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I Need You

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It was a bit of a blur, really, the attack and the aftermath.

Jaskier remembered the way Geralt had shouted his name, the way he had been thrown from the horse, the pain in his leg as the long claws sank into his flesh, scraping across his bone. He remembered rolling over and being met with the most disgusting smell he had ever experienced, and teeth…so many teeth. He had screamed and tried to scramble away but whatever was above him snarled and dug its claws further into his leg. A massive yellow eye stared into his, full of hunger, and anger, and so much hate…

When Geralt killed it, Jaskier was splattered in a wave of sticky blood, that reeked of carrion and rot. He threw up and remembered little after that.

He remembered, vaguely, riding to the inn, where Geralt had thrown some coin to a kind young woman, who with the assistance of another man, had carried Jaskier to a room and laid him down upon the bed. He remembered the pain here, too, just when he had gotten used to the constant throbbing of the slashes a new pain burned from alcohol and stitches.

He must have passed out.

When he awoke he found himself naked except for his pants, and still sticky. He felt feverish and pained. He curled up against a shock of cold and, whimpering slightly, fell back into a fitful sleep.

This was when the nightmare came. In it, Jaskier was still pinned down by the hellish creature, but he was back home. His childhood home, the small wooden cottage smelling like his mother’s pie. He turned away from the disgusting thing and caught sight of his brother, sitting by the fire. Jaskier called out to him, screaming for help, reaching out in vain to try and reach the older boy.

But his brother did nothing but watch.

Jaskier screamed and begged, feeling hot breath on his neck and chest, the pain in his leg near unbearable. He felt hot tears begin to pour out of his eyes as he dug his fingers into the floorboards and tried to haul himself toward his brother.

The creature laughed. Jaskier whipped his head around and fell back as the orange eye was replaced with the stark and brilliant blue that his father’s eyes had been.
Complete with that cruel, disappointed glimmer.

Jaskier screamed so loud he woke himself up. He pitched out of the bed and his leg lit up with a flare of agony as he hit the ground. He heard movement from behind him and screeched, shoved back.

“Jaskier!”

The voice was gruff and authoritative. So commanding that Jaskier froze in fear and instinctively threw his hands up in front of his face.

“For fuck’s sake Jaskier get up.”

A pair of hands were on his forearms and Jaskier found himself yanked to his feet. He blinked through the tears and saw golden eyes and white hair looming above him.

“G-geralt.”

Geralt grunted and half-lifted half-pushed Jaskier back onto the bed. Jaskier squeezed his shaking hands until he was startled by Geralt putting a bowl of water and a rag down beside him.

“You smell,” he muttered, before he sat back down by the fire. Jaskier tried to pick the rag up and clean himself off, but the third time he dropped the rag he heard a shove of the chair. Geralt appeared suddenly and began to roughly scrub Jaskier down, tearing the dried blood away from his skin until Jaskier felt raw and shuddery.

The cloth ran across an old scar on Jaskier’s wrist and he shrieked suddenly, feeling a flash of pain he knew didn’t make sense. Geralt stepped back alarmed and Jaskier pulled the arm to his wrist. His head was pounding now, his leg felt hot but the rest of him felt so, so cold. He shuddered and sucked in a sharp breath against the tears he could feel swelling in his chest.

“Jaskier what the hell?”

Jaskier bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to curl away from the witcher before him, desperately wanting him to leave.

“Jaskier what the fuck has gotten into you it was just-”

“I’m sorry!” Jaskier exploded, surprising even himself with the strength of his voice. “I’m sorry Geralt! I admit it, I’m weak and stupid and a coward, I’m sorry for slowing you down and for making you protect me! I’m sorry I was stupid and got hurt, I’m sorry I’m obnoxious and I follow you around even when you don’t want me!”

Jaskier sobbed once.

“I’m sorry I need you but I do, I need you and I’m sorry.”

With this Jaskier lost the ability to hold back the torrent hiding in the lump in his throat and he fell against the pillow, sobbing bitterly into his hands. He tucked his legs up, even though it made his wounds scream in angered agony, and hid away from the scorn he was sure he was going to find in Geralt’s eyes.

“Jaskier...it’s..stop...stop apologizing.”

Jaskier hadn’t even realized that his sobbing was broken by a rambling string… what was he saying? I’m sorry, I’m sorry Geralt, I’m sorry, and….and what? What else was he saying?

A weight settled on the bed next to him and Jaskier curled up even tighter, still sobbing.

“Jaskier…I’m not going to...stop, just stop.”

I’m sorry Geralt, I’m sorry...don’t hurt me...please….please I’m sorry… But what else? It was like Jaskier didn’t have control over his own heart, and it had burst and was pouring out of his mouth.

“Jaskier-”

Don’t leave...I’m sorry, don’t leave me.

Ah. There it was. The unspoken but desperaet thought that came with every silent stare from the witcher, every morning when the white-haired man couldn’t be seen, every adventure where Geralt rode too far ahead.

Jaskier’s quiet and desperate need for Geralt to stay.

He found himself suddenly being lifted, and next he knew he was leaning against something rough but warm, and blinked his blurry eyes open to find he was cradled a bit awkwardly against Geralt of Rivia’s chest.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

It was simple, and toneless, but held more conviction that Jaskier had ever heard from the witcher before. He drew in a few shuddery breaths, finally trying to calm his breathing down.

The medal Geralt always wore was inches from his eyes, and the broad shoulder tucking ever so slightly around him, the witcher’s arms resting like a belt around Jaskier’s shivering form. The feeling of surprise was almost enough to drown out the sense of security that Jaskier felt. A sense of comfort and relief so strong it nearly overwhelmed him.

Geralt leaned back against the wall, shifting to turn Jaskier slightly, so he was holding all of the smaller man's weight, and pulling a blanket up over Jaskier's shivering form.

“G-geralt..?”

"Hm"

"D-did you kill it?"

"Hmm."

Jaskier let out a shaky breath..."thank you."

Geralt squeezed Jaskier's arm lightly. “You're safe now. Get some sleep. If you’re leg is clean tomorrow, we’re heading out.”

Jaskier fisted Geralt’s shirt lightly and shut his eyes.

And as he listened to his own ragged breathing and the steady beat of Geralt's heart, Jaskier didn't think he had ever felt more safe.

Chapter Text

Geralt had taken a near scalding bath, but even the steamy water and froth of soap couldn’t wash away the fear he had felt, white-hot and painful, as he watched the beast spear through Jaskier’s leg. The scream that had made Geralt’s hands shake and his throat close.

Everyone always said Witchers couldn’t feel anything, and for once he wished they were right. Even as he re-dressed in his one set of clean trousers and shirt, he felt frazzled, raw.

The fire was dying in the room but Jaskier’s forehead was glazed with a sheen of sweat.

Geralt put more wood on the fire and sat down to clean off his blades. He had just settled in with the water and cloth when Jaskier began to shake and whimper in his sleep.

Geralt all but dropped his sword and half-stood, before he realized he had no idea what to do. As much as his chest ached to help the scrawny bard, he wasn’t entirely sure what to do. When Jaskier pitched from the bed, however, and landed heavily on the floor, Geralt leapt to his feet and hurried over.

“Jaskier!’

Rough, too rough, Geralt had always been too rough. He yanked Jaskier to his feet all too quickly, and, afraid of hurting him more, let him go.

“For fuck’s sake Jaskier get up.” Geralt growled, trying to force the painful swelling out of his chest.

Too rough again, as Geralt grabbed the cloth and water and began to scrub the dried blood off of Jaskier. For once his extra strength felt like too much; he wished he had more tender hands.

When he pressed the cloth against an old, faded scar on Jaskier’s wrist the other man jerked suddenly and yanked away with a cry, startling Geralt as his friend pulled away and curled in on himself.

“Jaskier what the hell?”

The bard dug his teeth into his lip and curled up and away from Geralt, yanking even his injured leg up so he could hide away. Worry pounded in Geralt’s chest.

“Jaskier what the fuck has gotten into you it was just-”

“I’m sorry!” Jaskier exploded, so loud that Geralt took a step back, having never heard such a strong voice coming from the timid bard.

“I’m sorry Geralt! I admit it, I’m weak and stupid and a coward, I’m sorry for slowing you down and for making you protect me! I’m sorry I was stupid and got hurt, I’m sorry I’m obnoxious and I follow you around even when you don’t want me!”

Jaskier sobbed once.

“I’m sorry I need you but I do, I need you and I’m sorry.”

And oh, what to say? How did Geralt assure Jaskier that none of those things were true? That Jaskier was a braver man than him just for sticking by Geralt’s side?

Jaskier was sobbing now, utterly bawling on the bed, his whole body shaking and shivering and Geralt was at a loss.

“Jaskier...It’s...stop. Stop apologizing.”

But Jaskier didn’t stop, he continued his ramble on and on, now with pleas of ‘don’t hurt me” and “please...I’m sorry.”

Geralt’s heart felt like it was breaking. He stepped forward a bit, what did he do?

“Jaskier…I’m not going to...stop, just stop.”

But how could he convince the bard of this? He had half the mind to turn and go, just leave and come back when Jaskier was asleep and forget it all happened when he heard that tiny, gasping whimper.

“Please don’t leave...please don’t leave me I’m sorry I’m sorry don’t leave.”

Geralt turned back to Jaskier, then. Looking at his shivering, sweaty form, half-naked on the thick blanket, Geralt thought back to all the times he had cried the same thing in the dark, seeking an answer, seeking someone, anyone at all…

What had he needed then?

Geralt knew as soon as he thought it, and as carefully as he knew how, he sat next to Jaskier on the bed. He wrapped his arms around the smaller man’s shoulders and under his legs, and gently lifted Jaskier so he could hold his shivering body against his chest.

And Geralt sat, holding Jaskier firmly but carefully, hearing a surprised hiccup as he wrapped his arms and arched his body ever so gently around the man he held so dear.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Geralt hadn’t ever in his entire life been so sure of four words as he was when he uttered those. Like a prophecy. Like a prayer.

“G-geralt..?”

Jaskier’s voice was quiet, but it sounded so relieved to say his name that Geralt felt his heart swell.

“Hm.”

“D-Did you kill it?”

“Hmm.”

Jaskier let out a breath, a real breath, and Geralt felt him snuggle closer to his chest.

“Thank you.”

Geralt used the smallest ounce of pressure and squeezed Jaskier carefully. There was so much he wanted to say, but he knew he wasn’t ready to. Instead he pulled the blanket up over Jaskier and leaned back against the wall.

“You're safe now. Get some sleep. If you’re leg is clean tomorrow, we’re heading out.”

He felt Jaskier’s hand curl around his shirt, and as he looked out the window, he found he had never been so happy to stay.