Disclaimer:  I do not own Pacific Rim or any of its characters.  This was written purely for entertainment purposes only and I am
making no money from this.

Notes:  Okay, I love Pacific Rim.  I went to see it five times in the movie theater.  Four of those times in the span of a single
week.  Giant monsters, giant robots and Burn Gorman, how could I possibly resist?

That being said, this story, probably actually sucks.  I'm not sure I got the characters down quite right.  But I did my best.  
Maybe they'll come out better in my next story.  Oh, and I know absolutely NOTHING about abstract mathematics.  So any
mistakes are completely my own fault.

Warnings:  Male/Male pairing ahead.  NO sex, but if you don't want to read about Hermann and Newt being a couple, then you
should probably stop here and go find something else to read.

One Last Note:  The title for this story comes from the Les Friction song, "String Theory."  If all goes well, I will have another
story using a different line from the same song, hence String Theory being the title of the overall series.  I hope that made sense.

String Theory

Defining Lonely

The last thing Newton Geiszler expected to see as he walked into his lab was his colleague, Doctor Hermann Gottlieb hard at
work and scrawling calculations across his chalkboards.  Any other day this wouldn't be surprising at all.  But the war had ended
yesterday and everyone else in the Shatterdome was still in full-on party mode.  They probably would be for some time to come.  
Newt, exhausted as he was after everything that had happened, had every intention of going right back and rejoining the
celebrations.  He was thinking about joining Herc Hansen in a drink to his son's honor.  He didn't know where Tendo had gotten
all of the alcohol on such short notice, but he wasn't going to object either.  Whether grieving or celebrating, he figured everyone
deserved a drink right now.

Newt had noticed Hermann leaving the party.  Well, that wasn't quite accurate.  What he had really noticed was the other man's
absence.  One minute Hermann was sidling up against him, a shy nervous hint of a smile on his face that broke out fully once
Newt wrapped an arm about his shoulders.  Then the drinks had started.  Between one shot and the next, Newt came to realize
that Hermann was no longer standing next to him.  At some point he had slipped away, and no one Newt questioned could tell
him where he'd gone or even how long ago he'd left.  It was almost like he'd vanished into thin air.

There was a scratching tickle in the back of his mind, like an animal plaintively begging for attention by pawing at a door.  Newt
had tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't stop.  It was incessant, distracting.  He'd had to know where Hermann had gotten to, had to
find him.  It was probably some residual side-effect of the Drift.

Hermann was moving at a frantic pace, mutters tumbling absently from his lips as he moved the chalk piece faster than Newt had
ever seen before.  He was like a man possessed, climbing up the ladder to scrawl something, then sliding down again to reach
another area of the multiple boards.  Newt winced at one particular swift descent that briefly paused Hermann in his work to
stagger and grip at the ladder while a bitten off cry gasped out of him.  Newt found himself rubbing at his own thigh, feeling a
phantom spasm of pain from an injury that had never been his.

Looking up at the boards, Newt tried to wrap his mind around the symbols and numbers.  He was a genius, several times over
and he had the six doctorates to prove it, but this was beyond even him.  Abstract mathematics had never been his strong suit.  A
few lines made sense, some of the numbers adding up in his head.  But then they seemed to stagger off into nonsensical
gibberish, falling away from him like a broken connection.

"What was so important that you had to leave the party?" Newt asked suddenly, just as Hermann stepped back up onto the first
rung of the ladder, ready to once again ascend despite the obvious pain he was in.

Hermann startled so badly, Newt was surprised he didn't topple over.  As it was, he had to catch himself on the ladder, gripping
hard enough to turn his fingers a bloodless white, the chalk falling forgotten from his fingers to hit the floor and break in half.

Newt rushed over.  "Jesus!  Dude, you okay?"  He raised his hands, then faltered, letting them fall away uselessly before he could
so much as touch the other scientist.  Hermann had flinched away from him.  He was hunching over, cringing as if Newt was
poised to attack.  Fuck, he was trembling so badly the ladder was rattling.  Newt took a step back, confused and hurt by the
silent rejection.  Something was going on here.  Hermann had never been the friendly, give you a pat on the back or a hug type of
person, but he'd never reacted like this before.  Grimace?  Yes.  Grumble about it?  Absolutely.  He had even pushed Newt away
once or twice.  But he'd never been afraid of Newt before.

Adjusting his glasses, Newt took another step backwards, his heart constricting in his chest.  This felt horrible.  If felt like
someone had reached into him and snatched something precious away from him, like a part of his very being had been wrenched
out.  He didn't understand where the sensation had come from.

Hermann relaxed a fraction, uncoiling from his hunched position.  The trembling lessened, but didn't truly stop, and he cast a
nervous sideways glance at Newt before reaching a disturbingly shaking hand out toward the ledge under the chalkboard to pick
up another piece of chalk.  He cleared his throat.  "I didn't want the company," he said, softly, his voice just a tinge on the gruff

Newt understood immediately.  The sheer amount of people had made him uncomfortable enough to seek out some solitude.  But
why here?  Why the manic flurry of devotion to this incomprehensible set of calculations?  What was so important about it?  The
world wasn't about to end anymore.  Surely this wasn't something so dire that he had to tire himself - Hell, that he had to hurt
himself - figuring out.  Newt couldn't leave him here like this.  He had to diffuse the situation somehow.

"That's ... that's something about volume," Newt commented, pointing up to just above the middle space on the left-most board.  
"And over there is time.  I think."  He squinted at the board on the right, trying to make sense of it, but already he knew that it
was beyond him.  Maybe if Hermann explained it to him he'd get a grasp of things.  "That," he added, gesturing to the very
bottom of one of the boards where a letter had been circled multiple times beside a question mark.  "The 'L' denotes length?"

Hermann shook his head, a faint dusting of pink coming to his cheeks.  "No.  That is ... That is the variable that I need to

"Ah," Newt said, understanding a little better.  But the math itself still made no sense to him.  Not just because it was obviously
some form of abstract equation - whereas Newt was more familiar with the applied sciences - but because it was a baffling mess
of ideas.  The ideas seemed to clash, numbers colliding with one another and bouncing off into far-reaching trajectories that led
nowhere.  Only a genius - no, only Hermann, probably - would be able to understand any of it.  That didn't stop Newt from
trying his hardest, because he simply didn't want to see the other scientist run himself into the ground trying to figure out
something that stymied him.  "Is it intrinsic to this whole problem?" Newt asked, gesturing to the chalkboards.  "Or, can we, I
don't know ... look at this some other way to figure it out?"

Hermann clutched at his chalk tightly.  "No.  It is undeniable.  A constant."

The way he said it was definite.  A constant variable?  But the two terms were contradictory.  A variable changed within the
scope of a given problem.  But a constant was a value that remained unchanged.  "Wait a minute.  I thought you said it was a

That pink flush crept up to Hermann's ears.  "It is," he murmured.

Well, that just made no sense whatsoever.  There must be something Newt was missing here.  He could feel it in the back of his
mind, that scratching growing just that much stronger, fleeting sensations, like whispers in the dark.  Frustration, irritation,
embarrassment, it ghosted along the tenuous link between them that had been created by the Drift.  And there was something
else, something stronger, but elusive, something Newt couldn't pin a description on, and something that he knew was at the
bottom of this whole mystery.  "Dude," he started, but got no further.

The frustration burned bright and hot in the back of his mind, like a flash grenade going off in his head.  Vivid streaks of anger
raced along the tenuous thread of their connection, leaving a shiver crawling up Newt's spine.  As if feeling the echo of the
emotion wasn't enough, Newt watched as Hermann threw the piece of chalk he had been holding.  It hit one of the chalkboards
and shattered.  "It is a constant!" Hermann shouted, turning and glowering at Newt as if he were the cause of all of his troubles.  
Not a new thing, Newt just ignored it.  "It is always there, lingering, radiating.  But it's never the same.  It is always changing.  
Growing, spreading, it never stops.  And I don't understand it!"

Newt raised his hands to the other man, trying to instill some sense of calm with the futile action.  Hermann was on the verge of
having a serious conniption.  "Dude, just breathe, okay?  We'll figure it out.  I'll help you."  He didn't know how he was going to
be of any help, but he had to try.  He couldn't stand to see Hermann like this.  It hurt somewhere deep inside of him.  If Newt
believed in such things, he'd say it was his soul that was hurting for the other man.

Seemingly devoid of the rage that had been fueling him moments before, Hermann crumpled like a broken toy.  He collapsed,
catching himself at the last minute on the ledge of the chalkboard and gripping it to slow his descent as his knees buckled beneath
him.  He sat awkwardly on the floor, his left leg laying very nearly straight save for a faint bend at the knee to ease some of the
tension in his thigh.  His other leg was bent and pulled upward to Hermann's body, Hermann's spindly arms twining around it and
his forehead pressed into the kneecap.  "I don't understand it," he was muttering to himself, over and over again, the trembling in
his body becoming much more obvious.

Newt approached cautiously, wary of upsetting Hermann further.  He tried to project an outward calm, while inside he was flat
out panicking, his mind whirling in a million directions all at once.  Not anything new, but every thought and intention he had right
now, was solely dedicated to Hermann, on trying to figure out what was wrong and somehow fixing it for him.  Sitting like this
on the cold, unforgiving floor of their lab would only hurt him.  Newt didn't want to see him hurting.  He'd seen enough of that
through the drift.  Years of school bullying, of his father's careless angry hand, of a night full of blood and pain that had led to
countless surgeries that would never fully repair the damage done to his body.  He'd had enough pain.

He dropped to his knees in front of Hermann.  Reaching out, Newt faltered, his mind buzzing.  Should he attempt comfort on a
physical level?  Probably not.  Hermann didn't like being touched.  The thought provoked a flutter of memories, reminding him
just why.  Hermann had an abundance of bad memories when it came to other people touching him, most involving bruises, one
that had led to blood and screaming and a period of time that had also instilled in him a fear of hospitals.  Newt raised a hand, and
lowered it again, repeating the action twice before he thought better of touching Hermann.  He only wanted to help, not make the
problem worse.  He needed to help.  Seeing Hermann like this made Newt's heart hurt.

"Hermann?" He tried, cautiously, licking his lips.

Hermann shivered a bit more violently, a flinch rocking his frame away from Newt.  His head popped up from his knee and he
peered at his colleague.  "I don't understand," he said again, softly and beseechingly.

"We'll work it out.  I don't know how.  This math stuff isn't my thing, you know, but I'll help," Newt promised, willing to give
anything to make this right somehow.  "I'll help."

A single fat tear rolled down one pale cheek, making a line through a smudge of chalk dust left behind on Hermann's face.  "I
don't understand," he said one more time.  "I don't ... How, Newton?  How can you love me?"

Suddenly, everything seemed to make a weird sort of sense to Newt.  The math equation itself, while he still didn't understand
various concepts of it, was brought into sparkling clarity.  Newt had hacked into PPDC computer files before.  When he was
bored.  And only for fun, really.  He'd read some of the staff profiles, his own included.  He knew what the psych evaluations
said, that Hermann used math to distance himself from his problems.  Well, anyone with eyes and a brain could see that.  You
didn't need a diploma to work that one out.  And Newt could understand why.  Math was safe.  Hermann understood math.  
Math would never hit him, never hurt him.  Math was the one thing in his life that Hermann had always trusted, the one thing that
wouldn't betray him.  No wonder he was freaking out now.  Math couldn't be used to solve this problem.  It was beyond the
scope of Hermann's comprehension.

Hermann was still talking, mutters flowing from his lips in rambles.  "It makes no sense," he whispered breathlessly.  "I'm a ...
I'm just a cripple.  I can't," he swallowed, eyes roving down Newt's body then rapidly back up again, only to dart away to stare
resolutely over one of Newt's shoulders. "I can't give you what you need."

That blush bloomed bright across Hermann's cheeks again.  Newt found himself fighting very hard not to kiss the irascible
scientist right then and there.  He chuckled, then smiled and raised his hand to lightly cover Hermann's cheek, the touch barely
feather-light.  When there was no adverse reaction, he touched the other man a bit more firmly, cupping his face and drawing his
thumb over the cheekbone.  The action received the desired result of Hermann looking at him again.  As soon as he had his
attention, Newt let his smile flare brightly.  "And here I thought the world was ending again.  This is one math equation I can
solve."  He brushed his thumb back and forth, heart swelling with warmth when that touch wasn't rejected, that Hermann was
looking at him with such hope shimmering in his eyes.  "I love you, because you're Hermann Gottlieb.  Everything else, well, it's
all just icing on this really awesome birthday cake you've given me."

"That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Hermann snarked, more like his old self.  But he leaned his face toward Newt's
hand and closed his eyes, pressing a lingering kiss to the inside of Newt's wrist.  Nothing else really mattered beyond that.

The End