Note: this is the alternative, canon-compliant ending that picks up where Act II ends.
Summary:
"Three years later, against all odds, they meet again. Shanghai, this time—unseasonably windy, making Hermann's coat-tails flap, but he doesn't—

doesn't—

doesn't care, because it's Newton, and and involuntary smile breaks across his face as he calls the other's name. "Newton!"

Newton turns from where he's speaking with Ranger Pentecost. His eyes are hidden behind glasses tinted the same shade as his suit—alien to a degree that makes Hermann falter for a moment. But then he smiles, wide and uneven, and it's Newton through and through. "Hermann!" he exclaims, dragging out the second syllable out. "Hermann, my friend, how are you?"


He breathes, and the scent of the Hong Kong laboratory, of chalk and formaldehyde, fills his lungs; he can almost see Newt across the room from him again, mutely belting out lyrics as he hacks away at yet another piece of kaiju tissue.

Caught up in his mind, his leg begins to jitter, a nervous tic he'd though he'd gotten rid of, and bumps the desk, sending a pile of papers tumbling off. "No!" he hisses, crashing back to reality, and carefully but quickly slides off of the chair and onto the ground, grabbing as many of the fallen papers as possible.

A few of them have landed on top of his coat, and, when he reaches to grab them, he notices that the coat's only half-covering the cooler; odd—he could've sworn that it was covering it fully.

He pulls the coat all the way off and pops the door open, and—

There's only two test-tubes of kaiju blood. The third test-tube holder, at the back of the cooler, hidden behind the other two, is empty.

His eyes widen. No one knew that those were there, other than the Marshal, General Mori, and himself—so who could've taken it?

The office door opens, and, panicked, Hermann slams the cooler shut and throws the coat over it, scrambling to get back into his chair.

It's Newt. "Are you alright?" he asks, standing awkwardly with the door half-open.

Hermann breathes a sigh of relief. "Yes, Doctor Geiszler, I'm fine." He settles himself back into his chair properly, fiddling with the cuffs of his sleeves under the other's intense gaze, before Newt shrugs.

"Whatever you say, man," he says, finally stepping fully into the office, and closes the door behind him. "Hey, do you by any chance happen to know where Raleigh Beckett's rest results are?"

Hermann frowns. "I think they're down in the archives, but I'm not sure. Why?"

Newt makes a handwavy gesture. "Just wanna see if Drifting with multiple different partners gives different brain scan images," he replies. "Nothing nefarious, I promise."

Hermann nods. "Of course—whatever you need, Doctor Geiszler. If I may, though—you might benefit from checking Stacker Pentecost's medical records as well, given that he, too, Drifted with multiple partners."

For a second, Newt looks pale, before he says, "Yeah—yeah, actually, you're right. Dunno why I didn't think of that before." He laughs lightly. "Man, Alice is right, I'm getting more forgetful with old age."

Hermann's throat tightens, but he remembers his convictions from the night before. "Doctor Geiszler, I'd—I'd lie to extend my most sincere apologies," he says quietly, gaze fixed on the floor. "My words last night were rude and unprofessional and I hope you can find it within you to forgive me."

Newt blinks. "What—hah, no, it's fine. I was being too, uh, pushy , sorry 'bout that. Old habits and all that."

"Yes," Hermann agrees. "Still, though, I feel at fault."

"All's forgiven, dude," Newt waves his hand magnanimously. "Just bring an extra bottle of champagne to dinner and we're good."

Hermann smiles, relieved. "Of course. And tell Alice I look forward to finally meeting her." It's a lie, but he's grown adept at those by now.


When he gets back to his quarters, he's exhausted—more so than he had realised. He stumbles through his usual evening routine, eyes heavy-lidded, and nearly falls into bed, barely cognizant enough to pull the covers over himself.

He sleeps, and for the first time in a long while, it is devoid of nightmares—no blue-white, no pain.

Everything is so hard, now, and he's so, so tired. He can't even scream, weighed—pulled—down, like a fly caught in a honey trap, and finally, he can't anymore—can't struggle, can't move, can't think.

He slips down, down into the void.

Hermann awakens suddenly, but not unpleasantly. For a moment, he lays in bed, uncertain of how—or even why—he's awake.

Then, as he—tries to draw in a breath, he realises: his throat burns. The sensation elicited by the automatic reflex of swallowing is even worse, and, slightly panicked, he throws off the covers and rushes to the bathroom, stumbles as pain shoots through his leg.

Somehow, he manages to get to the sink, gulping water like a dying man. Certainly, he thinks, I feel the part.

The water runs over his fingers, onto the sink, down the drain, and he watches it dully. There's no way he can—will—see Newton or his...Alice tonight, not with the way his body aches, down to the very marrow, and he feels as if his lungs might catch fire at any moment.

He splashes water on his face—the salty tang is—must be—his imagination, his face is wet from water, not tears—and dries his hands, over his face, makes his way back to the living area.

With shaking hands, he pulls his phone off of the tiny bedside table, manages—just barely—to type out an email to Newton, hopes that he doesn't seem like he's brushing the other off.

Newton,

It is with the utmost regret that I must inform you that I cannot attend dinner tonight; I've fallen ill, much to to my consternation—this body of mine was never hearty or hale to start with, and I'm afraid that it hasn't gotten better with age.

Regards, and with my utmost sincere apologies—

He pauses. Worries his lip, uncertain of how to end it, and settles, simply, for Hermann.


There's no reply.


When he finally makes his way out of his quarters on Monday, Newton is nowhere to be found, and Marshal Hansen says, "Shao insisted they had things to attend to."

"Oh," Hermann says, softly, and it's pained—not just from the sore throat. Hansen offers him a sympathetic grimace, and Hermann's gaze drops to the ground.

He swallows, the motion like fire. "Well," he says, hoping his voice stays even, "I suppose that's that, then."

Still, for hours afterwards—even after he's gone numb—tears still sting at his eyes.


Three years later, against all odds, they meet again. Shanghai, this time—unseasonably windy, making Hermann's coat-tails flap, but he doesn't—

doesn't—

doesn't care, because it's Newton, and and involuntary smile breaks across his face as he calls the other's name. "Newton!"

Newton turns from where he's speaking with Ranger Pentecost. His eyes are hidden behind glasses tinted the same shade as his suit—alien to a degree that makes Hermann falter for a moment. But then he smiles, wide and uneven, and it's Newton through and through. "Hermann!" he exclaims, dragging out the second syllable out. "Hermann, my friend, how are you?"

"I'm—" the default is fine, but the lie lodges in his throat. "Better having seen you," he settles on, instead, because it is the truth. "Do you have a moment to spare?"

Newton nods. "I'm all yours, friend," he replies with a sweeping gesture, and, as if an afterthought, says to Mako and Ranger Pentecost, "It was great seeing you, but I gotta skiddaddle."

Hermann swallows back the swell of emotion when Newt grins at him.

They fall into an easy silence, in step; Hermann lets himself bask in it, in the simple fact of Newt's presence, however temporary, and, for a few moments, he can almost forget their surroundings—can almost narrow down his whole world to just the two of them.


"No," Newton says, face—almost ashy?—lit by the blue glow of one of the two remaining tubes of kaiju blood. "Hermann, I have to stop you there—it's too risky—"

"When has that ever bothered you?" Hermann snaps, hurt leaking into his tone despite his best efforts otherwise.

Newton stills for a second, face going blank, before he says, "Well. Time changes everything."

I suppose it does, Hermann thinks, miserably.


And then, Newt's fingers are around his throat, and he's choking—

"I'm so sorry, Hermann, they're in my head—"

—and all Herman feels is the need to reassure him that everything will be alright—

—he calms, slightly, struggles lessening, and he's filled with a startling sense of peace

—the gun goes off.


It's not until, days later, when he's faced with the sight of a bloodied, Newton-shaped being in a cell, draped in blood and finery, smile just a bit too much, that Hermann finally breaks.

The tears come without warning, but he still feels hallow.

"We should thanks you." It's Newton's voice, his eyes that blink at Hermann languidly, but it's off, it's wrong. It's not him. "Without that vial of blood three years ago, we would never have been able to grow kaiju on the scale we needed."

Hermann wills for there to be something—anything at all—but all he can summon up is an emptiness, so he scrubs the tears away—they feel, somehow, inappropriate, like a glitched echo of what they should be, without the emotions they should have; black without white, light without dark; wrong.

"Such a magnificent mind though," the Precursors continue, cock Newton's head at him, "both his and yours—a pity we never got a second taste—"

The pain roars over him suddenly, a crashing wave, and before he knows it, Hermann's posture is ramrod-straight as he stalks towards the other, still restrained to the interrogation chair. Hisses, "I am brilliant—you cannot imagine the full extent. And I will drive you out of Newton's mind by whatever means necessary if it's the last thing I do."

His words are followed by silence. It draws a grim smile to his face.