Hermann’s whole world was upside down. Four days before, Newton had changed everything with six pages of meticulously calculated maths. Then he had kissed Hermann and things had only become more complicated. They set their date for Friday night because Hermann needed time to reorder his thoughts. Newton had prevented that from being possible whenever he would walk into the lab and kiss Hermann’s cheek or sit too close while they ate or hold his hand while they walked through the hall. It sent Hermann’s mind spinning every time.
Now it was time for their date and Hermann was watching the clock tick by as he sat on his bed with only a towel wrapped around his waist, frozen in anxiety. What was he to wear? Surely something nicer than his usual attire but how much nicer? Maybe more casual? They weren’t going anywhere fancy from the hints he had received from Newt. But after his years of pining shouldn’t he mark the occasion?
He found a pair of dark wash jeans in the closet that he thought Newt would appreciate but paired it with a white button down and a black blazer. There was only ten minutes until Newt would be knocking on the door. Fifteen if he was his customary five minutes late. He stared in the mirror and contemplated doing something to his hair but ended up just drying it and combing it. In a concession to his nerves he dabbed some concealer on the bags under his eyes. Hermann didn’t usually bother with makeup; it was too much work early in the mornings, but he liked the way he looked. He decided against the mascara since it would probably rain according to the forecast he had looked at six times since getting out of the shower, and he didn’t want it to run.
Four sharp knocks rang out. Newt was two minutes early. Hermann opened the door to Newt in his leather jacket, jeans, and shirt. The only sight that it as different from the clothes he had worn to the lab earlier was there was slightly fewer wrinkles. “Hey! I’m early for once.”
“You look good.”
Newt backed out of the way so that Hermann could close and lock the door. “I didn’t even know you owned jeans.”
“I’m not very well going to wear them to the lab.”
“Why not? I bet they’d make your ass look extra good up on that ladder.”
“Newton,” Hermann hissed, he could feel the blush spreading across his face.
Newt threw his head back laughing. “It’s not like I’m telling you to come to the lab naked.”
Hermann huffed. “Proper trousers and jeans are not the same.”
Newt rolled his eyes and flapped his hand as if waving it off. “Details. I’m a big picture man.”
“Like big picture: I’m going to take you on the best date of your life tonight.” Newt was smiling so wide that his eyes crinkled.
“Are you going to tell me where we’re going then?” Hermann asked.
“Nope,” Newt said, popping the “P” sharply. “It’s a surprise.”
“Well, you’re off to a poor start,” Hermann said. “Secrets and no flowers.” Hermann turned to smile at Newt to make sure he knew he was joking. His dry tone had gotten him into trouble on dates more than once.
Newt was looking back at him with wide, panicked eyes. “Are you a flowers guy?”
“I enjoy them but they’re hardly a necessity.” Hermann took Newt’s hand.
They stepped outside into the windy weather to the waiting cab. “Okay. I can get flowers next time.”
Hermann’s chest went warm and tight at the suggestion of next time. “If you insist.” They climbed into the back and Newt gave over an address that Hermann didn’t recognize. The drive wasn’t long, but Newt filled it with mindless chatter of Shatterdome gossip that Hermann pretended to hate. Tendo and Allison were getting married and Mako finally convinced the Marshal to allow her to fix up Gipsy Danger. The Kaidonovskys threw such a rager after they broke the 10-hour handshake record that the techs were still drunk two days later. One of the Australian techs got into a fight with someone working on the wall they were sure was the Becket brother.
When they pulled up to the restaurant Hermann couldn’t help but feel a little nervous by the romanticism. It was candle lit and there were reservations for them, and it made Hermann’s gut twist. Newton had gone to so much trouble (he had been on time) what if Hermann didn’t live up to his expectations? Once they had ordered drinks and were looking at their menus Hermann let his knee jerk response come out of his mouth without really hearing it, still trying to figure out how he was supposed to act. Something about Newton being able to plan things being new.
“I’m able to plan things,” Newt said in fake offense.
“Of course, you are. That explains why you’ve never turned in a report on time.”
“It’s not my fault I make too many breakthroughs to be confined to weekly reports.”
“And you’re always so humble.”
“I can’t help what a gift I am. But no more work talk. I saw that Star Fleet symbol in your room and I need to know who your favorite captain is.”
They ate dinner over a lively debate over which Star Trek was the best.
(“DS9, actually pays attention to all the different species of aliens. TNG just has God people every other episode.”
“At least the Enterprise actually went on missions instead of waiting for the interesting things to come to them,” Hermann argued.
“It’s because you had a crush on Geordi, isn’t it?”
“You had a crush on Julian.”
The whole dinner passed without any mention of work with a little effort from both of them. It had absorbed their lives so completely that finding things to talk about and reference was a little overwhelming. When dinner finished Newt paid but didn’t call a cab. The sun was completely down, and it was misting but the walk Newt led him on was only two and a half blocks then down an ally to a door lit by one light that was barely bright enough to shine on the sign above the door as well.
He opened the door into an almost equally as dim bar that had velvet draped walls, couples curled up in high backed booths, and a piano player crooning on stage.
“Go sit. I’ll get our drinks. Manhattan, right?”
“Ah, yes,” Hermann said. He turned back to take in the whole scene again. It was absolutely somewhere that Newt never would have gone to by himself but had found it just for Hermann and his stomach twisted again. He found them a seat in a booth with a view of the stage. There were even a few queer couples from what he could tell. It was hard to make it out in the dim light, a perfect illusion of privacy.
Newt appeared not long after with two drinks in hand. “Allison took Tendo here for his birthday last year,” he whispered close to Hermann’s ear.
“It’s lovely,” Hermann said. The drink was also exquisite.
Newt shuffled closer so they were pressed together, practically snuggling. Hermann took his hand and for a long time they just sipped their drinks and listened to the piano.
Two more rounds of drinks and Newt called them a cab and they made their way back to the Shatterdome. Back in the halls that made their home Hermann didn’t know how to act.
It felt like they had walked out of a dream where they were normal people who cared about each other and their working relationship didn’t ride on whether or not this new turn in their relationship worked out. At Hermann’s door they stopped.
Newt spoke first. “I had f–“
“Do you want to come inside?”
“Oh god, yes.”
Hermann opened the door with a quiet laugh.
Once the door was shut behind them Newt all but lunged at him. He had fingers in the hair he had spent years making fun of and ran his hands under the blazer he had threatened to burn twice. They kissed and Hermann snuck his hands under Newt’s shirt to a moan.
Hermann’s only answer was to push him down onto the bed and crawl up his body to straddle his lap.