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The beast is moving outside the cave as he tries to sleep.  Even over the constant patter of the rain, Geralt can hear the slithering sound of its sinuous body winding around the trees, hidden in the darkness between gnarled trunks and dripping leaves.  

And what the fuck is a wyvern doing in a forest? Geralt’s long ago given up understanding what motivates humans, but wyverns? He knows wyverns; chasing the damned things away from the shepherd’s flocks down on the plains every spring paid for most of the clothes on his back. They’re quick and they’re vicious, and they can be deadly when they’re hungry, but they don’t act like this, and it’s unnerving him more than he’ll readily admit. 

Wyverns don’t live in brambly forests. They don’t stalk prey. They don’t chase prey into caves halfway up a cliff, they don’t spend two days and two nights prowling the base of that cliff in an unceasing, unsleeping vigil. A wyvern might attack a human, if it was angry, hungry, or stupid enough, but it’s hard to imagine one going after two grown men, with horses and swords. 

Unless one of those men is Julian Alfred fucking Pankratz, in which case all bets are apparently off. 

It’s been...Gods, it’s been more than a year since their paths last crossed. Since Geralt emphatically un-crossed them, one could say, outside another cave high up on a windy mountain top. He’s paid too much for too many rooms in inns and alehouses since then, when he’d rather be alone on the road. To listen to the gossip and the news, yes; any rumors of danger near Sodden and the farm family sheltering Ciri, any word of the sorcerers who’d made the stand at Sodden Hill...but also to listen for new songs. They usually don’t have a name attached anymore, not by the time they make it to the backwaters Geralt’s been treading lately, but it doesn’t matter. He can tell when a song is Jaskier’s, and every song he’s never heard before is another reason to tell himself those nightmares aren’t real...

He’d spent the first few months half-expecting to see the bard around every curve in the road. Half expecting him to just be there again, the way he’d always just been   there ... and when had a dozen years become always in a life as long as his, anyway? It was an odd feeling, an itch he couldn’t scratch, the slowly growing certainty, with every solitary night and every new song, that he’d made a terrible mistake.

It’s been three days since Jaskier re-appeared in his life, and Geralt’s starting to remember exactly what had led him to make that particular mistake.

Jaskier’s reclining against the damp stone wall, on the other side of the line drawn down the middle of the little cave, idly picking at his lute. Because of course that was the one thing he held onto, when Geralt snatched him out of the path of the slavering thing barreling through the underbrush and half threw him up the cliff into this cave. 

And here they are, trapped like a couple of treed cats in this little hole in a cliff face. No horse, no pack, no potions, no swords. Just a rapidly dwindling handful of dried meat, a useless hunting knife, a festering bite in his side that hurts much more than it should...and Jaskier, the surest omen that everything in his life is about completely stop making sense. Again. 

He’s playing the same few bars over and over again, reworking one of the songs he’d been trying out in the tiny fishing town a few miles away, acting oddly, maddeningly unconcerned about the entire predicament. Self preservation’s never been his strongest suit, but he used to have some sense of when to shut up and get behind the big man with the sword. Following Geralt straight into a fight is basically business as usual, but continually wandering back to the mouth of a cave with a maddened beast outside of it, rolling his eyes and ignoring Geralt’s instructions about the --

“Hey. Line.” The musical fiddling continues, and Geralt drops the pretense of sleep to sit up and snap, “ Line, bard.”

Jaskier rolls his eyes, but he retracts the foot that was resting on the line Geralt scratched down the middle of the cave. 

“Forgive me, O mighty lord. Didn’t realize your borders were so closely guarded. Oh yeah, yeah, scary face, very scary.” He kicks idly at the line, which has moved so close to the back wall of the cave over the past days he can barely straighten his legs.  “You can’t make my half any smaller unless you expect me to start breathing rock.” 

If you’d fucking stay away from the cave mouth on your own, Geralt thinks, and flinches at the sound of claws scrabbling on the slick rock below, deep wet growls mixed in with the roar of the storm, sending a fresh pulse of sick pain through the bite in his side. How the hell can the bard not hear the thing...Jaskier hasn’t spared the cave mouth a glance. He’s watching Geralt, head on one side and fingers (blessedly) still on his lute. His eyes seem too bright in the gloom, like the non-existent sun is lighting them alone. 

“Still can’t sleep?” He says softly. 

"Your endless jangling is not a soothing mother’s lullaby ,” Geralt growls, and grinds his teeth together as his ribs throb, fingers of pain reaching up into his chest, his lungs, it’s been two days and a wyvern bite should be getting better by now but it’s not--

“It’s not healing, is it?” Jaskier says, and Geralt wonders, not for the first time, if he’s as entirely human as he looks. He sets his lute down and scoots closer, ignoring Geralt growling line! again. “Will you at least let me look at it? There must be something I can do to help--”

Don’t touch me!” Geralt knocks his hand away before the pain doubles him over, tastes blood in the back of his throat but nothing comes when he spits. He’s on his knees, half curled around the wound, he doesn’t want to see it there’s nothing they can do and he doesn’t want to know what it looks like… “Don’t touch me, I don’t need help,” he snaps his head up, sucking in a ragged breath. “I don’t need anything and I need even less from you--”

The words taste like a familiar poison on his tongue, and Jaskier’s eyes go cold. 

“Back to this are we?” He stares up at the ceiling for a long, long moment, and then gets up with a sigh. “Right, well, I know how this song goes, so let’s just skip to the part where I take myself off your hands.” He doesn’t spare Geralt another glance, just turns and stalks towards the mouth of the cave. 

Geralt can’t get enough breath to yell his name, it just comes out as a ragged wordless shout as he launches himself at the bard, kneeling at the mouth of the cave and peering curiously into the underbrush, the monster’s snarls hit a fever pitch as it smells prey within reach, Geralt reaches to grab Jaskier and drag him back to safety.

Get back--you---the wyvern--!” And his head’s a fog of pain and confusion but his fighter’s instincts still catch the way Jaskier’s body tenses, braces, like he was expecting this. He whips around, faster than Geralt’s ever seen him move before, and launches a gritty handful of cave mud straight into the witcher’s face. 

Geralt stumbles more from shock than anything, instinctively fumbling for the knife on his belt. The wyvern’s growls rise to a fever pitch, melding into a feverish buzz reverberating through his skull as he reaches for Jaskier again, feels the bard’s arm snap towards him--

And then Geralt’s flat on his back on the cold cave floor, clutching at his throat and gagging, because all the forbidden magics of Kaer Morhens’s halls still couldn’t create something capable of ignoring an elbow to the windpipe. 

Jaskier’s full weight lands on his chest, knees digging into his ribcage as Geralt lashes out to knock him off. 

“Wyvern, huh?” Jaskier yells in his face. He slams his forearm down on Geralt’s still-tender throat, and fists his free hand in Geralt’s shirt, right over the bite. “ What wyvern? The wyvern that did this?” 

He rips Geralt’s shirt open, all the way down his side, Geralt snarls and tries to twist away as Jaskier digs the heel of his hand straight into the festering wound--

...into the the unmarked, uninjured patch of flesh where Geralt has vivid memories of a festering wound…

Geralt goes still, staring blankly at his own unbroken skin and the pain’s gone with a snap so sudden it leaves him breathless. He has the distinct sense that something’s broken...that something’s been lifted off his senses. He can’t hear the snarling monster anymore...he can’t hear a lot of things anymore, his head's been clouded by a buzzing, roaring rush he hadn’t even noticed until it was silenced. 

“Are you...do you…” Jaskier lets up on his neck as he stops struggling, searching Geralt’s face with wide, wild eyes.  “Did that work? It did! Yes!” 

Something’s been lifted alright. Something like a curse. 

Jaskier drops back onto his heels, still mostly sitting on Geralt’s legs, and punches the air in triumph. “ Yes! It worked! Fuck you, I finally saved your miserable ass from something magical and stupid, that makes us even--”

Geralt raises himself up on one elbow. There’s an ache through his whole body he hadn’t felt before, but that’s rather unimportant at the moment. “I think,” he says, very softly, staring at Jaskier, “that it makes us rather more than that.”

“--did you see that, right in the throat, I punched you in the throat, I - what?” Jaskier breaks off, blinking...and follows Geralt’s gaze to the hunting knife buried to the hilt in his shoulder. “Fffffucking-- ow!”

Geral sits up as Jaskier flops to the side, fingers brushing uselessly over the knife hilt. “ Don’t touch it,” he snaps, and shakes his head hard, like it might chase away the buzz lingering in his skull. “Don’t--just...don’t move. Stay.”

His head’s buzzing, but it’s clear, for what must be the first time in a while judging by his dry tongue and growling stomach. There’s new information flooding his senses: information like there's daylight outside , and the driving rain is just a mild drizzle, and the only thing rustling outside is oak leaves in the wind, and Jaskier’s watching him warily as he holds his shoulder, eyes bright in his pale face. 

“It did work, didn’t it?” he asks, and the ragged edge of pain in his voice makes Geralt's stomach clench. “You’re...awake. You’re you again?”

That raises far more questions than Geralt currently feels equipped to deal with, so he falls back on the old standard of ignoring them completely. Focus on the things he is equipped to deal with. Like a knife in a shoulder. As long as--

“Where’s Roach?” Geralt whips his head to the mouth of the cave, scanning the greenery below. 

“Oh, not far.” Jaskier leans back against the wall and shuts his eyes, fingers still curled loosely around the knife. “Well. I assume not far. Couldn’t see her last time I looked, but if one concentrates one can feel her judging us.” 

Geralt scrambles down the slippery cliff, which is much lower than the forboding rocky wall in his memory, temples throbbing in the watery sunlight. He finds Roach a little way up the track, stripping the leaves off a low growing shrub and pointedly ignoring his approach. 

"You can scold me later," Geralt tells her, fumbling with the buckles on her saddle. She spares him a single disgusted snort, and returns to her grazing with her ears pinned back. “We’ll be on our way soon.”

A few minutes later he’s scrabbling back into the cave with Roach’s saddlebags over his shoulder, his sword in one hand, and an enormous brown and yellow newt in the other. 

“Tell me this isn’t--”

Jaskier cracks an eye, and gives him a tired grin. “Careful. I hear those things are vicious.”

Geralt glares at the newt, which stares back with the bleary, vaguely wounded expression of cold amphibians the world over. When it fails to sprout wings or poison fangs, he sets it down and kneels next to the bleeding bard. The newt gives him an affronted look and waddles off into a crack in the rocks.  

“Okay. The fuck happened, Jaskier?” 

“Huh. Thought you might’ve noticed.” Jaskier doesn’t bother to open his eyes this time. “I saved your sorry ass, witcher, at great personal peril, after holding vigil for two days and two nights, by besting you in single combat and freeing you from the clutches of--”

Jaskier.”

Oh fine. Hey,” Jaskier opens his eyes, and winces as Geralt pulls a paring knife out of his saddlebags. “Come on, I like this shirt.”

“Then lift your arm over your head for me. And tell me what the fuck we’re doing here.”

Jaskier lifts his arm experimentally, and drops it again with a whimper. “ Ow. Fine, have it your way then. Anyway. You remember that road house we met up in a few days ago, you said something about a siren hanging around the area? Said you were going to go run them off?”

“There was. I did.” Geralt frowns, keeping his focus on cutting away Jaskier’s shirt around the knife. “And I’m immune to siren magic anyway.”

Hah! Well. Immune may not be the right word, as it happens. I mean, you didn’t go insane with lust, but you definitely...well, I’m not sure what you call that, but it looked like a hell of a ride. You ever try that mushroom tea they make up around Novigrad? Cause I just sat there and watched the pretty colors for an hour, but I’ve heard some people end up convinced they can fly, or that they’re trapped under ground, or try to fight monsters that aren’t GAH!” His eyes fly open, and Geralt tries to look apologetic as he drops the bloody hunting knife and presses a linen pad over the bleeding wound in Jaskier’s shoulder. “Would it have killed you to warn me?”

“You were distracted. Hold that. Press.” He grabs Jaskier’s hand and slaps it over the pad so he can search the saddlebags for salve and more bandages, and search his mind for words. “If the siren. If the siren cursed me. Why are you here?”

“You don’t remember? I saw you off the track, trying to pick a fight with nothing, and as soon as you saw me you dragged us both up here yelling about wyverns.”

“I remember that . Something like that.” Geralt touches the back of Jaskier’s hand, and switches out the bloody pad for one soaked in salve. Jaskier presses it down, gritting his teeth against the sting. “Why are you still here? After two days...why…”

Most of the time, Jaskier seems to flit about in a world that has more in common with songs and stories than anywhere Geralt’s lived. But there are times,  like this one, when he tilts his head and holds Geralt’s gaze for a long, silent moment, and it means he’s about to give voice to something Geralt could never find the words for, even if he lived another hundred years. 

“Did you expect I’d just walk away and let you die?” 

Geralt shivers. Yes. No. I don’t know. Most people would. Maybe most people should, and you more than any of them. But you’re not most people, you won’t walk away no matter how much...no matter how...how much... It’s all another burning rush of words he’ll never be able to say, so he doesn’t try to say them, just drops his eyes away from Jaskier’s to focus on wrapping his shoulder. 

“And I tried to leave last night, anyway,” Jaskier says, and shudders as Geralt makes him sit up away from the wall to pass the roll of linen behind him. “Thought maybe if I could get your sword I could at least convince you to come outside and see there was nothing there.” He casts his eyes sideways, smirking even though his face is paler than Geralt would like. “But the second I got close to the cave mouth you grabbed me by the hair and dragged me back inside yelling about poison spines.”

“Hm. I thought that was another nightmare.”

“O ho I assure you I did not previously have this bald patch, whatever Valdo might be insinuating all over the Continent in those half-rate verses of his--hang on.” Jaskier cuts himself off, and fixes Geralt with another one of those penetrating stares. “ Another nightmare?”

Fuck. 

“You’ve had...other dreams about me?” Jaskier says, slowly, like each word is a piece of a puzzle he’s almost got solved. Geralt ties off the end of the bandage, checking the strips wrapped around Jaskier’s chest for the proper tension. There’s an extra cloak and a blanket on Roach’s saddle, but he’s so tired now she might as well be a mile away, and Jaskier’s starting to shiver. 

Double fuck.

Geralt sighs and wraps an arm around the shivering bard’s shoulders, pulling him against his side. Jaskier goes stiff for a second, before he relaxes with a sigh and leans into Geralt’s shoulder. He smells like cave dust and healing salve, but at least it’s better than blood and pain. He can’t remember what Jaskier smelled like without pain.  

“You’ve had dreams where I get hurt,” Jaskier says, in that same cautious tone, the one you’d use for a horse about to bolt. He shoots Geralt a suspicious look through his bangs. “And you call them nightmares. Not wistful daydreams?” His shoulders tense under Geralt’s arm, and there’s a bitter edge to his voice when he says, “No shoveling of shit involved?” 

Geralt shuts his eyes and half a hundred nightmares replay themselves in tandem. There have to be words, if he could only find them. 

“Every few nights,” he says, eventually. “Not always you. But every few nights. Sometimes hurt - ” his memory is always delighted to conjure up the sound of Jaskier choking on his own blood “-sometimes dying. Sometimes. Sometimes just...just...”

There truly are no words for those dreams, he thinks. Those dreams are the worst, conjured up every time his path crosses the wake of Nilfgard’s crusade. The sound of something wooden cracking under his heel on a silent street strewn with bodies, bright cloth, blue or red or gold, frozen into the churned up earth and blue eyes staring sightlessly past him,  tongue frozen voice fled and the ravens picking at his lips--

“Sometimes just too late.  And always my fault.” He can feel Jaskier watching him. He doesn’t open his eyes. Jaskier presses closer for what little warmth he has.

“Just dead in the war? How’s that your fault?

Because I wasn’t there,” Geralt snarls as the visions swim behind his eyelids, vivid and giddy from the effects of the fading siren’s song. “Because I could’ve stopped it, because you were alone--”

"And yet, here we are." Jaskier shifts against his side, and Geralt instinctively holds him tighter, afraid he might pull away. "Don't Witchers ever get nice dreams?" 

His voice is light, teasing. He's trying to change the subject, give Geralt an out, but Geralt just freezes like a panicked deer, an unfamiliar wash of heat spreading over his cheeks. Because there are those dreams too, of course there are, and the subject of many of them is still tucked under his arm, damp hair tickling his cheeks.

"Do I detect a flustered Witcher?" Jaskier pulls back, spins around on his knees, leaning forward like a puppy who's spotted a bone.  "Oh add this to the list of conversations we're having. Who is it? Yen? Must be. Or that lovely lad who you vanished with for a week back in Cintra, what was his name... or are all your happiest dreams just convincing more noblemen I'm a eunuch?"

Geralt shoots him a murderous glare, but there's no real heat to it. There's too much damned warmth running through his body, as the siren's spell clears. It feels like...it feels like he's in the depths of one the good dreams, the last blissful moments before he wakes up, alone and out of breath and empty feeling. Jaskier's wicked grin softens.

"And while these subconscious guilt trips of yours are very sweet," he says,  "Let me remind you just which one of us almost died alone and needed rescuing."

Geralt lets his head fall back against the wall with a thump. "Stop. Talking."

 Jaskier giggles to himself. "Felled in battle by an eight inch newt, I bet that'd be a new one for witcher history, eh?"

Geralt can usually spot these moments when Jaskier's about to fire off down some new tangent, and he can only think of one way to derail it: he catches Jaskier's chin in the palm of one hand, and kisses him. Jaskier's rambling dies with a startled squeak against the witcher's lips.

He pulls back with some reluctance, and grins himself as Jaskier leans into the hand on his jaw, unconsciously chasing his lips. He stares up at Geralt in blessed silence, pupils blown so wide his eyes are almost black. Geralt nods.

"That," he says, satisfied.

"W-what?"

"You asked what the good dreams are. They're that." Nice of the bard to finally ask a question he doesn't need words to answer. 

Jaskier fingertips barely brush Geralt's hand on his jaw, like he's afraid it'll vanish if he pushes too hard. The wariness is still there, deep behind his eyes, but his voice is steady when he says, "What else?"

"Hmm?"

"What else have you dreamed, Witcher?"

Geralt wraps an arm around Jaskier’s waist and drags him close, and Jaskier all but falls into his arms, rocking up for another kiss.  Geralt growls deep in the back of his throat, hand sliding from Jaskier's jaw to the back of his neck to kiss him deeper, and Jaskier swings a leg over Geralt's, straddling his thighs.  "You know...this doesn't mean...everything's fixed," Jaskier gasps against his lips, even as he lets Geralt pull him closer, pressing their chests together. "You're not off the hook, mmm, j-just cause you kissed me, Gods why are you still wearing clothes -" 

Geralt hums his approval, licking into Jaskier's sweet mouth as the bard's fingers tangle in his half shredded shirt.

"Why d'you need...s-so many godsdamned buttons... ah! Shhhit…"  Jaskier's fingers and kisses are  gone as he drops back on his heels, hunched over and cradling the injured shoulder they'd both forgotten. “No, no, it’s fine, I’m fine--”

Jaskier bats ineffectively at Geralt’s hands as he sits forward. “We can’t...shouldn’t…” he murmurs, checking the bandages for any sign that the wound’s reopened, intensely aware of the heat of Jaskier’s skin under his fingers. “Not while you’re hurt…”

“Geralt.” Jaskier catches Geralt’s hand in both of his and brings it to his lips, holding his gaze. Geralt’s reminded vividly of the way his eyes looked in the depths of the siren’s curse, brighter than everything around them, like his eyes were the only thing the sun could reach…

 “I tried to give up on you, you know,” Jaskier murmurs.  “I really really tried to let go of the dream that it would ever happen.” His lips brush Geralt’s knuckles, lingering over every scar, the heat of his touch a brand under his skin. “Do you have any idea how often I’ve touched myself to the thought of you bedding the ladies you found on the road? When you’d disappear with them and not come back ‘til dawn? To the thought of your spend on their thighs, inside them, on their face, tongue?”

His words run down Geralt’s spine like liquid fire, pooling in his core ... he wonders idly if Jaskier might have siren blood himself.

I’m not as delicate and helpless as you seem to think me, Geralt,”  Jaskier purrs, eyes molten and melted with lust and not a little anger. “I've been hurt before. I played a week long festival with a broken wrist once.  I’ve waited years for you, and you’d have me wait because of a cut?” He breaks off, flushed and panting, hair clinging to his face. He’s squeezing the blood out of Geralt’s hand. He’s the most beautiful thing the witcher’s ever seen.  

There’s only one thing Geralt can reasonably do, and that’s lean in and kiss him again, long and deep and dirty, to forestall any protest as he carefully takes his hand back and strips the remains of his shirt off over his head. 

“How long have you been sitting on all that,” he murmurs, grinning against Jaskier’s lips as he sets his hands on his waist.

Too long for my cock to still be going un-stroked,” Jaskier grumbles, even as he lets Geralt coax him into turning around, still careful of his shoulder, and tug him back into his arms, his back pressed against Geralt’s chest. Geralt chuckles and presses his nose into Jaskier’s hair.

“Forgive me.” He laces the fingers of his left hand with Jaskier’s and gently guides it to his opposite shoulder, bracing both their arms across his chest to keep the wound from jostling. “I’ve seen you hurt in too many dreams to bear it when I’m awake.” 

“...godsdammit.” Jaskier half-twists against his chest, far enough to hide his face in the curve of Geralt’s neck. “Gods dammit Geralt, you romantic sot. Are you aiming to start writing my songs for me now?”

“Maybe I should.” Geralt dips his head, kissing Jaskier’s hair, his temple, his cheekbone, anything he can reach as he pets down his side, feeling out the spaces between his ribs. “Give you some competition.”

“You’ll have to branch out, I think the dwarves have a lock on songs composed entirely of grunting -- ahh!”

Mmm.” Geralt smiles, pressing his lips to Jaskier’s fluttering pulse point as he finally gives him what he wants, palming him slow but none too gently through his breeches. “Wish I’d known years ago it was this easy to shut you up.” Jaskier doesn’t even try for a comeback, arching against him and rutting shamelessly into his hand. 

Geralt hooks one leg over Jaskier’s to keep him from squirming too far away. His body isn’t always quick to respond - Witcher mutations were unpredictable at best in these matters - but it’s definitely responding to Jaskier writhing against him, gasping in his ear, “Touch me, touch me, please --” He fumbles at his breeches' lacings one-handed, the other hand still entwined with Geralt's over his shoulder. 

Geralt decides to take pity on the both of them and reaches down to help, drinking in Jaskiers shuddering moan as Geralt slips his fingers below his pants and curls them around his leaking cock. Jaskier’s hand snaps up and back, tangling in his hair and it’s Geralt’s turn to moan as the sudden sting turns into a pulse of fire down the length of his spine. 

Gods.” Jaskier wrenches Geralt’s head down for another deep, biting kiss. “I’m not gonna last if you keep making noises like tha-a-ahhhhfffffuck, Geralt--” his teeth tear into his lower lip as Geralt adds a twist of the wrist to his rhythm, swiping his palm over the soaked head of Jaskier’s cock and dragging it down the shaft with every stroke. 

“Are you going to last if I don’t?” he murmurs, lips still pressed to the corner of Jaskier’s mouth, and that goddamned hand twists in his hair again - he might be getting addicted to Jaskier’s hands. The fresh sting has his hips moving almost of their own accord, chasing the friction of Jaskier’s ass moving against him. 

Jaskier spits a desperate curse and kisses him again, one hand still in his hair and the other wrenching free and flying to Geralt’s hip, digging his nails in to urge him on, harder, deeper, more. It’s got to be stretching the wound in his shoulder but Geralt can’t find space in his head to worry. Not when it leaves his hand free to flatten against Jaskier’s chest, not when rubbing his thumb over a nipple has Jaskier bucking up against him. 

Not when he can feel Jaskier's heartbeat, hammering against palm, fluttering under his lips on Jaskier's neck and his fingertips as he strokes faster and faster. He breathes in deep, and the scent's a little like wildflowers and lacquered wood and new grass in springtime, but words are so inadequate - he could describe it, put words to it, but not remember it, not 'til this moment that it finally fills his lungs again, free of the overwhelming tang of pain and sorrow and --

" Gods," he whispers, lips brushing against Jaskier's ear. He winds an arm around his chest, pulling him back into a tight embrace. "I missed you."

Jaskier gasps like he’s choking on air, his head falls back as his heartbeat stutters under Geralt’s hand and he comes hard, with a full body shudder Geralt feels down his own spine. Geralt holds him close and keeps his hand moving in slow, gentle strokes, pressing long open mouthed kisses down the line of Jaskier’s throat. Jaskier smiles and rolls over, headless of the mess streaking his skin, to wrap his arms around Geralt’s neck with a happy “ Mmmmm.”

Stealing my lines.” Geralt wipes his hand on the remains of his shirt beside them and pulls Jaskier close. 

“Is that two jokes in one day?” Jaskier looks up at him through the hair falling across his eyes. “Must’ve been a long year for you too.”

Geralt winces. “I...Jaskier…”

“Gods. Watching you try to talk about feelings hurts worse than the knife wound. It’s okay, Geralt.” Jaskier moves to straddle Geralt’s thighs again, and tips his face up to press their foreheads together. “It’s okay. I know, alright?” He touches the corner of Geralt’s eye. “Hey, don’t cry.”

“I’m not. I can’t,” Geralt says, and it’s true even though his throat feels weirdly tight. "Witchers don’t-"

“Maybe witchers don’t make tears like most humans,” Jaskier says. Siren blood. Has to be. “Doesn’t mean you don’t cry.” 

Geralt cups his face in both hands and kisses him hard, harder than he meant to, but Jaskier leans into it without hesitation, fingers combing gently through his hair. Geralt can only hope he really does know, and hold him tight and try to say with a kiss all the things he’ll never be able to put into words. Hope Jaskier understands what he’s trying to say with parted lips and mingling breath and fingers lingering over old scars. Jaskier all but purrs under his touch, settling warm and heavy in his lap and smiling against his lips. 

“Would you care to do something about this?” he asks, rolling his hips lazily against the hard line of Geralt’s cock. 

Geralt suspects the way his nails dig into Jaskier’s skin answered that question for him, but he still breaks the kiss to reply, voice even rougher than usual. “If you like. Only if you like, I don’t have to--”

“‘ If you like, he says. If you like.” Jaskier turns his imploring gaze to the heavens. “Haven’t we been through this already? Years, waiting, filthy dreams, surreptitious self-love around campfires, poorly veiled love songs--”

“Which songs?”

Jaskier gives him a long, blank stare. “I’m going to assume that says more about your education in literary metaphor than it does about my lyrics. Because most of them. I’m going to touch your cock now.” 

Geralt laughs softly and presses his nose into Jaskier’s neck as the bard unbuttons his trousers. He’s so warm, he smells so good, and those long slender fingers are curling around him, coaxing him out, and Geralt feels it under his lips when Jaskier swallows hard, pulse spiking. 

Gods,” he says, voice sounding distant. His fingers settle loosely around the thick base of Geralt’s cock, and he falls still long enough for the witcher to squirm under him. 

“You don’t have to--”

“Do not pay me the disrespect of finishing that sentence,” Jaskier snaps, and sighs heavily. “I was trying to think of a way to put this in my mouth immediately without my shoulder paying the price. Alas. Fucking hell Geralt.” He trails his fingers slowly up the shaft, rolls his palm over the head with a twist that has Geralt pressing up against him, and when his hand drags back down it’s hot and slick with precome. Jaskier shudders like he’s the one being touched, sliding his free hand back into Geralt’s hair. He starts up a slow, steady rhythm, thumb sliding through the slit on every upstroke in a way that makes stars pop behind Geralt’s eyes. 

His hands are steady but his thighs are trembling. Geralt pulls him into a long, deep kiss, parting his lips for Jaskier’s tongue, and strokes a soothing hand up and down his thigh. The backs of his fingers brush against Jaskier’s cock, starting to thicken against his hip again. 

“Already? I’m impressed.”

“Have you ever, even once in your life, looked in a mirror,” Jaskier gasps, and shivers deliciously as Geralt adds his hand to the mix, bringing both their cocks together in his palm. “Mmmm, Geralt, fuck…” he rolls his hips into the circle of their tangled fingers. “ Gods I want you to fuck me.”

Geralt’s cock twitches just at the thought, and Jaskier moans deep in his chest as it moves against his. Geralt freezes, mind racing through the possibilities until Jaskier shudders and starts moving his hand, faster and tighter, pulling Geralt to his pace.

"I know it's not in the cards tonight, willing as I might be to risk it." He leans in to nuzzle his nose against Geralt's cheek with a smile so soft Geralt forgets to breath.

"Do you know how many brothels I've passed through where the girls share  whispers of this silver wolf…" he murmurs. "Even before I met you I'd heard a few, and you know what they all talked about?”

Geralt thinks he could hazard a guess, but Jaskier leans their foreheads together and continues.  “How gentle he was. How softly he held them, and how kind he was when he chose to speak.”

Geralt wraps his free arm around Jaskier’s waist, and hides his face against his shoulder. He wasn’t expecting that. Jaskier runs a hand through his hair, down his back lingering over the contours of his muscles, breath hot against Geralt's temple.

"And I'd listen to them swap tales, how he made them meet the old gods six times over in one night and, and I wished you'd warmed my bed instead... I'd be so good to you, take me rough, take me gentle take me to the edge of insanity--"

They've found the rhythm now, bodies moving together, chasing the rising heat within. Geralt shudders with each slick stroke of Jaskier's cock against the underside of his, and with each word that sends ripples all through him, like stone dropped on a still pond.

"I want to try all of it, I want to sate that hunger in you, night after night so when we travel you'll know there’s your spend still on my thighs from the night before, I just want to feel you in me, Gods--" 

His voice breaks, and Geralt cradles the back of his head and kisses him deep and filthy. Jaskier's thighs tense and tremble on either side of Geralt's as he fucks his tongue into his mouth, and Geralt wishes desperately to be able to see him. Wishes they were somewhere he could lay him down and stretch him out, and watch every inch of Jaskier's beautiful body come apart beneath him. 

Jaskier, whose eyes sometimes seem to see right through him, who finishes sentences Geralt hasn't even spoken aloud, who even a year after a vicious fight would chase him through the night on the suspicion that something might be wrong...Jaskier, who knows him so completely, and for the first time in his long life that's not something he's afraid of. For the first time in his life that intimacy, that understanding, is something he longs to return.

Jaskier shudders against him, his hand falling still as he fucks into the circle of their tangled fingers with rising urgency. Geralt hums approval against his lips, stroking down his spine, his own need nothing but a background hum to the desire to see Jaskier take his pleasure again. Jaskier's back bows under his touch, muscles pulling tight under his soft skin, chasing a peak that seems to be eluding him.

" Jaskier," Geralt hums against his ear. Jaskier's eyes flicker open, hazy and hot with pleasure, and Geralt swipes a thumb over the head of his cock just to watch his lashes flutter. "Jaskier...next time...next time you come. I'll be feeling it around my cock."

Jaskier makes that desperate, choking gasp again, hips bucking against their hands as his fingers clench in Geralt's hair. Their eyes meet, and then Geralt's coming with him, lost in his blown out blue gaze, and Jaskier moans and falls forward to kiss him as Geralt's spend streaks up his chest. He relaxes into the witcher's arms, but his fingers running tenderly up Geralt's length find him still hard.

 Jaskier gasps against his lips and starts a quick, stripping rhythm with his long clever fingers wet with both their come. Geralt curse and breaks the kiss to bury his nose in Jaskier's neck, unable to do anything but cling to him as his scent fills his head. Jaskier adds a twist to his wrist and presses his thumb just below the sensitive head of Geralt's cock, works it in tight, fast little circles, and Geralt's biting down on his shoulder, bucking hips nearly tossing Jaskier off his lap as he comes a second time, nearly dry but no less powerful than the first.

 

His head clears to Jaskier carefully tucking them both back into their thoroughly debauched trousers and wiping his hands on Geralt's shredded shirt again. He looks up through his lashes with a smile that's almost shy, and happily snuggles close when Geralt tugs him back into his lap.

"Gods, what a mess," he mumbles into Geralt's shoulder. Geralt, who can already feel the drying cum turning tacky in his chest hair, can only agree. "I mean, how the hell am I going to get a song out of this?" Jaskier rolls enough to stare beseechingly heavenward. " The sun was high, the mockingbirds sang, I was babbling about salamanders and he just planted one one me…"

Geralt laughs softly into Jaskier's hair and gathers him closer in his arms, and tries to imagine what could ever have possessed him to walk away from this.

"I'm going to find that damned siren," he mumbles, "and buy them an entire week in a brothel."

Jaskier snorts, face hidden in the curve of Geralt's neck. You know you're not off the hook just because you kissed me... Geralt thinks. You know this doesn't mean everything's fixed…

Geralt shuts his eyes and focuses on the feeling of Jaskier's heart beating against his, and tries to find the words to break the silence.

I'm sorry,  forgive me , a thousand of each would still ring hollow. But…

"Thank you," he whispers, and Jaskier bursts out laughing.

“You’re welcome, fourteen-year-old boy with his first girlfriend,” he cackles, tears beading in the corner of his eyes. “ Thank you? Seriously Geralt, the weirdest thing you could possibly say after a handjob is--” he loses himself in peals of laughter again, and clutches at his shoulder. “ Ow.”

“Not for that.” Geralt flicks his ear, and gets a mischievous grin for his trouble. “Okay, yes, for that too. Was great. Let’s do it again sometime. Thank you for coming after me. Thank you for saving me.”  Jaskier's fingers lace through his, musician's callouses rough against Geralt’s skin. "For trusting me with a second chance…"

Jaskier sighs, but he also snuggles closer. "I wasn't sure, you know?" He says softly, rubbing his thumb across the back of Geralt's hand. "I really wasn't. Not until I saw the look on your face when you realized you'd hurt me." Geralt winces, free hand straying to Jaskier's injured shoulder. Jaskier sits up to face him. 

"I won't pretend it didn't hurt. Doesn't still hurt," he says. "And I won't pretend to understand why ...you said what you said. But I understand that you regret it. And we can start with that. Besides," and he smiles that heart-melting smile again, and nuzzles his nose against Geralt's cheek, "I can't pretend I didn't miss you too. Hey, don't cry."

Geralt doesn’t protest this time, just holds Jaskier as tight as he can without hurting him, and buries his face in his hair. He knows. He knows this doesn't mean what he broke is mended...but he also knows he’s exhausted, and that the sun is setting. The air is getting colder, and he's ravenously hungry and Jaskier's bandages should be changed sooner than later...and there's the stomp of a hoof and a disgusted whinny outside the mouth of their cave.

"Whatever you paid for that horse, it wasn't enough," Jaskier remarks, as they reluctantly disentangle.

"Good thing I didn't pay for her at all, then." Jaskier raises an eyebrow. “Long story. Tell you later.” He’s planning on a lot of laters. Plenty of time for storytelling. Geralt kisses his bard on the forehead, and goes to take his scolding from his horse.