coward. He couldn't take it. He couldn't watch as her body was lowered into the ground and covered with dirt. Gone forever. Gone before he ever had a chance to really tell her how he felt, how much he actually cared. Those weren't conversations they had. They were supposed to be unattached, clinical in the field. They couldn't be worrying over the other one more than was necessary that was how you died. So he kept everything locked away and refused to even accept or notice his growing feelings. And then Pepper had to come along and ruin that.
They'd talked for days after he woke up in Avengers Tower and he had a feeling it was because she thought he would stick around if she kept talking to him. In reality, he just wasn't sure what he would do if he left. His partner was dead. He wanted nothing more than to avenge her, hunt down the sick bastards who killed her and make them suffer before they died. But Fury already sent them off to their respective countries and they were all locked away in maximum security prisons. There was no getting to them. Not without also ruining any ties he had to S.H.I.E.L.D. Some days, he didn't care if he burned that bridge. Some days he wanted to say fuck it and go after the bastards anyway. But then he would remember what it was like to be a free agent, a killer for hire. He refused to add even more red to his ledger.
So here he was. One month after Natasha's death and he was back in the Hellicarrier on active duty. Of course, Fury hadn't given him any missions yet. He said it was still too soon for him to go out there alone. Clint didn't argue that he spent his first years as an assassin completely alone without a single ally. He wasn't in the mood for missions yet anyway. So Fury had him on training detail. He had to teach the rookies how to stop floundering around like idiots and whip them into agent material. Sometimes he really hated his job.
And there you have it! TheBeijing Incident is over! It's been a really fun story to write and when I started it this was not how I saw it ending but I'm happy with it and I hope you are as excited for the sequel as I am! Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me through this whole story which took two years to write. I hope to see ya'll in the next installment!