"Natasha!" He ran to her side of the machine, taking her firmly by the shoulders.

"You might want to stand back, Barnes," Clint warned as he pressed the button to undo her wrist restraints.

"James! James!" She cried as she collapsed into him, sobbing.

He wrapped his arms tightly around her, pulling her into his chest. "Sssh, sssh. It's okay," he breathed into her hair.

"James! I lost you," she sobbed. "I lost you."

"No, no, you didn't lose me. I'm right here," he whispered. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Oh, God."

"It's alright. It's going to be okay," he promised, placing a soft kiss on her forehead as he cradled her in his arms.


He gently combed his fingers through her tangled hair. "Natasha. You…. you remember me?"

She nodded, still clinging to his shirt. "I remember."

He breathed audibly, feeling as if he'd been holding his breath for a very long time.

"James…" she murmured as her sobs began to quiet.

"Don't stop saying my name," he whispered.

She looked up at him. "Take me home now?"

His eyes darted to Tony.

"I suppose we could wait until tomorrow morning to discuss this with Director Hill," he said.

"I'll drive you both," Steve offered.

James nodded silently, not loosening his grip on Natasha.


They rode in silence, with Natasha's head resting in his lap the entire time. He brushed her face with his warm fingers, tracing the contours intently. He offered a weak smile when he felt the slight pressure of her lips on his flesh as he traced her mouth.

Finally, they were in front of his apartment and he idly thought for a moment on all the times he'd felt like this before- how home was the most wonderful thing that could happen to him.

"Thanks, Steve," He said softly when the car had stopped.

Steve nodded. "I'll call you tomorrow."

He wrapped a protective arm around Natasha's waist and led her through the door. "Welcome home," he murmured. If she heard him, she didn't give any sign, instead making her way straight to the bedroom.

He followed her, but stayed cautiously in the doorway while she crawled in between the sheets. She looked at him expectantly, and he slowly made his way over to her, taking her hand in his. Without warning, she pulled hard until she'd tugged him almost on top of her. "Hold me," she whispered.

"Gladly," he agreed, pulling her close. "You really do remember?" He asked after a moment, hoping it wasn't too good to be true.

"I really do," she said quietly.

"Your own memories, or just mine?"

"My own memories," she answered, to his surprise. "It was… like a switch. Like something clicked inside me."

"What was?"

"The memory of the one time in my life that I have ever consciously lost control of myself."

"Oh," he said, his voice barely a whisper. "I… I didn't even know I had that one…."

She reached her hand up, running her fingers through his hair. "The paramedic at the time had said you still had a pulse. But he wasn't sure if you were aware of what was going on around you," she said quietly, her voice still a little shaky.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm getting there," she answered. "You?"

"Getting there," he repeated. "But having you back makes it a lot easier." He paused. "Are we okay?"

She smiled. "Of course, James. Any more questions?"

He thought for a moment. "Just one."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Do you still have that Italian thing?"

She laughed, swatting him in the chest. "Idiot."