A/N: This contains possible spoilers for what I think is going to happen based on events in the Avengers trailer.


He so rarely apologised to her. Not in a way that was serious. He'd apologise for bumping into her, for momentarily getting in her way, a quick "yeah, my bad," was as much as he'd ever needed to give her. But now he was leaning over her, with tears - real tears - falling onto the top of her chest, pooling in her clavicle. He sobbed the words "I'm sorry," into the parts of her body that he'd been kissing only moments before, and that hurt even more than the beating he'd given her earlier that day.

She didn't blame him, and she repeatedly told him, but getting him to understand that was hard. He hadn't been in control of his actions; Loki had been the one to put the thought into his head and then control every movement that Clint made, but the manipulative creep had allowed the archer's mind to regain some possession, just enough so that he was fully aware of what he was doing and who he was doing it to. He'd seen himself inflict his full strength on Natasha, his partner, his friend, his…well, his everything, and he'd not been able to do a damn thing to stop himself. He'd seen her cry out in pain, struggle in his arms, and worst of all, with tears spilling over her cheeks with no abandon as she pleaded with himt o stop and to win over Loki's control.

And now, alone, with the trickster prince no longer any part of their mind, she comforted him while he cried. At first she had just come to his quarters to see how he was feeling now that he was fully rid of the extra presence in his mind - she knew that he argued enough with the voices in his head that were there already, without adding an additional one with a malicious nature - but he'd been so distraught to notice the bruise on her jawline that she'd ended up holding him while he promised her that he'd never allow someone to inflict hurt on her again.

But he just couldn't believe her when she told him that it was okay. Because it wasn't. He'd hurt her. Worse, he'd not been strong enough to overcome the part of him that was hurting her, and to say that he hated himself had been an understatement.

So she kissed him, proof that the emotion she had for him was still there, evidence that she truly didn't blame him and that it hadn't changed a thing, because she didn't consider it his action. The kiss became more, as he sought the clarification that she was safe through the silent communication of her lips and the frantic movements they made to match his own. After he spent so much of the day pushing her away to prevent any leftovers of Loki's doing from hurting her anymore, he wanted to feel every part of her against every part of him. He wanted skin upon skin, lips upon lips, and he wanted it all with no true agenda of what order he wanted this in, which left to a fumbled meeting of said lips and skin.

Clothing flew, first the agency issued zip-sweaters that they'd needed to pullout once the quinjet was airbourne above colder grounds and then the shirts beneath them. The pants remained - for now - but he knew that was only a matter of time before fumbling hands were once again unoccupied and the promise of new skin to explore was too tempting. He kissed her deeply, chests brushing chests as his hands travelled down across her stomach, but he stopped with an instant jerk as he felt the stomach muscles flinching under his hands. She tried to bring him back to her with a hand on the back of his neck, but by then his eyes had already flickered downward and filled with horror at the large purple bruise that his foot had created, spreading around the initial impact zone between her hipbones to cover the majority of her stomach, and then the tears had come.

He reached out to it again as if he were going to touch it, but drew away as he was unwilling to feel that flinch again, even if it was an involuntary action by her pained muscles. He'd done the one thing he'd never wanted to do - hurt her. And this wasn't an explainable hurt, either, not like the time he'd pushed her to the ground to cover her from an explosion she wouldn't have had time to react to and ended up spraining her ankle with the angle they fell to the ground - he'd done this on purpose: whether by his own intentions or Loki's, his foot had inflicted that bruise upon her previously flawless stomach.

It hurt more that he spent an awful lot of time around that part of her anatomy. Some nights, when his lips weren't pressing against it to feel the whimper he knew would come when he reached that spot to the right of her navel, he would rest his head upon it and just watch her from there. It was soft, firm and at present it was his favourite part of her - he once joked about wanting to select the area of her stomach as his preferred retirement destination and spend the rest of his days nuzzling her skin to his hearts content - she'd laughed, but she hadn't said no. That area of her was one that few saw and a very select group of those got to feel, and to have felt the muscles retract at his touch - his touch - had bought tears to his eyes instantly.

"I'm sorry," he gasped against her, as a shuddering of sobs hit him. Her hand was stroking through his hair in an instant attempt to cease the cries as she bought his head to her shoulder, her other hand gripping at his back. "I'm so sorry."

"Shh, Clint," she whispered."

"I hurt you. I'm so sorry."

"I'm fine."

"You're not fine, Natasha, look at yourself! I did that to you!"

"No, it wasn't you."

"It was my feet. My fists. It was nearly my bow. He'd have killed you with my hands. Mine! I couldn't have lived with that."

She drew his head up, placing a kiss to his now wet lips. "You don't have to. I'm right here, Clint. I'm in your arms."

He shook his head. "I don't deserve that."

"And yet you have it all the same," she assured him. "I am here with you, where I always will be, because I want to be. Because I trust you."

"You shouldn't," he gasped out. "I hurt you."

"Loki hurt me."

"Tasha," he moaned in a desperately grieved tone. "Please."

Blame me. Hurt me in return. You can't forgive me for this.

"No," she shook her head, holding his gaze firmly to her own even as his tears leaked onto her cheeks. "No, Clint. Don't do this. Don't pull away from me."

He couldn't say anything to that, and he returned his head to her shoulder, getting everything out of his system. They wouldn't resume their previous activities, but they would hold each other until the hurt was gone, on the outside and the inside. So minutes later when she unzipped his pants and threw them to the ground with her shirt, she only did so to coax him under the blankets and lay him down. Her sweat pants remained on, and she thought that would be for the best in case the revealing of more skin upset him further, but he shook his head against her as reached under the blankets to remove all layers of clothing that remained along with his own.

"No," he told her. "I need to feel you in my arms."

She nodded with no contradiction and placed herself into the open arms that awaited her, and she didn't complain when he held her slightly too tight against his chest, she just held him as tightly back until they both fell into a calmer place.

And when she was awoken two hours later in the darkness of midnight with his lips against her throat, she showed him just how much she still trusted him.