Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: SPOILERS for the Avengers movie.

"Barton's been compromised."

It was difficult for Natasha to describe the wave of icy fear that washed over her the second the words registered. It was easy for her to redirect that fear into a calm, "Let me put you on hold," before showing the men who thought they were holding her captive exactly why she was called the Black Widow. She would get the answers she needed about her partner later.

Admittedly she probably should have asked to be removed from the mission long before she found herself trading words with the Asgardian God of Mischief. However, between her constant watch on Dr. Banner and trying to keep Captain America and Tony Stark from acting like five year olds in addition to debriefs regarding her previous mission, she never really got the chance. Besides, she was Natasha Romanoff. There was nothing their captive could say that would shake her. Or so she thought.

"Is this love Agent Romanoff?"

"Love is for children. I owe him a debt."

Natasha wasn't expecting Loki to know her secrets. She did owe Clint a debt, but that wasn't why she needed him back. She needed her partner, the man who always had her back in a sticky situation and the only one in the world who knew everything about her, whether from a file or from her own lips, and wasn't scared off. She needed the man who knew what it felt like to have so much red in her ledger that she may never wipe it clean, who understood that she took so many showers because she felt as if the blood on her hands would never leave.

Loki's threats sent chills down her spine the likes of which she had never felt before. She had never been afraid of Clint, but she didn't know what she would do if he came after her now, armed with the knowledge of exactly how to kill her in all the ways she most feared. And she knew him too. Knew exactly how he would feel when he came back to himself with her death on his conscience. Loki killing him then would be out of mercy.

Somehow Natasha was able to pull herself together enough to do her job. Her comment of, "You monster," was one of the first bits of acting she had done through the entire conversation. Thankfully she was able to at least get him to admit something and promptly removed herself from the situation, masking how truly rattled she was.

Later, when she had to fight Clint, she forced herself to shut everything else out, every emotion, memory, etcetera, and put her body on auto-pilot. The moment she saw his eyes return to their normal color, heard him whisper her nickname questioningly, relief swept through her. Then she knocked him out to be sure it wasn't a trick.

She sat with him as he lay in her room unconscious. She watched him carefully, her eyes cataloguing the bruises and scars he hadn't had the last time they had been together. She sat and remembered the feeling of his hands running through her hair and over her skin, his lips against hers, the sound of him gasping her name, silently thanking gods she didn't believe in that he had been returned to her.

When Clint woke she told him about Coulson, knowing they would mourn for their handler at a later time. She refused to tell him how many agents he had killed, knowing the numbers would only make him feel worse. She also didn't tell him about her own interaction with Loki, choosing to wait until a later time when they had a little more privacy. He knew something was wrong though and so instead of telling him outright, she simply reverted to language they would both understand.

"I've been compromised."

Natasha didn't need to say anything more than that. For the time they had left, he gathered her in his arms and together they waited for their next assignment.