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who is more likely to hurt the other?

Probably Nate directly, he can be a bit insensitive at times, and can blunder well meaning into emotional minefields. Nick more indirectly, his disregard for himself is painful to watch, and it hurts Nate for than anything in this new world.

who is emotionally stronger?

They are both very emotionally strong people. I think it would depend on what pressures would be put on them. Nate can withstand pain probably better than Nick, and can hold out better against torments directed at him. However, he wouldn’t be able to hold out against attacks to the people he loves. If someone threatened to hurt Nick, Nate would crumple completely, whereas Nick would be able to hold out.

who is physically stronger?

Oh Nick, definitely. Nate is actually pretty frail, due to his problems with food. Nick is still pretty sturdy, despite his age, and after he allows Nate to do a bit of maintenance, is much stronger than most humans.

who is more likely to break a bone? 

Nate. He does his best to keep his body in the best health he can, but in the end he’s still struggling to survive on starvation rations. However much milk he managed to keep down, he’s very aware he’s one bad fall away from a lot of broken bones.

who knows best what to say to upset the other? 

Oh Atom, that would be ugly. It’s hard to say, they are both so aware of each other’s pasts that it’s quite frightening how much damage they could do. Probably Nick, if it came down to it, but there is no other way they could hurt each other so much, even if they drew guns and opened fire. It would be the biggest, most unforgivable betrayal.

who is most likely to apologise first after an argument? 

Nate, most likely. He’s more used to it since he’s pretty often making blunders. Nick is a little more reluctant, as he’s a bit less ready to admit immediate fault, but he certainly will apologise, and make more of a deal of it than Nate. 

who treats who’s wounds more often? 

Usually Nate, actually. Nate’s own injuries tend to be easier to treat, a quick bandage and a stimpack is enough, and often he’s finished treating himself by the time Nick reaches him after a fight. Nick can’t always use stimpacks though, if the damage is more than skin deep, and sometimes needs help patching up hard to reach wires and bent metal struts.

who is in constant need of comfort? 

Nate, though he certainly isn’t a slouch in returning the favor. Nate’s needs are more obvious though, since he’s pretty useless in hiding his emotions. He’s fairly easy to look after, however, and Nick is getting pretty good at pre-empting what he needs, and dealing with any flashbacks or bad nights. Nick is more private, has issues that are less flashfire than Nate’s, but slow burning and constant. And a lot of things that Nate does- giving flowers, constant praise and declarations of love and just being an endless romantic- help him in return.

who gets more jealous? 

Nate. Nick does feel jealous at times, but Nate is pretty obvious in how he feels about him and it’s very hard to feel too insecure when you’re being given posies of flowers and having your boyfriend telling you pretty much daily how much he loves you. But Nick- has more of a past than Nate, and maybe a part of why Nate wants Nick to leave his human memories behind is that he’s sick of competing with the ghost of Jenny Lands. Nick is also a bit of a flirt, and Nate has a particularly withering death glare for when that happens. Irma still hasn’t looked him in the eye since.

who’s most likely to walk out on the other? 

It’s not really something that either of them do. Nate usually want to talk out an argument, and while Nick might shut that down if it’s just going to make things worst, he’s more likely to light up a cigarette as a pretext not to talk, and take a few minutes to sort out his thoughts and for both of them to calm down before trying to patch things up.

who will propose? 

Probably Nick, but that’ll take some time. Nate would want to, but after the trainwreck of his last wedding, he would wrestle with the conflicting urge to make that traditional gesture, or to let that last gasp of the old world to die with the rest. Nick would have to overcome his own self doubt substantially in order to do this, and then try and think of a way of proposing, and a marriage in general, that would suit them both and not feel like a farce to himself, or a re-tread of the worst time in his life for Nate.

who has the most difficult parents?

Well, Nate’s are dead, and Nick can’t even remember human Nick’s, so by default that would leave the Institute so- yes. Nick. Holy fuck.

who initiates hand-holding when they’re out in public? 

Nate, although Nick is becoming more and more comfortable in initiating it when they’re in friendly company (Goodneighbour, Sanctuary, or Arcadia). Nate doesn’t care and will happily take Nick’s hand (or kiss, or hug, or-) on the Prydwen. Because fuck you Brotherhood of steel.

who comes up for the other all the time? 

Not entirely sure what that mean? Both of them, probably, they’re attentive and care deeply for each other.

who hogs the blankets? 

It doesn’t really happen since Nate is the only one to need blankets, and if he’s cold, he’ll happily latch on to Nick like a limpet, since Nick basically radiates heat from his various processors.

who gets more sad? 

This can be hard since they are both prey to intense emotions, but in different ways. Nate tends to get hit by emotions as sudden and overwhelming as storms, which leave him completely prostrate, but pass in a short period of time and he can waver back to his own, rather happier self in a few hours. Nick’s are deeper, and much harder to shake. Something he carries inside him for days or even weeks. It’s the worst time, and in those times Nate wants nothing more than to reach inside Nick and pull out whatever sick, festering thing in inside Nick’s head.

who is better at cheering the other up? 

Nick. He’s very good at turning Nate’s mind away from whatever horrible thought or memory he’s caught up in, and getting him stable and on an upward keel. Nate feels utterly useless, when Nick is in a black mood. Can only try and distract him, keep him occupied with cases, and try and assure him that Nate loves him and cares for him and will always, always be there. It feels completely pointless, and Nick wishes he could tell Nate just how valuable these things are to him, and how much good it does him.

who’s the one that playfully slaps the other all the time after they make silly jokes?

Oh wow, if they did that they would never, ever stop. Nick is constantly making deadpan remarks or just general snark, and Nate is always ready with some weird pre-war reference or literary joke. I’d say whatever poor person is stuck with them is liable to lose it and just slab both of them silly. Piper and Cait have been driven to this more than once. Preston just looks around helplessly and wishes he were somewhere else. Dogmeat whines in embarassment. Curie tries to join in which just makes it worse.

who is more streetwise?

Nick. He’s been around more, he knows the Commonwealth. Nate is also rather more naive generally, which Nick loves, but does have to watch out for in case Nate gets caught up in something ugly like the Brotherhood of Steel Nate, really what were you thinking?

who is more wise?

Both of them, but in different ways. They are both rather thoughtful people on the whole, Nick is more practical, but Nate tends to have some very good insights as to people’s motivations and some views that Nick might not have considered.

who’s the shyest? 

Neither of them are exactly shy, but Nate is definitely more outgoing and open. Nick is personable, but usually finds himself taking a more background role, smiling as Nate chats and puts himself around enthusiastically.

who boasts about the other more? 

Nate. If you get him started He. Will. Not. Shut. Up. To the point Nick really wishes he would. Nate has a few topics he can talk about for hours, but at least he warns people first before going into a spiel about Atom. With Nick, it’ll be all ‘Nick is awesome Nick is so brave Nick is so brilliant’ for as long as it takes for whoever it is to run away. 

Nick is a bit more controlled, but when he and Nate are out together, particularly if Nate is all dolled up in is red dress and heels and maybe a bit of makeup, Nick isn’t above glancing around smugly to see if anyone is looking. My boyfriend. Mine.

who sits on who’s lap?

Nate. He will happily hop into Nick’s lap on any pretext. He loves being close to him, loves having Nick’s arms around him. The best place in the world. Nick put up a token protest to begin with, but has long since given up. Its just too good. Nate warm and happy in his arms, curling up surprisingly small. His hair in Nick’s nose, the feel of his eyelashes fluttering against the exposed wires in his neck. Perfect.
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The houses are alive with lights as they pull into St Petersburg. Hermann steps down into a snow flurried street that looks more like something from the better class of animation than anything that belongs in the real world. Newt takes his hand and they walk out of the station amid the dance of flashing lights and a hoard of paparazzi kept back by Newt’s security people. He uncovers his face long enough to give them a grateful smile, and gets nods back.

The market is sprawling across the square, Hermann tucks his cape around himself against the Siberian chill sweeping out of the east, pressing his hands into the soft folds of rabbitfur.

He tries not to think of what Alison would say. He hopes the rabbits were at least eaten along the way, but Newt terns to be very… determined, on that front.

Newt turns eagerly, holding up a pair of blue gloves, trimmed in grey fur. “Try them on!”

He’s so excited, Hermann can’t help it, he tries them on and they mold themselves perfectly to his long fingers. “Go on,”

He sighs, shakes his head, but Newt pays and they are his. As are the muffs, and hats, the thousand myriad mementos and beautiful carved wooden pieces. Newt starts forward to kiss him a half dozen times, but stops, a breath away, and despite the beauty of the place, and the many lovely things they have bought, Hermann finds he’d be very happy to leave this frostfound country behind.

And maybe it’s that hurry that makes him careless, because when they’re safe back in the train and steaming south, and Hermann opens his laptop to check on the news- there’s his face, on the front page of every tabloid website.

“Ah fuck.” Newt leans over his shoulder. “I’m- really sorry dude.”

“Don’t be.” Hermann sighs, “It was going to happen.” He turns the ring on his finger, the soft, comforting weight of it.

“Well, yeah.’ Newt squeezes his shoulder. “But I have media guys, I’ll see what they can do, babe.” He kisses Hermann’s neck. “But yeah, if you have anyone you want to tell-”

He bends down to kiss him again, but Hermann turns his face up and those lips find his, a deep sweet kiss.

But when he goes, to talk to his ‘media guys’, and Hermann stares back down at the screen, tries not to think about it.

Tendo is easy. He sends him a quick email. I am in St Petersburg, Mr Geiszler is spoiling me rotten, we’re getting married very soon. A moment’s pause, then, Do you want anything from Poland?

But then there is nothing, his mind is blank, empty and after a moment he closes the laptop and his eyes.

“Hey babe.” Newt wanders back in, and kisses the soft hair of his undercut. “You okay?”

“Of course.” Hermann shakes himself, looks down at his phone. It is blank, with no missed calls. He sighs, and switches it off. It can wait. The call- from Karla or Dietrich or Lars himself, can wait.

“Wanna go to bed?”

Hermann smiles, stretches, puts the electronics aside and relaxes into those warm hands, solid arms. “We’re over the border,” Newt murmurs.

“Yes.” Hermann steps into his arms, kisses him full and hungry, rich as red wine and sweet as a sugarlump between his lips.
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Luckily, humans have odd ideas about what to do with their free time. Newt had walked past this shop several times and had gone in before, marveling at what humans- so far removed from pain and fear-  enjoy doing.

The cuffs are very solid, Newt went with thick bands of stitched leather, with padding on the inside. Newt is careful as he tightens them around Hermann’s ankles, the strap between them passed through the basement railings.

Hermann sits up on his elbows, looks up at him. Newt crouches down beside him, close, but just out of reach. “Ready?”

“Never.” Hermann sighs, and closes his eyes.

When he opens them again, there’s someone else behind them.

Newt goes cold all over. Panic claws at his stomach and he wants to run, every instinct screaming to get away before those claws flash, those jaws sink into his throat-

He forces himself still, breathless and lifeless as those sharp eyes cast over him.

He’s looking for a threat. He can read that much. Newt hunkers down, trying not to look dangerous. It’s a waste of time, he can’t hide anything from those cutting, killing eyes.

But whatever they saw seems to have been enough, because the Victor’s taut muscles relax. He rises on all six legs, turns his back on Newt and oh Newt can breathe again, because the Victor would never, never turn his back on anything he wanted to kill.

The Victor takes a step, the leather ties snap tight and it stops, back legs nearly torn out from under him. He turns his head, eyes wide.

A tremor begins in his hindquarters, rising up the length of that long, lean body. The Victor moans, shuddering, it pulls at the restrains, but not with the terrible strength Newt has seen before. But a helpless, limp, trembling motions, barely rattling the D rings.

Newt suddenly wonders if Hermann had ever been tied up before, and knows, sharp as a tooth, who had done it.

What had done it.

Newt is down by his feet in moments, he ignores the huge talons, the lashing tails, and unbuckles the straps. Hermann hurls himself free in less than a heartbeat, clawing away and backing up against the wall.

Newt hesitates for a moment, then follows him. He crouches in front of him, looks into those dark, wild eyes. The Victor blinks at him, fearful and lost.

“Hey,” Newt whispers, “You’re okay.”

The Victor stares at him, he doesn’t understand. Newt tries to send warmth and comfort through the Hive, it seems to work, the huge claws slowly creep back into their sheathes, then long legs are drawn up to the ridged chest,

Newt sits beside him, he reaches up and gently nudges his hand closer and closer. The Victor’s eyes follow his hand, close when he rests it on his shoulder, rubs gentle circles on the junction of shoulder and neck.

There’s a heartbeat between them, his arm a bridge between them. Then suddenly, the Victor moves.

Newt doesn’t have time to run, when suddenly he’s on him, the lean weight of him, the claws pressed tight against his chest, the teeth pressed tight against his throat. Newt closes his eyes- hopes it will be fast-

But the claws don’t dig into his tender belly, the teeth don’t bite. Instead, the Victor curls into a tight little ball against him, trembling, a low moan breaking through his throat.

He’s crying.

“Hey, hey.” Newt’s hands tremble, but he puts them around the Victor anyway, pulling him close. “It’s okay. They aren’t here, just us. It’s okay, it’s okay.”

And maybe some of that made it through the Hive, because the Victor’s eyes close, and he goes lax against Newt, the trembling slowly fades.

Newt holds him tight, whispers nonsense into Hermann’s shoulder until, pressed tight as they can together, no breath between them, they sleep.
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The train is whispering through the snow when Hermann wakes from his doze. It’s rocking slightly, and when he opens his eyes, Newt has pulled one of curtains up and is peering out into the night.

Hermann sits up. Outside, it must be well below freezing, but their little car is well heated and he doesn’t even bother with a dressing gown, sliding his arms over Newt’s shoulders and resting his chin on the top of his head.

Newt mumbles something, but he doesn’t even try for annoyance. For many minutes, they don’t say anything, just looking out into the blazing, dancing lights of the aurora, the silent banks of snow and the little sleeping Swedish villages sweeping past.

The breathless magic of the moment is so perfect, Hermann doesn’t dare to move or speak. Newt’s body thrums under his hands with the rhythm of the train, Hermann can feel him swallow, move his jaw, trying to find something to say.

Hermann decides to beat him to it, in case he says something asinine and ruins the moment. “Thank you.”

“Um- okay.” Newt turns, the lights cast strange colours across the planes of his face. “What for?”

“Do you think I’d have made it here, like this, without you?”

Newt shrugs. “It was your idea. I wouldn’t have come up with it.”

There’s another long pause, the train hisses through a tunnel- the rattle and bang makes them jump- but it passes quickly, and the din stretches out into nothingness again, stifled by the snow and the lights and the cold.

“We’re-” Newt clears his throat, swallows again nervously. “We’re a pretty good team, yeah?”

“I’d like to think so.” Hermann rests his head on Newt’s shoulder and closes his eyes, savoring every sensation of this. The heat of Newt’s skin, the smell of him, warmth and slight sweat from earlier. The sway of their bunk and the blankets and the solid block of heat inside their car- so different from the void of cold outside.

“You have- amazing ideas.” Newt continues. Hermann smiles, the words sparking sweet inside him. “I’m not to dumb either, but you- you get so much stuff- better than I do-”

“Nonsense.” Hermann kisses his shoulder, licks a line over his collarbone- not in seduction or with any aim of anything further, just for the sake of it, for the sensation of smooth skin on his tongue and the faint heat of sweat. “It takes nothing but an effort to try and think about someone else- and you have been very good at that where I am concerned.”

“Thanks.” Newt’s voice is low, a bit husky. He trembles, but it’s not the train. “That’s- I really try.”

“I know you do.” Hermann smiles. “I might have come up with this idea but you- fleshed it out, made it happen. You thought of places I would like to see and I’ve enjoyed- well, most of them.”

Newt chuckles, “And- uh, if I couldn’t? If I was- poor again, and couldn’t do all this?”

Hermann pauses, half wondering if the sudden blast of cold within him could have come from outside. “Newton- is everything all right? Is there anything you need to tell me-”

“What- oh, no!” Newt smiles, “Nah, I’m not leading up to say I’m bankrupt or anything, just- if I was.”

Hermann nods, “Just as long as this is not some- desperate last splurge. Newton, I really don’t care but I hope you’d take better care of your finances whether you were a millionaire or poor as a church mouse.”

Newt turns, his eyes are crinkled in smiles, soft and sweet and- rather different. It cracks open a strange, liquid warmth inside Hermann, sweet and tender. “Would you want to be church mice with me, if I were.”

Hermann chuckles. “Little mice with a larder of nuts under a pew.” He kisses Newt. “I’d nest with you, you ridiculous little mouse.” Another kiss.

“For ever?” And there’s something under that, something wild and raw and wide open that takes Hermann’s breath away because this is real. This is not some silly late night rambling. The wrong word here could be disaster.

He seems to have done well thus far. “Of course.” He says softly. “Until we’re both old grey mice complaining about the new vicar and the sorry state of wafers nowadays.”

Newt half laughs, and it’s nearly lost as the train sweeps through a brief flash of steep banks, the noise rising, then fading as they move on through the plain. “Then- uh.” He fumbles under the blankets. “I’d really like to be an honest mouse- um, with you.”

He opens his hand. There’s a ring.

The breath is snatched away from Hermann as surely as if Newt had opened a window into the subfreezing night. The band is very simple, dark silver, no ornamentation because whatever Newt says he really does try and he knows Hermann doesn’t like ostentation. Hermann picks it up and the moment stretches on endlessly as the train, as the night, as the dancing aurora above them.

“It’s meteoric nickel.” Newt breaks it, half desperate, half helpless. “It came down in Antarctica and I had it shipped over and cast and I was kinda planning to give it to you when we got to Narvik because- top of the world, you know, but then we were here and it was so perfect and-”

“Shh.” Hermann covers his mouth. “It’s perfect, love. Its wonderful.”

Newt blinks, “Then, um-” he mumbles against Hermann’s hand, Hermann pulls it off, “Is that a yes?”

“Of course that’s a yes.” Hermann replaces the hand with his mouth. “Of course.” Against his lips.

Newt’s eyes close, the lashes flutter against Hermann’s nose as he pulls away. “Oh thank fuck.” The sudden obscenity makes Hermann laugh, “Because I kinda thought I’d fucked it up and this really wasn’t how I thought it was going to go- I got a whole speech worked out and I forgot all of it-”

Hermann kisses him again, firmly, shutting him up. “The best laid plans of mice and men.”

Newt hits him with a pillow.
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Newt rolls over. Hermann’s up, and the faint blue light of his laptop throws reflections around Newt’s tiny room. “What’s up?” He yawns, and sits up.

Hermann is quiet for a moment, then gets up and closes the laptop, sliding back into bad beside Newt. Newt hums happily and puts his arms around Hermann.

He’s stiff and unmoving, Breathing unsteady. Newt freezes, “You okay?”

“Yes.” Hermann is quiet, then, “No. I- I don’t know.”

There are a lot of things Newt can say to that, but he has learned something of the arcane art Hermann calls ‘tact’, and stays quiet.

“I applied for a junior role at Greenwich Observatory.” Hermann says softly, at last. “They responded and- if my grades come through-”

Newt nods, swallows down the words longing to burst out.

“They’ve accepted.” Hermann says finally, huskily.

“And this is bad how?” Newt strokes his back. “Dude, this is great! Bastian’ll be starting High school about then, so he’d be starting a new school anyway.”

“I-” Hermann chokes, and closes his eyes. “I want you to come with us.”

Newt blinks, trying to work it out and- what no seriously?

“You are freaking out.” Newt says carefully, “Because you think I won’t want to move with you and Bastian The Adorable, to fucking London?”

“I don’t know what your plans were,” Hermann breathes, “I didn’t want to assume-”

“You can always assume I have no fucking plans.” Newt grins. “Yeah, I thought about the States, but- London is awesome dude, just let me find something- hell, I could commute if it’s out of the city.”

“You’d want to stay with us?” And Hermann finally, finally relaxes, his body going soft and warm beside Newt’s. “We’re hardly-” he snorts softly, “Rock stars.”

“Bastian totally is.” Newt hugs him, and kisses Hermann’s hair. “He’s a rockstar in the making, I’ll show him the way.”

“You’re a bad influence.” Hermann puts an arm around him, hugs him back. “I should leave you behind.”

“You know you love me,” Newt kisses him again, this time Hermann lifts his head and meets him, lips to lips.

“Yes, we do.”
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Hermann turns away to pulls off his shirt, his fingers have barely left the last button when Newt gets up off the bed. He steps over to him, hands warm on the slightly damp skin of Hermann’s neck, fingers pressing little circles in the soft hair pricking up to meet them.

“You’re gorgeous.” Newt mumbles into the soft, shorn hair of his undercut. Hermann shiver, the prickles running up and down his spine. “I mean, seriously dude? I’m half blind even without my glasses I’d want to jump you.”

“Charming.” Hermann breathes. Newts fingers brush under the open collar of his shirt, peeling the shirt away from his shoulders. “So glad we are about to embark on something- m-meaningless and- oh gott- carnal-”

“Shut up.” Newt’s voice comes from somewhere between his shoulderblades, his tongue flicks out, leaving wet streaks on each raise vertebrae. 

His hands track down, freeing the shirt from Hermann’s body. Hermann holds out his arms, and the loose cuffs slide down over his wrists. He shivers as Newt continues on his way down, the dull thump as his knees hit the floor.

Newt kisses the small of his back then, as if for good luck, the tips of both hipbones. “You have one hell of a cute ass.”

“And here you were doing so well-” Hermann breathes, shivers.

“A cute, bony, adorable ass.” Newt continues, and blows a raspberry on Hermann’s right cheek-


“Oh come on, dude. This is meant to be fun. Sex is stupid, don’t start going like it’s some kind of big romantic thing-”

Hermann’s breath catches in his throat, it’s a sharp, fierce pain. He blinks at the walls, blinks again. Again. Swallows. “I see.” His voice isn’t quite steady.

Newt pauses, his fingers are hooked into Hermann’s belt, which is the only reason Hermann hasn’t gotten away. “Shit.” He breathes.

“No, you are- very probably right.” Hermann tries to pull the shirt back up over his shoulders. “What do I- I know about it, after all-”

“Shit, wait- ah fuck no. Hermann-” Newt tries to stumble to his feet and keep Hermann there, and nearly brings them both down with his fumbling. “I’m an idiot dude, you know that- I fucked that up- it wasn’t what I meant, I swear-”

Hermann draws in a breath, and forces himself to stay in place. Newt turns around to face him. “I really, really didn’t mean how that came out.”

“You were hardly the first to express that sentiment.”

“But that wasn’t what I meant!” Newt runs his fingers through his hair, it’s damp with sweat, standing up in wild spikes. His shirt is open too, and Hermann has to fight not to let his gaze trace down the whirls of his tattoos, the faint dustings of hair at the curve of his belly. “It was a- really fucking stupid attempt to make you feel better-”

“I-” Hermann closes his eyes, he should shut up. He should put his clothes back on and leave. He shouldn’t open himself further, and lay himself ready to be so very badly hurt. “I want it to be romantic, I want it to be- special. Something extraordinary.”

“Oh babe.” Newt gives him a sad, lopsided sort of smile. “You need a better partner dude, no one ever said I was extraordinary.”

Hermann shrugs. “I thought you might be, for me.”

Newt leans in, and kisses him, and it’s sweet soft, open and give and delicious. Hermann blinks at him, suddenly wondering how to breathe. Newt is centimetres away, eyes wide and a little worried. “Like that.” Hermann breathes.

“Ah hell.” Newt hugs him, rough and impulsive. “I love you man, I just- want to make it good for you, okay?”

“Okay,” Hermann agrees into Newt’s ear.

“All I wanted to say was- when I’ve had sex, it is fun. It’s nice, and silly and fun, and- it wasn’t special before, but really, I’m not an expert. We’ll make it special- fuck, we’ll make it extraordinary. It’s us.”

Hermann chuckles into Newt’s neck, and lets him slowly walk him back towards the bed.

September 2017

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