On August tenth, 2013, Newt is on edge all day.
He’s usually pretty on edge anyway, that’s sort of who he is, but he can’t explain it, this dread in the pit of his belly, this anticipation that’s wearing him thin. He thinks it’s because the fall semester starts in a little over three weeks and he’s still barely started updating his syllabus, but that doesn’t explain why he spends the whole day refreshing various news sites, including one based out of San Francisco, for some reason.
When he goes to bed that night, he cries and cries until he falls asleep, and he has no idea why.
Three weeks into the semester, one of Newt’s students leaves a copy of Advances in Applied Mathematics in his classroom. Newt’s first instinct is to roll his eyes- math, ugh -but instead, he picks it up and starts flipping through it. He stops when he finds a paper written by a man named Gottlieb.
Newt’s never been a math person but he gets it well enough, and Gottlieb definitely understands it way better than him. He knows what he’s talking about, which Newt appreciates. But something about that name...Newt finds himself searching for him immediately.
He finds five Doctor Gottliebs during his first search. He tosses out Lars Gottlieb right away- something about the name actually makes him angry, for reasons he can’t explain. Emily Whitehall-Gottlieb is a surgeon, and Karla Gottlieb is an oncologist. Dietrich Gottlieb is a physicist, and- ah-ha, there he is, Doctor Hermann Gottlieb, twenty-four and sour-looking. Just by skimming the information he finds, Newt gets the feeling that Hermann Gottlieb is probably as smart as he is, even if he doesn’t have four (working on the fifth!) doctorates.
He has to talk to him. He has no idea why, but he has to.
Newt starts an email to the address provided by TU Berlin- thank you, internet -and pauses. He has no reason to contact this man. He barely even grasps the math in his paper.
He pores over the paper again, then writes the email.
Doctor Hermann Gottlieb,
Found a typo in your paper in Advances in Applied Mathematics. Can you spot it? ;)
Doctor Newton Geiszler
He grins and hits send.
The reply comes two days later.
I hardly think the misplaced comma is worth sending an email to a stranger over. Furthermore, I found two typos in your paper in Journal of Herpetology. You are hardly one to talk.
And winking emoticons are not professional, no matter what anyone might have told you.
Doctor H. Gottlieb
Newt grins. He likes this guy already.
They continue like that for three months before Newt finally calls Hermann on the phone.
“Who the hell is this?” the voice on the other end snaps. “It is after midnight and I have work tomorrow- rather, later today.”
“Aw, shit, timezones,” Newt sighs. “Sorry, man.”
“...Doctor Geiszler, I presume.”
“Yeah! Great to meet you, Hermann.”
“Do not-” A heavy sigh. “What do you want?”
“I just...” Newt fiddles with his coffee machine idly. A bagel would go great with coffee. He imagines bow ties and suspenders for a moment, for some reason, before he shakes the image away. “Do you know, I get the craziest feeling of déjà vu whenever I talk to you?”
There’s a pause at the other end. “You too?”
“Yeah! Yes, holy shit, every time I talk to you, I feel like...like I’ve known you for years, and we’ve had all these conversations before, except...except different?” He runs a hand through his hair. “I dunno, man. I haven’t slept since yesterday, I’m running on coffee and donuts right now.”
“I am utterly unsurprised.” He can almost see Hermann rolling his eyes and shaking his head, tapping his cane impatiently-
Wait. No, he doesn’t know that Hermann has a cane. Does Hermann have a cane?
“Do you have a cane?” Newt asks abruptly.
“That is none of your business-”
“Shit! No, no, I was just- it’s, it’s that me knowing you thing again, okay? Like, like, I can picture you right now, man, in your old man PJs and your hair’s all messed up because I woke you up, right, and you’re doing that thing with your cane, the, the tapping thing.”
He waits, balling his free hand into a fist anxiously. Shit, he hasn’t pissed him off irreparably, right? Shit, shit-
“You’re wearing some sort of ridiculous, threadbare rock band t-shirt,” Hermann says. “And...boxers. With Godzilla on them.”
Newt glances down at himself. Godzilla boxers, check, t-shirt- “AC/DC, if you wanna get specific,” Newt says.
“Of course. It suits your ‘rock star’ mentality.”
Newt’s pretty sure he’s never called himself a rock star to Hermann, pretty sure he’s never mentioned Black Velvet Rabbits, but it slips out of Hermann’s mouth so naturally, even if the air quotes are practically tangible. “Dude,” he breathes. “How’d you do that?”
“I- I don’t know. How did you guess at what I’m wearing?”
“Uh- intuition? I dunno. I just- I just knew.”
“Hrm.” There’s a significant pause. “Do you...have any tattoos?”
“Yeah- yeah, I do.”
Newt’s brow furrows. “No? That’d be pretty sick, though- I didn’t think you were into kaiju movies-”
“No, I’m not, I was- I don’t know where that came from. What are they of, then?”
“Uh- I’ve just got the one, actually. It’s this, like, stylized Komodo dragon? I dunno, I was eighteen and wasted.”
“It’s on your back.”
The skin on his back feels tingly, like he’s being touched. “Y-yeah. Yeah, it is.”
“I can...see it, sort of. In my head.”
Newt lets out a shaking laugh. “Dude,” he says. “I am way too sleep-deprived for this shit.”
“You started it,” Hermann says, not sounding as annoyed as he wants to seem.
“Yeah. Good point. I should let you go back to bed. Good night, Hermann.”
“...Good night, Newton.”
Newt dreams of aliens and robots and Hermann’s frown.
A few weeks later, Hermann sends Newt a simple birthday card. Newt’s pretty sure he’s never told Hermann when his birthday is, and he knows it’s not listed on the MIT website.
On February fifth, Newt Googles Manila, Philippines a dozen times and is surprised every time to see it’s still standing.
He’s about to call Hermann when Hermann calls him first.
“Manila,” Hermann says. “I can’t stop bloody thinking about Manila.”
“Did you have this with San Francisco, too?” Newt asks immediately. Not yeah, me too, that’s so weird because they’ve gotten used to this, this weird almost-telepathy-but-not-really thing they’ve got going on.
“Yes- in August. I- I cried all day and I had no idea why.”
Newt’s hands are shaking. “I need to see you, dude. In person. Somehow.”
“I don’t know- wait.” There’s a rustling of papers on the other end of the phone. “Today I was invited to a conference in Boston. I’ll be there in a month.”
“Awesome. Awesome, dude. I’ll...keep an eye out for you.”
“The same to you.”
There’s a thousand more things that Newt wants to say, but he can’t find the words. He sort of gets the feeling that if he just screamed his feelings, Hermann would understand, even if he would yell at him first.
Hermann hangs up, and Newt starts a countdown to the conference.
It’s a math and physics conference, and Newt is not a mathematician or a physicist, but he talks/shoves himself in anyway, because that is the Geiszler way. Once he’s in the building, he feels this gravitational pull, and he has to force himself to walk, not run, to where Hermann is.
They meet each other halfway, and they kiss instantly. Newt doesn’t even think about it- it seems natural as anything that he should be kissing Hermann. Kissing Hermann is, like, a state of being, not an action.
They break apart, and Newt sort of wants to say, “Huh, that was weird,” because he’s pretty sure, logically, that it was, but it’s not, it’s the furthest thing from weird. Hermann’s cheeks are pink and perfect, and they’re getting stared at, probably, but he doesn’t care. Neither does Hermann, really.
“I found you,” Hermann whispers.
Newt knows he doesn’t mean he found him in the conference building. It’s something bigger than that. Newt grins and cups Hermann’s face in his hands. “I found you too.”
They’ve been at it for half an hour now, shut in Hermann’s hotel room, naming people and jaegers and kaiju. Newt rattled off a number of kaiju first- Hundun Trespasser Knifehead Otachi Slattern Leatherback Onibaba -while Hermann listed jaegers- Coyote Tango Romeo Blue Gipsy Danger Cherno Alpha Striker Eureka and on and on and on.
“Mako,” Hermann says. “Mako...Mori. That’s it.”
“Raleigh Becket,” Newt says. “And...Yancy? Yamarashi.”
“Hercules Hansen, Scott Hansen, Chuck Hansen-”
“Sasha and Aleksis Kaidanovsky.”
Hermann sighs and rests his face in his hands. “I’ve never met any of these people in my life,” he says. “But some of those names...they make me so sad.”
“At least we know we’re not crazy,” Newt tries. “We can’t be crazy if we feel the same things.”
“You’re right. Gott. I don’t understand it, though. I hate not understanding things.”
“God, do I feel ya on that one.”
They sit down on Hermann’s bed. “I have all these words and names in my head,” Hermann says, gesturing vaguely towards himself. “And they all mean things but I don’t know what. I think- I think I could code a jaeger, though. I hardly have any idea what a jaeger is.”
“Dude, I had no idea a jaeger was something you could code. All this is as big a mystery to me, too.” Newt rubs at his forearms. They feel empty, and he’s getting the itch for a tattoo. He’s had the urge for years- besides the shitty Komodo dragon -but he’s never been so passionate about anything in particular that he wants it permanently on his body.
Hermann presses a hand to Newt’s arm. “You had...Yamarashi on one of them,” he says. “And...Onibaba, I think? On the other.”
Hermann blinks, then shakes his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything, Christ.”
“At least I know you,” Newt says. He means for it to come out like a cheesy romance novel line, and it probably sounds like that, but he ends up saying it so softly, it sort of sounds...honest.
Hermann smiles and touches Newt’s cheek. “And I you.”
Hermann gets a job at MIT two months later, and Newt starts renting a nicer apartment with an elevator that actually works. They’re together almost all the time, bickering and talking and editing each other’s papers and kissing. Newt gets a tattoo of Yamarashi (kind of- he can’t quite remember what it looked like) on his arm, and people tell him it looks badass, since it hasn’t destroyed any cities here. Hermann sets up a program to search for all the news of the people whose names they can recall.
They cheer when Mako Mori wins a youth hanbō fighting competition, they drink champagne when they read the Kaidanovskys’ wedding announcement, they grin when Chuck Hansen wins a local spelling bee.
They don’t think they’ll ever meet any of them, but they like to pretend. They’d have Pentecost over for tea, make dinner for the Beckets, send brownies to the Wei triplets. It’s too bad that it’ll never really happen. Newt thinks he’d really get along with that Tendo guy, wherever he is, whoever he is. He’s got a hunch.
But they have each other. They fight and yell and scream but they always make up, always forgive each other and forget the past. They never quite figure out what their whole past is, exactly, though Newt has some very science fiction-inspired ideas. They think it’s all right, not knowing, even if it does drive them crazy some days. They still have each other, no matter what.
And the future is kaiju-free, and it is beautiful.