Title: Hank in Love: Things Change
Author: Terri
E-mail: xgrrl26@yahoo.com
Rating: PG-13
Archive: Ask, and ye shall receive.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone, and Keli owns herself
Summary: Sequel to Hank in Love. Hank and Keli find out that looking to the past isn't always a predictable way to guess what's coming in the future.
Comments: Keli (my brbf to most of you) wouldn't let me write NC-17age between a character named for her and Hank. I'm going to keep trying to convince her, though, 'cause Hank needs a little lovin'. Also-her birthday really does fall on Halloween, and lightning did strike her house once during a birthday party. All other details have been changed to protect those in love with a comic book character :)


"Bobby! I am most pleased to see you."

"Well, you said come right away, so here I am." Calls from Hank to "come to the lab as soon as possible" were rarely good things, so Bobby was currently shuffling his feet and waiting for the bad news. Surely, there had to be a crisis of epic proportions. Or, something involving Keli.

Hank and Keli had gotten closer in the past two months, and that was a very good thing as far as Bobby was concerned. But Hank had apparently lost the part of his big brain that remembered that Bobby was far from a relationship genius, and he insisted on asking Bobby for help on important relationship issues. Like-should he ask her to attend a conference with him? How should he entertain her friend who'd come to visit? What to wear to dinner at an upscale restaurant?

To tell the truth, Bobby mostly vicariously enjoyed it, and was flattered that Hank would seek his advice. But Hank had to learn to deal on his own eventually, and Bobby was beginning to have serious concerns about how nervous Hank was in the relationship. It seemed to Bobby that Keli made a lot of efforts to put him at ease, yet he still was forever worried about doing or saying the wrong thing.

"I am in need of your assistance. I have just learned from Rebecca that Keli's birthday is on Halloween." Rebecca was Keli's friend that had come to visit. She was much more cynical than Keli, but equally as accepting of the mutants that were her students and friends. It had been quite a good experience for Hank in particular. He'd been so nervous about meeting "the friend" that Bobby seriously thought he might begin to shed. But it had all gone very well-Rebecca even gave Hank the "if you break her heart, I will kill you slowly and painfully" speech. It meant that she saw their relationship as serious, and that pleased Hank to no end.


Hank let out an impatient sigh. "That's less than a week away, Bobby. What shall I do for a present? Am I obligated to throw a-a party?"

"Well..I say yes on the present, and sure, a party would be nice.."

"A-and there's cake. What about cake?" Hank tapped his fingertips together as one massive eyebrow dipped down and bounced up and down a little.

"Uh, cake is traditional, yes.." Bobby had never seen him freak *quite* this much, not even when Magneto almost wrecked his lab in an attack on the mansion.

"Is it proper to ask her how old she is? Do I - "

"Hank, Hank, Hank-just relax. It's just a birthday. It'll be fine. Get her a present, get her a cake, have some of her friends and students show up to eat said cake. Nothing to it."

"But what *kind* of present?"

"Hmmm..that's a good question. Maybe you should ask Jean. Or Storm. Or just ask Keli what she wants."

"But should it not be a surprise? Is it not more romantic that way? Should I-"

"Hank." Bobby really *was* getting worried about Hank's nervousness over all this. Well, that, and hungry too. So he decided to cut to the chase. "She's crazy about you. Nuts. She's the kind of crazy about you that makes all us single guys jealous. You can just ask her. She'll love you no matter what you do for her birthday. She's cool like that."

"Bobby..are you sure? I mean to say, are you certain of her feelings for me?"

"Well, yeah. Aren't you?"

"I-I was certain of Trish's feelings, before. I find that I am not a reliable judge of these matters." He was joking a little, but Bobby knew the pain of the ugly breakup with Trish cut him even more deeply than he let on.

"Take my word for it. It's written all over her."

"And you think I should address the birthday and related matters with her directly. You think she-she would appreciate that?" He was genuinely relying on Bobby's assessment.

"Yes. Go talk to her. Get out of the lab for a while. And hey-pay attention, genius. She likes you. More than like-she's totally in love with you. All you have to do is use that science-loving brain to check it out. You'll see."

Hank did seem comforted and encouraged by that. "Very well. Very well, I will do so."



"Hey. I was just headed to the lab to spring you." Keli greeted Hank at her door with her usual warm hug.

Hank hugged back gingerly. There was always some part of him that remembered he was a lot bigger and stronger than her, and he usually tempered his enthusiasm accordingly. "How was your class today?"

"Ugh." Hank pulled back to look at her quizzically. She usually spoke glowingly about her class. "We had a little problem."

"Really? What kind of problem?"

"Well, do you know Heather? The girl whose mutation is the temperature thing?" She ushered Hank into the room and closed the door behind her.

"Yes." Actually, Hank knew her only in passing. "She came down for an annual physical, and I remember talking with her about how fortunate it was that she'd learned to control her power so well." She could raise or lower the temperature of anything-people, animals, or objects. Uncontrolled, that kind of power could kill or explode things with alarming ease.

"Uh, well, maybe there are still some kinks there. She came to talk to me after class about her grade on the last quiz. She didn't do well and wanted to retake it. Well, I explained that my policy was not to permit retakes, but not to worry since it's only about 5% of her grade in the class. I'm not sure what happened, but I started to feel hot all of a sudden, and I passed out for a few seconds. I think she was just upset and lost control."

"Keli!" Hank reached out for her immediately. "Are you all right? My goodness!"

"Oh, I'm fine, it was just a few seconds, and Jean came over and checked me out, but I think it really scared Heather. She was crying up a storm when I came to, and I just didn't find the right words to talk to her and make her realize it was all right. I mean, I know it was an accident, and I'm fine."

"Oh, heavens." Hank hugged her tightly this time, relieved beyond words that she was all right.

"I'm fine," she repeated, hugging back a little then breaking from him. "I just feel like..I don't know..I guess I feel like I didn't know what to do and I messed up and now Heather's upset and she won't feel comfortable in class."

"I am sure you will find a way to talk with her and to make her comfortable. She is upset now, but she will eventually realize that you bear her no ill will over an accident." Hank struggled to keep his emotions in check.

"I suppose.but it would be nice if, you know, I miraculously learned exactly how to handle these things perfectly. I wouldn't mind that." Hank found her very attractive when she teased, and it was also helping to calm his unexpectedly strong emotions at learning she'd been hurt. He reached out to caress her cheek, something he often did when they were alone together. As usual, she let her eyes drift closed, and a smile spread across her face.

It still surprised Hank a little how much she liked to be touched by him, how much she actively sought his touch. Trish had merely grudgingly tolerated it, and had never wanted to engage in public displays of affection, no matter how small. Hank quickly learned that Keli was quite different-only days after their first date, she ran into him in the kitchen and leaned up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. He remembered how he felt then-surprised, to be sure, but he also had an absurd urge to puff his chest out with pride. He was cheek-kissable.

"You're doing an outstanding job with the students. Heather will be all right." He hoped he was doing a good job at reassurance.

"I hope so." Keli opened her eyes again. "I really like her. She's a good kid."

"And you are a good teacher. I'm certain it will all work out."

"Thanks." Her expression warmed and she leaned toward him a little. "I'm glad to see you. I missed you today." She kissed him lightly and drew back to look at him.

"I missed you as well. And I wanted to talk to you about something." He felt a little better, a little more confident now than he had been in the lab. Truth be told, she had that effect on him - all the uncertainties that had run through his mind were calming.


"Yes. I have heard from a certain friend of yours that your birthday is coming up."

"Oh, geez. Rebecca told you, didn't she?"

"Yes-you-you wished her not to?"

"No, just..I don't really like my birthday. I've never liked celebrating it very much."

"Why? I for one think that the anniversary of the day that you first graced this planet would truly be an occasion worth celebrating." He was teasing a little, but there was also meaning behind the words.

"Well, thank you." She smiled a little at that, and Hank congratulated himself for taking the right approach. "But it's on Halloween, which is weird, and it's just.I haven't traditionally had very good birthdays. It seems like there's always some fight between my family or with my friends, or something awful happens-one year, lightning struck our house just as I was cutting the birthday cake. Birthdays-historically, they're just not very good for me."

"Perhaps this year would be an exception," Hank ventured. "I wanted to inquire what your thoughts were on a party, cake, and what kind of present you would prefer. U-unless of course you would prefer that I surprise you. I would be happy to surprise you instead, if that's-if that's more romantic."

Keli found it particularly adorable that he asked, and that he wanted to make sure it was what she wanted. She decided to express that by jumping on top of him a little and kissing him firmly. While Hank enjoyed that immensely, it hadn't provided an answer to his questions. "Keli?"

"Yeah. Right. Birthday." She was looking dreamily into his eyes and running her fingers through his unruly blue hair. "Party-no. I mean, not that I don't want to, but, well, actually I don't want to. Not a good track record there, and I wouldn't want lightning to strike anything. Cake-actually, I like cake. Cake would be nice. And for a present.hmm..what kind of presents were you maybe thinking about?" She didn't want to suggest something that was more expensive or more trouble than he might've been considering.

"I honestly had no idea what you would like best." That was a bit of equivocation. He had thought of several possible candidates-including one he thought she would very much like-but he wanted to hear from her.

"You know what I'd like?" Really, she wanted time with Hank, and a nice, quiet night. There would likely be a Halloween party at the mansion and neither one were particularly thrilled about the idea of dressing in costume. Plus, it would be nice to just get away from the mansion-from both of their work-for a while. "How about a night out? I mean out as in, at a motel or something? You know, maybe one of those with a jacuzzi or something? Just you and me, what do you think?"

A bright smile lit Hank's face. She'd made a wonderful suggestion! And he was already thinking of a plan. "Perfection. I will make the arrangements. That way, it will still be a surprise."

"Sounds good." She settled herself in his embrace and began kissing all around his face and ears. She knew his ears were particularly sensitive. "But let's stop talking for a while, OK?"

Keli's birthday came and from the moment she woke up, she knew Hank had spared no effort. Although they hadn't made love yet, he spent many nights in her room or invited her to his. The night before the birthday, though, he pleaded lab work and kissed her goodnight. But when she awoke the next day, there were pink, white, and red roses all over her room. She knew Hank could be agile and stealthy when he wanted to but she was impressed and delighted that he'd managed this without waking her.

She took one rose with her to class, leaving a thank you note for Hank taped to the twinkie package in the pantry. He'd be sure to find that at lunch, if not before. When she arrived at her classroom, there was a small stuffed animal on her chair-a mini-teddy bear wearing a purple t-shirt that said "Happy Birthday." She "awwwww"ed at that before beginning her morning sessions.

During the lunch break, Bobby hand delivered a written invitation to join Hank for lunch in the lab. She followed Bobby down, not quite knowing what more to expect. When the door opened to reveal a picnic-style layout on the lab floor, she smiled broadly and sat down. The lunch was quite pleasant-Hank was courteous and attentive, but he absolutely refused to give any hints at all to his plans for the evening.

Keli returned to her afternoon class, the one with Heather. She seemed to be in better spirits, and Keli made a point of saying hello to her. She'd hoped Heather would stay after class and talk to her, but she left with her friends. Keli supposed that was a good sign, though.

By the time she returned to her room, it was clear that Hank had been there again. A suitcase, packed, was on her bed, with a note on top.

My Most Lovely Birthday Girlfriend,

Meet me in the garage at 4:30.


She laughed a little that he'd signed his name-who else would the note be from?-and put a few things into her purse than grabbed the suitcase. She had to hurry. It was already 4:20.

"The Park Plaza? Hank, you didn't have to go to all this trouble." They were already walking through the lobby, but Keli still couldn't quite believe he'd picked this hotel. It was the best in town-she'd been visualizing one of those whirlpool suites at a Super 8 or something.

"No trouble at all." He smiled tightly. It was the third time she'd seen him wearing the image inducer, and he always was tense when he wore it around her. The first time, she'd responded well, he thought. She said that he looked different, not better, which was significant to Hank. She'd asked a lot of questions-Could she touch him while he was wearing it? Did it feel funny to have it on? - and the fact that she hadn't asked if it was meant to approximate what he'd looked like before the mutation was also significant to Hank. Again, it was a change from Trish, and Hank was finally beginning to believe that maybe this relationship *was* completely different.

"You're too good to me." She linked her arm with his as they headed for the elevators.

"I could say the same my dear."

"I have a feeling that I might finally be breaking the birthday curse"

"One would hope." As soon as the elevator doors closed shut, Hank impulsively kissed her. He meant for it to be a quick, light kiss, but Keli kissed back with unexpected passion. By the time the doors opened again, Hank was having trouble disengaging himself.

"This way?"

"Uh, yes, on your left there." They found the room, and managed to open the door with they key card they'd been given.

"It's just beautiful-and look, there's a jacuzzi!" It was situated beneath a skylight, with a picture window adjacent to it. "This is just perfect, Hank. I love it."

Hank switched off his image inducer as she walked over to give him a hug. "I am glad you like it. I confess, I am quite pleased with the accommodations, if I do say so myself."

"Jacuzzi first?" She lingered in his embrace, stroking his back.

"Marvelous. I packed your bathing suit."

"I was thinking maybe naked." She looked at him shyly. "You know, if you'd like."

Like? he thought. He'd very much like. "OK." He'd very, very much like.

"In fact, I was kind of wondering if you might like to, you knowwell, since we're here and it's such a nice room and all and kind of a special occasion, well, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to, you know, be together?" Hank knew she was talking about sex. It was that very fact that made his brain freeze for a few seconds. He really hadn't considered sex yet. He knew it was coming soon, but he didn't think quite yet.

"I, uh.."

"Hank?" Keli was still holding him, still caressing him.

"Birth control."


"I did not think, ah, that you would want to, ah, be together so I did not bring any birth control." You're an adult, Hank was telling himself, you can talk about this out loud. No problem

"Oh, I, um, kind of took care of that. A few weeks after we started dating, I-I began taking birth control pills. You know, because I thought it was possible that you and I would, um, you know, at some point in the near future." She was blushing quite a bit, and Hank had the usual urge to nip at her cheeks. But he sobered quickly when another thought occurred.

"It-it could be dangerous, Keli, if-if birth control methods were to fail."


"I-my mutation is not natural, it was induced by my own experiments. Any-any of my offspring would have my mutant characteristics from birth. If contraception were to fail, well, you would face a pregnancy with a child that would be a very obvious mutant from birth."


"I mean to say that any child produced from my sperm would carry my mutant traits-blue fur, the fangs and claws, everything-from birth."

"I get that but what's the dangerous part, Hank?" She asked the question earnestly, but Hank merely gaped at her. "Uh, Hank? Are you all right?"

"I-I-that is the d-dangerous part. The part about having a child with my characteristics."

"Are you saying there's some kind of biological incompatibility because of that? Are you saying something would go wrong, that I couldn't carry the child?"

"N-no. No. But the child would have my characteristics. It would be-"

"Hank, I get that, honey. Just tell me what the danger is. I don't-I don't understand what you're trying to tell me." Keli was convinced that Hank, wanting to be delicate, wasn't making it clear enough in layman's terms to her.

"Just-just that. Just that the child would be mutated as I am."

"That's what's dangerous? I don't get it-why would that be dangerous?"

"I-I-I did not think that you would consider..I thought that..I thought that you should be forewarned..I.." He was utterly at a loss.

Keli sighed and frowned. "I think we'd better sit down and talk a little, OK?"

"OK." Hank allowed himself to be led to the large bed.

"Look, Hank, I know..I know you had a difficult break up with Trish. And I can only imagine some of the things you've faced because of your mutation. But-but I don't want you to always be worried. I feel like-when you say things like that, like having your children could be 'dangerous'-I feel like you don't believe that I care about you. *You*. Hank, the man. That-that's starting to hurt a little. Because I do care about you, a lot."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't-don't apologize." She took his large hand in hers. "Just tell me what you're feeling. Tell me what you need me to do or say to make you comfortable with me."

"You make me very comfortable. I-Ithe scars from Trish, I suspect that they run deeper than I have been willing to acknowledge. She was the only woman I had ever been involved with, and it turned out so badly. I had no idea what her true feelings were in regard to me."

"Do you want to know what my true feelings are?"

"Y-yes. Yes, I do." He knew he was trembling as he spoke, but he did need to know.

"I'm falling in love with you. I like the way you look, the way you are, the way you treat me, and the way you make me laugh. You're the most considerate man I've ever met. People-women dream about guys like you, Hank. Guys who are strong and smart and good-hearted and thoughtful. I know I'm lucky to have you. That's how I feel."


"Is that-how do you feel about that?"

Hank - man of letters, man of words-could only answer, "Good." He was beyond stunned-she was telling him he could have all those things he wanted so desperately but had convinced himself he'd never have.

"Um, good. That's good."

"Keli.." He struggled to regain his composure, noticing she was trembling a little now as well. It finally occurred to Hank that sometimes he got so caught up in his own side of things that he forgot that it must be a little scary for her too. "I find myself already in love with you. I just wantI don't want to do anything wrong, anything that might make you not like me anymore. Because I love how you look and how you are with me, and everything else about you too." She smiled at that.

"Hank, I'm not..I'm not ready for kids, or to be a mom, but I'm not worried about having kids with you. If it were to happen, I wouldn't think it was dangerous, I wouldn't not want the child."

He took her hands in his, and began massaging them gently. "I-if you would still like to be together, I would very much like that as well."

"I would." Her countenance lightened, and her smile turned impish. "Want to head for the jacuzzi?"



Several hours and a lot of splashed over water later, Keli lay contented in bed curled up to Hank. "You know, I could get used to this."

Hank wore a smile that looked like it would never come off. He'd been nervous about their physical differences, even after their talk, but everything had gone *very* well. In fact, it had gone so well that he was beginning to wonder if they could extend their stay through the weekend.

"I think we've definitely broken the birthday curse." Keli snuggled into him a little more closely, burrowing her head in his chest.

"Oh!" Hank suddenly shot up. "I almost forgot!"

"Forgot what?" Keli sat up too, baring her breasts. That wasn't helping Hank remember what he'd forgotten. But he'd made it halfway to his destination before she sat up, and he caught sight of the small wrapped package he'd secreted away in his suitcase.

"Your birthday present, of course." He hoped she would like it. He thought she would-it seemed like the perfect gift for her when he'd seen it on eBay, but

"My present? But I thought all this was my present."

"I have one more small gift. Just to be certain that we have indeed broken the Halloween birthday curse." He handed her the festively wrapped package, and waited.

"You didn't have to do all this, Hank." She began unwrapping it carefully, slowly. "I really loved it, don't get me wrong, and I appreciated everything you did a lot, but the main thing was spending my birthday with you. And you know, making love. That was pretty good." Her blush crept up again and she averted her gaze downward to the package. "It's definitely been a-oh!" She did like it, Hank could tell right away. "Oh, Hank! It's-how did you ever find this?"

It was a first edition of "The Crossing," signed by the author. It was a respected account of Washington's Delaware River crossing, the subject Keli had chosen for her master's thesis. Hank could still remember her talking animatedly about it in the lab, in the first few days she'd been there. "That's my secret," he teased.

"It's wonderful. It's perfect. Thank you so much." She hugged him, pressing her bare breasts into him quite nicely. Hank reflected that this was truly thanks enough. Well, perhaps..

"You are quite welcome. And I do believe there's still enough water in the jacuzzi for a return visit if you'd like.."

"You know, there's a private balcony.." Keli bit her lower lip and ran soft hands across his chest. "I kind of do like the outdoors.."

"It's your birthday. The birthday girl gets to choose."

She laughed, playfully bit the tip of his nose, and sprinted for the sliding door. Hank watched her go, enjoying the view, and resolved to lay to rest his lingering Trish issues before following. After all, he was in love with her and she with him, and what could be bad about that?