Uniquely Perfect

Title:  Uniquely Perfect
Author:  Terri
E-Mail:  xgrrl26@yahoo.com
Rating:  NC-17, Hank lovin'
Disclaimer:  I don't own any of them except the little one putting his appearance in at the end ;)
Feedback:  Please!  Pretty please?  With a twinkie on top?  Good, bad, and ugly welcome
Archive:  Dolphin Haven, Peep Hut  anyone else, please ask ;)
Summary:  Sequel to Hank's Tale in First Times and Fantasies Two (which can be found in the Co-Authored fic section of Dolphin Haven, http://www.dreamwater.org/ddfh)
Comments:  This one almost turned out uber-angsty!  Luckily, for Hank and Charlene, I came to my senses and did a rewrite making things better :)  Angst-o-rama, while it would vent some of my personal life frustrations, just didn't fit the tone of this light and happy (usually) series.  The themes in this one were prompted by a couple of things.  I have a friend who is part Japanese and part Irish and just drop-dead gorgeous.  If she'd wanted to, she totally could've been a model.  She's the kind of person you see on the street and think  she's got to be on TV or something, she's just so darn good-looking!  Well, the interesting thing about her is that she *hates* her looks, and not in that false-modesty  gosh, I'm not attractive, am I?  *eyelash double blink* - kind of way.  She's had a lot of bad experiences, and a lot of unwelcome male attention come her way because of them, and she's often wished to be more 'average' looking.  I found it interesting that she had so many of the same negative feelings that some of us average folks those who struggle with our bodies and appearance (ahem, me) because we don't conform to the super-thin, super-tall, tiny-waisted-and-huge-boobed, killer-babe ideal that she embodies - do.  That shows up here in Charlene :)  This also reflects a bunny someone sent (I want to blame Tiffany, but I'm not 100% sure it was her vicious killer demon- er, bunny) observing that Hank's highly advanced intellect must be somewhat isolating;  what would it be like to have to constantly 'slow down' for other people?  For those few people who are really so ahead of the rest of us, it's got to be like constantly trying to teach someone to tie their shoes.  Lastly, this reflects several conversations I've had with friends about why we do things/react certain ways when there's no rational reason to do it  we usually think  hey, we're reasonably intelligent, logical, educated folks, so why do we do things that don't make sense?  Eventually, the concept of 'emotional sense' hit.  No, there aren't rational reasons for some things, but if you look at the person's emotional history, the things they do tend to make a lot of emotional sense.  For example  if my friend sits down to dinner and there's an argument, she gets so upset that she has to leave, even if she's not participating in the argument and even if it's not a 'mean' argument.  It takes her back to when her parents fought over the dinner table, and makes her feel like a scared and helpless kid again.  So, no matter how well she knows that she's in no physical danger when two of her dining companions begin arguing the 2002 IRA minimum distribution rule changes, her emotional reaction is just the same as it was when she was younger.  Leaving the table makes no logical sense, but it makes emotional sense.  Which isn't to say it doesn't need to be dealt with  the rational mind needs to get it's foot in the door there, and if it can, she'll have much more pleasant dining experiences, especially if she insists on eating with lawyers ;)  Still, when you look back on what you or someone else does, it can help to realize the emotional motivation behind it.  Hank and Charlene do a bit of this kind of thing here.  Finally  yes, I can still write some damn long author's notes ;)


Scott looked up from the kitchen table as Bobby came through the door.  He, Logan, and Remy were all eagerly awaiting word from his encounter with the newest guest at the mansion  Hank's friend, Charlene.  As they'd suggested on the camping trip, Hank had invited her to visit the mansion, and she'd accepted.  They were all pulling for Hank, and eager to know more about his prospective girlfriend. 

"Well?" Scott queried when Bobby failed to immediately burst into an explanation.

"Charlene has landed," Bobby allowed, fidgeting.

"And?" Logan prompted. 


"Mon ami, spit it out, non?  We can' take all dis suspense."

"She's a little different than I thought she'd be."  Bobby pulled up a chair next to Scott, reaching for one of the apples from the basket on the table.  He didn't eat it; he began playing with it.  "She's  she's seriously good-looking.  I mean Victoria's Secret good-looking.  I mean Baywatch good-looking.  I thought Hank was just being nice when he described her, you know?  He said she was Charlene-like and that her eyes were evenly spaced.  That usually translates to  she's a five, maybe a six.  This girl  she's a ten, definitely.  She's got long curly hair, a body that doesn't quit, and a face that  well, you get my point.  She's a babe, she really is."

"So?" Logan grunted.  "Ain't that a good thing?"

"Um, not really," Bobby hedged.  "I mean  I love the Hankster.  He deserves a killer babe that's got mega brain power.  But it makes me think she's really not  that there's really not a chance for Hank to get some lovin' here.  This girl could have anybody.  Heck, I'd date her in a second.  I just think if she's been a little more  you know, average, that Hank would have a better chance.  I  I hope we haven't encouraged him into doing this only to get himself rejected," Bobby finished, finally taking a bite of the apple.  Remy gently nodded agreement, and Scott slumped back in his chair with a frown, but Logan leaned forward, across the table, eyebrow raised. 

"You people are a buncha morons, you know that?"

"What?"  Scott put in.  "We're being realistic, Logan. We're not  we're not saying Charlene might not like him, but more physically attractive people have more options, that's just how it is.  We'd all like to think that looks don't matter, that we're not all that shallow, but the honest truth is that looks make a difference."

"Yeah, they do," Logan allowed, "but this girl's supposedta be smart, right?  Then she should be smart enough to know that looks  well, they're the first thing to go, and they ain't somethin' to pick someone on.  Sure, you gotta like how they look, at least a little, but both her and Hank are smart enough to know that you gotta pick someone that's got a lot more goin' for 'em than lookin' good."

"So you be tellin' us dat you pick Rogue even if she not be so beautiful, hmm?"

"Watch it, Cajun," Logan warned.  "You ain't supposedta be noticin' how she looks."

"Hard to miss, mon ami."

"Well, you keep your slimy little French eyes to yourself, huh?"

Scott interrupted their argument.  "You didn't answer the question."

Logan shook his head a little, and took a long swig of his beer.  "Before her, I went after blondes, and the occasional red-head.  Brunettes  well, they never usedta do it for me.  I liked my women with long legs, little feet, and a submissive streak."  Scott made the frown associated with being on the receiving end of TMI.  "But then I met Rogue.  Started thinkin' to myself  you know, brown hair, it's pretty nice, especially with a long white streak in it.  Found myself wonderin' why I never went for big breasts before.  Started thinkin' I'd been missin' out, that maybe, all put together in the right package, what Rogue had were all the best qualities you could ask for.  What I'm sayin' here is  you meet the right person, and all those little things you usedta prefer  you find out they ain't what really does it for ya.   Havin' the right person is the most important thing."  He snorted and sat back a little.  "Shit, I bet she wasn't sittin' in her room in Mississippi, dreamin' 'bout some ugly mother fucker who fought for money and who smelled like beer and cigars and sweat and who had six more metal claws than lifetime memories.  But I was the right person for her, and she was the right one for me, so there ya have it."

"So what made her the right person?"  Logan glared at him, but Bobby persisted.  "I'm serious  I really want to know."

"Nobody's business."

"Come on, Logan  you can tell us," Scott encouraged.  "I'll tell you all what I love about Kitty."

"Christ.  Spare me."

"Come on, homme.  Jus' one t'ing."

Logan grumbled, but then seemed to have hit on something.  "I've never, not once, scented fear on her around me.  Smelled it on all of you, and damn near everyone else I've ever met  you've all been afraida me one time or another.  Not her.  Not even when she saw the claws come out on the first damn day she met me.  Didn't scare her, not one bit.  Hell, she hitched a ride with me.  That right there told me she was different, and somethin' to hang on to."

"That's sweet, you big old softie," Bobby teased, earning a claw-finger from Logan. 

"Logan's right, you know," Scott mused.  "I never liked younger women before Kitty.  I always wanted to be with someone older, more experienced, someone who could teach me things, someone that would be proof of my own maturity, someone who was sexually  "

"Enough!" Logan interrupted, getting up from his chair.  "Jesus, I don't wanna know that shit, Cyke.  I'm outta here." 

The other men watched Logan go, each nursing his own thoughts.  Finally, Remy broke the silence.  "Bonne chance, Hank."

The next morning, the usual mansion suspects made their way down for breakfast.  Noticeably absent from their gathering was one Dr. Henry McCoy.  This was the subject of much speculation by the other breakfast-goers. 

"Mebbe de beast get lucky," Remy speculated.  "Charlene's car  it still be outside."

"Oh!" Marie started.  "Maybe they stayed up all night talking  you know, having one of those 'soulmate' talks.."

"Hmph.  They probably got all wrapped up in discussing some scientific thingamagig or doing some experiment," Bobby speculated.  "That would be just like the Hankster."

"Leave the damn guy be," Logan pronounced.  "Whatever he's doin', it ain't none of our business.  'Sides  we'll find out soon enough.  They gotta come outta that lab sometime."

Right on cue, a bleary-eyed Hank stumbled upstairs and into the kitchen.  All of the other occupants stared at him, and he found it a bit unnerving.  "Is everything all right up here?"

"Yeah," Logan answered with a grunt.  "We're all havin' breakfast and mindin' our own damn business, right?"




Hank shook his head a bit more, and headed for the fridge.  "Say, do we still have any of that kiwi yogurt?  I find myself having quite a taste for it this morning."

"What about Charlene?  Does she want yogurt too?  Did you two work up an appetite last night?"  Bobby inquired, earning himself an elbow to the ribs from Logan. 

"She has requested a bagel, which I have already located," Hank replied nonchalantly.  "I cannot locate the yogurt, at least not the kiwi variety.  There appears to only be strawberry or blackberry remaining.  Oh, stars," Hank sighed, emerging from the fridge with a cinnamon-raisin bagel and a container of the blackberry yogurt in hand, "I really did have my heart  or rather, my stomach  set on kiwi."

"OK," Bobby blurted out, "I can't take it anymore!  What's going on with Charlene?" 

"Bobby," Rogue chided, as she moved to get something out of the cupboards. 

"Oh, come on!  You're all dying to know!  Spill it, Hank!"

"Um," Hank temporized, "She is joining me for breakfast.  In the lab.  Not up here."  Exposing her to his teammates most definitely did *not* seem like a good idea; they were way too interested in poking and prodding and interrogating her, Hank could tell.  That's why he'd asked her to wait in the lab as he retrieved her breakfast.  His judgment had been more than amply confirmed by his friends' behavior so far.

"Sounds good to me, sugar."  Somehow, Rogue managed to issue the words as both a soothing coo and a threat.  "Why don't you use this tray to take it down to her, hmm?  There's some napkins and utensils, and some cups for coffee.  Did you make some downstairs or would you like me to pour you some?"

"There is some downstairs," Hank sighed, filled with gratitude, both at her assistance and her thoughtfulness. 

"Then, scoot, go have your breakfast," she ordered, shooing him towards the lab.  Hank gave her one last over-the-shoulder, fang-filled smile before heading down.

"Ro-o-o-ogue," Bobby protested.  "Now we don't know what happened last night."

"Bobby, it's Hank's friend and his business.  How would you like it if someone stuck their nose in at a delicate juncture in your love life?" 

"I don't have a love life," he replied reflexively. 

"Gee, I wonder why that is," Logan sneered, as he returned to his bacon, sausage, and ham breakfast.

Hank descended the stairs with breakfast in hand, more than a bit uncertain.  Charlene seemed to have been sending off some signals that she may be romantically interested in him  her simple, easy assent to spending the night when they'd found themselves still talking at 2 am was chief among them, along with her seeming total lack of aversion to sleeping in the same bed as him when they finally both ran out of steam.  They'd both been fully clothed, of course, and absolutely no hanky-panky of any kind had occurred, but Hank found himself looking back on it with more than a little longing.  He'd been especially curious as to whether sleeping with another person was as pleasant as he'd imagined it to be, and this experience had exceeded his expectations.  Of course, the fact that Charlene had awoken and left the bed before he'd gotten up was a bit disconcerting  when he found her, she was checking her e-mail on his computer and seemed pleasant enough, but Hank wondered if he'd done anything during the night to put her off, or if perhaps he simply appeared less attractive to her in the morning light.  He sighed.  He hoped he hadn't done anything as embarrassing as smooshing her during sleep or grabbing her in an inappropriate spot. 

"Hey, you're back," she greeted. 

"Indeed.  And I come bearing breakfast."  Hank set the tray down on his desk, and, after retrieving a carafe of coffee, he pulled up a chair to join her.   "Would you like cream, or sugar?"

"Nope, black is fine by me."  She smiled, and Hank smiled back.  He willed himself not to feel awkward.  "Did you sleep well?"

"Ah, yes, very well.  Very soundly.  I  I hope that I did not take up more than my fair share of the bed space and covers."  That was the most tactful way he could think of to open the topic of any possible nocturnal wrongdoing on his part.

"Oh no," Charlene reassured, sipping at her coffee.  "I woke up with one leg thrown over you  I'm glad my sprawling didn't bother your sleep."

"Not in the least.  You are quite an amenable bedmate."  Hank caught himself a bit at that  it had come out  well, if not flirty, at least definitively forward.  "Ah, I mean to say  "

"I know," Charlene smiled.  "It was nice.  I don't think I've slept in the same bed as someone else since I was little.  You generate a lot of body heat.  It's nice." 

"I am glad," Hank managed.  "And I am glad you stayed over.  I very much enjoyed your company, both while conscious and while asleep." 

As he had hoped, Charlene laughed a little.  "I'm glad you invited me, Hank.  Your lab is amazing, and I've really enjoyed being able to take a peek around.  But I'm glad we got the chance to talk a little and get to know each other better too.  I don't  I'm not really good at that kind of thing."

"Nonsense," Hank countered.  "You are quite friendly and social."

"Not really," Charlene averred.  "I get nervous, around people.  I  I'm not a good 'mixer' or anything like that and when I have to  to do something social, not work-related, it makes me really uneasy.  I mean, I feel really confident in my intelligence, and my scientific abilities, you know?  I don't mean to sound egotistical, but I know that I'm smart and I know that I'm good at what I do."

"There is no reason to hide that particular light under a bushel.  You are certainly one of the most intelligent people I have ever met."

'Thanks.  But the social thing  it's hard for me."

"You make it look easy," Hank said, leaning toward her a bit.  "You were very open and welcoming to me, a total stranger, when we met at the conference."

"Well, to tell the truth," she fidgeted, "I'd been watching you a little.  I  I'd heard about your work and read some of your papers, and I was interested in talking with you.  You always come across as so  so bright, but also kind of common-sensical, you know?  And very patient  your articles for lay people are very patient and well-done.  Anyway, at the conference, I noticed that you were  you were really nice and unfailingly polite to people there, even the ones who were rude to you.  You seemed safe to approach."

"Safe?" Hank repeated.  "Interesting choice of words for someone with fangs and claws."  He was partly teasing, and that tone came through, but he was also earnestly curious. 

Charlene sighed and put down her coffee.  Hank guessed that something serious was about to emerge in the conversation, and he listened intently.  "Safe  it's a big thing with me.  I  I had the standard bad childhood, you know?  I didn't grow up feeling safe, and it's something I've looked for, almost obsessively, all of my adult life.  I've only ever felt that kind of peace, that kind of ease that I'm looking for around a few people  certainly never around any man, not before I met you at the conference.  I just  I just don't trust them."  Her eyes flitted up to his, and, apparently seeing what she'd sought there, she continued.  "I know what I look like, you know.  I'm not  I like to ignore it, but I'm not oblivious.  I know that people  people make certain assumptions about me based on my appearance.    They act aggressively toward me sometimes, men do, because they assume I'm accustomed to being approached.  I guess I am, but I still don't like it when  when someone corners me on the street to ask me out or when someone gives me that look  that look like I'm on the menu or something.  It makes me really nervous and you're  well, you're probably the only straight guy I've ever met that *didn't* have that reaction to my appearance."  When Hank only looked back at her, dumbfounded, she averted her eyes and stammered, "You know, I just sounded like an egomaniac there, didn't I?  Part egomaniac and part whiny thirtysomething.  Can we  can I just take that last bit back?  Maybe we can go back to talking about anti-biotics and microbial resistance or  "

"I'd rather not."  Hank tried to smile reassuringly as he finally found his voice again.  "My apologies for  for the lack of response, but I was thinking.  I was thinking that a lot of what you said hit a chord with me.  I have often felt a prisoner of my own appearance, albeit for very different reasons than you have experienced.  I sympathize completely with being the object of undesired attention.  I too, find myself seeking 'safe' people  people who are demonstratively nice to mutants, to those who are different  in social situations.  Charlene, you have articulated so well many of my own feelings  I apologize, I was a bit stricken by it.  I do not think you egotistical or the least bit whiny."  That got him a warm smile.  "I am glad you have shared these thoughts with me.  It makes me feelconsiderably less alone to know that you struggle with similar issues, although I certainly would relieve you of those concerns if I could.  I find it sad that you do not enjoy your appearance, the look of your own body.  I find it very sad  and I know the feeling well."

"Do you ever look in the mirror and think  God, I wish I looked completely different?"


Charlene seemed ready to say something more, but then she caught herself a bit.  "Not  not that you should think that.  Not that there's a single thing wrong with how you look."

"Of course."  Hank gave her a nervous smile. 

"Hank," she continued softly, leaning forward and taking his hand in hers for good measure.  "I said that because I can understand how someone so different-looking would want to look average.  That's  that's kind of how I feel.  I like how you look, you know.  You're  you're quite handsome."

"That's very kind of you to say."

"I mean it," she whispered, tightening her hold on his hand.  "Maybe I see people a little differently, but when I look at someone, I like being able to really look at them, you know?  To be able to look in their eyes without getting nervous or afraid or feeling uncomfortable. I can do that with you.  I like to look at someone who looks back at me like I'm *there*, you know?  Someone who's listening to the words coming out of my mouth and looking at me to see how I feel, or think.  I hate talking to someone who's looking at my chest or something the whole time.  You look at me like I'm really a person, not some kind of pretty *thing*.  I never get the impression that you're talking to me but secretly wondering how quickly you can get something out of me or take what you want from me.  I like looking back at someone like that, I like it a lot."

Hank frowned a bit.  "What happened in your past, what made you nervous around men, it was very bad, wasn't it?"  Charlene gave a teary nod, but she didn't let go of Hank's hand.  "I am so very sorry that you have had to go through that."  She was surprised by that, he could tell.  "Charlene?"

"Sorry.  I just  I just  no one's ever said they're sorry for  for things before.  That really moved me.  It caught me off guard.  Sorry."

"It's all right," Hank soothed, rubbing at the back of her hand with his thumb, gently.  "I am glad you confided in me a bit.  Please know that I  I shall not push, but if you ever wish to discuss anything with me, I am here for you."

"Same here," Charlene wobbled out.  She gave his hand one last firm squeeze, then let out a happy sigh, and went back to her breakfast, indicating the close of serious conversation.  Hank smiled too, and found himself flooded with warm and protective feelings toward her.  Whether or not Charlene harbored romantic feelings for him, he was definitely beginning to develop some for her. 

Hank and Charlene soon fell into a pattern of spending weekends together at the mansion, at his lab.  She was polite to the other residents, but usually made a b-line for Hank's domain as soon as she got there.  It was on one wintry Saturday, the eighth she'd spent at the mansion, that Rogue finally managed to corral Charlene alone for a bit in the kitchen  Hank was running late, thanks to the bad roads, and Marie thought it a perfect opportunity to both get to know Hank's friend a bit better, and to fend off the other, still quite curious and altogether less tactful, mansion gossips. 

"Hey there.  I'm Rogue.  I think we met a few weeks ago."

"Yes.  You opened the door when I rang.  Nice  nice to see you again."  Marie took notice of Charlene's tense body language and fidgeting.  The fact that she'd sequestered herself with Hank each weekend had already told Marie Charlene was likely a bit introverted, but seeing her now ratcheted up that estimation a few notches. 

"I was just about to make myself some hot cocoa  want some?  I'm from Mississippi, you know, and anything below freezing feels like arctic to me."

"Um, no, thanks.  I'll just wait for Hank." 

Marie gave her a gentle smile and nod, then began milling about to make the cocoa.  "Hank's a good friend."


"He's so smart, too  he constantly amazes the Professor, and he's one of the smartest people going."


"I'm glad you're spending some time with him.  I worry sometimes that he spends too much time alone, working in that lab."


Marie sighed, and changed tactics.  "You know, he's been a lot happier since you started coming over.  I can tell that he really enjoys your company."


"Mmm-hmmm.  He kind of lights up around you.  You two must've really clicked.  I think sometimes that Hank, he needs someone really smart to talk to, someone on his level brain-wise.  Oh, he's never one to flaunt his intelligence or get all stuffy and intellectual, but I can tell that sometimes he wants to be with someone he can go full speed ahead with, not a bunch of  people he has to take baby steps with just to explain something so they'll understand."

"I know what you mean," Charlene said, finally appearing to relax a bit.  "I feel that way too."  Rogue smiled and nodded, but Charlene jumped and covered her mouth with her hand.  "Not  not that I think I'm as smart as Hank, oh no, I  "

"From what he says, you are, sugar.  Nothing to be worried about there.  Heck, I wish I was as smart as you guys, but I'm not.  Everyone gets different things  smart just isn't mine."

"I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to be rude."

"You weren't," Marie said good-naturedly as she put two cups down on the table.  "I know some of the inhabitants around here  well, we're a strange bunch, and I don't mean because of the mutations.  But don't let the weird ones scare you off or make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells all the time.  If Hank likes you, you're definitely in friendly company around here."

"Thanks," Charlene smiled.  "I  when I'm here, I talk with Hank, you know, about things, and we're pretty honest with one another, pretty up-front.  I guess I just tend to slip into that mode as soon as I walk in the door."

"I think he brings that out in people  he's such an honest guy himself, you know?"  Charlene nodded, and Marie broke from her cocoa preparations, encouraged.  "Plus, he's got a big heart.  That's always a good combination."  That brought another nod.  Marie smiled.

Unfortunately, Marie's progress was interrupted when Logan chose that moment to see what was taking her so long with the cocoa.  He got very grumpy when Marie-deprived for any length of time.  When he stomped into the kitchen, his eyes caught and held Charlene's, just for a brief moment, but it was enough.  "You know what?" Charlene ventured.  "I  I think I'll just wait in the lab.  Thanks."  She skittered downstairs quickly, giving Logan a wide berth. 

"Oh, sugar, I think you scared her off.  We were just beginning to have a nice talk."

"Sorry," Logan apologized.  "I tried to look friendly."  Marie gave him a soft smile.  "Missed ya.  And I want some cocoa."

"You are a big softie," Marie teased. 

Charlene made it to the lab without incident, settling herself into the big chair behind Hank's desk to wait for him.  After about twenty minutes, she stole a blanket from his bed to wrap herself up in while she waited  the mansion was getting cold, but everything in the lab was still on, so she thought perhaps there had been some problem with the furnace.  She certainly wasn't heading upstairs to find out.  That guy in the kitchen  when she'd told Hank that sometimes people look at her like she's on the menu, she'd never meant it literally, but that guy definitely made her feel like a tiny bunny rabbit staring down a big, hungry wolf.  Reflecting on it in the safety of the lab, she realized that he was the Wolverine, the one Hank spoke of as having an animal side.  He'd cautioned her not to feel frightened if the man had a rough demeanor; Hank had assured her that he was not a threat to her.

Charlene passed another few moments thinking about him, and about Rogue, before turning her thoughts to something more comforting  Hank.  She hoped he would be home soon and decided to close her eyes for just a moment, to get some rest in anticipation of the excitement his arrival would bring.

Hank arrived home over three hours late.  The early season blizzard currently socking the east coast with snow was intensifying, and there had been several accidents along the way home, two of which he stopped at to render aid until the arrival of the paramedics.  He was cranky, tired, and disheveled, but his spirits lifted dramatically when he saw a curled-up Charlene waiting for him in the lab. 

Not wanting to wake her, he gently hefted her up and placed her in his bed.  They'd taken to sleeping together there each weekend night during her visits.  Nothing more that sleep and a few caresses coupled with gentle kisses had occurred on those nights, but Hank heartily looked forward to curling himself around her, and sharing her space.  She stirred a bit as he settled in beside her.

"I fell asleep."

"Yes.  You can go back to sleep if you wish." 

She wriggled around so that she faced him, and blinked open her eyes.  "Did you have a long drive home?"

"Quite.  I stopped at two accident sites.  There were injuries, and I felt compelled to assist the victims.  But I apologize for keeping you waiting for so long," Hank finished, stroking her hair gently. 

"I'm glad you made it home safe," she sighed, hugging herself to him. 

"I am glad you made it here before the snows.  With any luck at all, this storm may keep you here an extra day or two," he teased.

"Mmmm," Charlene agreed.  "I wouldn't mind that one bit."  Hank felt her warm lips on his neck, laying moist kisses there.  He wound his arms around her, and lolled his head back, to better enjoy her attentions. 

"That feels amazing," he purred, settling a hand at the small of her back and using his thumb to massage her in just the right spot.  At length, she propped herself up on one elbow and looked down into his eyes.  Leaning forward slowly until her lips met his, she began kissing him quite passionately.  Hank returned her ardor, adding moans and sighs along the way as he lost himself in the sheer sensuality of it.  Both of his legs became entwined with hers, and her hands were soon tugging at his hair, just hard enough to make his body respond. 

Hank had gotten an erection while in close proximity to Charlene before  in fact, it had happened several times.  He tried not to be embarrassed by it, or by the subsequent need to excuse himself to the bathroom to relieve it, and Charlene seemed generally flattered and only occasionally nervous or unsteady when it happened.  But now, as she shifted her body atop his, and felt the evidence of his excitement, she stopped kissing him a little abruptly. 


"Hank  do you want to  to  "  She cut herself off and bit her lower lip in contemplation.  Hank watched as she seemed to come to a decision, then hoisted her sweater over her head.  She was wearing a white sheer bra underneath, one through which her nipples were clearly visible.  Hank was transfixed by her, and only finally realized he was staring when she smiled at him with glimmering eyes.  "I thought maybe we could, you know, go a little further."

"Yes," Hank readily agreed, running his hands up her sides and over her stomach before anchoring them on her breasts for a gentle squeeze.  He watched with satisfaction as her back arched a little at that, and her head dipped back.  He slowly moved to reverse their positions  he lay Charlene down on her back, on the bed, and leaned over her, careful not to rest his weight on top of her.  Leisurely, he explored her body, running his fingers and palms over every inch of it that she had exposed.  When she seemed ready, he slid a finger under her bra strap and gave it a little tug.  "May I?" 

Charlene nodded, and arched up to allow Hank access to her bra clasp. After a few tries and an embarrassed smile that Charlene found especially cute, he got it undone.  Touching her reverently, he resumed caressing her breasts, but soon leaned his head down, seeking permission to taste as well as touch her.  Feeling her fingers tangle in his hair and draw him nearer, he flicked his tongue out, brushing it once over her nipple. 

That elicited a moan that went directly to Hank's groin, so he did it again, then latched on to her, lapping and sucking at her in earnest.  Hank lost track of time here a bit  it wasn't until he felt her hands squirming between their bodies to undo and push down her pants that he realized he must've spent quite a long time tasting her.  The wiggling motion of her body and the scent of her arousal made him eager to taste her in other places as well.  He tore his mouth away from her breasts, and looked into her eyes. 

"I would like very much to pleasure you orally."  Hank realized how silly it sounded as soon as it was out, but Charlene was only looking at him with soft eyes. 

"I'd like that."  She finished squirming out of her pants, and opened her legs a little.  Hank kissed her stomach as he worked his way down.  When he reached the juncture between her legs, he paused. 

"I have never really done this before.  Please  tell me what you enjoy."  For a moment, he thought she was on the verge of tears, but when she reached down to stroke his cheek, he realized it was because she was moved; it was emotional for her.  He captured her hand, kissing the palm, then set about his task. 

Hank had heard this particular act described in a variety of ways, but as soon as his questing tongue met her flesh, he immediately thought that the analogy of licking at a honey pot was most apt.  She was warm, tangy, and salty there, and the taste was addictive.  Her legs fell open wider as he delved more deeply inside her with his tongue, and he found himself cupping and supporting her buttocks when she began to writhe beneath him.  He switched the focus of his attentions to the tiny nub of flesh just above her entrance, and was rewarded with throaty moans and even more writhing.  Encouraged, he pleasured her faster and more firmly, keeping his pace up until he heard her cry out and felt her buck, hard, into his face.  A rush of wetness followed, and he was halfway toward lapping her clean before he realized that they may need that lubrication if she desired other activities.  Reluctantly, he pulled himself away and sat up a bit to look at her. 

The first thing he noticed was that she was naked.  Oh, of course, he knew that, but the sight of her naked was so novel, and so wonderful, that his brain brought it front and center each time.  The next thing he noticed was that her skin was flushed  all over.  That made his erection become almost painful.  She turned her head to meet his eyes, and he saw plain wonder and satisfaction there.  For his first time, he thought, he did all right. 

"Oh, Hank," she sighed, beckoning him to come to her.  He complied, and hesitated only a moment before sharing her taste with her in a deep kiss.  "So good," she murmured, after leaving him breathless from the kiss.  "Do you  would you like me to do that for you?"

Most of Hank's hormones were leaping up and down at that, but he answered, "What would you like to do?"

Charlene answered with gentle but deft fingers, fingers that divested Hank of his clothing and then lingered at the heaviness below his waist, stroking him with exquisite tenderness.  It was his turn to slump back to the bed, and be pleasured. 

Charlene continued stroking him, gluing herself to his side and licking at his ears and nipples while she murmured words of admiration of his body.  Hank let himself get lost in her words and touches, and it wasn't long at all before he found release.  With a cry verging on a roar, he emptied himself as she gave him a few, final, firm strokes, and then he quickly sought her eyes, to make sure she was all right with this. 

She looked a bit unsteady, but he gathered her in an embrace, nuzzling her cheek and neck, and he felt all the tension bleed from her body.  He loved that he could do that for her, maybe best of all.  "That was truly amazing, my love."

"I can do you orally next time, OK?"

"If you like," Hank murmured.  "I am ecstatic that there shall be a next time."

"Definitely," Charlene sighed.  "Hank  have you ever, you know, been with a woman?  You mentioned you never did, um, some things before, but are you still a virgin?"

"Yes," he whispered.

"Me too."  He squeezed her and kissed her temple.  "I think maybe I'd like to change that, for both of us.  Tonight.  If  if you want to too."

Hank once again felt his body respond and, pressed tightly to her as he was, he knew she felt it too.  But he still felt he needed to tell her a few things.  "I would very much like that.  If you want to.  I understand that the first time  it can be painful, and I am somewhat large.  I shall be as careful as possible, but I fear that it shall  it may not be pleasant for you in any case.  If you would like me to stop at any time, simply say so, and I shall."  Charlene favored him with a solemn nod, then rolled to her back.  "Would it be easier for you to be on top?" Hank queried, remembering his bulk. 

"I'd like for you to be.  I don't think you'll be too heavy."

"Let me know if you change your mind," Hank whispered.  He rolled atop her and positioned himself at her entrance.  Parting her legs a bit further, he began easing himself inside her. 

He went agonizingly slowly, gauging her comfort at each minute step.  When he was all the way in, he felt already as though he could hold out no longer; it felt better than anything he'd ever imagined.  He let out a grunt with his first thrust, trying to keep the sensations her heat and wetness were producing at bay.  After about a dozen strokes, he felt her body give way a bit, accommodating him at last.  He checked Charlene's expression and found her lips pressed together tightly.  He had been right  she was in pain.  "Stop?" he panted.  She shook her head.  With one hand, he fished for hers and held it as he began thrusting inside her again.  He tried to tell her with his eyes what he could not make his brain form into words.  Soon, his body took over, drawing him inside her more deeply and at a much quicker pace until he gave one long, deep, final thrust, and spasmed, loosing himself inside her.  It wasn't until then, not until after he was completely spent and slumped on top of her, that it occurred to him that they hadn't used birth control.  He started, and picked his head up to see her. 

"Charlene," he began in a whisper, "we did not use contraception."

"It's OK," she whispered back, looking tired but still filled with warmth and affection.  "Can you ease out?  I'm  I'm a little sore."

"Of course."  Hank did as she asked, then held her to the bed with a soft hand upon her stomach as he peered down between her legs to assess any damage.  He saw blood on the sheets, maybe a few tablespoons worth, but no tears in her flesh as far as he could see.  "How do you feel?"

"Loved," she answered simply, making it impossible for Hank not to swoop down for a passionate kiss.  "I'm glad it was you for my first time."

"As am I."  She snuggled herself into his embrace, and he began massaging her hips, hoping to ease her discomfort.  "I shall remember a condom next time."

"Mmmm." Charlene purred.  "Or I could go on the pill.  We should  we should decide together."

Hank chuckled softly at that.  "I take it that this means, my lady, that you wish to be together intimately on a regular basis?"

"Mmm-hmmm."  Her skin flushed pink and she buried her head in his shoulder.  "On a very regular basis."  Hank laughed again, then settled her into a comfortable spot as she fell into sleep. 

After Charlene left - this time on a Tuesday, partly in deference to mother nature and partly due to her newfound absorption in her lover - Hank sought out the one person in the mansion he could trust to both keep a secret and offer good advice of the type he was seeking - Logan.  The Wolverine might not spring to everyone's mind when considering a potential confidant, but Hank knew him to be honest, loyal, and sharper than people generally gave him credit for.  He was also discreet, and experienced, which could not be said of Hank's best friend, Bobby.  Hank found him at the edge of the grounds  he was leaned back against a tree, sitting on the cold, snowy ground, smoking a cigar.  Rogue was a few feet away, well-bundled, and painting on a canvas.  Hank smiled  he looked forward to seeing her interpretation of the wintry scenery. 

"Hey, Hank."  Logan hadn't taken his eyes from Rogue, and Hank chastised himself for not remembering that Logan would smell him well before he saw him.  He approached Logan slowly, then sat down beneath one of the trees nearby. 

"Greetings.  It is a glorious, if cold, winter day."

"Mph.  Rogue wanted to get out and paint it, so it must be somethin' special.  You know how she don't like the cold."

"Indeed."  Hank sat in silence for a few moments, trying to think of how to broach the topic.  Luckily, Logan came up with something. 

"Charlene go back home?"

"Yes.  I quite enjoyed her stay."

"Ya smell like it."  Hank blushed, but it was well-hidden by his fur.  "Was it like ya thought it'd be?"

"Better," Hank admitted.  "And it was  it felt addictive.  Not just the physical sensations, although those were most wonderful, but also the emotional comfort and intimacy the act brings.  I feel closer to Charlene, and more emotionally content, than I can ever remember being."

"Mph.  Think she could be the one?"

"I  that is, in a way, what I would like some advice on.  We have had one splendid weekend, and I believe that our relationship has a solid foundation of friendship, but  but what does one do now?  I mean to say  is this it?  Not that this is bad, but is this  where do we go from here?"


"You see, I do not wish to rush her.  I feel that we both need to proceed at a slow, even pace in this relationship, that we must caution against  "  Hank was interrupted by a snort from Logan.  "What?"

"What makes you think you're gonna have any say-so 'bout the pace of things?"

"Well, ah, I tend to think that Charlene and I should collaborate and mutually set the pace of the relationship, so that it is the optimal path for both of us."

"Hank, you think too much."

"What do you mean?" 

"Love  sometimes you can do all the thinkin' and plannin' you like but love has other ideas.  Didya plan on gettin' with her this weekend?  Or havin' her snowed in here 'til Tuesday?"

"Well, no, but  "

"Didn't think so.  Hank, you're a smart guy  what does that tell ya, hmm?  You think I planned on Rogue jumpin' in my trailer, hitchin' a ride with me?  You think I planned on her gettin' kidnapped by Magneto, on me havin' to fight for her life a coupla days after I met her?  Lifesavin' ain't usually on the agenda for your second or third day ever knowin' somebody  that's sure as hell not how I'd normally operate.  Hell, I've known some people for years and I wouldn't cross the street to help 'em out.  But somethin' told me she was worth a lot to hang on to, so I put on the leather and did what hadta be done to make that happen.  Look, I dunno much, I'll grant ya that.  I don't have any big theories about how the universe works, or to damn much understandin' of it.  But I do know that when it comes to love, things tend to work out exactly *not* as planned.  Which ain't to say that that's a bad thing.  Just  you sittin' over here and ponderin' on the pace of things between you and her  well, it's kinda pointless.  If you think she might be the right one, just  you know, care for her and protect her and everythin' else will take care of itself."

"Do you really think that will work?"

Logan shrugged.  "Workin' pretty good for me so far." 

Hank couldn't help but smile at that  Logan was right; he and Rogue were very happy  but he still had doubts.  "We are very different people, though.  Your instincts guide many of your decisions, while my intellect tends to guide mine.  I often wish that I had some kind of short-cut around what can be a laborious thought and decision-making process, but I do not.  Making those kind of big decisions without extensive planning and foresight seems alien to me.  I am not certain that the approach you have found successful is suitable to my particular situation." 

"It ain't an either/or thing  I use the brain too, ya know.  Instincts  they gotta be tempered by your rational mind, but, Hank, everyone has 'em.  Some people are just better at, or more usedta, listenin' to 'em than other people.  Especially when you're talkin' 'bout love, 'bout emotions, your rational mind don't have too much to contribute sometimes.  You gotta go with your gut."

Hank frowned, and put a large, furry hand to his stomach, grounding Logan's advice with a quite literal interpretation.  "And if I do not know what my 'gut' desires?"

Logan harrumphed.  "Then ask yourself this  if you were pickin' between two things and you hadta flip a coin to decide 'em  heads, this one; tails, that one  which one would you be rootin' for?  Heads or tails?  That's what your gut says."

Hank pondered that for a moment, then turned to face Logan squarely.  "Yes, I see what you are saying.  That is  that is actually most helpful.  Thank you."

"Welcome."  Logan brought a cigar out of his jacket pocket and turned his full attention back to Rogue, signaling the end of the conversation.  Hank stood, brushed the snow off of his posterior, and headed inside.

Hank found himself following Logan's advice, and letting things unfold between himself and Charlene at a natural, unplanned pace.  All went well, very well, for the next few weeks.  However, as they reached the seven week anniversary of their first time together (an event they celebrated on a weekly basis, usually with more love-making), something truly unplanned asserted itself in their relationship. 

Charlene came to the mansion for her usual weekend visit.  Last week, Hank had asked her, in an unprecedented show of spontaneity, to move in with him.  She'd eagerly agreed, but wanted to wait until her apartment lease was up at the end of the month.  This weekend, and the next, were to be their last two spent living under separate roofs. 

However, Charlene lacked her usual light mood and happy disposition.  Hank could tell right away that something was bothering her.  Fearing that she was having second thoughts about moving in, he queried her, "Is everything all right?"

"No.  Not really.  I think  I think we need to talk."  She solemnly guided herself to Hank's desk chair and sat down slowly.  All kinds of alarms were going off in Hank's head  did she want to break up?  Had he done something wrong?  Was asking her to move in so soon a mistake?  "I have some  well, it's not bad news, necessarily, just some  some surprising news."

"OK," Hank replied, holding his breath and bracing for the worst. 

"Hank  there's no easy way to tell you this, but I'm  I'm pregnant." 

Hank sat in shock for a moment, then exhaled a huge sigh.  "Oh, thank goodness.  I thought for a moment something dire had happened or that you no longer wished to date me or that you were reconsidering the move or  ah, wait a moment.  Did you say pregnant?"  Charlene nodded.  "Oh dear."

"It must've happened that first time.  We were careful every other time.  I mean I know it sounds so stupid  of course you can get pregnant your first time, everybody knows that.  I feel really foolish  here we are, two smart, well-educated people and we  we might as well be in some teenage pregnancy after-school special.  Oh, Hank, I'm so sorry it turned out this way."

Hank scooted his chair over to hers, trying to regain some emotional equilibrium.  "Do not worry.  I, of course, am surprised, but your initial assessment was correct.  This is not necessarily bad news.  We are going to have a child  and, while I do not honestly feel ready to become a parent and would not have planned a child at this time in my life, I cannot say that there is any regret in my heart.  If I were to have a child at any time in my life, I would want to do so with you."  He thought those were the right words, judging by her watery smile, but he leaned forward to kiss her cheek for good measure.  "You know, a good friend of mine once told me that one cannot plan a relationship.  I know that we could have taken measures to avoid unplanned pregnancy, so I do not attribute that to karma or any such thing, but  but I am not at all regretful that these are the consequences of our actions." 

Charlene smiled and took his hands in hers.  "I kind of feel the same way  I'm really, really not feeling ready to be a mom, but it's going to happen, and if I could pick anyone to have a child with, it would be you.  I'm glad you want to  want to participate in having this child with me."

"Of course I do," Hank assured.  "Everything will be all right.  Now, we must begin a course of vitamins, and give you a preliminary check-up.  I want you to have nothing but the best possible care, my dear."

"I'm lucky to have you, Hank," Charlene beamed.   "I really do think that  that everything might turn out OK."  Hank returned her bright smile and even brighter spirits.  Logan had been right  you couldn't plan for some things.  Yes, this was a surprise, but they would deal with it.  He felt strangely settled for having been thrown such a big surprise, but, for now, he decided not to question that feeling.

Hank maintained his sunny demeanor until Charlene was nearing the end of her third trimester.  It was then that he could no longer ignore what he saw on the ultra sounds  pointed ears, perched on the top of the child's head, not at the side; thick limbs and fingers and toes; and, what appeared to be fuzz all over the child's body. 

Charlene had noticed his tension during the past few ultra sound exams, but he'd kept telling her that the baby was fine, that he was healthy.  Now, seeing his grim expression as he looked at the monitor, she decided to try again.  "Are you changing your mind?"

"What?"  Hank was pulled out of his train of thought by her words. 

"Now that the baby's almost here, now that it's getting bigger  are you changing your mind about all this, about helping me raise this baby?  It's OK, you know, if you are.  I won't  I won't hold you to  "

"I'm not changing my mind."

"What, then?  You look so  so sad."

"I'm afraid I have some bad news."  Hank felt an ironic twist in his gut at the words  unlike when she'd told him of the pregnancy, he couldn't even muster a 'surprising, not necessarily bad' spin on this news. 

"Is something wrong with the baby?"

"Yes," Hank answered simply, his own heart breaking in sympathy as he watched her face turn itself into a pained grimace.  "I'm afraid our son is  is  "  Hank's voice broke, and he had to swallow the emotions before continuing.  "He has inherited my mutation and is already exhibiting some of my  my characteristics in the womb.  It appears that his ears are similar to mine and  and he seems to have some sort of fur covering." 

"And?"  Hank gaped at her.  "Is he  will that cause him health problems, or birth defects?  Hank, I'm not  I'm not an obstetrician, you're going to have to spell it out for me a little more."

"I do not know.  I  allow me to back up a bit.  This child will be born mutated.  I should have realized that since my mutation was artificially induced that  that such might be the case.  I do not know of any reason to think that the child will have medical difficulties due to the mutation, but his appearance."

"That's all, Hank?  He'll be cosmetically different?"

"He  he may have my strength or agility or  or intelligence."

"Good."  Hank's head snapped up at that.  "I mean  OK, a super-strong, really agile and smart toddler will probably be more challenging than the regular garden variety kind, but it's good for him to have those things in the long run."  Hank only gaped at her some more.  "Look, I know  I know you really haven't liked what the mutation has done to your appearance, and I can guess how much you wanted your child to be free of all that.  But, Hank, if he's going to be physically OK, that's all I'm really worried about.  I just want a healthy baby."

"Even if he is blue?"

"Yes."  Charlene reached out a hand to him.  "Hank?  Did you ever think that maybe, subconsciously, this is why we didn't use protection that first time?  Have you ever thought that maybe we both needed  that maybe there wasn't any substitute for feeling someone inside you, for having someone accept you into them?  Maybe we both needed that, maybe we both needed that acceptance of our bodies, of our physical selves.  Maybe you needed to know that I would want to be with you, knowing it could produce a child.  Maybe I needed to know you did want to be with me, intimately, and not just for a physical release.  I'm not saying it was something we consciously thought about and purposefully did, not on that level, but I think that maybe there were reasons we forgot."  Hank hung his head, but he finally took her hand.  "Hank, I don't want you to  to have any negative feelings toward this child.  If you're right, if he comes out blue and furry, well, he's going to have plenty to deal with in that department without his parents being upset about how he looks.  I know you've been through a lot because of your mutation and I sympathize, but Hank  I don't think it would be good to push all those negative feelings on to this child.  I want him to feel loved, and happy, and completely accepted by us.  He needs to feel safe with us, and that includes being safe from any bad feelings."

"You are correct. I  I apologize for my reaction.  I apologize, Charlene."

"It's OK."  Her face finally gave out a smile.  "I'm glad you warned me.  It would've been really surprising to see him come out and not know ahead of time.  But that way would've been OK too.  I just want him to be healthy, and loved."

"You are quite the amazing woman."

"Yeah, so marry me," she teased.  Hank had asked before  actually, he'd asked often after learning of her pregnancy, but she'd always put him off until after the child was born.  He thought it was a way of testing him  testing to see how he would function as a father and how their relationship would adapt to this new addition.  He didn't begrudge her that.  He knew her own father had been a sick, twisted, abusive man, and he knew well that she needed to see some concrete proof that he would not somehow suddenly metamorphosize into a raving, sadistic idiot with the arrival of the baby.  It didn't make logical sense, no, but it certainly made emotional sense, given her history.  He knew she probably still needed to wait, but had made the joke to lighten the mood.

"Whenever you are ready, I shall be front and center in my tux."


Hank leaned over and kissed her forehead, then her lips.  "I promise you that I will not foist my negative feelings on to our child.  I shall remember that it was created out of love, with the person I love and desire most in the whole world.  And that shall make him very beautiful in my eyes, indeed."  Charlene smiled, and finally relaxed.  Everything was still going to be OK, they'd just hit a little bump in the road, that's all.  She could navigate those, with Hank there to help her through them.  Things would be just fine. 

Jules Charles McCoy came into the world on a warm Indian Summer day that fall.  He was, as predicted by his father, blue and more than a little furry.  He had the definitive beginnings of claws, not nails, and he would soon come to give his parents quite the interesting time when he cut his first fang.  His mother, upon seeing him emerge, pronounced him 'perfect' and was the first to hold him in her arms.  When his father got his turn to hold the newborn child, he gently smoothed back Jules' forehead fur and whispered to him that he was even better than perfect  he was uniquely perfect.  For all the rest of the days of his life, Jules carried his parent's view of him in his heart.

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