I have to give credit where it's due. Your act is stunningly flawless. Not a single thing betrayed. Nothing with you is left out in the open unless you want it to be, nothing betrayed unless your own lips perform the treason. No one knows you, do they?

No one but me. Try as you might, you can't hide those things from me. I don't know everything about you. I probably don't know as much as I should. But I know more then the others. I know enough.

I know you often lack the confidence that you try and show to the others. I can tell. From the slightest quiver of your lips, to the faintest dart of your eyes. They don't call me Hawkeye for nothing, I suppose.

You try so hard to hide your emotions, at least the compromising ones, from everyone. Especially me. Natasha, I'm almost completely deaf, and I can still hear the shake in your voice as you speak over things that upset you, though no one else even knows it's a soft subject for you. You speak with such conviction on everything. It's a perfect mask. And it makes me enjoy it so much more when I'm able to subtly pull it away.

When I first awoke from Loki's control, I have to admit, I wasn't worried about myself. I wasn't worried about the world at that moment. Just you. The way your eyes grew glossy, the way your lips quivered so openly. Nothing was suppressed. You were at your weakest. I loved and hated every minute of it. I soaked it in. You were being open. You were showing me the Natasha Romanoff no one else was allowed to see.

You were in pain. You were scared, vulnerable. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. The mask was supposed to slip off with ease, by my own hand. Not shatter at the hands of a crazed demi-god. It wasn't supposed to be painful like this. But there was no way to stop it now. The dam was gone, and the water spilt freely. Your emotions hit me like a wave, that I relaxed in and drowned in all at once.

My own sorrows and guilt mingled with your own. It was a beautiful, hideous masterpiece, wasn't it? The first time we had so freely traded our emotions to one another, or feelings, our worries. And it was so painful. It shouldn't have been. My only regret is that I couldn't see the real Nat in her joy instead of her sorrow. But I suppose I have plenty of time for that.

The indifferent mask was returned to your face as it was time to leave. But it was cracked, and nothing would ever fix that. To the others, nothing had changed. But I had seen it. Seen the woman beneath the assassin. And God was she beautiful, even in her pain.

I can only imagine how amazing it is to look upon that face in its happiness. But that, as I said, is for another time.

For now, I'll just watch. I'll pick out your emotions, learn of the Natasha that no one else knows on my own through your quirks and expressions. It's nearly a perfect mask, isn't it? Even though it broke once, it's still nearly flawless at masking your inner-self. It's almost the perfect way to hide away from the world. From everyone. From me.

But I did say nearly.