ten things I hate about you
(a list by Geralt of Rivia)
1) Stop Touching My Hair
Geralt gets the first inkling that he may have a slight problem the day he deliberately lets Selkiemore guts dry in his hair.
Some hunts are messier than others, obviously, and scrubbing all the gunk off his skin and hair after completing a contract has never been something Geralt’s particularly looked forward to.
The thing is, now there’s Jaskier.
Jaskier, who insists on helping Geralt scrub every inch of his skin clean, who carefully removes his ruined hair ties crusted with monster blood, who pours warm herb-scented water over Geralt’s head and runs his slender fingers through Geralt’s hair, humming softly as he gently teases out the tangles.
Geralt had shaken the bard off the first few times he’d done it, dunked his head in the bath and considered the whole thing done. But Jaskier is nothing if not persistent – which is how Geralt had ended up travelling with him in the first damn place – and Geralt had eventually given in; it was either that or go completely mad listening to Jaskier complain for hours on end about how Geralt’s hair smelled like a swamp.
It’s not like he enjoys having Jaskier’s hands in his hair or anything like that. Obviously.
“Eugh,” Jaskier says eloquently, eyes widening in melodramatic horror when Geralt walks into the inn to collect his coin. “Geralt, that stuff’s baked into your hair – it’s going to take me hours to wash that out, what did you even do, stand in the sun on purpose – ”
Geralt doesn’t deign to reply. He had walked Roach back to the inn instead of riding, but that was because she was tired and he didn’t want to overwork her. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the weather, sunny or otherwise, or with certain bards and their nimble fingers.
2) People Like Me Now And I Hate It
If Geralt had been able to foresee what letting Jaskier write those damned ballads about him would have resulted in, he’d have put more effort into shutting the whole endeavor down before it even began.
As things are, it’s too late now: not only has “Toss a Coin to your Witcher” become popular in inns and taverns pretty much everywhere, it’s apparently even become known by nobles across the continent.
Generally, Geralt likes getting contracts from nobles: they have enough coin to pay him well, and they usually ask for fairly straightforward tasks: chase that wyvern off my property, kill the cockatrice menacing my servants, etc. etc.
The problem is what happens after he’s completed the contract. Normally, he’d leave the place right after collecting his coin, witchers being considered a necessary evil rather than a friend of humanity, but now…
“I’m afraid I would not be a fitting guest for your banquet, my Lady,” he says through gritted teeth. The Countess who’d hired him to kill the cockatrice beams and flutters her eyelashes at him.
“Oh no, I insist!” she twitters. Her grip on Geralt’s arm is surprisingly firm. “And, of course, your bard must sing for us tonight – his songs are so very popular, you know!”
Jaskier shoots Geralt a pleading look; performing at one of the Countess’s famous banquets is, as he’d informed Geralt in wistful tones on their way to pick up the contract, a much sought-after bardic career move.
Geralt scowls. He is absolutely not going to agree to this. It’s a ludicrous waste of time: he’ll have to spend the whole evening answering stupid questions about witchers and hunts and monsters, and besides, Jaskier is perfectly capable of performing without Geralt there.
“Fine,” he grits out. Jaskier and the Countess turn matching beatific smiles on him.
Geralt glares at Jaskier.
3) My Horse Likes You More Than She Likes Me
“She definitely likes me better,” Jaskier declares, drunkenly waving a hand in the air for emphasis. He’s slumped on one arm and mostly plastered to the sticky table of the inn, his fourth mug of ale almost empty.
Geralt snorts. “No, she doesn’t.” He takes another gulp of ale.
“Fine.” Jaskier points at him, almost knocking his mug off the table. Geralt rescues it. “Fine. We’ll put it to the test tomorrow.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?” Geralt asks skeptically.
“We’ll have the stable boy bring her out, and see which of us she comes to first,” Jaskier slurs triumphantly, then yawns. “Loser walks tomorrow.”
“That’s an idiotic idea,” Geralt tells him, but Jaskier is no longer listening because he’s fallen asleep with his head on the table, his cheek resting in a puddle of ale. Geralt sighs resignedly, slings Jaskier over his shoulder and carries the bard upstairs to bed.
The next morning, Jaskier has the stable boy bring Roach out just as they’re coming out of the inn. Roach promptly trots right by Geralt and tucks herself up against Jaskier, nuzzling at him. Jaskier furtively feeds her an apple slice.
“You cheated,” Geralt says severely, eyeing the remains of the apple in Jaskier’s palm. Jaskier grins cheekily back at him.
“It’s called strategy, witcher,” he says. Geralt rolls his eyes at Jaskier and mounts up, ignoring the bard squalling protests of loser walks, Geralt, those were the terms of the bet!
“I never agreed to those terms,” Geralt says placidly.
He does, however, let Jaskier ride behind him on Roach that day.
4) I Haven’t Slept Well In Four Days Because You Went And Got A Separate Room
“Wow,” Jaskier says, his blue eyes wide, as Geralt slinks exhaustedly down the rickety wooden stairs and thumps down at the breakfast table in the inn they’re staying at. “You look like shite.”
“Fuck off,” Geralt mumbles. He feels like shite. They’ve been staying at this inn for four days now, and Jaskier’s performances had netted them so much coin that they’d gotten separate rooms for a change.
Jaskier pats him on the shoulder in a commiserating fashion, then waves the barmaid over to order them some food.
And Geralt should be pleased about it, that he has his own space for once, no need to move around another body in the room or trip over Jaskier’s pack or walk in on Jaskier fucking the stable boy, the last of which has already happened multiple times. In multiple inns, with multiple stable boys.
And yet –
And yet he can’t seem to get comfortable in his large, soft bed in his nice, peaceful room in the evenings, no matter how hard he tries. The room is too empty, too neat. Too quiet. It’s like his body’s no longer wired to relax without the soft, regular sounds of Jaskier’s breaths lulling him to sleep.
It feels ridiculous to even think it, much less say it, so he doesn’t.
5) What Did You Do This Time
“Quick, pack your things, we have to go.”
“You’ve collected your payment for the contract, right?”
“Yes. What. Did. You. Do.”
“So, uh. Did you happen to notice that fancy little vase thing your client had on that little shelf by the fireplace?”
“Had? Jaskier, that vase had better damn well still be there.”
“Well, the thing is, so, I picked it up to look at it, and it just slipped right out of my hands! Ha ha…ha.”
“And it turns out, it wasn’t a vase, it was an urn, and he kept the ashes of his, er, beloved pet dog in there, so…”
“Anyway! We should probably, uh, make ourselves scarce.”
“Look,”, pant, “just,” pant, “run, okay?”
6) I Would Dress Like A Sad Silk Trader For You And That Upsets Me
“Look,” Jaskier says placatingly. “It’s just for an hour.” He smooths the elaborately embroidered hem of the ridiculous silk tunic he’s made Geralt put on, then hesitates. “Two hours, tops.”
“And how many of the people at this thing want to kill you?”
“Just a few?” Jaskier hedges, then wrinkles his nose. “Or, well, maybe more than a few. It’s so hard to keep track.”
Geralt scowls. “I don’t see how pretending I’m your lover will be more effective a deterrent than just telling these nobles that I’m your bodyguard.”
“It’ll be loads better,” Jaskier says enthusiastically. “Nobody’s going to try to kill me if they think that the White Wolf, driven half-mad with grief, will tear them limb from limb to avenge his fallen sweetheart, the love of his life, the – ”
“Gods, please stop. I already said I’d do it.”
Jaskier, undeterred, smiles happily at Geralt. “And performing there is going to be so good for my reputation!”
“Only if you survive the evening,” says Geralt.
“Of course I will.” Jaskier beams at him trustingly. “After all, you’ll be there, right?”
Geralt sighs. “Evidently.”
“Oh, and put this on.” Jaskier hands him a mask, extravagantly decorated, with some kind of glittery stuff all around the edges, and a large bunch of feathers attached to the side. Feathers. “Did I mention that it’s a masquerade ball?”
“What the fuck, Jaskier.”
7) Please Tell Me That Small Child Does Not Belong To You
Geralt hears Jaskier’s hurried footsteps pounding up the inn’s staircase thirty seconds before the bard bursts into their room, a large and crumpled wad of cloth in his arms.
“Geralt!” he says, then shoves the wadded-up cloth at Geralt. “Here, hold this for a moment, will you?”
Geralt has to hurriedly toss his whetstone onto the bed to avoid dropping the bundle being unceremoniously thrust upon him. Once Geralt has a good grip on the cloth, Jaskier hurriedly drops to his knees and begins re-lacing his boots.
The bundle of cloth in Geralt’s arms starts to wail.
“What the – Jaskier, is this a baby?”
“Obviously,” Jaskier says, looking at Geralt like he’s the insane one, which is distinctly unfair. Geralt grits his teeth.
“Is it yours?”
“What?” Jaskier looks startled. “Oh, no, of course not, where would I even get a baby from?”
Geralt foregoes telling Jaskier that he has, despite all expectations to the contrary, managed to acquire a baby from somewhere. He is starting to develop a headache.
“Mindy asked me to watch him for a bit while she went to the market,” Jaskier explains as he finishes re-lacing his boots and gets to his feet. “Except, er, I bedded Mindy’s sister last night, and her sister’s husband happened to come by the house, so I had to pop out before he saw me.”
“Who’s Mindy – no, you know what, never mind.” Geralt hands the still-wailing bundle back to Jaskier. “Please go put this back where it came from.”
8) Could You Please Not Fuck Every Single Person In A Three Mile Radius
Look, Jaskier can fuck whomever he wants, okay? Geralt just feels – rather strongly – that as a wholly innocent party, he shouldn’t have to get caught up in the fallout when Jaskier fucks the son of the mayor of the town Geralt picked up a contract in, and both Geralt and Jaskier subsequently get run out of town.
“Goddammit, Jaskier! I hadn’t collected my payment for this contract yet!”
“Look, I said I was sorry! How was I to know he was the son of the mayor?!”
To be fair, Jaskier earns them back all the coin Geralt lost out on, and more besides, at the next inn they stop at. Geralt’s still annoyed at him, though.
9) I Don’t Like It When You Fuck Anyone Who Isn’t Me
The previous thing? The thing about Geralt not caring who Jaskier fucks? That was a lie.
Geralt only realizes that his irritation about Jaskier bedding everyone who bats their eyelashes in the bard’s general direction is more about hating that Jaskier is bedding these people at all, and less about, well, anything else, when he walks into the room he’s sharing with the bard to find Jaskier and a stable boy entwined on the bed, their clothes already half off, and he sees red.
Without even thinking about it, he stomps over, hauls the stable boy off Jaskier and bodily tosses the confused and terrified young man out of the room, then slams the door behind him.
“Oh, thank the gods,” Jaskier says, from behind him. “Finally.”
Geralt turns and stares at the bard blankly. His conscious thought processes had mostly been offline for the past few minutes, but now, with his fury cooling – he’d expected confusion, maybe anger from Jaskier; instead, the bard is beaming at him.
“I thought you weren’t interested, at first,” Jaskier says cheerfully. “Or that maybe you were trying to pretend you didn’t know what was going on, to let me down gently. Except you’re not generally that polite.”
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Geralt growls, irritated.
“Oh, really,” Jaskier says. “Why’d you toss my company for the evening out the door, then?”
Geralt scowls. He can’t help but twitch a little at the mention of Jaskier’s company for the evening.
“I haven’t been dropping hints so much as throwing them at your thick skull,” Jaskier says. “Seriously, you think all those times you walked in on me bedding a man were accidents? Also, I brought you to a ball as my date.”
“Oh,” Geralt says.
“Yes, oh,” Jaskier says, then grins cheekily at him. “So, are you going to kiss me or not?”
He then finishes the job of getting Jaskier’s clothes off, and spends the rest of a very pleasant evening making sure that Jaskier knows he doesn’t have to bed any more stable boys. Because Jaskier is his.