A/N: Hi guys! Ok I'm super proud of this one, I made Natasha a little more... what's the word I'm looking for, female emotional I guess? However I think I did a really nice job. Usually I don't brag about my writing, however I want to say that this is actually really good. Hopefully you feel the same!

Disclaimer: If I owned the Avengers I wouldn't be on fanfiction would I?

Her face was flawless, as always, she had time to fix her make up before making it to Manhattan, which worked out well for her because if Clint saw the bruises that lined her jaw and neck he'd freak out. He'd freak out on her for hiding it and on himself for causing it, even if it wasn't his fault. Right now though? Getting ready to bunk down in the hotel room that SHIELD provided for her and Clint until they recouped she let her make up wash off.

"Fuck." She grunted as she looked at the hideous marks that lined her face. The bags under eyes were a deep purple tint the bruise around her temple was already turning a heinous deep brown and blue color. There was a cut along the crease of her left eye, her lip was split, and her hairline had a deep red tint to it where she got her forehead skimmed by debris. She started to strip to see the damage to the rest of her body.

If she wasn't Natasha Romanoff she would have gagged at the sight of herself. While the water warms in the shower and the steam starts to rise she looks at her legs that are coated in small bruises, the scab on her knee from Russia still raw and new. Her wrist looked like it was deformed jutting out at an angle that wasn't natural. Her right shoulder had a deep puckered laceration along the clavicle and her stomach had a bruise the size of Clint's foot. Her ribs ached and her head pounded.

Her body protested with every little movement she took to get into the shower. The hot water burning her skin and although Loki never physically touched her all she wanted was to burn the skin off that he looked at. The look in his eyes screamed that given the opportunity he'd jump her. He'd hurt her, he'd accomplish everything he'd have Clint do by himself.

'…slowly, intimately in every way you fear.' She shuddered as she remembered the dead cold look in Clint's eyes as she challenged him. She remembered the smirk he had on his face when he struck her, the fact that he didn't hold back (not that he held back while they were training) but it was different. This was him purposely taking advantage of their history and using it against her.

She remembered the kick to her stomach, the immense pain after it. She remembered his face as he held a knife to her neck, the gleam of satisfaction, but then the look of pure shock when she bit his wrist. She remembered the way he whispered her name when he was out of his daze and how she knocked him out afterwards. "I'm so sorry Clint…" she whispered as the water fell all around her folding her arms over her chest.

This wasn't Natasha, she wasn't weak. She didn't fall to her knees after a mission no matter how brutal. She didn't lose control of her body as silent streams of tears mixed in with burning shower water she didn't fold into herself letting out a sob hoping that she'd inhale enough water to kill her. She hadn't had thoughts like that since before Clint…

She didn't think about Clint. She couldn't afford to think about him, thinking about him led to feelings for him and she couldn't handle him leaving her as well. She could handle her parents, she could handle her past, she could handle the ass holes that made her this robot in a human body, but she couldn't handle losing Clint. He was too good…

"Nat…" She should have known that he'd hear her, after all they were sharing a room and the walls weren't soundproof. She knew she locked the bathroom door, she knew he'd break the lock, and she knew he'd be in there in a matter of seconds.

"Natasha." He was standing at the door now knocking lightly but she couldn't pick herself up. She was laying in the middle of the tub hugging her knees crying, well she must have been sobbing, she thought as he knocked again calling her name. "Natasha!"

Please don't… she thought dimly, please don't come here and see me like this. She closed her eyes as she heard him break into the bathroom. There was no splintering of wood, there was no loud ass bang that would have startled a normal person, there was him picking a lock with a tool he carried and walking in to the steamed bathroom.

She didn't say anything when he pulled back the curtain taking in her appearance, she simply closed her eyes. She stopped sobbing, but her body was shaking, why was she shaking? "Shit." He hissed as he went to turn off the water, he only got more frustrated when he realized she used no cool water in her shower. The cold water streaming down was the hot water running out.

"Don't." Her voice was hard and unwavering, but her eyes were cold and she was shaking. Clint just took the sight in, he hasn't seen her like in… ever! How many nights had she done this, he thought to himself as he got a towel to wrap around her battered body. "Barton." She barked out but he ignored it.

"Clint…" He stopped his movements of drying off her body and looked at her, her eyes meeting his silently pleading him. "…please don't."

"I probably will." He said strongly as he continued to wrap her in the towel cocoon. He didn't stop there though he maneuvered so that she was curled up under him his clothes getting soaked simply by sitting in the wet tub.

"Your clothes are getting wet." She stated dumbly as she tried to pull back, praying the towel won't drop.

"I don't care." He said before shoving her back against him. Her head rested under his chin and his arms locked around her; "I don't care about my clothing Tash."

She simply shrugged before taking a deep inhale of his sent and relaxed. Only relaxing for her right now meant she wasn't fighting his soothing movements. He was ok with that, he mused silently to himself. If she'd just sit there with him for a few minutes more without rationalizing it he'd be content for a least a year. If she'd just stop this game of avoidance he'd be happy forever, but then the thought struck him; he can't tell her to stop avoiding him if that's what he's been doing for months.

"Talk" She demanded and he looked down at the red head in his lap surprised. "I know you want to say something, your hands stopped moving and you keep squeezing my arm."

"Sorry" he said stupidly as he moved his hand to play with her hair inhaling deeply, "I was thinking about what made you react that way."

She knew he was talking about the shower and he knew that she knew. "Nothing. Everything. I'm just tired."

"You're beat, tired, and emotionally exhausted." He gathered he didn't realize he said it aloud until she shrugged and muttered; 'something like that.' It nearly did him in, he couldn't help her if she didn't tell him. "Talk to me Nat."

After an unmitigated pause she whispered, "There's nothing to say". Oh but there was, Clint thought, and she knew it too. "Nothing important anyway." It was a bold faced lie and he saw right through it, he always did.

"That's bullshit Natasha." He grumbled out before pulling her hair to get her to look him in the eyes, he just started to register the physical damage done to her face. "You're telling me that the swelling lump on your face is nothing important?"

She shrugged his hands away and started to stand up out of his lap; "it's none of your concern what I deem important. Last time I checked you weren't my father, you aren't even my partner anymore."

He stood up after her this was NOT what he wanted to do after saving the Earth from a sociopathic freak from outer space. He wanted peace and to sleep for a million years if he could. He wanted to spend time playing catch up with Natasha after Fury separated them over a year ago. He wanted to watch lame ass comedies that she thought were hysterical while he would argue and say 'action is the way to go'… but no. It just didn't work out that way with her.


"You can't hide your face from me Nat, or the scabs on your back, or the cut on your forehead." She stopped short and turned around still gripping the towel.

"I can't hide that from you? Really?" It was a challenge, he knew as soon as he nodded at her she'd prove him wrong; she always did. "I hid it from you all damn day. I hid the bruises from you all fucking day, the bruises that Loki gave me, the pounding headache I had every step I took…" she stopped and shook her head.

"Natasha..." He whispered as he took a step closer; "I'm so sorry." He sounded desperate and almost broken, it just didn't suit him.

"Don't start that game Barton!" Natasha said angrily as she took a step back.

"Look at yourself Nat!" He barked at her, "look at yourself and tell me that you don't blame me."

"I DON'T blame you." She said with malice. "I could never blame you for something you couldn't control."

He shook his head and ripped his hand through his hair; "You don't get it Nat! I hurt you, I gave you those marks and I can't take them back!"

"Why are you so angry about this!" She screamed at him. "We spar and I walk away with the same bruises, I would have gotten cut and battered fighting those psycho alien shark things anyway!" She didn't get emotional she repeated the mantra in her head. She didn't get emotional and she didn't show weakness but she most importantly didn't get this upset over bruises.

"You were crying in the shower, that water was scorching you then went ice cold and you were just lying there…" He started pacing around the room gathering loose items around the room. "I didn't even notice."

She almost didn't hear him, almost, but she did. "You think that I hid these because I blame you." She didn't need to ask the look that flashed over his eyes told her everything. "Clint… I hid these from everyone there was no time for me to be treated like a mere female."

He laughed harshly; "I would have liked to see. I would have liked to be trusted to know the physical damage done to you before we went to Manhattan."

"Why?" She challenged, "why does it make that much of a difference? What would you have done?" She initiated the step towards him, what a fucked up situation, she thought. "Causing apprehension for you would have killed us."

He looked at her, really looked at her, her bruised face, her cracked lip, and her bleeding shoulder (shit…) before stepping closer and pressing a hand to it quickly. "I need to check your other injuries."

"No you don't." She challenged him again before looking at him, her eyes were still red and raw but the strength of Natasha Romanoff was back in them. "You WANT to check my other injuries, but you don't have to. And you won't."

He could have over powered her, he could have fought her instead he took a moment to let his hand wander from her shoulder to her cheek rubbing his thumb gently over her usually smooth skin. "Please… Natasha."

She looked at his lips before closing her eyes briefly, damn it all. She conceded with a gentle nod of her head, "fine, but I want to hear you say it first."

"Say what?" His heart clamped up, his stomach dropped, and his mind went blank. What did he have to say that she didn't already know? How he felt? How he wanted to just say fuck it to SHIELD and lead them away?

"It wasn't your fault."

It was that simple sentence that he knew he wouldn't be able to concede with. He sighed heavily before nodding; "it wasn't."

"You're lying to yourself." She moved back and dropped the towel. It wouldn't be the first or last time he saw her naked and no matter how often it had happened or will he would still be rendered breathless because of her natural beauty.

Her stomach always toned, tight, with abs and her legs… those leg muscles could kill a man in a few seconds but they'd wrap around him in the middle of the night (a subconscious move she made when she slept) were gentle and soft. Her breasts were perfect, for her and for him. But his favorite part of her was the shoulders, the way they were so strong the way that it made her look like she could balance the weight of the world on them and still stand tall.

Then he did a double sweep. The ungodly amount of bruises marring her skin made him physically blanch. From the feet up he made a silent assessment; her right knee was scabbed, there were was a large bruise covering most of her left shin, her thighs had the least amount of damage. Her stomach, god her stomach was completely covered with one bruise a ghastly looking bruise but she was breathing harshly so he knew there was some rib damage. Her left wrist looked distorted but she wasn't cradling it and there were cuts along her upper arms. Her left shoulder had the worst injury bleeding a deep cut along the clavicle. Her face, that beautiful smooth face, had a cut along the hair line, a fat lip, some bruises. "God Natasha."

She let him guide her to the bed to sit down, but was shocked when he forced her to lie down. This was his way of dealing; she thought to herself; this was his way of making sure things would be ok. He'd fix the damage he believes he placed on her. She didn't make eye contact when she felt his fingers running smoothly along her skin, rubbing ointment or placing gauze. He'd do the proper trauma assessment that they taught them before they were agents, well up until he met her stomach. "It's not as bad as it looks."

"It is." He said right back as he placed his hands on her stomach pressing for LABS (Liver, Appendix, Bladder, Spleen) not feeling anything but still concerned he made a mental note to have Banner look at her properly once they were back on duty with the Avengers. There was no way Clint would go back to a SHIELD base… not happening and he wasn't letting Natasha go without him again.

"Ow." She muttered out when he pressed her ribs, he did it again to confirm the area, "seriously, stop doing that."

He smirked a little, because Natasha sounded like Natasha at that one moment and he'd give anything to keep the moment going. He knew she must be hurting as his hands continued on after wrapping an ace bandage around her chest to keep a steady pressure on the ribs to hold them still. He made it up to her shoulders and cleaned out the cut, as expected she didn't make a sound or even flinch when the alcohol made contact with the open skin. "That might need to get looked at."

"It's fine Clint." She said with exhaustion edging itself into her voice. "I'll have Banner look at it tomorrow ok?"

"I'll call him over in the morning." He mumbled before he moved to her face, his fingers so soft against the bruises. His finger traced the thin cut at the top of her head and she could feel his exhaled breath on her skin.

"Are you don't yet?" She sounded bored but deep down this close proximity was bothering her, but when he didn't answer she knew that he knew. "Clint please, I just want to sleep."

"So sleep." he said stubbornly hovering over her, his one hand pushing her hair back from her face.

"Alone. I want to sleep alone." She tried moving her face but his hand moved faster and caught her chin forcing her to look back at him. She glared as he readjusted his other arm so that he was literally hovering over her. "Your arm is shaking."

"I'll be alright." She didn't like this, it was like being cornered and trapped, just so happened to be the two things she hated most. "Tash look at me please."

He rarely ever used that soft of a tone, very rarely. "Please just let me sleep." She didn't sound weak or out of breath, she sounded agitated and angry.

"Look at me damn it!" She stopped and looked at him his face was so close, mere centimeters and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to handle it for another minute. "I'm sorry."

"Clint!" She said with exasperation seeping into her voice as she tried to roll away, only to have him vice grip her chin again, still hovering.

"I'm not sorry about hurting you," she sent him a disbelieving look, "ok I am sorry for hurting you, but I'm mostly sorry that you managed to go a whole day without anyone noticing."

"It's what I do." She said slyly realizing he wasn't going to bring up the Loki thing, or the real reason he was going to apologize.

He didn't want to lose the opportunity while it was literally lying beneath him. He pressed his lips to hers in a perfectly firm gentle kiss. She protested at first but that gave him the opportunity to sweep his tongue against her lips. That was always her weak point.

He loosened his grip from her chin to let his hand return to her hair repeating the motion of pushing it back. He refused to move more than that, his left arm was about to fall off but he wouldn't let all of his weight crush her.

The kiss grows as she places her hands on his face her thumbs rubbing lightly back and forth across his cheeks. "Tash…" He moaned out as he broke for air not lifting his lips higher then they needed to be. She was breathing heavily and every now and then he'd feel a wince; "easy there baby, you're still hurting."

She pulled her left hand back before lightly slapping him, well maybe not too light, "it's your fault."

His eyes met hers; "I'm aware and completely willing to deal with the consequence." He kissed her again, "God." He said as he kissed her again, "I love you Tash." He kissed her again too content to hear the silence that would come out of his partners mouth until she felt the words against his mouth 'love you.'

They kissed for a while, eventually he moved so that his torso was no longer the only part of him hovering, his legs straddling her unmarred firm thighs. This would be as far as he went tonight, God willing, that is. He wouldn't hurt her anymore, his body shuddered at the thought or maybe it was the way she moved her arms so their wrapped around his neck her fingers playing with the hair at the nape of his neck.

When he broke apart again he whispered words that she thought only children heard. "Sleep now baby." He whispered again before diving himself to the other side of the bed and laying next to her. "Just one more thing."

"I was about to fall asleep." She grumbled pathetically slapping him lightly with her hand. "What do you want?"

"How'd you cover up your face?"

"That's my secret and mine only." She mumbled before nuzzling her face into the pillow, she didn't move to her side or her stomach she just turned her head and felt Clint's hand intertwine with hers. "Maybe I'm born with it…"

He wanted to curse out loud, "Maybe it's Maybelline." He bought her that cover up for a mission they had received less then a hour after she had her wisdom teeth removed. "Shit."

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a review! Love you all.