Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers or the Invaders.
Note: This takes place during the Avengers/Invaders crossover in the comics.

Close Encounter

By Jennifer Collins

"Bucky," Natasha whispered as she crept forward, keeping close to the wall. "Buck!"

He looked up from where he was sitting on the floor, imprisoned behind bars.

"It's okay," she said softly. "I'm a friend. I'm here to get you out."

He nodded. "I saw you with the Avengers… I think."

She smiled. "That's right."

"Where am I?" He narrowed his eyes cautiously.

"You're in the basement at Oscorp. The Thunderbolts brought you here to keep you from reuniting with your team."

"How do I know I can trust you?"

She placed both hands on the bars. "I'm on your side. I'm going to bring you to your friends so you can get home safely," she promised.

He cocked his head to the side. "What's in it for you?"

"You really don't trust anyone."

"That's not true. I trust Cap."

"Then come with me and I'll take you to him."

"And just how do you plan on getting me out of here?" He asked, placing his hands on his hips.

She grinned, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a small key.

He grinned back, pulling himself up from the floor as he watched her unlock the door.

"Easy," she said quietly. "We have to be quick and we have to be quiet."

"I'm a soldier, remember?"

"Yes… I do," she said in a low voice, looking him straight in the eyes.

"Right," he said. "Let's go."

"This way," she said, nodding her head.

"Where do you think you're going?" A gruff voice asked.

She groaned.

"Spider-Man!" Bucky said.

"That's not Spider-Man, kid," she warned, looking down the hall to see a dozen or so H.A.M.M.E.R. agents approaching.

He glanced quizzically at her for a second, and she nodded once, almost as if giving him permission. He grinned. "Don't worry, sweetheart," he said. "I got this." In one swift motion, he leapt past the dark Spider-Man and placed himself between the soldiers and Natasha. They attacked quickly, but he was ready for them, blocking punches and landing kicks when necessary.

He counted as he defeated them… five… six… seven… eight. A pair of hands roughly grabbed at his shoulders and he cried out in surprise as he was yanked off balance.

Suddenly, in a flash of black and red, Natasha flew at the agent, landing a swift blow to his head that sent him crashing to the ground in a heap. "Um.. thanks," he said, raising an eyebrow.

She grinned. "Don't mention it." She looked towards the dark Spider-Man and back to her companion. "Together?"

"You got it, babe," he said.

She rolled her eyes as she leaped up again, and he lunged, pinning the man down from the other side as she delivered the last blow.

"Come on," she said, slightly out of breath.

He nodded, taking off after her as she ran down the hallway and kicked the door to a secret exit.

"Where'd you learn how to fight like that?" He asked, not slowing down when they got outside.

"Years of practice," she said. "This way. Through the woods where nobody will find us."

He followed, only slacking his pace when she did. "A beautiful dame that moves like a soldier," he said with a low whistle. "I think I'm in love."

She narrowed her eyes. "Watch it, Junior. And by the way, don't ever call me 'babe' again. It's Natasha."

He raised his hands in the air in surrender.

After a moment her expression softened. "Are you hurt?"

He shook his head. "Nah, are you?"


"So how do you plan on getting me and my buddies home?"

"Iron Man and Dr. Strange have it figured out."

He snorted. "Iron Man? You mean that big heap of-"

She smiled. "You don't have to do that with me, you know."

"Do what?"

"The act."

"What act are you referring to, ma'am?"

"The act that you put on for everyone around you. I see more than you think, child."

He sniffed. "I'm not a child."

She regarded him carefully. "No, I don't suppose you ever were."

"And you? Have you been a soldier for long?"

"I'm not a soldier. I'm an Avenger."

He nodded. "Right. And your Avengers are fighting against one another? Strange world, this one."

She lowered her head. "Things are… complicated right now. But the Avengers are a team, just like your Invaders. In fact, we have learned much from you."

"Really? You know about us, even now?"

"Of course. Now come on, James. We'd best keep moving before we lose the cover of nightfall."

His eyes widened. "How did you…. how do you know my name?"

She stopped.

"Do we know each other, in this life?"

"I ….. I can't say anything."

He locked his hand around her wrist. "So I do make it home from the war, then? Oh, no. Tell me I'm not your father. Jesus, you know how long I've been droolin' over you?"

She laughed. "No, you're not my dad. We're… friends."

He looked at her curiously. "My friends call me Bucky."

"Well, maybe I know you a little better than the rest," she said.

He grinned. "How much better?"


"What can I say? I'm a sucker for a beautiful lady. So, you wanna plant one on me, or what?"

She wrinkled her nose. "I don't think so. Are you even eighteen yet, kid?"

"I'll be nineteen soon, as a matter of fact," he said defensively. He grinned "Totally legal."

She rolled her eyes. "Keep moving. We're almost there."

"Well, can we at least hold hands? My friend Toro will be totally jealous."

"Ugh, fine. If it'll keep you mobile."

He took her right hand in his left and she gasped. "What's the matter, beautiful?"

"N-nothing," she said, running her fingers over his hand. "It's nothing."

"Hey, are you okay, sweetheart?"

She nodded. "Yeah," she whispered, tightening her hand around his. "I'm fine." She thought for a moment, searching for something to change the subject. "Wait, so you're not yet nineteen? That means that you haven't met her…."


She grinned. "Nevermind. Just as long as I get you first."

He shook his head. "Strange girl in a strange land," he muttered.


"Okay now, keep close together," the one called Iron Man advised.

"Who was that pretty dame?" Toro whispered.

Bucky grinned slyly. "Natasha. My future girlfriend."

"No way," Toro said.

"What? Didn't you see me an' her holdin' hands?"

Toro shook his head. "If you get to make out with someone that looks like that, I'm going to be so pissed."

"Is everybody ready?" Cap asked as he shook hands with Iron Man.

Natasha walked slowly up to him. "Take care of yourself, Young James," she said, leaning over to press a soft kiss on his cheek.

Toro's eyes widened. "No way… " he whispered again.

"Way," Bucky whispered back.

As Natasha turned to go, he placed both hands on either side of her waist from behind and whirled her around to face him. "Don't forget me." He pulled her close against him and bent her over backwards in his arms, kissing her deeply on the lips.

The others all laughed and cheered. When he pulled back, he saw that Toro had turned his head defiantly away. "Thanks, babe," he said with a wink.

"What did I tell you?" she hissed. Her face was as red as her hair as she slowly backed away.


"Do you think they got back safe?" She asked later that night as she was getting ready for bed.

"I'm sure they did," James reassured her.

She smiled softly. "I learned a lot about you today."

He laughed. "And I finally got to make you blush."

She placed her hands on her hips. "And I made your heart pound before she did."

He frowned. "What?"

"You… weren't yet nineteen," she whispered.

"Nat…. Since when are you the jealous type?"

"I'm not… it's just…. not cool to be reminded of certain things."

He sighed, placing his arms around her waist. "Well, why don't we go to bed now?" He asked huskily, grazing his lips across her forehead. "You can make my heart pound and I can figure out a few new ways to make you blush."

She grinned, resting her hands against his chest. "I think that was just a one -time occurrence," she said.

He winked. "We'll see."

She laughed. "I guess some things never do change."

He raised an eyebrow. "Such as?"

"You're still a cocky son of a bitch."