Title: Hank in Love: Love Makes You.......
Author: Terri
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Keli owns herself, Mark - well, I guess I own him, but I don't really want him. Everybody else belongs to Marvel.
Archive: Ask, and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Please! With a cherry on top?
Summary: Sequel to Things Change. Hank and Keli confront some unpleasant things in her past.
Comments: Yes, my real life is such that even in this foofy series, angst has crept in. The events and people depicted don't have any relation to Keli's real life, thank God. The one thing that probably is most responsible for this fic is one of my favorite quotes, one that I had occasion to be reminded of recently. "Love makes the world go round. It's also the reason most restraining orders are issued."


Hank had been having an exceptionally good day. All of his experiments were running according to plan, he had discovered an entire box of twinkies that had accidentally been misplaced in his office, and his girlfriend, Keli, should be arriving in the lab momentarily. Live-in girlfriend, his brain amended.

He had had some concerns about having her move in. He had lived alone all of his adult life, and was unsure how a person, even one that he greatly desired to be around all the time, might affect his living habits. There was also the matter of space - his room had been filled with books, papers, and scientific equipment, almost to the brim. But Hank was mostly apprehensive about taking this big, serious step in their relationship. Now, they would "officially" be a couple - much like Jean and Scott had become when they moved into the boathouse together. To Hank, it seemed like a very big deal, that kind of public pronouncement of living-together relationship status.

Keli, however, was seemingly true to her word about being very flexible when it comes to living arrangements, and had no apparent trouble adjusting. She simply moved her things, hung the pictures she'd brought along, and settled in. When Hank mentioned the "officialness" of their new status and all its many serious implications, she simply shrugged and said, "good." Hank had decided that she was either very comfortable with this big new step, or she was entirely clueless as to its true significance. Either way, there wasn't much more he could do about it, so he resigned himself to simply enjoying the ease with which she made the change. After a while, he stopped worrying about it altogether. Now, he was enjoying the comfort zone their relationship had settled into.

"Hey, Hankster." Bobby was about to bring Hank's exceptionally good day to a screeching halt. He'd come down to the lab to give Hank a critical piece of news, and to steer him in the right direction. Bobby knew he'd have a bad reaction to this particular piece of news, and that just wouldn't do. If Hank insisted on making him a source of relationship advice, well, Bobby was going to fulfill that role.

"Please do not address me in that fashion, Bobby." Hank liked to put on a stern face - it didn't deter Bobby in the least.

"Okey-dokey. Listen, I have to tell you what's going on upstairs. But don't spazz."

"Must I hear this?" Bobby was the mansion gossip, and that fact was well-known by everyone. Hank, perhaps, knew that best of all since Bobby insisted on sharing each and every item that came to his notice with Hank.

"Believe me, you'll want to know about this. It involves Keli.." That perked Hank's ears up.

"Oh, all right, what is it?"

"She's got a visitor." Bobby's tone and expression turned a little serious.

"Rebecca?" While Hank didn't particularly like Keli's friend, he knew that she would be happy to see Rebecca again.

"No. It's a guy visitor."

"A guy visitor?" Hank's interest was definitely peaked now.

"Yes, and don't get all freaked out or anything, but I think it's her ex-boyfriend." Bobby winced a little in anticipation of Hank's overreaction. He was not disappointed.

"H-her ex-boyfriend?! What - what - why is he here?" Hank's eyes were as large as saucers and his muscles tensed. He did not like this one bit, and was heading for full panic mode. Despite the relative comfort and security he had found in their relationship, the fact that she declined to discuss past relationships in detail had planted a seed of worry with Hank. When Hank shared a few details of his breakup with Trish, he asked if she had experienced anything similar. Keli had demurred, saying only that she'd had a few bad experiences she'd just as soon forget. Hank trusted her, he did, but

"Calm down, calm down, I don't think - " Hank cut Bobby off by grabbing at his shirt and pulling him to within inches of Hank's large, furry, fanged, and very distressed face.

"Bobby, you must tell me absolutely everything you know. Immediately."

"Hank, really, it's not - "

"Immediately!" Hank looked like he was about to burst from the anxiety.

"Ooooh. OK, then. He, uh, he came to the door and Storm buzzed him in. He said he was Keli's ex-fiancee."


Bobby nodded in commiseration. "But I'm sure it doesn't - I'm sure it's not - "

"Then what? Then what happened?"

"Well, Storm buzzed him in and then told him to wait in the foyer. She said she'd get Keli. That's all I overheard, honest." Bobby raised his hands to punctuate his point. Hank sighed and released him, then began pacing back and forth in the lab.

"Bobby - what - what did he look like?" Bobby swallowed nervously. He knew this was a loaded question, and he wasn't quite sure how to answer it in a way that wouldn't make Hank even more anxious.

"He was - he was tall, and - and muscular, you know, kinda. Not - not as much as you. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. His face was, you know, reasonably decent. He was average. He was just average-looking."

"Bobby, do not spare my feelings."

"I'm - I'm not. OK, OK, some women might think he was cute. But not, like, overly cute or anything." Bobby was NOT going to tell Hank that he was cuter than the ex-fiancee. That just wasn't a "guy" thing to do.

"Is he - are they up there right now?" Hank's eyebrows knit together and his shoulders drooped in worry.

"Yes, yes they are, and listen to me, buddy. Because I'm going to get you through this. You just have to know how to handle it. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT freak out. She loves you, she's living with you, not ex-fiancee-guy. Nothing to worry about."

"Ha!" Hank resumed pacing.

"Don't 'ha' me. Calm down, remember that she's crazy about you, and go upstairs and introduce yourself." Bobby thought the best chance of Hank calming down a little was to see Keli, to see her interaction with ex-fiancee-guy, and to realize that there was no threat. Which, of course, there couldn't possibly be, given how in love Keli was with Hank.

"I - I don't know. Is it wise to - "

"Yes. Very wise. Have you ever known me *not* to be wise?" Hank shot an incredulous glance at him. "Oh, OK, don't answer that. Come on."



"Wait." Hank paused in the stairwell at the definitive sound of Keli's voice.

"What?" Bobby put both hands to the small of Hank's back and tried to push him toward the foyer. Hank wasn't budging.

"Just - just - listen."

"Hank, no eavesdropping." Bobby paused to consider the irony of that particular phrase coming from his lips. "It's not - "

"I'm involved with someone else." Keli sounded tense.

"See?" Bobby whispered. "Nothing to worry about, now let's - "

"With who? I know from Carol that you broke up with Dave before you left Louisiana. How long did he last, huh? Six weeks?" Ex-fiancee-guy (who Bobby started thinking of as EFG for short) had a deep voice, and sounded upset.

"That's not really any of your business, Mark. The point is that I'm involved with someone now, and I don't really think it would be appropriate to have dinner with you."

"See?" Bobby whispered again. Hank wasn't budging yet, though.

"Don't I mean anything to you anymore? What - what are you doing here, Keli, living with all these freaks?" Now, Bobby was rethinking his earlier plan. Perhaps Hank freaking out and, oh, accidentally clawing EFG would be a good idea.

"Mark!" Keli sounded upset now.

"I mean it, you're - you're normal. I know you've always had a soft spot for outcasts and weirdos, but, come on, living with them? Who's going to want you after teaching here?"

"That's enough. I think you should leave." Neither Hank nor Bobby could identify the emotion behind her tone now.

"Look, look, I'm - I'm sorry, OK? Just - I just wanted to talk to you, all right? It's not a date, it's just dinner. Come on, Keli, we've known each other a long time. You used to love it when I'd take you out to dinner." The anger and sarcasm was completely gone from his tone, replaced by a placating, almost pleading, voice.

"No, thank you. Now I think it would be best for you to go." Keli's voice wavered just a bit and it caught Hank's attention. He began to wonder if EFG presented some threat to her, or if she felt uncomfortable with him. It was a gut reaction, but one that came strongly over him.

"I'm not going until you and I talk this out." EFG's tone turned hostile once more. How odd, Bobby thought, that he can flip-flop like that so easily. "I've made some decisions, and I want you back."

"That's not a possibility, Mark. We broke up. Let it go." Now it was Keli who had a touch of pleading in her tone. Hank didn't like it. And he decided to do something about it.

"I'm telling you, dammit, that I - "

"Hello. I am Dr. Henry McCoy, may I be of service?" The relief in Keli's eyes and body language told him he'd done the right thing. She *did* feel uncomfortable, and wanted Hank's support.

"What the hell are you?" Hank had expected that reaction from EFG.

"He's my boyfriend." Keli answered, taking a small step backward to come into contact with Hank.

"You've gotta be kidding me! What - what kind of - "

"Mark," Keli said warningly, "This is our home, and I'd appreciate it if you'd leave now."

EFG broke out into sharp, barking laughter. "That's really rich. This - this is what you left me for? Come on, just - " He reached out and grabbed Keli's forearm, and she immediately flinched back. EFG simply smirked and held her arm. That was about all Hank could take. All of his previous worries were supplanted by an urgent desire to protect her. Hank gently grabbed her about the waist with one massive arm, and placed his clawed, furry hand on top of EFG's.

"Let go. The lady has asked you to leave. You shall either comply or be made to comply." That was a tone Keli had never heard from her beloved, gentle Hank, and it made her start a little.

Bobby, frozen in shock through most of the conversation, seemed to be reached by Hank's change in demeanor too. "Yeah. Out." Bobby was surprisingly forceful when he wanted to be, and he didn't make idle threats. He was ready to freeze this idiot if he did anything stupid.

EFG gave Keli a very hard and menacing look, but allowed Hank to push his hand off her. He took a step back, sneered at the both of them, and laughed again. "You know what, I don't even want you back now. Not after you've been with that." He spat out the last word for emphasis. "I'm outta here."

Keli sighed in relief but kept her eyes on his back until he had closed the door behind him.

"Are you all right?" Hank gently turned Keli to face him. "Keli?"

"I'm - I'm so sorry." She was on the verge of crying or screaming, maybe both.

"I can't imagine what you'd have to apologize for. Are you all right? He didn't hurt you, did he?" Hank gingerly took hold of her arm and held it up for examination. The light red marks in the shape of EFG's fingers would probably form into bruises soon. That made Hank's blood boil, but he focused on tending to Keli.

"No, no I'm fine. I just - I'm sorry he was so rude."

"It is no problem. I am used to - "

"Exactly. And it *is* a problem, Hank, I - " She cut herself off with a gasping sob. The tears fell now. "I'm so sorry. I - I need to be alone for a little while." Keli turned and went up the stairs, disappearing in the direction of their room. Hank and Bobby exchanged dumbfounded looks. Keli wasn't ever one to seek time alone, and especially time apart from Hank. Something wasn't right.

"Hank, maybe you should follow her," Bobby suggested. Sometimes women said 'leave me alone' when they meant 'you'd better follow.' Bobby didn't think this was one of those times, but

"I - I do not know what to do. I don't think that she wishes for me to - I don't know what to do."



Hank eventually settled on following her, but found the door to their room locked. He offered several times to come in and talk, but she insisted tearfully that she was fine and wanted to be alone right now. Less than happy with his inability to do something or to at least figure out what was the appropriate response, Hank ventured to the kitchen, hoping for someone to talk to. Bobby had to leave shortly after the confrontation.

Jean was perched at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee and grading student tests. Hank got himself a cup and plopped down across from her.


"Hmmm?" She hadn't looked up, concentrating on her task.

"Jean." Hank's soft tone raised her head. "I have a problem."

"What's wrong?" She put her pencil down and turned her attention fully to Hank.

"It's - it's Keli. She - her ex-fiancee was here earlier. They had an argument. She was - I think she was afraid of him. She won't discuss past relationships with me, but I think there was something very bad between them, just from the way she reacted to him. I intervened, and Bobby and I made him leave, but she is very shaken up."

"So why are you in the kitchen talking to me?" Jean curled a strand of her red hair around her finger thoughtfully.

"Because all she will say is that she wants to be alone for a while. She became very upset, to the point of tears. Some - well, this *charming* man made some very rude remarks before his departure."

"About Keli?"

"No, no. About me, about mutants in general. I could tell that they upset Keli, and she kept apologizing. I tried to assure her that it was not necessary to apologize. She kept crying and has locked herself in our room. She says that she is fine, but she will not let me in. What should I do?" Hank leaned forward a bit, wanting to hear Jean's response. She typically gave very good advice, especially when it came to relationships.

"Hmmm. Sounds like she's dealing with a lot of suppressed emotions. Maybe she does just need some time to process those, and maybe she's planning on talking with you about it once she feels like she's a little more on solid emotional ground."

"So you are saying that I should honor her request?"

"At least for now, Hank. See what happens. If she's not out in another hour or so, try again."

"I suppose you are correct. But I cannot quash this feeling that I must *do* something. I should have pounded that little idiot." Hank said the last part with more than a little heat.

"Hank, they had an argument, that's all. I know she's upset, but - "

"No, Jean, it was not simply that. I am certain there is a history there. He - he grabbed her arm during the argument and she was terrified. He grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises. I think - I think perhaps it was a violent relationship." He grimaced into his coffee cup. "I should have definitely pounded him."

"I'm so sorry to hear that, Hank." Jean reached across the table to squeeze his hand. "When she's ready, she'll really need your love and support. Why don't you - why don't you take a walk or do something to take your mind of things a little, hmm? Then come back and try speaking with her again."

"I suppose"



Hank reluctantly took Jean's advice, but the walk did nothing to calm his nerves. He kept thinking back to their discussions about past relationships and how she's said they were bad and she wanted to forget them. If they were abusive, that would certainly explain why she wouldn't want to relive them. The mere thought of someone hurting her, physically or emotionally, struck at Hank's heart. He felt foolish for his earlier jealousies and ran through what to say to her in his head. When he finally returned to the mansion, he hoped she was ready to talk.


"Come in." Her voice sounded small and weak, but she wanted to be with him at least, and Hank was hopeful at that.

"How are you feeling?" She was sitting in their bed, Hank's king-size waterbed, propped up against the head board.

"Stupid. And embarrassed. And really, really sorry." She wiped at the tears still rolling down her face with the back of her hand, and Hank's heartstrings pulled tight at that small gesture. He sat beside her, took her hand, and kissed it.

"Well, since you don't have any cause to be any of those things, perhaps we should talk a little." She was usually the one to talk him through insecurities, fears. Now, it was his turn. She nodded agreement.

"Mark and I.........we dated for about three months before we got engaged. I - I was very young, nineteen. At first, he was very attentive, very romantic, but, two days after he gave me a dozen red roses and put a ring on my finger, he backhanded me across the face when I didn't bring him his beer fast enough." Hank felt like growling. And like breaking things. "I left him that day, returned the ring and everything. But he's followed me everywhere. He just won't let go. I had him arrested in Louisiana - there's even a restraining order against him. He snatched me off the street, right off the street, and.......well, I ended up with a concussion and two broken ribs and considered myself lucky that I got away before he.....before he.......well, before he did anything worse. But even the restraining order didn't stop him. I-I was hoping he would give up, that he wouldn't find me here. But he just won't leave me alone."

"He shall now. I will see to it. As will each of your friends here." Hank tried to rein in his own anger and focus on reassuring her. He was livid, and desperate to keep her safe, desperate not to lose her, but he knew she needed him now.

"Thank you," she whispered, and met his eyes for the first time. "But I hate that he found me here, I hate that he made that scene in the hallway, and I hate that he said all those awful things."

"Not to worry."

"But I am worried. I feelI feel stupid for getting involved with him in the first place, and embarrassed that he keeps following me, embarrassed that he said those things, and - and - I just don't want you to think badly of me. I just - "

"Shh." Hank gathered her to him in a tight embrace. There were some tears forming in his own eyes at the moment. "I think no such things. I think you're a very strong woman for surviving that and for refusing to let him lure you back into a relationship."

"Well.good. I - I kind of think those things, too, actually, but I wasn't sure - I wasn't sure what you'd think. Plus, there's just all of this bad stuff that seeing him again dredges up." She heaved a sob, and tucked her head into Hank's shoulder. The waterbed beneath them wobbled a little, and Hank shifted to accommodate the motion. "I'm sorry I kind of ran away like that, but I just couldn't cope with everything all at once. I - I needed to get my head around it a little bit. I'm sorry."

"It's quite all right. I understand. But - should something like this ever occur again, perhaps I could be of some immediate comfort? I would - I don't like to see you hurting and I kept feeling as though I should be with you. I want to - I want to fix this for you."

"I wasn't sure.."

"You can be sure from now on." She turned her face up to meet his gaze. "I want to support you, to be with you, even if - even if you are upset or if something is wrong. That's - that's part of the deal, is it not?" She smiled a little at that and nodded. "Very well, then."

"Hank, before you - well, before you, none of my relationships - well, they all just pale in comparison to what I have with you. I - I don't want you to think that I loved him more because we were engaged or anything like that. I didn't know what I was doing, that's all. I just - you're like this little miracle in my life, Hank. Bright and perfect and really good. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."

A few months ago, he would've had trouble believing that she meant those words. But holding her now, the voices of doubt in his head were very small and far away. "And you are the best thing that has ever happened to me as well. Now let's - let's just relax a while." He laid her back on the bed, still cradling her in his embrace. She hugged him tighter, and they eventually fell asleep together that way.



Four days later, Mark left a seedy New York City fire arms dealer, frustrated that the owner had reneged on his offer to sell Mark a snub-nosed .38 after checking his record. Those damn felony assault charges, Mark thought, they were way before Keli and they're still following me. Well, he resolved, there were a lot of ways to get a gun on the streets of New York, and Keli had to be made to see the light. Enough running after her, enough hunting her down every time she moved to a new city. Those freaks, he thought, those are the last straw. She'll be better off dead than there, he comcluded, and turned down a side-street. He didn't notice the burly, cigar-smoking man that watched him from the gun dealer's open door.

As he alternately cursed Keli and relished visions of revenge against her, he slowly became aware that he was being followed. The street looked empty when he had looked back, but he knew he'd heard footsteps. He was smack in the middle of the street, nowhere to go, really He had to keep walking toward one end or another. He squared his shoulders and continued on, fairly confident that whoever it was, they weren't tougher than he was. He glanced back again, again seeing nothing behind him.

But when he turned forward again, there was suddenly a trenchcoat-wearing man directly in his path, a few feet away. "Who the hell are you?"

"I'm your friend, homme, whether you know it or not."

"I don't know you." The man looked slight, wiry, but Mark sensed that there was something......off about him. His eyes - Mark couldn't really see them in the dark, but they weren't right.

"Ah, dat makes no difference. I'm here wit' some good advice for you."

"Yeah? And what would that be?" Mark took a step backwards, reaching for the knife in his jacket with one hand.

"Get outta town. Don' come back. You not welcome in New York." Something tumbled into place for Mark - this was about Keli, this was one of her freaks. He took another step back - you never knew what they were capable of - and laughed a little.

"I go where I please, asshole. Now get the hell outta my way." Mark felt a hand fall onto his shoulder as he finished the sentence. Before he could turn, he was turned by the strong hand. He found himself face to face with over six feet of pissed-off, blue-furrred, super-strong mutant.

"I suggest you do as we ask. We would not want this to turn unpleasant, would we?" Hank punctuated his threat with a squeeze strong enough to dislocate Mark's shoulder. He yelped in pain, but Hank held him in place. "Then again," Hank continued menacingly, baring his fangs, "perhaps we would."

Hank had thought carefully about how to handle the situation with Mark. It was clear that Keli's repeated refusals to see him, and even a restraining order, had not deterred his attentions. Hank determined that his goal would be to protect Keli, and to rid her of Mark once and for all. He considered briefly prosecuting the violation of the restraining order that Mark had committed by coming to the mansion, by coming within 500 feet of her. However, that may require having a hearing or trial on the matter in Louisiana. That gave Mark far too much time to still bother Keli while it all got worked out, in Hank's estimation.

Hank considered several other options, then decided on one and made a plan. Keli would be kept out of it completely. It would be himself, Logan, and Remy. Hank chose them for their contacts, for their expertise, and for their discretion. Hank knew early on that if he pursued this plan, he could never tell Bobby or Scott. Bobby - well, Bobby was too close to Keli to avoid telling her in good conscience, and he frankly couldn't keep a secret to save his life. Scott would never in a million years approve of the plan, let alone help. No, Logan and Remy - both outlaws, both used to keeping things quiet when they needed to - they would have to be the ones to help Hank carry out the plan. Neither were close with Keli - they liked her, but just hadn't struck up a friendship with her. But they were both friends with Hank, had been for years, and they both understood Hank's motivation very well.

So Hank spoke to Logan first, asking him to use his contacts in the city to look for Mark. He suspected that Mark had not gone far, and would make another attempt to contact Keli soon. He was soon proved right. When Mark was located, Logan tailed him for a day, then conferred with Hank. They were all in agreement on how the plan would be executed. Hank told Keli he had a conference in the city (which, technically, was not entirely untrue) and kissed her goodbye. Now, Mark having cooperated perfectly with the plan thus far, Hank was determined to see it through.

"You bastards!" Mark writhed in Hank's grip and drew his knife. Hank easily intercepted Mark's slash at him, crushing most of the bones in Mark's hand in the process. He cried out and dropped to his knees.

"That wasn't pleasant, was it gentlemen?" Hank asked his compatriots.

"Whaddya say we just cut him open now?" Logan put out his claws, which nearly caused Mark to faint on the spot.

"No, no. I think our friend here would like to keep his intestines on the inside." Hank withdrew a small syringe from his coat pocket. Grabbing Mark's arm, he wrenched the shoulder he had just dislocated around and injected him with the fluid in the syringe.

"Wh-what was that? What the hell did you do to me?" Mark was going into shock - the pain from his injuries and his fear of the men in the deserted back street was beginning to be too much.

"It is simple, really. I shall explain it so that even you understand. You see, I have injected you with a small, a very small homing device. It will attach itself to the interior wall of your heart as it works it's way through your bloodstream. The device measures your distance from a certain point. In your case, Keli. Should you come within less than a thousand feet of her, the device will activate. Do you know what will happen when it activates?" Remy began smoking a long, thin cigarette as Hank spoke. "No? I shall tell you, then. It releases five micrograms of a very potent toxin, genetically engineered by yours truly. It stops your heart within less than a minute."

"You're - you're lying!" Mark squirmed on the ground, trapped between Hank. Logan, and Remy.

"No," Hank answered calmly. "I'm a genius. A very angry genius." He lowered his face to Mark's and gave him a fearsome smile. "Please, do try it."

"You won't get away with this."

"Oui, homme, we already have." Remy kicked Mark's head, effectively knocking him out. "Is de boat ready?"

"Yeah. I'll take 'im." Logan picked up the tall, muscular man without effort. "When he wakes up, he'll be in the middle of the ocean."

"Do you think he will find his way back here?" Hank asked.

"Maybe. But Columbia's a helluva long way away, and not too damn nice of a place. If he does make it back, does that thing really work like you said?" Logan still thought Hank had to be bluffing - he knew he was furious at Mark for hurting Keli, but, still, the man hadn't done her any permanent damage, and Logan knew Hank to be a just man, a fair man. Then again, Logan thought, big blue really loves the girl, and love makes you do funny shit.

"Not exactly. With a man his size, the toxin may take slightly longer than one minute to kill him." Hank looked up to see both of the other men staring at him with no little surprise. "I expect you to keep this confidential, gentlemen."

Logan grunted and Remy nodded, and the three went their separate ways, off into the night.



Hank crept into bed with Keli late that night. The waterbed shifted with his weight and movement, and she woke. "Hank?"

"Yes, my love."

"You're back. How was the conference?" She rolled over to snuggle with him. She's missed falling asleep with him, missed holding him close.

"Successful. Went off very well, I thought." He gently stroked her back, and kissed the top of her head.

"Good." Wiggling against him to find a more comfortable spot, she let out a sleepy sigh. "I missed you. I was having a bad dream."

"Mark?" She'd dreamt of him attacking her several times since his visit.

"Mm-hmm. But you're here now, and I feel a lot better." She squeezed him a little to emphasize her statement.

"It's going to be just fine. Nothing to worry about." Hank was tempted to tell her what had happened, if only to ease her mind, to assure her that she *was* safe now. But then again, he thought, it is better that she does not know. She would feel responsible, she would have wanted to follow the law, and she would not have approved of what he'd done.

"You know, I'm not really that worried Right now, just this minute, it feels like nothing bad could ever happen to me." She smiled at that, and resolved to stop thinking about Mark, to trust that she and Hank would find a way to deal with him.

"That's right, my love." Hank held her close to him, gave one last thought to what he'd done, the judgment he'd passed on Mark, and the punishment he'd meted out. Then, he closed his eyes and slept a sound, dreamless sleep.