4 Times Alex and Hank didn't kill each other and 1 time Hank didn't kill Sean

1) Alex focused determinedly at the mannequin on the other end of the bunker. Professor X and Hank had taken up positions on either side. It wasn't the first time they'd done it, and Alex's control was growing stronger every day, but he still thought it was foolish. The Professor exuded confidence in Alex, but Alex could tell that Hank was still nervous; Alex didn't blame him. He was pretty sure the only reason Hank was there was to get a first hand account of the new and improved vest so he wouldn't have to relentlessly question Alex about how the modifications worked; neither one of them enjoyed that.

With only a nod as a warning, Alex sent a blast of red energy toward the far end of the bunker. Immediately, Alex knew they were in for a late night of tinkering and tweaking because he was flung backwards with as much force toward the back wall as the energy he'd released toward the front.

The stone wall behind him was unyielding and Alex crashed with a groan that escaped before all of the air was forced out of his lungs. Black stars swam across his field of vision and his body instinctively curled in around itself as his lungs fought to remember how to breathe.

Alex's hands brushed against the breastplate sewn to the vest on his chest. Some part of his brain registered that the vest was still active without his conscious control when he felt the power pulse through his fingertips. It didn't matter to him – Alex had learned through practical experience that he couldn't be hurt by a rebound of his own power. He rolled to his back, closed his eyes and focused on breathing.

Then urgent hands were on him and Alex could hear Hank's frantic voice say something about "feedback" and "damage". It took a moment for Alex to realize that Hank was trying to release him from the vest while his power was still active.

Galvanized into action, Alex rolled away from Hank and toward the Professor, trying to bat the dark haired scientist away with his left hand while covering the breastplate with his right arm, but Hank was still fumbling ineffectively with the buckles on the vest.

"My power…can't…hurt me…" Alex ground out between clenched teeth. In desperation he crawled toward the shelter of the Professor who was kneeling to his right, praying that the older man would pick up on his thoughts and stop Hank from "helping" further. The Professor must have done something because Hank's grasping hands withdrew. That didn't stop Alex from leveling a kick at Hank as he continued to crawl away, angling for the corner of the bunker keeping his chest facing toward the wall.

Alex pulled himself into a crouch against the back wall, head down and arms tucked in, facing the corner like an errant school boy. Alex's heart pounded painfully against his ribs; his fear of inadvertently hurting Hank drove out all of the controls he had painstakingly sought to put into place. Alex's shoulders heaved with his effort to breathe; it was easier to blame his ragged breathing on the hit he had taken rather than his unsuccessful attempt to hold back the rage and fear that settled uncomfortably in his chest.

It felt like time stood still, but Alex knew only a few moments had passed before the crackling feedback from the plate dwindled down to nothing. He waited a few moments more to be sure that he wouldn't explode when he turned around.

Using the wall for support while staggering to his feet, Alex ripped the vest off. Xavier and Hank were both kneeling on the ground where he'd originally fallen. He ignored the understanding, concerned expression on the Professor's face because he would not be suckered by his sympathy and instead focused his rage on the bewildered Hank.

"You stupid, stupid lab rat!" Alex threw the vest with all the strength he could muster; it slid to a halt between Hank and the Professor. "My power can't hurt me!" Hank opened his mouth to protest, probably to spew out some scientific mumbo-jumbo.

"I could've KILLED you!" Alex screamed. Hank looked shocked and his mouth snapped shut. Hank's blue eyes went wide and Alex got the feeling that Hank still didn't understand that he had put himself in harm's way, and was reacting to Alex's nearly hysterical tone.

The echo of Alex's words hung there between the three of them while they remained motionless. Alex was the first to be driven to action. He stalked away, as quickly as he could after the pounding he had taken, leaving the Professor to explain.

2) Alex was all wound up nerves and energy. He bitched about the uniforms so he wouldn't really have to think about what they were heading into. Standing there in the shadow of the jet things were beginning to get solidly real, until Hank stepped out of the shadows and everything went off kilter.

Hank was blue – blue like Raven, but not. And big, suddenly he was so big! Not so much taller than he had been, it looked like solid muscle had been poured onto his frame but it fit. Raven telling Hank that this was who he was always meant to be barely registered with Alex as he struggled to equate this new creature with Hank. However, it was difficult not to register Hank trying to strangle the life out of Erik one-handed.

When Hank dropped the metal manipulating mutant to the floor, Alex couldn't help himself. He had to push it. He had to make a comment. "You look pretty bad ass." Hank glared in his direction.

Alex smirked, the skin might have changed, but the eyes were all Hank's. He threw the next statement out like a challenge, but his tone was colored with approval and admiration as well.

"I have a new name for you...Beast." Hank didn't advance physically like he had with Magneto, but he did bare his teeth and growl. Good God – that growl did something to Alex's insides. That was new. The game had changed, and suddenly there were no rules to follow.

There was no time to investigate any of that – they were quickly settled in the jet and it was back to business.

3) The Russians. The Americans. The cargo ship. The submarine. The crash.

Everything happens so fast that Alex doesn't have time to process. Then Xavier is barking out orders and the battle is on. The other mutants exit the submarine and face off against them. Riptide starts to wind up, but Alex has enough time to level him with a blast of plasma.

Azazel comes running at them and vanishes; in a heartbeat it becomes crystal clear that one week's worth of training against stationary targets is not enough to be prepared. In the split second Alex needs to focus and redirect his power, Azazel teleports behind him, wraps his tail around Alex's throat and uses him as a weapon against his own team.

Hank screams a challenge – it's like nothing Alex has ever heard before - and runs directly at them. Hank's blue form fills Alex's field of vision. Horrified, Alex knows there is not enough time to power down. He tries to twist and divert the blast, but suddenly Hank is airborne.

They're all tangled up together – Azazel, Alex and Hank - then abruptly they're a hundred feet above the ocean. Alex is kicked in the teeth by a moment of total recall, remembering with perfect clarity the sound the CIA agents made when they hit the roof and pavement outside their "safe" room. He knows he's next and wonders if he'll make the same sound even though he'll be hitting water and not concrete.

Gravity takes over and with a lurch Alex is falling, no longer snared by Azazel's tail. He can see the other two mutants above him, blue against red. Alex yells and flings his arms out instinctively, and then suddenly his wrist is in Hank's grasp. Hank sinks his claws into Azazel, latching on to the red mutant and defiantly threatens "If we go, you go."

Alex is absurdly touched that Hank said "we".

The world slips away again; with a crash Azazel teleports them to the surface of one of the ships below. Disoriented Alex gets to his feet, but Azazel reasserts his hold on Alex's throat and proceeds to use him as a weapon against the sailors on deck. Again Hank charges barely evading incineration. This time Azazel releases Alex when Hank latches on and then Azazel teleports the two of them away. Alex has no time to breathe before Angel attacks. When the smoke clears and he's surrounded by soldiers, Alex tries to spot where the battle has carried Hank and prays that he will make it back to them in one piece.

4) In the aftermath of the confrontation on the beach Moira took charge, arranging for the Professor to be transported to secret medical facility for treatment. In the meantime she managed to get Alex, Sean and Hank back to the mansion and left them without any CIA bodyguards or babysitters. After what happened in Cuba, not even Moira was comfortable with government agency involvement.

Hank was surprised at how strongly he felt the loss of their only recently established team. He was, out of long habit, a solitary creature used to spending many long hours in the lab and hiding himself away but the time that they had spent training together started to break down those self imposed walls.

Now, with the Professor out of commission and just Alex and Sean for company, Hank found himself at a loss. He not only missed Raven because of the opportunity he had surely lost, but because she, more than anyone, understood how to handle such an overt mutation. Her final words to him, "Mutant and proud" echoed often in his head, but he wasn't nearly as strong as she was and took to hiding himself away once again.

On the second night back in the mansion after their return from Cuba, Hank wandered up to the kitchen looking for something to eat. His metabolism had increased drastically and forced him to stop for meals more frequently than he was used to; it was an unexpected side effect.

It was late, so Hank was surprised to find Alex sitting in the dark. The younger mutant didn't hear Hank approach and hadn't seen him in the shadows, but Hank's enhanced vision let him see Alex clearly. Alex was slumped miserably on a high stool near the island in the center of the kitchen, an ice pack held against his neck in one hand and his head in the other. In the short time Hank observed him, Alex rearranged the placement of the ice pack four or five times, unable to find a comfortable position.

Hank felt compelled to make his presence known; slipping quietly back down to the lab and leaving Alex alone to suffer never crossed his mind. He cleared his throat as he walked into the kitchen. "Hey, Alex."

Alex turned sharply, startled by the sound, and immediately hissed and winced at the movement. Hank was shocked to see tears spring to Alex's eyes; the pain was that bad. Hank's thoughts instantly shifted from mildly interested to highly concerned.

"I'm turning on the light," Hank declared. He turned his back as he flipped the switch, giving Alex a minute to collect himself. If Alex needed to save face any stray tears could be blamed on the sudden change in light levels.

Hank spoke as he turned back toward Alex, "What's going…" His breath caught in his throat as he got a good look at the injury Alex was dealing with. "Jesus, Alex!"

Alex blinked blearily at Hank; in the harsh glare of the overhead light the bruising on Alex's throat stood out in stark blotches of purple, black and red. He ineffectively tried to hide the contusions with the ice pack, but the bag was too small and couldn't conceal the injury that snaked completely around his neck.

With some effort, Alex swallowed and croaked out, "It's not as bad as it looks."

Just like the day on the beach, a surge of instincts forced Hank into action. He hadn't had time to analyze it, and if he was being honest with himself he knew he was actively avoiding the analysis, but ever since Hank had accelerated his mutation there was something about Alex that sparked intense responses in him. Hank was inarticulate with rage at seeing Alex's injury in the unforgiving light of the well lit kitchen and wanted to do nothing more than sink his claws into Azazel and happily rip him to shreds. Denied access to his preferred target, Hank got his hands on Alex instead.

With speed he still wasn't used to, Hank stepped into Alex's space. Alex flinched and tried to pull away, but he was caught between Hank and the counter.

"Let me see, Alex." Hank tried to make his words less of an order and more of a request, but he didn't wait for Alex to give permission. Easily Hank pushed Alex's hand holding the ice pack out of the way so he could take a closer look.

While he was examining Alex, Hank let his senses expand, and for the first time accepted the information that his recently enhanced mutation afforded him. Gently, oh so gently, he pressed the pads of his sensitive fingertips against the bruised flesh of Alex's throat. With his thumb under Alex's right ear and his fingers under the left, Hank slid his hand down the length of Alex's neck checking for obstructions in the arteries feeding blood to the brain.

Hank changed his stance slightly, moving to stand on Alex's right side instead of in front of him. He kept his right hand in a loose circle around Alex's throat in the front and used his left hand to test the tenderness of the muscles in Alex's neck from the base of his skull to the top of his shoulders.

Although the examination was causing him pain, Hank could feel that Alex was trying to relax under Hank's ministrations, unspoken acknowledgement that he understood that Hank was trying to help. Alex must have found something soothing in Hank's touch because his head fell forward into Hank's right hand while Hank manipulated the flesh near the base of Alex's skull. It gave Hank an idea.

"Go sit on the couch." This time it was an order, but delivered in a low tone. Alex was weary enough not to argue.

By the time Hank joined Alex in the sitting room with two hot-water bottles, Alex had reached an uneasy alliance with a mountain of pillows and the back of the couch. Although his eyes were closed, lines of pain were still etched on his face and it was clear that even with all of the pillows he hadn't found a measure of comfort. Hank hoped that what he had in mind would ease some of his pain.

Hank cleared his throat to announce himself and then eased onto the sofa on Alex's right. "The ice was a good idea for the first day, but now that its a few days later you need heat to soothe the muscles that are tense and fatigued."

Alex blinked, the look in his eyes suggested that willing to go along with whatever Hank proposed if it helped with the pain. Hank dropped one water bottle into his lap and eased his left hand gently behind Alex's neck. "Here…" he urged, "sit up just a little."

With a little prompting and repositioning, Hank got Alex settled against his left side with one water bottle tucked between Alex's neck and Hank's shoulder and the other cradled in Hank's paw against the front of Alex's throat. Alex had attempted to help by holding the hot-water bottle against his neck, but Hank rightly pointed out that when Alex fell asleep it would only fall off.

"I've got it, Alex," he assured his injured teammate. "You just need to relax."

In no time at all the heat from the water-bottles and Hank's own elevated body temperature lulled Alex into a sleep deeper than a doze. Alex's right hand fell loosely onto Hank's left leg and Hank found himself moved by the level of faith that Alex had in him. Hank was used to others relying on the power of his brain to solve problems, but for Alex to allow such close physical proximity, particularly in light of Hank's recently changed state meant more than he could express.

In time, the heat in the water bottles faded, their effectiveness lessened as the warmth dissipated. Hank gently removed the now useless tools, but kept Alex tucked against him since he didn't seem inclined to wake and Hank saw no need to move him. Hank found himself absently kneading the bruises along Alex's throat, mesmerized by the contrast of his heavy, blue thumb against the pale, tender flesh beneath it.

Alex sighed in his sleep, and Hank froze. Alex turned slightly toward the left; the expanse of Alex's throat exposed to Hank's suddenly hungry gaze did something to Hank's insides. An involuntary growl rumbled up into his throat.

"Dude, are you purring?"

Hank's attention snapped to the slightly rumpled red-headed teen who had wandered in from the kitchen. Sean raised the bag of chips in his hands. "Munchies." He squinted into the semi-darkness of the sitting room. "Seriously…were you purring?"

Hank had a brief but intense mental debate about the most effective and bloody way to silence Sean, but all of the methods involved leaping off of the couch and that would wake Alex.

"Just trying to help Alex get some sleep."

Sean nodded and didn't pursue the matter further. He noisily opened the bad and offered the open end to Hank. "Chips?"

Hank rolled his eyes and shook his head. This had the makings of a long night.

5) "This is a very bad idea," Hank snarled, but that didn't stop him from pinning Alex to the wall of the lab.

"I've never been one for following directions," Alex responded breathlessly, hooking his left leg around Hank's right in an attempt to pull him closer.

Hank made a Herculean effort to get himself under control. There was a line here that they weren't just about to cross, they were going to catapult over it, but there was danger that Hank felt had to be acknowledged.

Hank's muscles were rigid with tension and Alex was just as taut inside his grasp. There was barely a hand span of space between them, but to Hank it seemed like a chasm almost too frightening to leap. At the same time it was so tantalizing he knew he'd regret not taking the chance.

Hank met the heated intensity of Alex's stare. The facts were simple and irrefutable. "I could break you with my bare hands."

Alex responded similarly. "I could cut you in half if my power gets away from me." Alex's gaze grew darker as his desire grew and Hank couldn't help but respond in kind.

With a knowing glance, Alex tipped his head back and turned his chin to the right, exposing his throat to Hank. That simple gesture was enough to push Hank almost beyond reason, and Alex knew it. But two could play that game; as Hank leaned closer and brushed his lips feather-light along the pulsing artery in Alex's neck, he growled from deep in his chest. Alex's response was immediate, only the pressure of Hank holding him against the wall kept him upright. Hank loved that he could do that to his partner.

Alex got his feet back under him as Hank backed off slightly, but his hands were busy exploring Hank's torso, unbuttoning his shirt and loosening his tie. He used the tie to pull Hank close enough to kiss as he whispered, "I say our odds are fifty-fifty of making it out alive."

Hank couldn't help but grin against Alex's lips. "I'll take those odds."