Even after the doors have shut behind me, I can still feel the not unpleasant burn of his emerald gaze on my backside, which had been hurriedly redressed after our…well…interrogation, of sorts.

My abdomen is still reeling from our activities as I attempt to walk steadily to the nearest female agents' lounge. It's a task easier said than done with weak knees and heeled boots, but I manage to somehow reach the door without stumbling. My hand leaves a sweaty residue on the palm scanner, trembling slightly with suppressed memories of what had just happened not half an hour ago.

I try to delay the rush of thoughts that threatens to flood my mind as I enter the air-conditioned lounge. I'm in a strange sort of forced calm, a protective temporary shield, mostly for my benefit. Hopefully, if anyone is to serve as company in here, my stony facial expression will be enough to ward off questions.

Unfortunately, my precious front lasts for less than thirty seconds.

As I turn the corner to enter the restroom area of the lounge, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I watch myself clap a hand to my mouth in horror, choking a scream as my eyes grow wide in absolute shock.

Feeling half guilty and half mortified, I remove my hand from my mouth, chills forming an icy cascade down my back as, open-mouthed, I ghost my quaking fingertips down my neck.

My breath seems to come automatically as my shaking hand traces the trail of bruises and angry red teeth marks, first along one side of my neck, then the other. Oh, god. There would be no way to hide this. If I leave my hair down, I'll be violating a major S.H.I.E.L.D. standard. As if I haven't already violated several, I think to myself, groaning inwardly as I watch my own face flush. I left my concealer in my purse in my desk, but that was out of the question. My fellow agents don't miss much, being…well, agents. So much for planning ahead. I can always flip up the collar of my suit. Some agents do that, don't they? I scan my memories, trying to gauge how effective that'll be, but my perusal is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a flushing toilet behind me.


How could I not have noticed that I wasn't alone?! FUCK. My heart starts to race as I frantically try to adjust my collar to cover the markings Loki had left, internally cursing upon finding that there is only enough fabric to hide half my neck. Anyone could have seen me after I'd left the room!

Suddenly, it dawns on me that the little shit had done it on purpose, having known full well that I'd have to interact with my coworkers after we'd finished…which is actually kind of hot. Fucking God of Mischief.

I slightly begin to panic as I hear the stall door unlocking, and in a last-ditch effort to hide his claims to me, I yank the elastic bands out of my hair as I arrange the locks around my neck, trying desperately to ignore the rapid pulsing beneath my pelvis as the stranger in the stall finally emerges to wash her hands at the sink next to me.

Oh, Christ, you've got to be shittingme.

I feel my stomach turn over as I try to look like I'm smoothing the static out of my hair, reforging my features into a blank slate. If there's anyone who can call someone's bluff, it's Agent Natasha Romanov, so I'm hoping to death and back that my act is the most convincing it's ever been.

Before I can laugh wryly at myself for resorting to my training to ward off friendlies, her eyes find mine in the mirror, and I return her friendly smile, allowing myself to relax just a bit.

"Hey," she says casually, lathering soap between her fingers. Trusting myself to respond without freaking out, I continue to aimlessly arrange my hair, hoping she wouldn't pick up on the fact that I'd just have to put it back up again. I exhale as I respond with a cordial, "Hi! What's up?"

Natasha rolls her eyes, letting out an exasperated "pff".

"Well, being the only female in the huge fucking storm of testosterone that Fury likes to call the Avengers initiative isn't exactly my idea of fun," she says, rinsing the suds off of her hands.

"So, the usual?" I say, crossing my hypothetical fingers that my attempt at humor will prevent Agent Romanov from the inevitable.

Thankfully, she lets out a slight chuckle. "Well, when you put it that way, I guess it is," Natasha responds with a small grin, appearing to be none the wiser.

"Yup!" I say with a similar facial expression that I'm pretty sure looks natural, hoping that this is the end of our conversation. She turns to dry her hands, and I allow myself to relax almost immediately.

Most unfortunately, that turns out to be my demise.

As soon as we both realize that she's forgotten to turn off the water, it's too late. She whips her head around to me as she reaches for the tap, perhaps to make a witty comment about a lack of coffee or a testosterone-induced mental impairment, but stops dead in her tracks, blue eyes widening in disbelief and horror at my bruise-riddled neck, revealed due to my hair and its unintentional fall behind my shoulder.

My heart drops into my stomach as we both notice her detection, my blush returning full blast as I freeze, knowing that the damage is done.

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to put two and two together (or four and six, left and right, respectively, if we're counting), and Natasha is no exception when it comes to the science of deduction.

It takes her all of five seconds to solidify the story, and her next words pretty much sum up her thoughts.

"What the hell happened?" she asks flatly.

I try to keep my face a mask as I reply evenly, "I think you already know." No sense in bullshitting the Black Widow.

Natasha's eyes narrow, darting around under her furrowed brow as she tries to find the right words. For a moment, I actually seem to have rendered her speechless. I can only savor her silence for so long, though.

"Why? How?"

Initially, I'm tempted to spill everything…how I'd lost control, how he'd been too powerful, how he'd taken me with such lust-filled longing, hitting all my sensitive spots, how wet he'd made me—wait, what?

No. Of course I couldn't tell her that. She'd report me to Fury, I'd lose my job, and, most importantly, I'd lose…

My rank. Right.

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?" I say, thinking fast. "Loki needed to be reminded of how easily we bruise as humans, how easy it is for us to show injury. Apparently, where he's from, wherever that is, they don't sustain physical maladies as readily as we do."

"And…your point was?"

Think, think, THINK.

"My point?" I say. "Well, of course, he believes we're weaker, but physical pain won't stop us for long, you know that, right? So…I needed to show him that it'll take more than a magical stick to subjugate the entire human race, that no matter how many times you hit someone at a vital point on their body, we'll still keep coming back for more."

I try not to blush again as I realize how accurate that is.

"So you let him do you?!" she asks incredulously.

"No!" I say, laughing nervously. "No. Oh…you thought these were…? Are you crazy, Romanov? I hit myself with a set of training nunchaku."

I cross my proverbial fingers that the interrogation room chanced to have them. Determined to quell the baffled look of suspicion on Natasha's face, I keep rambling, hoping to say something that would actually make sense.

"I didn't think I'd ever have a use for them after my combat training, but hey"—I shrug—"if it's stupid, but works, it ain't stupid. You should have seen his face! It definitely looked like he was having second thoughts about conquering a planet full of crackheads."

I can see her considering my explanation. Still not convinced. She just needs that little bit to appease her.

"Oh, come on, Romanov," I say, rolling my eyes for effect. "Do you honestly think any of us have time to sacrifice just to get laid?"

Wait for it…

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Natasha sighs, grudgingly agreeing with me. She smiles suddenly, chuckling again. "Dude, we all need to get laid as soon as this is over."

"That's what I'm saying!" I lift my hand and receive her high-five, silently allowing the wave of relief to wash over me, grateful that my fingers are no longer shaking. "Man, I can't believe you actually thought I…with him…"

"Yeah, I was gonna say!" she says, chiming into my laughter. "I think I need some sleep."

"I think we all need some sleep."

"Very true," Natasha says, finally making her way towards the door. "But hey," she adds, smiling mischievously, "just between you and me, I don't think I'd mind sharing a bed with you-know-who."

I force myself to laugh as she exits, slightly unnerved by the sudden rush of anger that burns away any sense of relaxation I'd allowed to pervade my system. Who the exact fuck does she think she is? Sharing a bed with—?

Wait a minute. Who the hell was I to think such things?

Exasperated, I push out a frustrated huff, deciding for now just to be glad that I'd just narrowly dodged several bullets.

I turn back to the mirror to confront my original predicament when I realize I am not alone.