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Reed walked into his shared lab space and looked around for Hank. The younger man had quickly become an indispensable part of Reed's daily life. How strange then that it took a conversation with Sue for Reed to realize exactly how integral Hank's position really was.

It had reached a point where, even if Reed didn't need input, he still asked the junior scientist for his opinion. It was nice having someone whose intelligence matched his own. That was such an uncommon thing.

"I'm back from Washington," Reed called out, by way of introduction. "It was life-changing to say the least. Are you able to listen to me right now?"

"For life-changing news? Yes, of course." Hank released his grip on the metal bar he had been hanging from, dropping to the ground in a quick crouch before straightening up again. One of the reasons he enjoyed spending time with Reed was the other man's complete nonchalance about his occasional simian tendencies. Even the most laid-back mutants tendend to look at him a little funny for hanging from the ceiling - but not Reed. "Please, tell me everything you learned."

Reed gave a grin. "Right. Well, I have to say, the NASA building was much less impressive than I remember, although mind you, it has been several years since I was last there, and I was more of an intern than an actual guest..." He continued to tell Hank as much as he could about the situation; however, the non-disclosure was weighing heavy on his mind.

"...I mean, I don't have to tell you the implications of this discovery," Reed finished up. "Trappist-1 is a researcher's dream, and I'm very honoured they are asking me to head this project. The stalls, I believe, are only momentary. With the right mind, we can move forward and make monumental gains for the human race."

Hank was looking at his friend with nothing less than amazement - to think he was able to share a lab with someone so brilliant they were first on NASA's I will help guide you, mentor you. You cannot find a more intelligent person on this planet than myself. That's a fact. I believe you can do it. You should be able to believe it too.speed-dial for a project of this immensity. "Of course," he said, somewhat belatedly. "The potential for advancement is very real, and very exciting. To have a wealth of data like this to work with... I can't even imagine the possible discoveries yet to be made. And of course, with you at the helm I'm sure they'll be made in all due course."

Reed preened at the compliment. This WAS a big deal. It wasn't simply landing a weapons contract, or winning a Nobel prize. This project could shake the very foundation of the planet. "Thank you, Hank. I am very excited at the possibilities and would like to invite you to join me as my right hand man. NASA is already losing steam with their microbiologists and I think that's troubling. You'd be an excellent asset to the team."‎

"M-me?" Hank's jaw didn't quite drop open but his face was certainly the picture of shock. "But I'm only an undergraduate - I haven't even worked in a proper academic laboratory yet!"

Reed gave him an exasperated look. "You are very intelligent, Hank, but these concerns of yours...they make you seem less so. What does your education status have to do with anything? Or the lack of a proper lab. What do you think this room is?" He swept his arm around. "I never said you were going to lead it in isolation. I will be there, every step of the way. "

"Yes, but..." It was true that Reed was intelligent, and if NASA had put him in charge of this project he likely had the scope to do whatever he wanted, including appointing people to the research team. Hank still couldn't quite grasp why Reed wanted him but he wasn't about to argue with the man. "I mean, of course I'd be honoured to work with you."

"Excellent." Reed smiled broadly. "It appears that this NASA work has jumpstarted my life. Sue has returned my affections, and you have agreed to work with me on this. I cannot see anything else I would need from life."

Hank blinked. Frankly, Reed and Sue having finally managed to hook up seemed even more unbelievable than the NASA arrangement. "Congratulations," he managed eventually. "That's wonderful news."

"Isn't it though?" He hummed tunelessly as he approached his workstation. Turning on the laptop, he tilted his head and gave a nod. "Now it's time we worked on your love life. You're a young man in his prime, with an intellect that could one day come close to mine. This is something to be proud of."

"I... thank you?" Under the bench Hank reached down to pinch his arm - surely this whole thing was a dream. The gesture stung, and he didn't wake up. How odd. "But really, that's quite alright. I don't think I have quite the grasp on schedule-juggling that work and any sort of relationship would require. Better to give all my attention to one thing than to do both badly." Did that sound like a plausible excuse? He hoped Reed would accept it in his usual diffuse way and not have one of his rare moments of hyperfocus on something that wasn't science-related.

Reed gave a random noise, already delving into his work. "Well, I'm sure Sue will be able to help." Clicking away on his keyboard, it was another fifteen minutes before he turned to look at Hank. "In fact, let's have a meeting. Maybe a dinner. We can all discuss your life. How does that sound?"

"A dinner sounds nice." The words were out before Hank had even really thought about them, and he had a sudden wish that his mutation involved the ability to turn back time. Turning back to his own work, he tried to focus. Sue would help him. He could count on Sue.
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