Rating: high T/low M
Pairing: Newton Geiszler/Hermann Gottlieb
Warnings: drugging, attempted non-consensual Drift, mind-control and related trauma

"Hey, Doctor Gottlieb,

Just letting you know that Shao's transferred me—haha, transferred, more like fired —to the PPDC as her liaison, so, uh. We're gonna be lab partners again in like, 36 hours. Sorry about that. I just figured that you'd like a bit of warning beforehand.
Dr. Geiszler

Hermann's mouth is dry; the Doctor Gottlieb feels like a slap — even when they were at their worst, Newt refused to call him Doctor Gottlieb. Jerk, asshole, robot and a thousand other things, but never by his title.

His eyes are stinging again, ribcage uncomfortably tight. He reminds himself that he shouldn't feel this way — it's natural for them to have drifted; it's been over half a decade, and, regardless of what feelings Hermann may still harbour, Newt has moved on; he needs to respect that, and if Newt — Newton — Doctor Geiszler wants them to remain strictly professional, then Hermann will respect his wishes.

Seven years after their Drift with Baby Otachi, Hermann and Newt have gone their separate ways, but when Shao makes Newt her liaison to the PPDC and he's paired with Hermann for a study of the effects of the Drift, it's not long before things reach a breaking point."

This fic is complete, and in three parts. The next two parts will be uploaded over the next two days. This fic takes place in 2032, and is partially canon-compliant; it adheres some elements of the timeline, as established in Pacific Rim: Uprising, but is canon-divergent. The drugging is minor, and the non-consensual Drift is only attempted; additionally, none of Newt's actions are his own, given his possession by the Precursors. Though the novelization establishes that Newt is unaware of his actions, with the Precursors wiping/modifying/blocking out his memories, for fic purposes, he is fully aware but has no control over his actions. This fic is angsty, but has a happy ending.

The silence without Newt around is almost deafening, still, all these years later. Hermann's gotten used to the biologist's constant presence, and without his boundless energy, everything feels...muted. Hollow.

"I'm sorry, Hermann, I don't think...I think it would be best if we...end this." Newt's hand jerks away from his touch, gaze fixed on the floor. His voice is subdued, but in that it's lacking anything.

Hermann stares, shocked. "I —Newton, what are you—?"

Newt interrupts. "I—I've been offered a position at Shao Industries, and I just don't think..." he trails off.

"I'm sure we—we can find a way to make it work," Hermann's voice cracks, betraying the emotion behind his words, and he's—he's pleading at this point. "Please, Newton—" For a second, Newt wavers, something passing across his face, before his expression shutters, and he shakes his head.

"I'm sorry, Hermann," he says, "this—we're done. Goodbye."

He strides away, suitcase in hand, leaving Hermann standing behind. Everything in Hermann screams at him to run after Newt, but Newt has made his choice, and Hermann will respect it. As much as it hurts him, he can't say that he wasn't expecting it.

After all, people like him don't get happy endings.

The ring is heavy on the chain, the metal shiny from where he slips it on and off his finger when he's being particularly sentimental (when he indulges in an unattainable fantasy). It's a simple metal band, but the meaning behind it is momentous. It's made of scraps from the first Mark I, and on the inside is inscribed You would do that for me? Or with me?

He doesn't look at the inside often, because it brings back memories of lazy mornings in bed with Newt, his soft smile aimed at Hermann, warmth and comfort and understanding . He remembers thinking This is too good to be true. The irony is that, for a time, he actually believed that it could . That Newt actually wanted wanted him.

Hermann drags a hand across his eyes, wiping away the tears brimming there, and tries to focus on the information on his tablet.

The data is on Drift-related studies; mostly at the behest of General Mori, but partially due to his own curiosity. He scrolls, pursuing the notes and occasionally highlighting something for further annotation. Suddenly, a quiet buzz from the tablet; a notification pops up on-screen.

New message: Dr. Geiszler

That, in and of itself, is a shock; he hasn't heard from Newt in in years . Despite his assurances to the contrary, their communication petered out within the first few months and every other line contained a reference to Alice .

It's not that Hermann begrudges Newt his happiness far from it; if he's happy with this Alice, then Hermann is more than glad that he's found someone he can finally share his life with. Even if it's not Hermann.

He opens it.

Hey, Doctor Gottlieb,

Just letting you know that Shao's transferred me—haha, transferred, more like fired —to the PPDC as her liaison, so, uh. We're gonna be lab partners again in like, 36 hours. Sorry about that. I just figured that you'd like a bit of warning beforehand.

Dr. Geiszler

Hermann's mouth is dry; the Doctor Gottlieb feels like a slap even when they were at their worst, Newt refused to call him Doctor Gottlieb . Jerk, asshole, robot and a thousand other things, but never by his title.

His eyes are stinging again, ribcage uncomfortably tight. He reminds himself that he shouldn't feel this way it's natural for them to have drifted; it's been over half a decade, and, regardless of what feelings Hermann may still harbour, Newt has moved on; he needs to respect that, and if Newt Newton Doctor Geiszler wants them to remain strictly professional, then Hermann will respect his wishes.

(Even if it feels like there's a hundred-pound weight on his chest.)

He closes the email and goes back to the data, forces his mind to focus on that instead of on the email, but he spends the next few hours more distracted than usual, gaze straying to the photo on his desk.

With a sigh, Hermann turns off the tablet, scrubs his stinging eyes. The lateness of the hour suddenly crashes on him; it's past one in the morning, and he's not in his twenties anymore. He stifles a yawn, tidying up his workspace halfheartedly, and makes his way down to his quarters.

His quarters are almost identical, if slightly less drafty, than the ones in the original Hong Kong Shatterdome. He supposes it shouldn't surprise him—the PPDC is technically a military organisation, after all, even if they've gone from Jaegertech-focused to a greater interest in K-Science and Drift technologies.

Not that Hermann's complaining. He doesn't like his job, per se, but it gives his life a sense of purpose he's not sure how to find anywhere else after having spent more than ten years at it.

He strips out of his clothes with a deft efficiency borne of years and years of practice, throws back a few pills to combat the twinge in his leg. He probably could get it fixed properly now, with the tech they have, but, odd as it is, he's...become attached to it, in a strange way. It's a part of him.

For a moment, he hovers between the conflicting urges to shower and to get straight to bed, but eventually, the lure of hot water wins out.

Once he's through with it, he settles under the covers, breathes in deeply, and tries to prepare himself for the—irrationally terrifying—arrival of one Newton Geiszler.

cold, why is everything so cold and blue and lifeless? He wants to scream, to run, but something stops him. His body isn't his own, he realises with a shock of horror. They've done something to him, taken him and shoved him deep, deep down into the darkness.

Hermann? he calls. Hermann, are you there? You've got to help me, please, I'm not sure how much longer I can hold on

With a terrible ripping noise, he splits, watching in mute revulsion and terror as his body jerks, head thrown back in a silent scream of pain. There's a pons set strapped to his head, and he doesn't know why.

His body jerks again, fingers white-knuckled on the leather arms of the chair, and his eyes roll back in his head, before he finally goes limp. His eyes remain open, though, and they—they're glowing an electric blue.

He stumbles back on weak legs, knows he can't escape, but if he can just get Hermann, tell Hermann, Hermann will know what to do, Hermann always knows what to do—

Hermann snaps awake with a scream in his throat, tangled in his bedsheets. For a moment, the phantom sensation of tentacles wrapped around his limbs, choking him, makes his vision swim. He's shaking and his shirt is soaked with sweat, but all he can recall from his dream— nightmare is horror and terror and a sense of doom.

His first thought is I need Newton. Which is preposterous—he's a grown man. He doesn't need Newt.

Still, though, he aches for the other in a way he can't truly, fully comprehend—something about that Drift all those years ago took what was distinctly Hermann and twisted it about a bit, pulled loose a few threads and added certain others that read a bright, glaring Newt against the canvas of his personality.

Fuck , he thinks, and then bites back a hysterical laugh at how much his inner monologue sounds like Newt. Six years. Six years for him to realize how truly, fully, frighteningly—and probably, if he's being truthful, unhealthily —he needs Newt, like he needs air in his lungs to survive.

Increased need for codependency is a common symptom of isolation from one's Drift partner floats through his mind, and he buries his face in his hands, lets silent tears course down his cheeks. He hates himself for this—for this weakness. Six years. Six years, and he still hasn't moved on. He's pathetic.

He does finally drag himself out of bed, dresses sluggishly and splashes water on his face in an attempt to diminish the puffiness of his red-rimmed eyes. "Look alive, man; it's just an old colleague, not a death sentence , " he scolds his reflection. Staring the mirror, he suddenly feels so very, very old and tired. The stress of the Kaiju War has affixed permanent lines around his mouth, creases between his brows, and his eyes are lacklustre.

He wonders what Newton looks like—does he still wear those thin shirts with the sleeves rolled up to show off his tattoos, the top two buttons popped, a too-skinny tie hanging loosely around his neck, or has life as one as an employee of one of the most prestigious companies mellowed him?

It's no use wondering; he'll be seeing the other face-to-face in a matter of hours. The thought is both exhilarating and terrifying.

He sets his jaw and lets his expression fall into one of disinterested neutrality.

Hansen calls him up only a few hours after he gets to his office. "Gottlieb," he greets, expression unreadable over the static of the video call. "I need you in my office in ten."

"Of course, sir," Hermann nods, clearing a few papers off his desk and puts them in their files. Suddenly nervous, he starts, "Marshal, do you—?"

The other cuts him off. "Best behaviour, Gottlieb. We need Shao's support, and I can't have you ruining that by getting into one of your arguments with Doctor Geiszler, understood?"

Hermann swallows. "Crystal clear, sir. I'll be with you in a few minutes."

Hansen nods, ending the call. The room suddenly seems claustrophobically small, the glass windows boxing him in, and the faint blue light filtering from the cooler where he keeps the vials of kaiju-blood flickers, growing into tendrils reaching for him, choking him—

He blinks, and it's gone, but his legs are still shaky and he leans heavily on his cane as he leaves. Just in case, he locks the door behind him.

The Marshal's door is an elegant, dark wood, and Hermann tries to focus on this fact instead of his mounting anxiety. Even so, he tugs at his blazer and shirt anxiously, trying to find any possible imperfections and remove them before he has to enter.

Biting his lip, he raises his hand, rapping three times on the door, the noise reverberating slightly. After a few moments, Hansen calls, "Come in!" Hermann takes a steadying breath and turns the handle, pushing the door open.

"Marshal, Ne—Doctor Geiszler," he amends. Newton grins at him, eyes hidden behind a gaudy pair of crimson-tinted glasses. By his side stands Liwen Shao, poised elegantly, expression guarded. "Ms. Shao," he dips his head. "I'm Doctor Gottlieb, head of PPDC K-Sciences division."

Her eyes flick over him, dismissive, and she says, in Mandarin, "Doctor. How good to finally meet you. Doctor Geiszler speaks highly of you." Her tone is even, betraying nothing.

"Ah, he—he does?" Hermann asks, trying to cover his surprise. "Well, ah, that's...only good things, I should hope." He's floundering—everything he's seen and heard indicated that Newt should've put as much distance between them as possible; Newt's the head of R&D for Shao Industries, and Hermann is a physicist-slash-xenobiologist working a low-paying job for an underfunded para-military organization.

Hansen steps forward slightly. "Doctor Geiszler has been transferred to work with you on the Drift project you've been working on. He'll be helping you run tests and analyse data."

Hermann nods. "Well, then, N—Doctor Geiszler, I'll show you to my— our," he corrects himself, "lab and office. Ms. Shao, Marshal, good day."

He makes his way out of the room as quickly as he can without seeming like he's fleeing. Seeing Newt again has brought the dam in his mind crashing down, the flood of emotions pouring over like a tidalwave.

Newt is—different, to say the least; gone are the casual clothes, traded in for a sharply-cut dark ensemble, the sleeves and collar hiding any trace of his tattoos, and, with a sudden pang, Hermann realizes he's—he's missed the blasted things. Six years of no contact, and now, here he is, close enough that Hermann can touch, and yet a thousand times further away than ever.

Of course, Newt's out the door, following behind him within seconds, and Hermann draws himself up, squares his shoulders. "Doctor Geiszler," he greets, desperately hoping his tone doesn't betray his inner turmoil. "Ah, I'll show you the office and the lab."

He stares ahead, desperately quashing the want to reach out and grab Newt's hand in his own, twine their fingers together; Newt's fallen into step beside him, accommodating his disability as he always has, and Hermann's heart aches at the small gesture.

"Soooo, whatcha been doing?" Newt asks, "Did they finally get you an intern, or a decent set of projectors?"

Hermann starts at his words; it's an old complaint of his, and he honestly hadn't thought Newt would remember something so pedestrian. "No, I'm afraid they haven't on either counts," he replies, "it's...it's just me."

Newt flashes him a smile. "That must be great, dude—you finally get the peace and quiet you want without me around."

Hermann bites his cheek to stop himself from blurting It doesn't matter to me, not without you around. I'd trade it all to get you back. Instead, he says, "Yes, well, it's certainly...something. How've you been, Doctor Geiszler? And how is—Alice?"

Something flashes across Newt's expression at the mention of Alice, something like terror, but it's gone just as fast, and Hermann chalks it up to the lighting. "Good, good, we've been good. Hey, you should come over some time—Alice is eager to meet you."

Hermann frowns. "I'm afraid that simply wouldn't be professional," he says bluntly. "I would be overstepping the line." And I don't want to see how thoroughly you've moved on .

"Oh come on, man, it's fine," Newt cajoles. "I simply insist ."

Despite himself, Hermann finds himself considering the matter. "Well, perhaps some time," he concedes. "But right now, I have data to analyse, kaiju tissue to do further research, that sort of thing. Please, follow me this way."

He strides down the hall, Newt at his heels, until he finally reaches his own door. The door doesn't budge when he tries it, and he frowns, before remembering that it's locked, and sheepishly pats his pockets in search of the key. "Sorry, I, ah, I'm not sure where the key is," he apologises. "It should only take me a moment—ah!" He finally locates the key, slotting it into the handle, and opens the door.

Newt hesitates at the threshold for a moment, an unreadable expression on his face, before he steps inside. He whistles. "Wow, dude, you've really let yourself go, haven't you?"

With a sudden rush of embarrassment, Hermann realizes that the office is—well, it's messy. Kaiju action figures teeter precariously on the windowsill, stacks of paper litter his desk and the shelves, and sheets of notes crumpled in fits of frustration gather dust on the floor around the bottom of the wastebin.

It's practically Newtonesque in its disorganisation. Hermann flushes, stammering, "I—it's not usually like this, I'm sorry, I didn't realise—" he cuts himself off. "I assumed we'd split the office—there's another desk and a computer there." He gestures to the other side of the room, which is significantly more tidy, and says, "I do apologise for the mess—I'll clean it up right now, and you can go down to the lab. It's just down the hall."

Newt nods. "Sounds good. I'll get my equipment set up."

As soon as Newt's out the door, Hermann begins frantically tidying up. What can Newt think of him, finding his office a mess? Hermann's face is burning in embarrassment Newt's moved on to bigger things in life, become something more, and Hermann's managed to become a mess. It's pathetic.

Finally, everything is back to a semblance of cleanliness; the papers have been filed in various drawers, the crumpled notes fully in the wastebin, and the kaiju action figures shoved in the very back of his desk drawer. He breathes a deep sigh.

From where the cooler sits, hidden behind his desk, the vials of kaiju blood glow blue, and Hermann shivers. Something about them is malignant— which is ridiculous; they're vials of blood, and he's had them in his office for months, so it makes no sense that he's only getting creeped out by them now.

He bats aside the murmur of dread in the back of his mind and makes his way down to the lab.

Newt's directing various movers in loud, broken Mandarin when Hermann gets down to the lab. "Damnit, man, careful! " he shouts, giving up his attempts to communicate in their native language and switching over to English. Somehow, over the combined eight years he's spent in Hong Kong and various other areas of China, he's still not managed to gain proficiency of the language. " Careful! " he yells again, "that's state of the art, you bastards, it costs more than you'll earn in your entire life— "

He spots Hermann and makes his way over. "Sorry, dude," he huffs, "I swear, absolutely no respect. Anyway, I was thinking, we're doing stuff on the Drift, right? I was wondering if you know whether or not there's any of my Drift recordings from, uh, you know..." he waves vaguely. The Drift, he means, the one with the barely-living kaiju brain in a tank.

Hermann grimaces at the thought and shakes his head. "No, I'm afraid not, Doctor Geiszlerwhat recordings we did have were, as you recall, destroyed by yourself soon after Operation Pitfall, as, I quote, "they're fucking useless anyway." We'll simply have to dig up other data from Jaeger pilots."

"Yay," Newt deadpans. "Just what I wanted to do."

For a second, he's Hermann's Newt again sarcastic and energetic and willing to look authority in the eye and tell them to fuck themselves, and Hermann wants to reach out, pull him into a hug, and say I've missed you so much, please don't leave again. The moment passes almost instantly, though, and Hermann berates himself for it. Newt is his colleague, if that; he's obviously a different man than Hermann knew, and it won't do any of them any good for Hermann to cling to ghosts of the past.

He swallows thickly. "I'll go fetch my—my research," he murmurs, making his escape.

Newt gazes after Hermann, wants to shout I'm so sorry, please forgive me, but they won't let him; the only reason they're even allowing him around Hermann is because—because—

He's repulsed by what they want to do, want to make him do, down to his very core, but they're too strong; he's one mind against dozens of others—not a fair fight in the slightest. They're allowing him these moments of freedom because they derive pleasure from his suffering, from the knowledge that, no matter how hard he fights, at the end of the day, they'll hook him back up to Alice and wrest away what little amount of control he may have gained.

They're going to use him to trap Hermann, and there's nothing he can possibly do about it.

Their understanding of love is minimal beyond their understanding that it's what allows them to bend him to their will. Threaten Hermann, and he'll fall right in line. Weak, they snarl, so weak.

Perhaps; but if there's one thing Newt's learnt, it's that six years forcefully separated from the man he loves has broken something deep within him. At this point, the only reason he hasn't died is because the Precursors need him alive to fulfil their plans.

A few times, he's tried to starve himself, but they just seize control and force him to eat and drink regardless. Any time it looks like he might kill himself or cause significant damage, they force him to the recesses of his mind and take over.

And now they want to do the same to Hermann, and Newt is powerless to stop it.

He doesn't even realise the blood dripping from his nose until he tastes the copper as it runs over his lips. With a jerky motion, he pulls out a handkerchief from his pocket, the liquid leaving a rusty stain on the pale fabric.

It takes longer than usual to stem the bleeding—a good three minutes, as opposed to the thirty seconds, max, when the neural overload from resisting them gets too great, and he wonders briefly if he'll just bleed out.

The thought is actually kind of nice, and it would be a giant fuck you to the Precursors—to have survived a thermonuclear warhead, only to be kicked out of Earth for good by measly blood-loss.

He almost pitches forward as a headache slams behind his eyes, vision spotting slightly with black. Without his permission, he strides forward, following after Hermann, hand straying to the knife hidden in the pockets of his slack, fingers caressing lovingly over the sheath, and he screams No! but no sound comes out.

They ignore his protests. You are ours to control, they hiss, and Newt wants to cry.

Please, he begs, I'll—I'll do anything you want, just don't hurt him. I—anything, I swear. I'll stop trying to fight, just don't hurt Hermann.

Finally, just before Newt thinks all hope is lost, they stop and turn back towards the lab. Relief crashes over him, but they sing, sickeningly sweet, Be a good boy or we'll gut him with your hands.

He nods frantically, and they finally loosen his grip on the blade. If he had the power to do so, Newt would sag with relief. Hermann's safe.

For now.