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All of Your Flaws (And All Of Mine)

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The war is over. It's won, and the clock stops, and the entire Shatterdome breaks into thunderous cheers and jubilation.

It's not imagined, the contact. The eager way that Newton wraps his arm around Hermann's shoulder, shaking him in excitement over the fact that they stopped the clock. They saved the world, together.

But this is not that moment. This is the moment a few minutes after, in which he and Newton manage to escape the din of celebration to nurse their mutual pains. In this state, he isn't sure whose quarters they enter, but he knows one thing: the two of them need to rest, on a subatomic level.

They collapse into the bed, and breathe out joint sighs of relief. If they hold each other close, that's a moment for tonight and tonight alone.

In the darkness and calm, the war over and understanding achieved, Newt and Hermann can finally relax.

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Spending an afternoon with Newton should, in theory, be relaxing. But most relaxing things, for Hermann, are only theoretical, and it isn't long before he feels the telltale sliminess of Newt's absurd tongue on his face.

Unlike normal, however, it doesn't stay there for more than a moment, Newt pulling back in surprise at the pale tan stain on his tongue and the taste of it. "Wha'th thith?" His tongue continues to stick out as he examines the pale powder on it, and the smudge of blue on Hermann's face.

"Concealer, Newton. The concept surely isn't foreign to you." Hermann resists the urge to wipe the alien spittle off of his cheek.

He pulls his tongue back into a mouth with a shudder. "Sure, yeah, but why are you wearing it? You can tell me if you got a weird face tattoo, Herms, I'm the last person who'd judge you." He takes a moment, seemingly trying to get the taste out of his mouth. "Ugh, that tastes awful. Are you wearing it so I won't kiss you? Because that's pretty rude."

Hermann rolls his eyes. "It's not an intentional deterrent, though it is related." He uses a tissue to wipe the makeup off of his face, showing a splotchy blue stain, centered on the spot where Newt just 'kissed' him. "If you continue to do such things, I fear my skin will never be the same."

Newt blinks before chuckling. "Well, damn. Guess I have to kiss you the old fashioned way."

As Newt presses his lips to Hermann's cheek, Hermann's entire face goes brilliantly red, making the blue mark look almost purple.

"...I suppose you will, Newton. I suppose you will."

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"For the last time, Newton, the line is there for a reason." He pokes (thankfully neutralized) kaiju entrails back onto Newt's side of the lab, only to scowl when Newt kicks them back over without a thought.

"It's there for dumb reasons. It's not like there aren't other labs here, all of them are empty since we're the last ones left. If it really gets to you, just leave!" Newt throws his hands in the air in exasperation.

Hermann huffs in indignation. "The Marshal does not have time for two separate briefings, and I will not be the cause of inefficiency simply because you have an unfortunate tendency to bother me with frivolous and juvenile pursuits."

Newt stomps up to the line. "Frivolous and juvenile? That's rich, coming from y-" His words are cut off as Stacker Pentecost enters, their argument cut short as they give their reports on the state of their research.

And really, Newt is right. The reasons for the line are flimsy at best, if one pokes through them. Hermann's been trying since the incident to maintain distance. Personal, professional, physical. It's a defense mechanism, really.

But Newt's a serial trespasser, crossing over every line he draws, every wall he builds.

And really, even if he'd never admit it, he wouldn't have it any other way.

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"'s all your fault, it really is, in which case I also won. Sort of." Pause. "I'm going in in three... two... one."

A drift with a kaiju is a messy, chaotic beast, similar to the alien itself, but Newton Geiszler was expecting that part. What he was not expecting was to hear the voices of his creators, clicking in unison in a language no one else on Earth would be able to parse.

But Newt wasn't from Earth.


Newt's blood goes cold.


The visuals of the drift are scattered frames, only flickers of thumbnails as he starts to truly comprehend his history, but as he's pulled out of the drift, he hears one last clear message. All of their messages were clear, but that's how it is when you're being directly spoken to.


And then the drift is done, and Hermann's harshly hissing at him, asking Newt what he's done.

He's done the right thing. But he definitely hasn't done the smart thing.

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He's developed a habit of covering his wounds with haste. Every nick, every paper cut, every tiny little slit, covered with a hand while it heals. He's sure it looks odd to Newton, but a lot of things about him look odd nowadays.

Gold flecked irises and halos of sunlight, misfitting blazers and gilded canes, too warm touches and too bright eyes. All of this should add up to something, but it doesn't.

He grits his teeth when he gets a paper cut, turning a page in a notebook, and he covers the little slice. It heals in moments, like anything else. Nothing can truly harm the dead, but he covers it anyway, hiding that it was ever there at all.

Newton's far too trusting of his little habits, really. He assumes it's all just Hermann being himself, but it's hard to say if he's himself at all anymore.

He recalls, faintly, from his studies. He's more of a scientist than a linguist, favoring mathematics over folklore, but he recalls.

They say that ichor, the blood of the divine, is like liquid gold. Beautiful and inhuman, even when in pain.

Hermann Gottlieb, despite his name, is no god. He's not divine. But he's not human anymore either. He's something more ethereal, something he never asked for.

If he covers his wounds, he never has to see what he bleeds.

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Okay, so maybe he should've listened when Herm told him to stay in.

The facts are these:

One. Newt Geiszler decided earlier in the day that being cooped up in the Shatterdome is boring, to the point of being physically painful. Okay, maybe not physically painful, but annoying and boring enough that he needed to spice things up. He decided to do that by actually exploring the city.

Two. Hermann seemed strangely opposed to Newt exploring? Tapping on his cane, trying to make Newt reconsider, even inviting Newt to do something in the Shatterdome? Weird, to say the least, but Newt had made his mind up. For one night, he wanted to actually see the city they were based in. Hermann had been acting kind of weird in general lately, but it was whatever? Near death experiences do weird things to people, Newt could respect that.

Three. He'd met a cute guy hanging out in the city who took immediate interest in his kaiju tattoos, which is pretty rare, you know? Most people tended to be kind of put off by them. The guy was no Hermann, but cute enough. Nice for a conversation or two.

Four. Newt had, inevitably, started talking about his work with the PPDC in trying to stop the apocalypse, because it's really fucking cool, and the guy he'd been talking to had invited him out to show him something.

Five. Approximately two minutes after following the guy, he'd been threatened with a gun for talking too much, because apparently asking for a nice guy to talk to who was interested in his work was too much, because this guy was a kaiju cultist. If he survived, he'd never tell Hermann that he was right to suggest staying in. And so now he's being threatened for trying to save the world, which is pretty rude, all things considered. He's never really been one to shut up in the face of danger, so he keeps talking. And talking.

"--and really, why would you worship the kaiju? They're super cool, don't get me wrong, but they're more like dinosaurs but real than anything like a sign from God. Not to imply that dinosaurs aren't real, but the models most people know as dinosaurs are just so inaccurate, they really are, they're more like kaiju than anything else--"

"I told you to shut up," his captor(?) growls, putting his finger on the trigger of the gun, and Newt hears the click, the blast of gunpowder, and--

The night explodes into light.

Later, Newt will have the presence of mind to describe it more accurately, but here and now? It feels like being enveloped by a supernova. The light and (oddly painless) fire and the sheer burst of heat and pressure brings dying stars to mind. Is he dead?

No, no, he wouldn't be. Unless death looks and feels like the embrace of glistening white feathers. 

The bullet makes a soft noise as it hits the wings folded around Newt, and there's a louder clatter as his assailant's gun hits the concrete.

"What the hell?" The voice of his assailant.

"Leave while you still can." ...The most familiar voice in the world, but also not. It's Hermann's typical reedy tone, but overlaid with something... else. A different voice. Something ethereal, like an alternate version of Hermann that had always been more than human.

The cultist's shoes squeak against the pavement as he runs off, away from... Hermann, apparently? The wings unfold, allowing Newt to turn around and gape in awe.

It's Hermann, alright, but... His short hair flickers in a nonexistent wind, broad white wings outstretched behind him as his face is haloed in golden light, his body wreathed in sacred fire, his cane's sword drawn to reveal a blade just as ethereal as the man wielding it. The brown eyes Newt knows so well are replaced by hollows full of golden light, and it's breathtaking.

He'd compared Hermann to a supernova, mentally, and it seems the comparison is even more accurate than he'd thought. The man he loves, pulsing with light and fire like a dying star.

Later, he'll ask questions. Remark on how any of this happened. He'll receive denial after denial, despite how obvious the truth is.

But for now? He can bask in the light of the nova.

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It's noon. The mail's come, and that means searching for letters.

Hermann tugs open his creaking mailbox with fervor, tugging out the letters and thumbing through them as he returns to his door.

Bill. Bill. Ad. Bill. Letter from Newton. Ad.

Back one step. Hermann pulls out the personal letter with a smile, familiar with the handwriting like nothing else. After all, he and Newton have been exchanging letters for a few years now. It only makes sense for him to know the penmanship.

He settles back in at his dining room table, sipping tea as he opens the letter. It's a longer one, detailing Newton's work as a professor at MIT, and a few of his new theories about the Kaiju. Newton's fascinated with the monsters, maybe more than is healthy, but he's got a brilliant mind, given all his work with artificial tissue replication, as well as every other pie he has his fingers in.

This particular letter also notes the recent thought that Newton might sign on to work with the PPDC soon. Not a terrible idea, given his talents and his inclinations, but the idea of him working with the government he so decries is amusing in its own way.

The picture that Newton paints of the grounds of MIT are vivid and detailed, putting every piece of foliage into its place. It almost makes Hermann long to see it himself, but that's foolish. Longing for a place he's never been to? That's ridiculous.

The word for that feeling? Hiraeth. A word for many things, as Hermann will come to know.

The end of the letter mentions a conference that Newton will be attending in a few months, and implores Hermann to come and say hello. 'If we go much longer without meeting, I might start to think I've just been sending letters out into the void,' the letter remarks, with Newton's typical wit.

Hermann smiles, finishing the letter and tucking it away with the others before beginning to write a response.

He's been longing for a person he's never beheld, and now he can fix that.

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The rain thumps heavily outside the little apartment, a comfortable little place for two without much protection from the noise. The sheer weight almost feels like a god trying to smite the building, but the two inhabitants of this particular apartment don't pay it much mind.

The scene is simple. Almost domestic. Well, no, that's not true. It's very domestic. Hermann is settled into the couch with a pleasant ease, reading a novel he's been meaning to get around to, as Newt makes himself some unpleasantly strong coffee in the kitchen.

The window of the kitchen creaks open, and Hermann looks over at Newt with an unspoken question.

The response he gets isn't aloud. Given how connected they are, there's rarely any point to using their voices anymore. You like the smell of rain.

Petrichor. That particular thought is in unison, and Hermann smiles as he stands, shuffling over to be close to Newt and bask in the comfort of his presence.

I wonder if the Anteverse will have rain, he muses. The memories of the place are a blur, so he can't recall precipitation.

Maybe. At least you can enjoy it now, right? Newt leans over to press his face into Hermann's neck, and Hermann lets out a pleased hum.

I can. Thank you. He brushes a kiss across Newt's hairline, and their mental affection goes wordless as they melt into each other. There's nothing more to be said. Only love to be expressed.

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Everything's been warm for Hermann since... the incident. He refers to it by no other name. 'The Incident' makes it sound less permanent than it was. Certainly a much better choice than calling it... well, he won't so much as name it.

He feels the death of Newton Geiszler before he hears anything about it. It's the spike of ice through his very core, choking him and making him fall to his knees. For a moment, he thinks he might be dying again, but then he realizes.

His connection to Newt is gone.

He grasps at his chest with shaking hands, as if to try and tug on a thread that no longer exists. No matter what he does, the soft warmth of knowing Newt's feelings is just... gone.

Hermann's frozen for a long time, until the flutter of white wings going dark catches his attention.

"...I'm sorry, Herm."

Hermann practically throws himself at Newt. Being newly fallen means his angelic warmth is still leaking away to cold, cold, cold, but Hermann can't care about the cold, not when he has Newt in his arms.

"Never do that again," he croaks out, trying not to sound like he's on the verge of tears.

"I won't, I promise. I'm here to stay."

He's not sure if he's imagining the warmth returning as he softly kisses Newt's face, but it doesn't matter. Hot or cold, dead or alive, right or wrong, they're there for each other. Until the very end.