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Jaskier is packing away his lute when he is rudely accosted by what he assumes is one of the parents. He readies himself for the usual diatribe - “you do this for a living?” (meaning: historical reenactment of the musical kind) or “why the leggings gaylord” (look, if he has to fucking jeté while playing the fucking lute then, yes, the leggings are a necessity) or comment on the doublet or the “guitar” or why he charges £20 an hour when they could “get a student in for a tenner” - when the man derails his expectations entirely by stating -

“You’re Julian Alfred Pankratz.”

Fuck. Fuckity fuck on a fucking fuckstick.

Jaskier closes his eyes as a wave of despair crashes over him. Just the name takes him back the eight years it’s been - back to the TV interviews, and the regimented routine, and his father’s fist to his stomach - and he feels every muscle clench in anticipation for the dreaded conversation to come.

Deliberately, carefully, he finishes packing away his lute, and then he turns to face his accuser, his jaw still clenched in anger. “My name is Jaskier,” he corrects.

The man stares him down with scruntity - his arms folded, a frown on his brow. “The way you dance,” he says, with one arm lifted from the fold in explanation. “I know it. Didn’t know for sure until you went en pointe at the end there but-”

Ah, fuck. He did that? He always tries not to get carried away, but sometimes his feet move at their own accord.

“-you smiled-”

Did he? Does he still do that?

“-and there’s only one dancer I know who moves like that. You’re Julian Alfred-”

“Fine,” he snaps, with a quick look at their surroundings to make sure that no one else heard the damn name. But the birthday girl, Ciri, is cutting into the cake and everyone else is adequately distracted. “Maybe I am. What’s it to you?”

The man raises an eyebrow. There’s something Jaskier’s missing. The man looks familiar - he had assumed it was just because the medieval reenactment scene in London is uncomfortably small and he looks like a swordsman - but, no, that’s not quite right. He narrows his eyes at the man, trying to puzzle it out. Reasonably, anyone could know his name as the ex-child prodigy but this man doesn’t look like the usual ballet fan - built, for one, with broad shoulders and thick arms and thighs (which he tries not to linger on for too long), dressed in tatty trousers and a plain black hoodie, and carrying a certain air of disdain. He’s not an admirer, per se. But he commented on Jaskier’s movements like he knew what they fucking were, like he’s familiar with them -

“Oh f- fudge,” Jaskier amends just in time as the kids begin to disperse around the hall once again. “You’re Geralt Rivia.”

There’s only one man in ballet with the form that he has, with the strength that he has. His white hair has grown out to hang at his shoulders and his well-toned body is disguised beneath his baggy clothing, but it’s definitely him. He’s hiding like Jaskier’s hiding.

Geralt does no more than give a slight grunt of acknowledgement at Jaskier’s realisation.

“I thought you’d quit,” Jaskier says, shouldering his lute. “‘bout the same time I did, actually. An injury or something-”

“Teaching,” Geralt interrupts. “I teach. Cirilla. As it happens.” He nods towards the gaggle of girls around the stack of presents. One of them was the birthday girl - long white hair, the same shade as Geralt’s now that he thinks about it. His daughter? Unlikely, given that Geralt looks no older than thirty and the girl is fourteen. He’s fairly certain he would have heard if the Great Rivia had a child at the age of sixteen. There’s definitely something there though.

“Huh,” Jaskier says thoughtfully. “Thought it was weird. I’m not booked for many children’s birthday parties but if you’re trying to entertain ballerinas I suppose you could do worse than a courtly minstral,” he says with a wink and a dramatic bow. He’s still in his ridiculous outfit; the overblown gesture seems appropriate.

Geralt does not seem pleased; his glare hasn’t shifted by the time Jaskier rises. “You’ve still got good form. Your pirouettes are lazy and your footwork could do with improvement but…” he eyes Jaskier up and down and he tries not to fluster under the intense gaze. Geralt is, unnervingly, his type. “You should be on stage. Not prancing around in that ridiculous outfit in front of fourteen-year-old girls on a Sunday afternoon-”

“Urgh,” Jaskier bemoans with a cringe. “Do you have to say it like that?” From the crinkle at the corner of Geralt’s eye, he assumes his wording was entirely intentional. Bastard.

“This is what you do now,” Geralt states bluntly, narrowing his eyes at Jaskier’s garish outfit.

“It’s a hobby,” he retorts. “My job, since you so kindly asked, is stacking shelves at Tesco.”

Geralt winces as if he can’t imagine a worse fate for a child star.

“Don’t pity me, Rivia. I’m not the only one that ditched the scene. And I could do a lot worse than a steady f-flipping job at Tescos and a side-hustle as a minstrel. It pays the bills. What else is there?”

Jaskier is storming towards the doors, well aware of how tragic that sounded but with cash in hand he doesn’t much care. He’s nearly out the door when Geralt calls out to him -

“I teach here every Thursday evening. You should come.”

Fuck that, Jaskier thinks. Fuck. That.

---

Jaskier has a shitty week. He has to cover an extra shift at the supermarket and barely gets any actual work done because shoppers who can’t read signs keep asking him where the juice is or where the bread is or where “you know, the thing that you put peppers on” is - foil? skewers? - whatever. He’s late to leave and he’s hungry and miserable and he can’t get that damn conversation out of his head.

“You smiled,” Geralt had said.

“It pays the bills. What else is there?” he had asked.

And that night, when he’s plugged into his iPod, listening to Spiegel im Spiegel* and dancing his sorrows across the empty kitchen, he feels it… the smile tugging at his lips.

---

Thursday evening. The community centre. He must truly have lost his damn mind. He quit ballet for a reason - he wanted to leave that whole part of his life behind - but one conversation with the ethereal beauty that was Geralt Rivia and he seems to have lost his resolve. He hates the industry, he realises, but he still loves the dance.

And if Geralt is offering him a lesson free of charge, it would be remiss not to accept. Surely. He’s not “returning to dance”, he assures himself, he’s just trying to get laid.

Except that Geralt didn’t specify when on Thursday so when Jaskier arrives at the hall at seventy forty and sees a dozen girls, including Ciri, practising pointe, he nearly runs out the door. The sight brings back memories that he’d much rather forget - the world closes in, anxiety clutches at this throat until he can’t breathe and he can’t believe he thought he could just stroll back into a rehearsal room again like nothing ever fucking happened - but he’s startled from his spiral when Geralt throws him a pair of shoes in a manner that brooks no arguments.

Right. If he wants to get laid, he has to get through a singular amateur class. He can do that. He takes a deep breath and pushes aside his anxiety.

“We’re doing pointe,” Geralt says, needlessly. “Put them on, warm up, and join the class.”

Jaskier nearly refuses. This is still insane and he may be rusty but he’s not ‘fourteen-year-old-girl’ rusty. Then, he looks up and realises what piece they’re rehearsing. Akram Khan’s Giselle. They’re playing the ghosts, the Wilis. All the girls are in white leotards en pointe and grasping long canes to be used equally as balancing rods and set pieces.* What group of teenage girls can pull off what is probably the most intense pointe work in history? They’re young, their bones are still growing, they shouldn’t be doing a piece entirely en pointe.

Just as he thinks it, one of the girls in the falls back onto her heels. Jaskier’s heart catches in his throat, his muscles clench instinctively, bracing himself for the wrath to come. He looks to Geralt expecting to see his anger at her failure and push her back onto her toes because surely, surely, all tutors are alike in this manner and Geralt will prove no different, but the man merely gives the girl an understanding nod and continues giving notes to another girl. Jaskier looks back to see that the girl is already continuing with the dance, albeit on full feet. Slowly, his heart resumes beating.

“If you put those shoes on,” Geralt says, and belatedly Jaskier realises that he’s addressing him despite his eyes not leaving the girls. “Then you accept the rules of the class.”

“Which are?”

“Girls-” Geralt orders and by rote they chorus -

“You stop when you need to stop.”

“We don’t get injuries in this class,” Geralt says like it’s a fucking normal thing to say. It’s ballet. With ballet comes pain. Comes blood. And injury. And mangled toes.

Jaskier finds himself unfurling the ribbon around the pointe shoes before he is even aware of it. This is nothing like the classes of his past. Geralt will not beat him for failing. He can stop when he needs to stop. And… the shoes are his size, he notes. Soft, and flexible; used but undamaged. Geralt had them ready at the table for him. He tries not to read too much into it but his eyes stray over to Geralt as he flexes his feet in the pointe shoes experimentally. They feel… good. Natural. Like a second skin.

Geralt was out of his element the first time he saw him but here… here he is magnificent. Jaskier subtly watches his movements and his teaching style as he warms up by the barre - the sight of Geralt does well to distract him from the jarring familiarity of the stretching exercises. Geralt moves around the girls and has a keen eye, fixing even minor errors, and where he can, he seems to give them verbal instructions rather than touching them outright. His shoulder-length white hair is tied into a ponytail but the occasional hair still falls in front of his face in a way that makes Jaskier itch to touch. He wears a black leotard with a grey hoodie atop and, unusually, for a man his size, is wearing black en pointe shoes too. He wants to be able to demonstrate to his class when necessary. He wants his students to know that he’s in it with them.

Academically Jaskier knows that en pointe work is good practise for men even if they rarely get to use it. The majority of work for men is centred on lifts and jumps - all movements that require the full spread of toes to disperse the weight. He expected someone with Geralt’s heavy frame to not even practise pointe but it’s reassuring to be proved wrong as he demonstrates to a young girl how to balance during a difficult move. It should be unnatural to have so much body weight pressed down on so little but Geralt makes it look almost painless - almost, because Jaskier caught the squint in his eye - as he jumps up onto his toes.

Fuck. If Jaskier didn’t have a crush on him before, he definitely did now.

Jaskier has observed enough of the routine during warmup that he is able to join the company at their next turnabout and pretends he does not fluster under Geralt’s attention when he first goes en pointe.

Despite his hopes, Geralt does not so much as give him notes during his time dancing with the girls. He had fantasied of Geralt coming over to him and spreading his hand wide across his abdomen to correct his posture or whisper praise into his ear. He wouldn’t even have minded if Geralt had disparaged him, quite frankly, as long as it resulted in his body pressed against his. But… nothing. Geralt’s entirely professional almost to the point of frustration.

But, fine. If Geralt wants to pretend this isn’t about sex then he can play along. Jaskier works harder than he’s worked in years. He heeds Geralt’s rules and falls to his heels when he needs to take a break, so unused to this much time on toes, but the dance is invigorating in a way that nothing else is and by the time class has finished, he is giddy from something other than arousal.

“You did well,” Geralt rumbles behind him, and, oh look, the arousal is back.

Jaskier turns away from his bag, throwing aside the towel that had absorbed the majority of his sweat and chugging the water he has at hand. He didn’t do “well”. He’s out of practise and it shows.

“You worked harder than I thought you would,” he amends, perhaps noting Jaskier’s disbelief, and Jaskier does his best not flush at the compliment. “Stay a while. I’ll change my shoes, but keep yours. We’ll do a few more moves.”

Jaskier suppresses a desperate moan at the words. God he hopes they’re moves of the sexual nature but tragically the shoe discussion implies otherwise. He sighs, knowing he will likely do whatever Geralt bids him do, and takes another swig of water.

Geralt has changed into regular ballet shoes - still black, of course - by the time the last of the children and parents have disappeared. Geralt’s disposed of the hoodie now, ready for a workout, and Jaskier finally understands what his motivation for all this might be if it’s not simply about sex. If Geralt has fallen out of the industry then presumably he won’t have had anyone to dance with - at least, not at his level - for a considerable number of years. Jaskier isn’t at that level any longer, but he could be, and Geralt knows this. It seems odd, though, that he would pick a male partner rather than a female one when it limits his options so.

“I’m curious,” Geralt says and Jaskier very much hopes he means bi-curious. Jesus. Ballet makes him horny. Or Geralt makes him horny. Both?

Jaskier pushes that thought aside and focuses on his footwork - slowly, carefully, placing his feet horizontally before each other, again and again. “Hmm?” he asks, pretending he is focused on his turn-out and not willing away an erection.

“I saw you once. At the Royal Opera House. In the 2012 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.”

Jaskier does lift his head up at that. Two Romeos. It had been his last public performance. He must have been fifteen or so. Meaning that Geralt would have been… what? Twenty-two? Geralt would have had another year ahead of him before he too had dropped out of the industry. He imagines Geralt there, somewhere in the audience, watching him with the same eager-eyed observation he displays now and the thought does something to him.

“You were joint principal with Harry Cardill. I’d never seen anything like it -”

Jaskier groans and turns away at the words, a flush on his cheeks that he doesn’t know is born from pleasure or irritation. He doesn’t want this. He came for a fuck. Not some trip down memory fucking lane -

“No, listen-” Geralt says, and reaches for his wrist, tugging him back to him.

Jaskier follows the movement only because that’s what you do when a man as good-looking at Geralt wants you to follow. “What,” he bites.

“It was the first time I fully realised the benefit of male partners working together in a pas de deux.* I never saw the appeal but you were graceful and your pointe work was unrivalled and the two of you-”

Harry Cardill. Yes, that was his name. Bit of a dunce. But a nice guy overall.

“-had the strength to do moves I’d never seen before.”

It was true, he supposes. Two men dancing together wasn’t unusual, per se, but no ballet had taken it as far as Two Romeos - the adaptation of Romeo & Juliet with two male leads, commissioned as an opener for the capital's LGBT History Month celebrations. He had done the entire work in pointe shoes and technically, he supposed it was impressive, but he was a child prodigy, everything he did was impressive. “So what are you ‘curious’ about?” Jaskier says, because as much as he loves Geralt’s praise - basks in it even, gets a little hard at it even - he wishes he would get right to the fucking point so he didn’t have to loiter in the past any longer.

Geralt bows and flourishes his arm dramatically towards him in a mockery of their first meeting. Jaskier chortles. This man had the worst sense of humour. “I was wondering if you would indulge me in a little reenactment.”

“Geralt,” Jaskier says, for the first time tasting his first name on his tongue and revelling in it. “It was eight years ago. I doubt I even remember-”

“Then I’ll remember for you,” he says, his hand still stubbornly outstretched.

The things he’ll do for a fuck, honestly.

Jaskier takes his hand and despite his reservations the movements seem to come back to him. Geralt moves at half-speed, giving his rusty mind time to remember the movements a second before they happen. He had also forgotten how intimate the routine is. Geralt shies away from any of the major lifts but his hands are sure and strong on his body as he guides him through the movements and Jaskier starts to wish that he did lift so that he could fly. Jaskier remembers how long it took to trust Harry with even the simplest porté. But with Geralt… he trusts him instinctively. The thought terrifies him. He breaks away before they can reach the climax of the piece and clambers for his water bottle as an excuse to catch his breath.

Geralt seems to watch his every move. Fuck. How is he still finding that hot-eyed scrutiny so damn arousing?

“You didn’t lift,” Jaskier accuses when he can breathe again. “That because of your injury?”

Geralt frowns. “I never lift without a partner’s permission.”

Jaskier laughs, startled. Of course he doesn’t. Mister “stop when you need to stop” doesn’t believe in lifts with new partners. Of course he doesn’t.

“What?” Geralt bites, and it sounds like he might be genuinely offended.

Jaskier shakes his head in disbelief, laughter still on his tongue. “You are like nobody I’ve ever met,” he says sincerely. “If I had a teacher like you maybe I wouldn’t have burned the fuck out at fifteen.”

Geralt huffs but his eyes shine with sympathy.

“That’s the idea, right? With the girls you teach?”

Geralt nods, the movement heavy with meaning. He cares. Deeply. It’s oddly sweet.

Jaskier puts aside his water as a desire forms inside him. “Let’s do it again. Lift me, if you can.”

Geralt does. Some of the time. Whatever injury Geralt has doesn’t seem to affect his movements, only his ability to carry. He avoids one-hand lifts and fish dives and anything else that requires considerable strength. It's strange because Jaskier knows that he harnesses the necessary power for these moves - it's demonstrated by the ease with which he lifts him during porté - yet he still shies away from anything more advanced. Jaskier relaxes into the dance, lets himself trust Geralt, no matter how daunting it is as he leads him from move to move. Geralt must have played Romeo before, he must have, to know the dance so well. It’s sensual, and intimate, and Jaskier is sure this is a flirtation because his hands keep lingering long after the moment has passed.

By the time Geralt is kneeling, lifting Jaskier by the waist towards him, his desire has solidified into a need.* Before he can overthink it, he lowers his face the scant inch between them until his lips are pressing against Geralt’s.

Geralt startles beneath him and for a moment, they are both frozen in the position, Jaskier’s leg still at ninety degrees, or, what he thinks is ninety degrees, until he feels Geralt’s hand leave his waist to run along his thigh and push his leg further.

“You can go higher,” Geralt grunts, like the kiss didn’t even happen but then his hand is moving again, towards his groin and Jaskier thinks he’s going to pass out from anticipation.

“Keep the position,” Geralt murmurs against his mouth which is at once both the hottest and most frustrating thing the man could say as his hand starts palming him through his leggings.

Fuck, Geralt,” he manages to grit out between clenched teeth because this is both exactly what he wanted but also not what he wanted at all. His other foot - arch curved and pressed against the ground - is beginning to ache from the strain now that Geralt can only support him with a singular hand, but Geralt notices because of course he notices and after a couple of passes his hand moves to cup his calf and bring that leg in, allowing Jaskier to take the weight on his knee instead as it slots neatly between his. His other leg is still stretched out behind him in an arabesque - he assumes still at an angle that pleases Geralt seeing as he hasn’t manhandled him again - as Geralt smoothly releases him from his leggings.

Jaskier swears at the first skin-on-skin contact as Geralt strokes him to full hardness. He knows that the others are long since gone, that the hall is deserted except for the two of them, but the fact that they’re still doing this in the middle of the studio thrills him, as is the fact that the only time Geralt deems it appropriate to abandon all his pretty little ballet rules is when he’s got a cock in his hands.

“Higher,” Geralt murmurs and in the lust-induced haze it takes Jaskier a moment to work out what the fuck that means until Geralt’s hand starts to leave his cock and he’s jolted into understanding. Obediently, he raises his leg higher still.

Geralt hums in appeasement and twists his hand in what is probably meant to be an admonishment but that only makes Jaskier see stars. “You can relax your hands,” he says and thank god for small mercies as Jaskier gingerly rotates his wrist out of the lock it was in and instinctively curls it into Geralt’s hair instead.

Geralt moans at the touch, louder than Jaskier was expecting, and increases the pace of his ministrations.

He’s close. He’s embarrassingly close. He wants to pull Geralt in for a filthy kiss or press his knee against his groin where he can see a growing bulge, but he wants to be good for Geralt, and that means obeying.

His outstretched leg is beginning to ache. He doesn’t want to disappoint Geralt but he also hasn’t held an arabesque this long since his childhood and it’s not like he’s ever had this much of a distraction before either. “I can’t-” he admits, brokenly. “Please can I-?”

Geralt’s intense gaze pierces his eyes again and he must see the truth in it because he nods. “Lower your leg. Keep your toes pointed. When I lift you, be very still.”

Jaskier nods, the movement bringing their faces impossibly closer. He can feel Geralt’s stray hair against his cheek. Feel his warm breath against his lips. Fuck. He’s so fucking lost in the closeness that he doesn’t really process what Geralt said until a couple of minutes later when Geralt stops his ministrations and moves both hands to his hips.

Jaskier lets out a petulant whine - he was so fucking close he could feel it - until Geralt is lifting him above his head and sucking his cock straight into his mouth.*Fuck,” he yells. His instincts battle for dominance; his physical urge is to jolt at the very touch, to press into that good, hot, suction - but his learned experience from years of ballet is to stay still and anchor the hold any way he can. “Be very still,” Geralt had said. Right. Still it was. Jaskier presses his hand down onto Geralt’s shoulder, anchoring himself there, and the other that was clutching onto Geralt’s hair moves to a more practical position at the base of his neck.

It’s the right decision if Geralt’s moan around his cock is any indication. He keeps his toes pointed and if it weren’t for the utterly filthy act happening between them, it would be a fucking piece of art. This is the most advanced lift Geralt has done with him and it’s during sex. He’s a fucking madman and Jaskier is high on it.

Geralt sucks cock like a master - just the right suction and tempo but of course he’s good at this because Geralt Rivia was a world-renowned dancer; he knows how to read body language, and he knows how to control movement. Jaskier probably doesn’t even need to tell him that he’s coming, but he does, in broken sentences, and he’s so fucking proud of himself that his feet only unfurl for a brief second during orgasm before they return to their rigid structure.

Geralt swallows everything he gives until he pulls away with reddened spit-wet lips. Jaskier aches to see them better, aches to kiss them, but Geralt is kissing his thighs and still hasn’t given him permission to move.

“Good,” he’s murmuring against his skin, and at that, Jaskier does give a full body shudder. Geralt groans beneath him, presumably in the knowledge that his words have such a strong effect on him. “You can relax now,” he says, and like a spell broken, he does. Geralt helps lower him and then there’s one foot on the floor, and then the other, and Geralt is still kneeling before him like an offering.

Jaskier doesn’t even ask for permission - too afraid that Geralt will say no - as he falls to his knees and reaches for him. Geralt bats his hands away with a growl and before Jaskier can fight him on it, his post-orgasm haze clears long enough to see a wet stain blossoming against his leotard. “I’m afraid that ship has already sailed,” Geralt murmurs, a light blush of shame on his cheeks.

He came untouched. Jaskier doesn’t even know when. And then, belatedly, he realises that while he was shuddering in the afterglow, Geralt’s hand did leave his hips temporarily, and then there was that groan

It’s Jaskier that’s groaning now as he surges up to take Geralt’s lips between his. As chaste as their first kiss was, this was the opposite. It’s utterly filthy as Jaskier climbs into Geralt’s lap and pours all the desire he had during the act, while he was kept firmly in position, into the kiss. Geralt startles under the assault at first until he returns the kiss in kind, his hands squeezing Jaskier’s arse, pulling him even closer.

“That was…” Jaskier gasps at last, breaking away from the kiss. “Monumental.”

Geralt laughs, deep and gravelly, and it’s so unexpected that Jaskier’s heart skips a beat at the sound.

“So… good teacher on the streets, bad teacher in the sheets. Something like that?”

“Hmm,” Geralt says, though he seems to be distracted by Jaskier’s neck, his face buried in the fabric of his loose t-shirt.

---

It was, objectively, the best sex that Jaskier has ever has, so he can’t be blamed for spending the next week thinking about it and practising his arabesque and jerking off in the most uncomfortable positions possible... just in case Geralt wants to repeat the event. He has reason to hope too. After all, when they had composed themselves enough to leave and lock down the community centre, Geralt had turned to him and brusquely said, “See you next week. 9:30,” not even a question; a demand.

He arrives at exactly 9:30pm on Thursday, just as the children and parents are leaving. Ciri winks at him as she’s carted off by a familiar looking black-haired woman, like she knows what’s happening. He really hopes she doesn’t.

Geralt has the gall to act like nothing happened between them last week as he leads him through warm-ups at the barre - correcting his positions with those gorgeous hands just as he had fantasised - and running him through brutal fucking routines until Jaskier is panting in an entirely unfun way, and then, finally, finally indulging in the Romeos routine that he so evidently loves under the guise of pointe work.

He still won’t lift him though and after thirty minutes it’s starting to build to frustration -

“Just fucking lift me, Geralt,” he snaps after the third aborted jump. “I know you can do it.”

“Just because I can do it doesn’t mean that I should,” Geralt gripes.

Jaskier rounds on him - they’ve been at his for hours now and they’re both just in their leggings and shoes, shirts and hoodies long forgotten. It means he has to cope with the agonising sight of Geralt bare-chested as he catches his breath. There’s a bead of sweat dripping past his pecs that Jaskier is practically drooling to catch with his tongue. “What the fuck is your problem?” he exclaims. “I know you don’t have an injury. That’s not why you quit. I googled you. It was someone else,” he says, “Someone that you dropped-”

“All the more reason,” Geralt snaps. Clearly it's a sore subject for him but if Geralt is going to be his dance partner - if he's actually going to be doing this for more than a fuck - then he needs to be able to trust him.

"Geralt, you dropped Renfri because you were young and stupid-"

"I was the same age as you are now."

"You’re much stronger now-"

"It wasn’t because I was weak-"

"Then why, Geralt?" he implores.

"Because I was distracted," Geralt snaps, suddenly striding towards him and pushing him against the wall in a bout of anger. Definitely a sore subject.

"And a cock in your mouth isn't a distraction?" Jaskier can't help but tease.

Geralt growls.

"I may have been focused on your rather marvellous mouth, Geralt, but I didn't miss the fact that you maintained that lift steadily, one-handedly, without so much as breaking a sweat."

"Why are you pushing this?" Geralt asks, rage still lining his words, and his fist pushing against Jaskier's bare shoulder. "Last week you didn't even want to dance."

"That's exactly why I'm pushing, Geralt. I don't understand why you're doing this; why you’re so intent on helping me. I thought we were just going to fuck but if you want me as a dance partner too then you've got to tell me what the boundaries are or at least let me know that they're fucking there. This is hard for me too, you know. Even being in the same goddamn room as a barre -” he spits with frustration, and hates that tears want to escape with the anger. “It’s so goddamn hard being back here and your refusal to acknowledge even the simplest obstacle is not making it any fucking easier. I’m starting to wish that I never stepped foot in this damn studio."

Geralt scowls at him and for a moment, Jaskier thinks he's not going to give him an answer until his hands are pushing down the front of his leggings and okay, apparently we're doing this again as Geralt growls, “Don’t say that. You were made to dance.”

Before Jaskier can even acknowledge such an absurd statement, Geralt has pushed both their leggings down and is kicking Jaskier’s legs one way and then the other to divest of them entirely.

“Your legs around me,” he orders and Jaskier scrambles to follow, his anger abandoned at the prospect of sex. He leaps into Geralt’s strong arms as gracefully as he is able and Geralt pushes them back against the wall. “Keep those toes pointed,” he demands as Jaskier wraps his legs around his back, “I’ll know if you don’t.”

Jaskier lets out a strangled moan more at the command than at the sweet slide of their cocks against their bare chests. It’s good though. Really good. With a singular movement, he is fully hard and he wonders if he’s setting some sort of record for the quickest-initiated erection. Geralt isn’t far behind though. Shit, he might actually be ahead.

Geralt sets a brutal mind-numbing pace and it’s all Jaskier can do to hold on, yet alone keep his damn toes pointed. He does though. Until he gets cramp and has to ease one of them away.

“Shit, sorry,” he murmurs, knowing Geralt will have noticed, like he always notices.

Geralt grunts with the next thrust of his hips but it doesn’t sound nearly as admonishing as Jaskier expected. “It’s okay,” he murmurs, barely audible above their gasps and the movement of flesh. “We’ll work on it.”

Fuck. The casual promise of future carnal activities makes Jaskier dizzy with lust. He knows that this week, instead of practising arabesque he’ll be practising how long he can keep his damn feet curled for.

He comes not long afterwards, spilling messily between them. Geralt groans, the slide even easier for him as he eases back a little as to not irritate Jaskier’s spent cock.

He thrusts a handful more times, his fingers digging into Jaskier’s hips in a way that is beginning to feel familiar, and when he comes it’s Jaskier’s name on his lips. His real name.

Julian.”

The name had been tarnished and dirtied by the industry and the tabloids but in Geralt’s voice it sounds divine, the familiar syllables made new again.

Jaskier gasps as he feels Geralt spend between them, but he’s reeling more from the unexpected name than he is from the expected release. He thought he never wanted to hear that name again. Then again, last week, he never thought he’d want to dance again. Geralt just entered his life and turned the whole thing upside-down.

His lips find Geralt’s and kisses at his open mouth until he feels him respond. He digs his pointed feet into Geralt’s naked back and revels at the wretched sound of appeasement it provokes.

---

Sunday. Another shitty day at work - one that is only improved by the humming of music under his breath and the little shreds of delight he can extract from the job when he is particularly nimble on his feet - but if one more motherfucker asks him what time the store closes on a Sunday when the opening times are printed on the very fucking door to the store he is going to scream.

“Sorry to interrupt-”

Jaskier already has his customer face at the ready when the familiar voice registers and it falls just as quickly as it had formed. He turns away from the stock trolley, abandoning the fifteenth box of Maryland cookies in the cart, and looks across the aisle to see Geralt Rivia, ballet legend, dressed down in jeans and a hoodie, leaning casually against a shelf of Earl Grey tea. It’s so out of character that Jaskier nearly convinces himself it’s a hallucination.

“-but I was hoping you had a minute.”

Geralt doesn’t even have a basket of shopping with him, Jaskier realises. He’s just standing there, faux-casual, with his hands in his pockets. Has he scoured every aisle in every Tescos in the borough looking for him? Fuck.

“Couldn’t resist seeing the child prodigy sold out to the capitalist dream?” Jaskier jests. “Or, is it the outfit that appeals to you?” He smirks at Geralt’s raised eyebrow, pirouetting in his utterly hideous navy and red fleece as if to demonstrate the innate sex appeal of his uniform.

“Your arms could be tighter.”

“Fuck off. It’s hard to balance in steel-capped shoes.” He was in the loading bay this morning so unfortunately the heavy workman’s boots were a necessity. Hideous though.

“I’m sure,” Geralt says in an unreadable monotone.

Jaskier sighs and returns to his work. Maryland cookies. 59p. Right. “Why are you here, Geralt?”

“You were right,” he says, and that’s a bold enough statement that Jaskier peers over his shoulder to witness the earnest expression.

“About what?” he asks.

“Trusting,” Geralt says, but before he can elaborate, they both have to step out of the way for a mother with a wide cart followed by three screaming children. “You ought to know. The reason I dropped her…”

Jaskier puts aside the box of cookies and gives Geralt the attention that this discussion deserves. It’s interesting, the way that Geralt changes when he talks earnestly. He looks to the ground more, shy almost.

Jaskier takes one look at this pitiful display before pulling him in by the hoodie into the shadow of the cart, hopefully out of harm’s way. The last thing he wants is for Geralt to be in the midst of baring his soul in this godforsaken place and get mown down by a middle-aged man doing his last-minute weekend shopping.

The position puts them awfully close and when Geralt opens his eyes and actually looks at Jaskier, he can see bright amber looking back. Amber: slow down; danger ahead.

“I loved Renfri,” Geralt says. “That’s why I dropped her. I was foolish and let myself get distracted. She never danced again - it was a fast-paced fish dive* and she landed on her neck.”

Fuck,” Jaskier says emphatically. No wonder Geralt’s afraid of lifting. A fall like that would have put her out of commission for a long time and likely would have had long-term effects afterwards. Geralt blames himself for the end of someone else’s career. Is that why he’s helping him? Making amends perhaps? “You don’t love me though,” Jaskier states.

Geralt’s jaw clenches. He clearly doesn’t want to linger on this subject but if this is what Geralt’s hang up is then they can work past it. “We’re fucking,” he answers. “It’s close enough.”

“We weren’t fucking the first time we danced,” Jaskier counters. “Why didn’t you lift me then then?”

Geralt shakes his head. “I haven’t lifted anyone heavier than a teenage girl in six years, Jas.”

Jas?

“And I didn’t want to do something reckless and risk putting you in hospital too.”

Jaskier rolls his eyes, obvious enough that he hopes Geralt picks up on it and reads from it that he’s a fucking idiot. If anything was going to put him in hospital, it was going to be sex acrobatics, but apparently these two things were whole separate categories in Geralt’s mind. “I’m not asking for a fucking fish dive,” he states, even though, actually, there are a number in Romeos and it has always been a favourite move of his, “or anything else that scares you. Just… a one-handed lift. Like you did when we were fucking the first time. You can do that. I know you can do that.”

Geralt still looks unconvinced.

“You’re strong enough, Geralt. And I trust you. It doesn’t even have to be over the head. Just… lift me.”

Geralt frowns, checking their surroundings. “Now?” The aisle is starting to clear out as the closing announcements come on the tannoy - everyone already queuing at the checkout. He realises, belatedly, that he was probably called to man a till but the shift manager can suck it if she thinks he’s leaving this discussion right now.

“Yeah, now,” Jaskier confirms. “Why not?”

Before Geralt can protest, he reaches out to grab one of Geralt’s beautiful hands and turns around, placing it in the small of his back.

“Think of it this way: you’re just helping me dump this box of cookies far enough back on the top shelf that I won’t have to deal with them for another month,” he reasons, and senses Geralt relax behind him as he lets out a little laugh. “Just give me a little boost and I’ll be there.”

He feels Geralt exhale against his back, readying himself, and then, miraculously, there’s a warm, steady, pressure against his back and he’s rising towards the shelves. It’s just a one-handed porté allongé but it’s more daring than anything Geralt’s done so far in the studio. *

Jaskier feels a grin spread over his face, not realising how much he missed this element of dance, this exercise of trust, until he feels Geralt’s secure hand support his weight and guide him forward. Instinctively, one of Jaskier’s legs bends at the knee, allowing his foot to hover above Geralt’s quad in case he needs the extra support. He doesn’t though. When his arm is fully extended, Geralt walks him forward, step by step, until Jaskier is close enough to do exactly as he suggested and push the damn cookies far out of sight. Geralt adapts to the shift of weight as if it is no hardship at all. He can’t see Geralt’s footwork but he feels it in the confident movements, knows he’s probably crossing his legs just so, that his other arm is no doubt outstretched at the perfect angle for balance, and because he knows Geralt’s expecting the same in return he casts aside the knowledge of how fucking ridiculous it must look doing this his hideous uniform, and unfurls his arms as sensually as he knows how until they are outstretched either side of him allongé.

He can’t hear Geralt’s pleased hum over the din of the supermarket but he knows it’s there as Geralt begins to slowly, carefully, move them. Just turning. But it feels miraculous. When they’ve turned a hundred and eighty degrees, facing the shelf of Earl Grey tea once more, he feels Geralt exhale with effort against his legs and knows it’s time to dismount. Geralt’s other hand comes around his middle and then he’s being lowered with as much grace as they are capable of given Jaskier's bulky workman’s shoes. Jaskier presses his back against Geralt’s chest, his arm coming to wrap around his neck, until there is one foot on the floor, and then the other.

A deep breath. Then, he opens his eyes and realises that Geralt is just spooning him in the middle of the biscuit aisle with his breath coming fast and ragged against his exposed neck. A conflict of two words. An aberration.

“Okay?” Jaskier asks softly, just as the world comes back into view - his name being called over the tannoy in his shift manager’s shrill and demanding tone, the bemused look of a shopper at the end of the aisle, the fact that Geralt still hasn’t unwrapped his arms from around his waist.

Geralt nods his head - Jaskier can feel the movement against his shoulder. “Thank you,” he murmurs.

“Yeah,” Jaskier says distractedly, needing to untangle himself from the embrace before certain parts of his anatomy get the wrong idea. Geralt always smells so damn good that it’s like a natural reaction. “I’ll see you Thursday?” he asks.

Geralt seems to come back to himself with a shudder. However transformative that dance was for Jaskier, it must have meant undoubtedly more to him. Geralt steps away, downcasts his eyes, and his expression settles once more into a frown as he nods. “Thursday.”

---

Once again, when they meet at the community centre, Geralt is all business. “Straighten that arm,” and “bend your knees,” and “tighten that turn” and it’s all very arousing but also infuriatingly helpful. The only reason he gets through it is because he knows that at the end of it the class Geralt is going to reward him for all his hard work in a very good, very carnal manner.

They focus on pointe again because “it’s your most unique talent, Julian, you ought to hone it,” and Jaskier loves it, he does, more than anything - just the mere act of standing on toes brings a soft smile to his lips that he may not have ever noticed had Geralt not pointed it out to him so brusquely at their first meeting - but it’s also extremely painful and he keeps having to take breaks and Geralt keeps looking at him as if to say I know you can do better which is how, Jaskier finally understands, he controls his students with that damn caring attitude of his. It’s the classic school teacher “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” routine and damn if it doesn’t work for Jaskier too.

After an hour of repetitive routines, Jaskier relents and begs, “Please. If you’re going to make me do pointe, at least indulge me with a few lifts.”

Geralt does. They practise a few of the trickier ones in Romeos and a couple of Geralt’s other favourites that he’s clearly been dying to attempt again. There’s still a couple of standard lifts he refuses to do which causes Jasker to exclaim -

“Have you seen you?! You could do that move one-handedly with two of me in your hand.”

But Geralt just shakes his head and Jaskier drops the subject because as long as Geralt’s hands are on him, who cares what they’re doing, right?

It’s coming to the end of a routine and the clock is ticking close to midnight and he’s wrung out and exhausted but Geralt has yet to initiate his reward and Jaskier is too unwilling to leave his arms so they’re just… moving around each other, hands stroking steadily, in what someone might optimistically call contemporary dance but what Jaskier wants to call foreplay. His leg is hooked over one of Geralt’s shoulders and if that isn’t a come on he doesn’t know what is.

But Geralt’s not looking at him, just moving his arms up and down Jaskier’s contorted body, as if he can’t get enough of how it feels. Or maybe he’s still dancing. Who knows.

“Come home with me,” Jaskier murmurs.

Geralt’s hands stutter in their movements, his eyes darting across the room. “No.”

Jaskier laughs, startled, even though he really shouldn’t be. “Ah. I see. It’s only fun in the studio. I get it. Kinky,” he teases, even though, if anyone has a kink here, it’s probably Jaskier.

Geralt shakes his head and then he’s untangling their limbs and this is very much not what Jaskier was after. He corrects his feet with a burst of energy he didn’t know he possessed.

“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Geralt says plainly.

“Little late for that…”

Geralt scowls as he marches back towards his belongings. Jaskier chassés to follow, hoping it might be pretty enough to convince Geralt otherwise.

“Then we shouldn’t be doing it any longer,” Geralt amends.

Jaskier realises what this is about a second too late and rolls his head with a despairing laugh as he slows the  steps that Geralt wasn’t even watching. “Oh, I get it,” he says bitterly. “This is a Renfri thing-”

Geralt glares back at him and it’s all the answer he needs.

“So what? It’s either sex or lifts. I have to choose? Because if I have to choose then I choose sex, obviously, seeing as I’m only here to get laid anyway-”

If it’s possible, Geralt seems to get even angrier at this as he starts yanking his clothes over his leotard. “Don’t say that,” he bites.

“Say what? That I’m here to get laid? You’re right, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be so upfront about it. Maybe I should do what you do and hide my blatant sexual desire behind the guise of -”

His rant is cut short but the insistent press of Geralt’s mouth on his. It’s hot and hungry and full of tongue and Jaskier is about to forgive him for his every transgression when Geralt pulls away just as abruptly.

“Goddamnit, Jaskier,” he mutters as he heads towards the door.

Jaskier. Not Julian. Not Jas. Jaskier.

---

Jaskier does not mope. Geralt’s been in his life for less than a month and he was doing perfectly fine without him and will do perfectly fine again. Despite working the full weekend at a festival in his minstrel get-up, Jaskier still goes out on the lash Friday and Saturday night. He needs a distraction, and there’s no better distraction than alcohol, drugs, and someone willing to fuck him into the mattress at the end of it.

---

On Thursday, he doesn’t go to class. He lies in bed and masturbates to the thought of giving Geralt orders for once. Specifically, where he can shove it.

---

That weekend he finds himself working the late shift at Tescos. He’s been taking a lot of hours lately so he doesn’t sit at home, twitching his toes and flexing his fingers. It’s the dead hour. 2am. 3am. Who knows? He sits on the single till that is open and spins around and around in his chair, watching as the tiles on the ceiling merge into one.

There’s a loud bang beside him and Jaskier jumps to attention to see a multipack of wine on the conveyor belt beside him.

“Dreaming of a better future?” a voice drawls.

He knows that voice. He’s heard it outside Geralt’s class. The lady who picks up Ciri.

He straightens up and sees the woman behind the obscenely large crate of red wine. Black hair. Blue, almost purple, eyes. For some reason it’s this occasion - early morning Saturday in a fucking supermarket - that he works out who the fuck she is.

“Yennefer,” he breathes. “Vengerburg.”

“Yes, well done,” she says sardonically, and he wonders how long she has known who he is and what he’s been doing with Geralt and when she expected him to fucking notice. Yennefer Vengerburg is the goddamn black swan at the English ballet right now. She is… divine. Magical. And very, very, intimidating. And she’s been, what? Palling around with Geralt and his daughter in the suburbs of South London? Why?

“You know Geralt?”

Yennefer smirks. “Unfortunately. Look,” she says, looking around them at this desolate fucking situation. “I know you must have questions. I can answer them. What time do you get off?”

It takes some immense willpower not to make the sex joke that has so evidently been laid before him but he’s pretty sure if he said it that Yennefer would not hesitate to kill him. “Six,” he says plainly.

“Alright,” she says, nodding her head. “Meet me for a drink after.”

“At six a.m.?” Jaskier asks cynically.

“Spoons will be open.”

Jaskier throws his hands in the air at the mention of the shitty twenty-hour pub chain. “That’s fucking tragic. We cannot be that tragic. Please. I beg you. Let me have my last shred of dignity.”

“You’re a checkout boy at Tescos, Pankratz. I think that ship has already sailed. Meet me at Spoons at 6:30.”

Jaskier agrees, resigned to his fact, and gets her through checkout as fast as possible.

---

If anyone ever told Jaskier that not only would he meet legendary ballet dancer, Geralt Rivia, but also his preferred dance partner, Yennefer Vengerburg, in the span of a month, despite no longer being on the circuit, he would not have believed a word of it. Yennefer had been Geralt’s partner in Romeo & Juliet Jaskier had discovered a couple of weeks ago when he was digging up information on Geralt from the depths of the internet. He danced with her in three separate productions, always as the leads. They were legendary. Even watching videos years after the fact, Jaskier still found himself getting jealous at the obvious intimacy between them. Yennefer has done well for herself after Geralt’s departure from professional ballet. She is the principal dancer in nearly everything she does, and the critics say her performance in Swan Lake is unparalleled.

However, what’s even more absurd is the fact that the most famous ballet dancer, quite possibly in the world, is meeting him in Wetherspoons for a 6am drink.

Jaskier orders a bottle of red wine and two glasses, knowing that he’s damn well going to need more than one drink. Yennefer appears some minutes later and wordlessly helps herself to the wine.

“Hmmm,” she says, tasting. “That is simply terrible.”

“I did warn you.”

She sighs and stretches her joints in the ale-stained chair. A move that is far too beautiful in this piss-poor establishment. This may even be more jarring than the whole ‘dancing in the biscuit aisle with Geralt’ situation. “Go on then,” she says, waving her arm in another flaunt of effortless grace. “Ask your questions.”

“Is Geralt okay?”

Damn. That hadn’t meant to be this first question. That hadn’t meant to be a question at all. But Yennefer’s smirking in a knowing way that makes him think he's being awfully transparent.

“How sweet,” she says. “I’ll tell him that you asked-”

Jaskier clenches his jaw at her mockery and shakes his head. “Whatever. I just-”

“He’s fine,” she says before he can say whatever nonsense he was going to say. “Just sulking. He really thought he had something with you and when you didn’t show on Thursday he was all-” she waves her head again as if to describe the emotional shitshow that was Geralt Rivia. Shockingly, Jaskier thinks he actually understands.

“What do you mean? What did he think he had?”

Yennefer rolls her eyes and pours herself more wine. “A dance partner, obviously. He’s wanted one for years. Someone he could actually trust not to break on him. Someone that would actually abide by his rules. Not a combination easily stumbled across,” she takes another sip and asks, “You know about Renfri?”

Jaskier nods. “Yeah, he told me.”

Yennefer raises en eyebrow and given the effort it took to extract that information from Geralt that reaction seems perfectly fair.

“But I didn’t realise…” Jaskier shakes his head, realising his grievous error. While he had been chasing sex, Geralt had been chasing something else. He had overlooked this entirely. But, he realises, even when they were fucking, Geralt was still pushing him. The only reason he practised his dancing so intently outside the classroom was because Geralt was fucking him. That sly bastard. Using Jaskier’s sexual desire against him to turn him into a better dancer. “I didn’t realise that’s what he wanted,” he concludes uneasily, and takes his own gulp of wine to compensate. “Thought it was about sex, you know, as these things usually are.”

“Oh, I’m not saying it’s not about that,” Yennefer amends. “But Geralt’s very picky about partners. He doesn't trust easily. You ought to be honoured.”

Jaskier bites his lip, remembering that first one-handed lift in the supermarket. The trust Geralt bestowed upon him, and how easily Jaskier abandoned him just because he chose that feeling over sex. “He doesn’t, uh, have that with you?”

Yennefer laughs again, drinking more of the cheap alcohol. “We haven’t been that way for years, darling. We train Ciri together. Occasionally he will do me the honour of a dance. But, no, I think he was set on you as soon as he saw you. He keeps saying you have something special. If I were in your position, I’d listen to him.”

“Thank you,” he says numbly. “For telling me this.”

“Now go do something about it,” she says as she stands and puts down a fiver for the wine. An unnecessary but nice gesture. “I should go. There's a matinee this afternoon and I’ve yet to sleep, but-” she tucks her hand into the pocket of her long, black, coat and pulls out a folded A4 poster. “Ciri wanted you to have this.”

Ballet Recital - Excerpts from Akram Khan’s ‘Giselle’ - Sunday - 4pm - Community Centre - Entry £2

Well, isn’t that something.

---

Jaskier isn’t nearly as hungover as he thought come Sunday afternoon but he feels nauseous nonetheless as he pays his two pounds and is granted entry into the recital.

The familiar layout of wobbly brown plastic chairs in rows brings him back to his own childhood, performing in front of parents in similar halls, until he was funnelled into grander halls with grander audiences. The path that Ciri herself is due to take if her role as the principal dancer - Queen of the Wilis* - is any indication.

Jaskier makes himself comfortable - although, comfortable, isn’t quite the right word is it - on one of the few remaining chairs at the back and tries not to make his roaming eyes too obvious. He spots them though. Of course he does. A head of white and a head of black sitting together in the front row. The distance between them makes him suddenly nauseous; if he hadn’t abandoned Geralt, he would be in the empty space beside him - at least, he hopes so.

As the dancers enter the stage, he closes his eyes and imagines that he’s there beside him - that he can hold Geralt’s hand; that they never had to make the nonsensical choice between sex and dance - and it begins to ease the anxiety that burdens him. He imagines the touch with such vivacity that his breathing begins to even out and he can at last enjoy the show.

---

Jaskier doesn’t know what to do with himself afterwards. He wants to disappear out the door. But he owes Geralt an apology, he really does, especially if there’s a chance to right this again. It’s only been a week, but he misses being in his arms.

He waits for the hall to empty. For Geralt and Yennefer to embrace their child, and then for the child to be taken away by a stranger (her grandfather, he knows, Geralt disclosed as much one time). He waits for the various fans to flock to Yennefer, and the various parents to flock to Geralt, and then, one by one, it gets quiet enough for Geralt to notice him.

They lock eyes and his piercing stare penetrates Jaskier like never before - his gaze is always scrutinising, but this is burning.

Geralt is interrupted by a parent before he can speak and Jaskier likes to imagine that this delay is the cause for the clenched jaw and clipped words he hears as he exchanges platitudes with the parent.

Jaskier takes his time as he approaches, languidly taking in his fill of Geralt hair - loose, this time, but a portion tied back with a ribbon - and his uncharacteristic formal clothes - an ugly shirt that Jaskier wants to divest him of post-hence. It says something that he still looks delectable even in wrinkled grey formalwear.

“Jaskier,” he greets when he is finally free from parents and the last few stragglers are heading for the door.

Jaskier, again. He’s not sure if he’s ever disliked his own name so much but when he’s heard ‘Julian’ in ecstasy and ‘Jas’ in friendship, ‘Jaskier’ is little more than a rejection.

“Ciri said she’d invited you,” he says as he keeps himself busy with the cash tin. Doesn’t he have an assistant for that? “But I didn’t think you’d come.”

“She was good. Brilliant even. Really gets that whole-” he waves his hand, “-ghostly thing across.”

Geralt grunts and Jaskier’s amazed that for once, the perfectionist, doesn’t seem to have any notes.

“But I came for you.”

Geralt’s head snaps to attention. He locks the cash tin with more force than required as he gathers the papers sprawled across the desk. His jaw is still clenched. Jaskier wants to reach out and soothe it with his fingers. He can’t though. Not if he’s to reclaim what he’s lost.

“I’m sorry I didn’t respect your decision,” he says, and Geralt turns away with a scowl and starts angrily stacking chairs. “And I shouldn’t have been so flippant about the other thing too.”

A crash as Geralt dumps a stack of six chairs with a strength he probably forgot he had. He startles at the sound, hands falling limply at his side.

Jaskier approaches carefully, like one would a spooked horse, and cautiously lays his hand across Geralt’s shoulder.

He sags, a little, at the touch; some of the tension easing out of him. It reassures Jaskier that maybe not all is lost. “I’m sorry,” he reiterates. “I love dancing with you. I really do. I just didn’t realise that you-” he breaks off, unsure how to describe all that Yennefer told him, or at least implied.

“You should be in it for more than a lay, Jaskier.”

“I know,” Jaskier says softly, rising to his toes in the confines of his trainers the best he can, just so Geralt can see the truth in it as he conducts an effortless pas de bourrée around to see him. “And I am.” He lands in a perfect fifth position.

He feels Geralt’s eyes searching him, looking for the truth.

“If you think I am worthy of being your partner,” Jaskier says, and resents the rapid beating of his heart at the notoriously ambiguous word, “then I will endeavour to make it so.”

Geralt’s hand comes to rest at his waist like it has so many times before. It’s a natural fit. “You know I can’t - I won’t sleep with you while we… I never intended to, either,” Geralt admits. “I thought if I gave you what you wanted that you might stay. But it’s an indulgence that we shouldn’t partake in again.”

“Do you regret it?” Jaskier wonders, filled with dread that he may have unwittingly coerced Geralt into sex.

He breathes out shakily, but his second hand comes to rest on the other Jaskier’s waist, steady and sure. “No,” he says with an amused smile. “Your arabesque is a lot better for it.”

Jaskier laughs, caught off-guard once again by Geralt’s terrible humour, and reaches for a playful punch on his arm, only for Geralt to pull back swiftly into a tight turn, and then they are dancing, or fighting, he doesn’t know which, across the empty stage.

When Geralt has him bound tightly in his arms, Jaskier’s back pressed against his chest, he finally stops, and they stand there, breathing in each other - the smell and the warmth and the comfort of his touch that has already become essential to him.

Geralt’s head rests against his - Jaskier can feel the gentle exhales on the back of his neck and shivers run down his spine at the feeling. They are back in the supermarket, dancing amongst tea and cookies, except this time Jaskier recognises the embrace for what it is. Home.

---

They fall back into a routine, except this time, it’s classes twice a week and no sex acrobatics. Jaskier still lusts after him, but every time he remembers that it’s either dance or sex, it’s easy for him to push the desire aside. His carnal desire for Geralt is nothing compared to the bliss he experiences dancing with him.

“You know,” Jaskier says between gasps for air one Tuesday evening after Geralt has conducted what he calls a ‘stamina-building technique’ but what Jaskier calls ‘torture’ and what regular people may call ‘cardio’ - “If you had done something-” another gasp for air “-other than insult me all these months-” and another “-I might have realised you were after-” another “-a dance partner earlier.”

It has to be said because after all that damn cardio, all Geralt had to say about his performance was that it was - and he quotes - “Fine.”

Geralt smirks, amused by his exhaustion, and tosses him a bottle of water. “I did,” he says surely. “I complimented you many times at first, if you remember. Then I realised how distracting you found it-”

Oh, shit. Their first class where Geralt praised his performance in Romeos and he nearly popped a boner. After he held the arabesque pose during oral and Geralt had murmured “good” against his thighs and he had shuddered against him in bliss. All those times when Geralt had complimented him and he’d practically come in his pants… Geralt had noticed.

“-and, well,” he says calmly, “I realised I ought to stop.”

Jaskier whines, ashamed and still kind of turned on. “You knew? That's so embarrassing. I-”

“Think nothing of it,” Geralt says, as if the praise kink doesn’t bother him in the slightest. Actually, given their unusual sexual positions he supposes it’s a ‘stones in glass houses’ kind of situation. “Just know that I would likely be more vocally appreciative of your talents if it would not land us both in trouble. You are very suited to this line of work,” he states, purposefully monotone, in a way that should not excite his anatomy, “And very suited to being my partner.”

That damn word.

Geralt looks over at him again with a disappointed sigh. “That did it, didn’t it?”

Truth is, it was more the ambiguous word than the thinly-disguised praise, but he’ll take the cop-out. He nods meekly with an amused slant to his lips. “Doesn’t take much. Child prodigy and all. I’ve got a complex.”

Geralt grunts, as if he’s taking his joke seriously. Before he can ponder on it for too long, Jaskier hurls the bottle back at him and voluntarily starts the “stamina-building” exercise all over again.

---

A couple of weeks later, Jaskier feels like he’s finally regained lost ground. His style has shifted with age and experience, but all the basic skills he needs are now as sharp as they once were.

He knows that Geralt has noticed because he sees these little appreciative smiles sometimes that send his blood pumping. Slowly but surely the structure of their sessions change with it - from lessons, into something much more cooperative. Jaskier is building Geralt’s confidence with lifts. Geralt is nagging Jaskier about form. And it finally, truly, it feels like a team.

Jaskier even stacks shelves with a little spring in his step and when his shift manager eyes him suspiciously, he just winks, and does a little pas de basque couru down the aisle.

Geralt even indulges him with the occasional visit to the outside world now that he’s been rest assured that Jaskier will be well behaved. They’ll grab a drink after the session, or attend a performance together, or even, as summer comes along, take a break from the community centre to practise in the park.

It’s nice. It’s more than Jaskier thought he’d ever have. And he hates that he wants more.

---

Jaskier is taping his feet one Thursday when the last parent leaves and before he loses the gall, blurts - “I have an audition.”

Geralt drops his clipboard, almost comically, as he processes this news.

Jaskier sighs and tilts his head back against the concrete wall. “I’m sorry, I know we haven’t even talked about the possibility -”

“No, it’s not that,” Geralt says, and Jaskier hears the soft thud of ballet shoes on wooden floors as he approaches Jaskier on the bench. “I’m glad you’ve finally recognised your talent.”

Jaskier stretches out his leg to poke Geralt in the shin with his pointe shoe and Geralt grunts and kicks it aside, coming to sit beside him.

“So what production?” Geralt asks. “What company?

Jaskier takes a deep breath, already anticipating Geralt’s response. “Vizima-”

“Jas-” Geralt says, starting on the diatribe that Jaskier was expecting: small company, indie-run, not well known, diverse cast but unoriginal shows, blah blah blah. He seems to realise that Jaskier isn’t listening part-way through and breaks off with a suspicious look. “What?” he grunts.

“They’re looking specifically for men that are proficient en pointe.”

“Oh,” he says.

Oh.

“You made me realise how much I loved it, the very first time we met. You always said it was my most unique talent and that I should recognise it… well, I did.”

Geralt grunts again, as if he’s actually surprised that Jaskier would take his advice. “What are they hiring for?”

“A new production. By Valdo. Set during the AIDs crisis. Original score by Einaudi*. Lots of pas de deux roles for men, including two principal roles. Many other opportunities for pointe work beside.”

Geralt thuds his head back against the wall to join him, and they both look up at the tea-stained roof of the community centre. “That could be big.”

“Hmm,” Jasker ponders.

“You really want it.”

It’s not a question; Geralt knows him better than that.

“Yeah,” he says with a wistful sigh. “I really want it.”

---

Geralt pushes him like never before in the run up to the audition and Jaskier’s feet start to bleed from it. The real world doesn’t have Geralt’s kind rules and if he’s to succeed he needs to accept some of the brutal reality. When Geralt sees the damage he wordlessly receives a bowl of warm water from the kitchenette and starts untaping his feet, cleaning the blood with gentle ministrations, and asking for the scissors when he thinks a nail needs a trim.

Jaskier’s feet are hideous - forced to conform to industry standards far too young - and in the hands of anyone else, even another dancer, he might be ashamed.

But Geralt takes to the task with reverence, as if his mangled feet are something to behold, and if Jaskier’s chest gets a little tight under his intense care, then the man doesn’t need to know.

---

The audition goes well. By some miracle, he keeps it together the whole time. He gets picked out of a line, and then another, until he leaves with a date in his hand for a second audition.

It’s when he finally leaves the building into the muggy summer’s evening air that he suddenly can’t breathe.

He collapses on the steps of the building and hides his head between his knees, trying desperately to drag air into his lungs and stop the memories from building -

How many auditions? How many successes? How many late nights and early mornings did he spend in too much pain to stand? How many punches for failure from his father? How many media appearances was he bullied into by his mother? He never even got his damn GCSEs. He’s twenty-three. He’s too old to do all this again, he lost his chance, he doesn’t even know if he wants this chance - but what else will he do with his life? Stock shelves forever? Be the court jester? He can’t-

There is a warm, comforting, hand on his back and Jaskier drags in a deep, rattling, inhale. Right. Geralt said he would come and pick him up. He’s here. He’s here. The scent of him fills his lungs and it does more to assuage his panic attack than anything else, even as Geralt comes to sit beside him; his side pressed firmly against his.

“Did you not get through?” Geralt asks in a commiserating murmur. Right. Because he’s hunched over, crying hysterically on the stairs of the Academy. That ought to be the right assumption to make.

Jaskier pulls out the memo with shaky hands and drops it into Geralt’s lap. He hears the movement of paper and then Geralt’s stuttered exhale. “You got a callback? Jas, I-”

Jaskier reaches out, wiping his face on his hoodie as he goes and flips over the memo in Geralt’s hand. The next audition piece. Two Romeos.

Geralt starts laughing. “Unbelievable. That’s brilliant. You’ve got it in the bag, Julian. Do you know which movement? We can go over it scene by scene just in case-”

“It’s the balcony scene,” Jaskier answers morosely. “They asked if I could bring a partner for it.”

At last, the meaning must dawn on Geralt because the paper wavers in his hand. Jaskier sees his fist clench.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “I asked them to select a partner from their company.”

Geralt’s expression turns stormy and Jaskier is exhausted from the outburst of anxiety so he does the simplest thing he can do and reaches over for Geralt’s hand.

He accepts the touch without question just as they do out of habit in dance.

“If it were any other scene, I’d have you there, you know that,” Jaskier urges. “Honestly,” he says with a shakily, teary, laugh, “I don’t think I can do this without you. But it involves-”

“A fish dive,” Geralt finishes. “Yes, I know.”

In their months together as dancing partners they have battled Geralt’s fear the best they can. He does daring lifts that Jaskier never thought he would do. He’s learned to trust Jaskier’s judgement and they practice over and over again until Geralt feels confident enough to try something new - but they’ve never even had the conversation about the fish dive; the move that cost Renfri her career.

“It’s a slow dive,” Geralt murmurs. “I can do it.”

“It has a tricky turn into it-”

“So I’ll work on the lift-”

“It’s still a reverse full body hold-”

“Why are you arguing against this?” Geralt suddenly questions, his voice picking up volume.

Jaskier sighs and cannot help but be reminded of a very similar argument all those months ago.

"Why are you pushing this? Last week you didn't even want to dance."

“Because,” Jaskier says on another shaky exhale. “I don’t want you to be the one having a panic attack on these shitty, gum-littered steps, two weeks from now. Trust me, it’s not pleasant.”

Geralt swallows. “But you… trust me with it?”

Jaskier sighs because of course that’s how Geralt took his hesitancy. The fucking idiot. He reaches out and cups Geralt’s jaw, forcing him to look him in the eye. Those amber eyes. He will never tire of those eyes. “I trust you,” he confirms. “And you and I both know we have done far more advanced moves with our eyes closed. I never thought I’d be able to do half the things that I do with you. I feel like-” he ducks his head, becoming too overwhelmed with emotion, “-that we’re practically inventing a new way to dance. And I love it. And I want everyone in the world to see it.” Something shines bright in Geralt’s eyes and he says this and it makes his heart sing. “But I know that Renfri haunts you and if it’s too soon, or you can never do it, then I understand that and I-”

Geralt cuts his ramblings short with a playful bump of their heads. “If you want me there, I will be there,” he declares ardently.

Jaskier sighs and strokes his fingers across Geralt’s cheeks where the faintest hint of stumble is growing. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he says, moving his head against his in a vicious nod. He pulls away so Jaskier can see the sincerity in his eyes. “If I don’t do it now, with you, then I will likely never be able and I want to…” he trails off, his eyes fluttering closed. “I want to give you everything that I can.”

Jaskier’s heart pounds at the declaration even though it doesn’t mean what he wants it to mean. Geralt will never mix dance with romance again. He’s learned that lesson that hard way. And they work so well as dance partners that Jaskier has done a very good job of convincing himself that’s all he needs. Especially if Geralt is going to give him this.

“Okay,” Jaskier agrees. “Okay, we’ll try the fish dive.”

---

*At first, they just practice the turn into the hold, just getting Geralt’s arms caught around him in the very particular way that they need to until the motion is thoughtless. Then, the lift around the waist - over, and over, and over, again - until Geralt’s arms are aching and Jaskier’s waist bruised.

They take a break.

Then they try the two in succession - twist and lift - quicker, and quicker, each time.

Then comes the dip and this is where Geralt hesitates - just before Jaskier has to take his foot off the ground. They try, three times, before Geralt ends up throwing his water bottle across the floor with a wordless, frustrated shout.

“Let’s take a break,” Jaskier suggests gently.

“We just did,” Geralt growls, and starts walking back into the centre of the studio, which, no.

“I mean a proper break. Let’s go outside. Grab some food. Go for a walk. Clear our heads.”

They had managed to schedule almost the entire day today in the community centre. They had time. And it was a beautiful summer’s day outside.

Geralt folds his arms and fumes and for a minute Jaskier thinks he’s going to just stubbornly continue hitting the brick wall he’s stumbled against, before he sags, and reaches for his gym bag. “Fine,” he grumbles. “Let’s go.”

Geralt gets considerably less grumpy after there is a gallon of iced tea in him and a crisp summer salad in his belly. Jaskier learned very in his dating life that the way to a man’s heart is normally, more often than not, through his stomach, and he’s pleased to see that with Geralt it’s not any different despite the lessons that were drummed into them. There’s shockingly little difference between being a good romantic partner and being a good dance partner it turns out.

They sit in the nearby park on a graffiti wooden picnic table and stare out at the shimmering lake before them. Eventually, Geralt speaks, “No one’s ever done a one-handed fish with a man before. At least. Not that I know of. And definitely not in such a complex sequence.”

“Then you shall be the first,” Jaskier says confidently, licking the remnants of strawberry juice off his fingers, and noting with delight that Geralt’s eyes follow. It’s true that in the version he danced with Harry eight years ago that they had added in an extra support for the dive, but they both know with Geralt’s strength that it’s not strictly necessary. If they’re doing it, they want to do the move authentically. “You’re the strongest dancer in ballet, Geralt, you can do it. You’ve done complex one-handed moves with me before. Many times, in fact,” he says, and does his best not to remember the naked one; it’s already hot enough in the sunshine without that particular memory warming him.

“This is different,” Geralt argues. “The angle, the hold, the proximity of your head to the ground. It’s technically difficult.”

Technically, Geralt, that is bullshit. You probably did your first fish dive at age fourteen-”

“Thirteen.”

“My point. You’ve mastered it before and you will master it again. This is clearly about Renfri -” a sharp intake of breath at her name “-and if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine, but if we’re going to do this, you’ve got to work through whatever is holding you back from the dip.”

They fall into silence again - the bird call and the children’s laughter filling the void - and then Jaskier’s eyes catch on the lake. “There’s a swimming pool near here, isn’t there?”

Geralt shrugs. “Maybe. I don’t-”

“Yeah. There is. It’s deep. Old Olympic standard, I think.”

“Julian,” he states tiredly, “What are you saying?”

“We practice the moves underwater. You can’t drop me underwater. Or, well, I suppose you can, but it won’t hurt me-”

“The fluid dynamics are-”

“Different. Yes, I know. But I don’t know how else we build your confidence. I agree it’s probably useless technically speaking, but we can just practise the actual dip over, and over, again, until you stop being afraid of it.”

“I’m not afraid of-”

Geralt,” Jaskier urges. “Will you try it?”

---

They go to the swimming pool later that week - just them, after closing - and Jaskier is relieved that it does the trick. When suspended in water, Geralt can practise his hold and the motion of the dip, and Jaskier can demonstrate what will be his movement through it. Sometimes Geralt just holds him there in the lift, supporting his body with only his arm and his quad, as if mentally reassuring himself that it will be enough.

The first time Geralt actually manages the dip, Jaskier looks at him from upside down and just beams at him. Geralt flushes and kicks to the surface and when Jaskier breaks through and sees him he wants nothing more than to take him in his arms and kiss him. Instead, he tackles Geralt with a joyful scream and they both fall back in the water, spluttering and laughing.

---

After they’ve warmed up the next day, they dig through the community centre cupboards until they find the gym mats and press a couple of them together to make a large padded area. Geralt uses them in his classes he knows but they’ve only had reason to use them once or twice when trying particularly difficult moves. If it helps reassure Geralt now, then it’s worth doing.

Once it’s set up they practice the twist and lift once or twice and then Geralt looks at him with intensity and nods his head.

Okay. Time for the real deal.

Jaskier breathes out his nerves and taps his extended pointe shoe a couple of times against the mat, readying himself for the sequence. He’s done this countless times before - when he was a child he rarely thought about the fish dive - but to Geralt this is an important moment and he wants to give it the gravity it deserves. He catches Geralt’s eye one more time and then he is en pointe, reaching for his arm and turning into the hold as they’ve done so many times before.

A breath, then -

Geralt’s arm around his waist, an effortless dip towards the ground, and the moment of truth -

Jaskier lifts his foot from the floor -

He feels the weight shift, Geralt’s bicep flex at the sudden weight, but he holds true and -

Then Jaskier’s arms are stretching allongé, his entire bodyweight supported by Geralt’s arm and the tensed quad against his hip and -

Geralt’s other arm is coming down to mirror his -

Jaskier’s outstretched arm aligning with Geralt’s leg -

His own leg as vertical as he can make it, reaching towards the sky -

And hold.

Jaskier exhales. Fuck. They did it. They’re actually doing it. It’s a deep dive too. His face is not far at all from the floor.

He sees Geralt’s extended hand flick and knows he is preparing for the ascent. Geralt takes his wrist delicately between his fingers and tilts them backwards until Jaskier can lower his feet back onto the floor.

“Fuck,” Geralt breathes.

He hasn’t let go - one hand still around his waist and the other against his wrist - no doubt feeling Jaskier’s too-quick pulse. Jaskier leans back in the embrace until he can feel Geralt’s own pulse - racing, racing -

“You did it,” he murmurs.

He feels Geralt’s forehead against his the back of his neck, just like he did after their first lift. It must be a safe space for him, he reasons, just like being encased in his arms is for him.

“You did it,” he repeats.

It’s not the whole move - they need to practice the release and the sequence as a whole - but it’s a hurdle that Jaskier was starting to doubt Geralt would ever cross.

Geralt’s arms tighten around him. A hug. Or, something approaching a hug.

And then, Jaskier can feel hot, wet, tears sliding against his skin and he turns in his arms to embrace him.

---

Jaskier has to work that weekend at a medieval fair. It’s a gig he does every summer - some sort of renaissance thing in Hyde Park - where there’s a little stage and he’s one of three artists on rotation to entertain the crowds. If he had known he would have the most important audition of his career happening in a couple of days, he wouldn’t have signed on, but hindsight is a bitch.

Geralt grumbles when he realises - they still have some things to perfect and they’ve been rehearsing nearly every day - but as Jaskier explained, “I can take annual leave from a supermarket, Geralt, but I cannot be conveniently ‘sick’ on the single weekend that I have booked as a minstrel.”

So, instead, Geralt came to him. Every spare five minutes Jaskier gets, Geralt is scooping him with one arm and practising the hold. For a man who was terrified of the fish dive two days ago, he now practises it lackadaisically; like doing an advanced move while carrying a man’s entire weight with a single arm is easy.

They practice, and they practice, and when Jaskier’s is on stage, “prancing around with his instrument on display” (Geralt’s words, not his) Geralt sits back in the grass and watches him, a steady, pleased, smile on his face.

Jaskier’s not sure why it’s this moment in particular that makes him realise he’s in love with Geralt - if it’s the sunshine in his loose hair, or the thin sheen of sweat on his skin from his recent exertion, or the soft indulgent smile on his face - but it hits him, suddenly, like a windfall. He had lusted after him, and when he couldn’t have that, he danced with him, and when Geralt relaxed his defences, they became friends… but up until now, he hadn’t dared put it all together, probably because it spelled a very obvious word.

Love.

They lock eyes over the audience and Jaskier’s fingers falter on the lute - a note that lasts a little too long, stretching into the ether - as his heart pounds and pounds and reaches out towards him -

Love.

---

The day of the audition arrives and Jaskier feels the anxiety pressing down on him again, but this time, this time, there is Geralt with his hand on his back, and Geralt’s whispers in his ear, and Geralt winking at him as they warm up at the barre, and it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.

“Pankratz!”

Jaskier looks to Geralt in blind panic as his name is called. This is insane. Why is he even here? What would a ballet company even want with a washed up child star like him? But then Geralt puts his palm in the small of his back and steers him towards the audition room and does all the talking for him, and, really, he reasons it’s not that scary after all: It’s just him, and Geralt, dancing like they’ve danced a million times before.

The music starts and he reaches for Geralt’s hand as they begin the very familiar pas de deux from Two Romeos.

---

Geralt is grinning at him afterwards. Actually grinning. It’s very disturbing.

He takes him for a celebratory drink, and then a walk through the gardens, and then dinner and then he says -

“I want to take you somewhere,” and Jaskier is not at all surprised when that ‘somewhere’ turns out to be their studio at the community centre.

It’s their usual Thursday evening, he realises. The community centre is dark and empty. His class is still on break for summer but Geralt has a key and sneaks them both in, locking the doors behind them.

He doesn’t even turn on a light as he gets to work arranging the mats, happy to do so under the light of the full moon through the high, frosted, windows.

“What are you doing?” Jaskier asks. Mats implied a new technique. He knows Geralt is a workaholic but he thought he’d at least take a night off before launching straight into a new project.

“Apologising,” Geralt says nonsensically. Then he rises, apparently having arranged the mats to his satisfaction. “I would like to request a reenactment,” he says.

“What?”

“A reenactment. Of our first dance. Do you remember it?”

Of course he remembers it. Another movement from Two Romeos. The one they’ve haven’t dared to do since that first night. But he remembers. He remembers Geralt’s awkward proposal and the slow, unsure movements of a couple learning their partner’s bodies. He remembers the gentle kiss he laid upon his lips as Geralt knelt and Jaskier’s leg was outstretched behind him; a test, a question. He remembers Geralt’s hand ghosting over his crotch, and his thigh, and telling him to “keep the position”. He remembers the whisper of kisses against his thighs afterwards - “good” and the shudder it produced - he remembers Geralt coming untouched and their passionate kiss afterwards.

He remembers it all.

Jaskier calms himself. Geralt won’t be talking about the sex. He wants a do-over for all his aborted lifts; all the movements he avoided that Jaskier now knows they have the confidence to pursue. It’s sweet that Geralt wants to celebrate like this - to take it back where it all started. They don’t even know if Jaskier got the part, but that’s not the important part; the important part is that they did it together.

“I remember,” he murmurs. He eagerly kicks off his trainers. “Do you want me en pointe?”

Geralt blinks. As if he has forgotten what they are talking about. “No,” he says, and Jaskier startles because he doesn’t remember the last time Geralt didn’t want him en pointe. “I want you as you are.”

He holds out his hand and Jaskier realises that he’s also without his usual shoes - just clad in socks and joggers and a loose shirt. It’s oddly intimate. The only time they’ve danced like this is in parks and supermarkets and behind stages at Ren Fairs. It feels like they’re bringing the outside in. “Okay,” Jaskier murmurs, intrigued, as he takes Geralt’s hand and lets himself be pulled in.

The sequence comes back to him as natural as breathing. He’s gone over this scene so many times in his head that it’s practically rote, except this time, Geralt is able to manoeuvre him through every lift and dip and porté. It’s beautiful. It’s the closest thing to lovemaking that he’ll ever have and he tells himself it’s enough, it’s enough, as Geralt falls to his knees and brings him down into the knelt position where Jaskier had first dared kiss him. He closes his eyes when they fall into the position and his leg rises in arabesque, not wanting to look into Geralt’s eyes and fall into the same trap again… when, instead, it is Geralt’s lips on his.

Jaskier wrenches his eyes open and is captivated by the piercing amber orbs staring back at him. His heart races. Looking down at Geralt feels like staring into the sun.

Geralt’s hands hold him firmly by the waist as he holds the gaze and Jaskier holds the position, and if it weren’t for the shine on Geralt’s lips and the tingle against his skin, he would think that he had imagined the press of lips.

“I love you,” Geralt says and Jaskier vibrates with it; his insides unspooling. “That’s what I should have told you. That’s why I would not lift you. That’s why I… didn’t want this to just be about sex. Julian, I-” one of his hands moves from the hold to press against Jaskier’s cheek, and Jaskier sighs at the touch. A month ago he would not have dared to hold him like this one-handed. “I loved you from the very start. And today I held you with that knowledge and did not get distracted by it, did not let go, and I realised it was because I kept wanting to hold you.”

Jaskier lowers his forehead to rest against Geralt’s at this proclamation. He doesn’t want to move. Doesn’t want to break the hold. As long as they stay suspected in his position, the moment cannot break. He doesn’t know what he can say to match Geralt’s confession - doesn’t think he has any such words inside him. Ironic, considering he is the minstrel in this relationship. Instead, he exhales shakily and asks, with a cheeky smile, “Does that mean you’ll fuck me now?”

Geralt laughs, deep and beautiful, as he bumps their foreheads together. “You are woefully single-minded.”

Jaskier laughs in response and threads his fingers through Geralt’s loose hair. This time Geralt doesn’t tamp down on the groan that the gentle movement provokes. “Well,” Jaskier reasons with a crooked smile, “It’s hard to think of anything else when I’ve spent the entire day listening to you sing my praises.”

Geralt tilts his head forward and bites his lip in response, hard enough to bleed. “I can praise you some more, if you like.”

Jaskier can’t repress the full body shudder that goes through him at the words. Somehow he keeps his leg extended behind him in the arabesque. He doesn’t even feel it ache. Nor his outward foot on the ground. He holds the position steady, even as Geralt’s teeth move over his neck. “Please,” Jaskier begs.

“Do you know,” Geralt murmurs against his pulse point, “How many times a day I have to bite my tongue? And not tell you how perfect you are-?”

Jaskier groans, already undone by his words.

“Even now,” he says, as he exchanges hands in the hold and then drags his right hand lovingly down Jaskier’s extended leg. “Holding his position for me, without me even having to ask. It’s perfect, did you know that? Exactly ninety degrees. It wasn’t the last time we did this. You’ve come along so well. You could hold this position all night if I asked you-”

“Fuck, Geralt-

“But I don’t want you to. I won’t tease you. Not tonight. Not when you’ve been such a good boy for me-”

His hand ghosts over Jaskier’s crotch in a tease of a touch before it is back at his waist. Jaskier is ready to riot if Geralt doesn’t touch him soon.

“No,” Geralt murmurs. “Tonight I will love you like I should have loved you all along.”

Then his hold is shifting to his sides and Jaskier is being lifted and carried ever so gently to the mats. He can’t help the curl of feet as he does so and it seems Geralt cannot resist the innate grace of the dance either as he brackets himself over his body and undulates over him like something straight out of contemporary dance. Jaskier gasps at the intoxicating feel of it, waves of close heat an inch from his body, and can’t stand the tease any longer as he leans up to capture Geralt in a searing kiss.

It breaks the delicate spell between them and Geralt leans into it, pushing Jaskier into the mats. Jaskier snakes his hand into Geralt’s hair again just to hear that strangled little sigh of his.

He’s been denied this for so long that he’s now giddy with it. He wants to touch every inch of Geralt. He pushes his hands under his loose shirt - tracing the abs that have kept him secure in so many holds, and flicking the nipples that he has seen pert and untouchable, and running his arms down the bulging biceps that have achieved greater lifts than any dancer has ever known. Every inch of him is a miracle.

Geralt tears off his shirt, allowing him better access, and then Jaskier replaces his inquisitive hands with his tongue. He knows Geralt’s body so well but at the same time doesn’t know it nearly well enough.

Geralt groans when his teeth find his nipple and his fingernails find his back, and, really, he should have expected the reaction the hint of pain would cause as Geralt immediately bucks into the touch and orders him - “get the lube from my bag” - and who is Jaskier to deny him such wonderful requests?

When he returns, Geralt is on his knees, naked, and gathers Jaskier’s body astride him. “You like it when I tell you what to do,” he observes, and Jaskier wonders just how obvious he’s been with that kink too. “How much do you need it?”

And, my, what an interesting question. If he couldn’t currently feel Geralt’s erection pressing against his, divided only by the thin fabric of his joggers, he could certainly dedicate some time to studying the matter, but as it is - as he grinds their hips together and they both let out needy, desperate, noises - he does not have the patience to consider it. He shudders and gives Geralt the honest answer, “I don’t know. All I can think about right now is how much I want you to fuck me into these disgusting, age-old, gym mats.”

Geralt chuckles, and it will never cease being a hallowed sound. “I can do that,” he says, and then lifts Jaskier’s hips with his hands to slip his joggers effortlessly free. Jaskier gives his t-shirt the same treatment, throwing it into some cobwebbed corner of the hall, as he finally, finally, gets to press his naked body fully against Geralt’s.

If he thought their previous entanglements were intimate, it has nothing on this. He can feel Geralt’s touch everywhere.

“On your knees,” Geralt suggests and Jaskier is eager to follow as he raises on his haunches over Geralt, allowing slick fingers to circle at his entrance.

Jaskier keens at the sensation. He’s done this countless times but he doesn’t think he’s ever craved it so much before. Six months of pining after someone so hard that your bed remains empty will do that to a man though.

His fingers break to little resistance and Geralt is murmuring praises against his ear that makes him want to give him this and so much more. Jaskier’s fingers clench in his hair, encouraging him, as he moves his hand deeper inside him.

It’s good but it’s not enough. He feels Geralt’s erection pressing against his chest and he needs it inside him more than anything. “Please-” he begs. “Please, I need-”

But Geralt is shushing him, his whispers interspersed with gentle kisses against his collarbone. “You’re ready when I say you’re ready.”

Jaskier bites his lip at the authority in his voice. He didn’t realise how much he needed to hear it until he heard it. “I need it,” he whimpers. “What you said earlier. I need it.”

Geralt mouths at his neck, running his tongue past his pulse point and over Jaskier’s bobbing Adam’s apple. For a moment, Jaskier fears that he won’t understand. Or, worse, will deny him, until there is a bottle being pushed into his hands.

“Make me ready,” he orders.

Jaskier’s never been more eager to follow a command. He drags his hands away from the delectable delights of Geralt’s hair and pours a good amount of the lubricant into his right hand, rubbing it a little between his fingers to warm it.

“You do exactly as I say,” Geralt murmurs. “Or I’ll have you practising your form against the wall.”

Jaskier groans, able to imagine it all too easily - Geralt raising his leg as high as it will go, ordering him to hold position as he slowly, tantalisingly eats him out. Or worse, staying en pointe with legs spread and Geralt taking his cock into his mouth. Every scenario is exhilarating but not what he wants right now, not when he’s so close to what he’s wanted for six fucking months. Jaskier nods against him. “Tell me.”

“Stroke me,” he says. “Three times. Bottom to top. Twist at the end of each. Medium, constant pressure.”

Jaskier has never been under such pressure to perform a handjob in his life and he’s high on it. He does as he’s asked and watches in awe as Geralt’s expression flickers to life with each movement, but he doesn’t know if he’s passed the test until Geralt is turning his head afterwards and kissing sweetly into the waiting palm.

“Perfect,” he says, and Jaskier feels it to his bones.

A hand comes to cup his cheek, bringing his gaze down to meet Geralt’s intense amber eyes. “Perfect,” he repeats, and this time Jaskier feels it even deeper.

By now, he’s three fingers deep inside him and he just wants more. Geralt knows though, because he always knows. He can probably read the tension in his body. He withdraws his fingers but before Jaskier can mourn the loss, there’s a filthy command being whispered into his ear - “Lower yourself onto me. Slowly. If I deem it too fast, I will stop you,” he says with a meaningful squeeze of his hands on his hips.

Jaskier scrambles to comply, at last being given what he wants as he positions himself above Geralt’s cock and feels that wonderful girth pressed against him.

Slowly,” Geralt warns.

He lowers himself as slowly as physically possible, feeling every millimetre begin to slip inside. It’s fucking torturous and he loves it. Geralt’s wide palm moves to stretch across his abdomen to feel it and that’s when he fucks up - when the connotations of that thought overwhelm him and he sinks down an entire inch.

Geralt’s reaction is immediate - a sharp intake of breath, nostrils flaring, both hands coming to grip his hips so hard it’s going to leave bruises - hard enough that Jaskier can no longer move his hips down.

“I’m sorry-”

“Lift your knees off the ground.”

“What?”

“I said, ‘lift your knees-’”

Jaskier heard but it’s so fucking absurd that he needed the clarification. He wants to do a lift. Now. With his cock halfway inside him. Jaskier groans at the insanity of it - he loves this, he loves it so much - and he does as he’s asked.

Geralt takes his whole weight in his arms and lifts him up a few inches off the ground until the only point of contact between them is that glorious pressure of hands on hips, Jaskiers hands on his shoulders, and the not-pressure of his cock inside him. He curves his toes as they lock around Geralt’s waist but instead of remaining upright, as Geralt is probably expecting, he decides to bend backwards to the full curvature of his spine until his hands are pressing inversely against Geralt's knees.*

Fuck,” Geralt swears, and for the first time in the steady lift, feels the cock slip a millimetre inside him. “You are magnificent.”

His reaction to the praise is immediate - a hot, red, flush on his cheeks, and his cockhead weeping, desperate for attention - but he keeps the position steady.

“Relax your back -”

He does, immediately.

“Straighten until you can see me.”

He does, unfurling himself until he can see Geralt’s earnest eyes.

“You are too young for a back injury,” he explains.

“Not in our profession,” Jaskier quips, but he can’t argue that it wasn’t the right move. Fucking like that would have been dangerous, putting too much pressure on his curved spine, and he’s glad one of them still has a shred of common fucking sense while there’s a cock between them.

“Not gonna happen,” Geralt growls, and then he’s squeezing the hold on his hips. “Lower your knees again.”

He does, obediently, until they are back where they started - Jaskier’s knees astride Geralt’s hips, his cock halfway inside him.

Slowly,” Geralt reminds him, and then, pries his grip from his hips.

Jaskier moans at the loss, but only for a second, then Geralt’s beautiful hands are supporting his chest instead, allowing him to lean forward to get an even better angle.

This time he does as he’s asked and lowers himself tortuously slowly onto him. His legs are aching and sweat is dripping from his forehead at the goddamn restraint of it all by the time he’s fully seated. He would resent it, he would, if not for Geralt’s murmured praises and his gentle hands across his back that allow Jaskier to melt into the embrace. He feels so safe in these arms.

He lets out a happy, contented, sigh against Geralt’s shoulder, and tilts his head to look at him. “I love you too, by the way.”

Geralt smiles, his face angling towards him, but his hands do not cease their comforting movements against his back. “Just had to get my cock into you first, huh?”

Jaskier moans at how good the word ‘cock’ sounds in his deep, wrecked, voice and nods against his shoulder. “Mmm-hmm. Wanted it for too long.”

He hears Geralt’s sigh and feels his arms tighten around him. “I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”

Jaskier manages a half-shrug in the embrace and places a sweet kiss against his bared shoulder. “Don’t be. I needed the discipline.”

Jaskier feels more than hears Geralt’s laugh against him and then his hands are lowering to his lower back, and then further, until they’re squeezing his arse, delightfully and impatiently. “Ready?” Geralt asks.

“Am I ready-?!” Jaskier squeaks indignantly. Had they not now just been saying how long he’s wanted this for? But he doesn’t get to finish his sentence because in the blink of an eye Geralt has smoothly and effortlessly picked him up and thrown him down onto his back, his cock still inside him the entire way. He groans at the impact, taking a moment to be thankful Geralt lay down some goddamn mats, as Geralt spares no more than a second before his magnificent body is bracketing his own on the floor and he thrusts -

Jaskier’s eyes roll back into his head, his feet - that are normally so well trained - start scrambling at the floor, trying to find purchase. The drag of Geralt’s cock inside him feels so good that he’s already seeing stars.

Geralt allows them a couple of messy, desperate, thrusts, before he notices Jaskier’s restless hands and feet and puts them to better use. “Legs around my waist,” he orders, and Jaskier does - the entire angle changes and Jaskier throws his head back in ecstasy as Geralt’s cock brushes against his prostate. “Arms around my shoulders. Hands in my hair.”

Jaskier is all too happy to comply. He knows how much Geralt loves the drag of nails against his scalp, loves the teasing pull of hair between his fingers, and it’s a pleasure to be ordered to do exactly that.

Geralt’s hands are back on his hips to control his thrusts. His movements are just as measured and purposeful as he is when dancing and it’s intoxicating and he loves it but he also cannot wait for Geralt to lose his composure. Because he will, he knows, he saw a glimpse of it when he curved his spine above him - that slight, unconscious, stutter of hips, that pushed him further into him - and he wants to see it again. He wants to see Geralt lose his control and give into the mounting pleasure - here, in this safe space where he can - he wants to see it more than anything.

“Fingernails,” Geralt orders - though Jaskier notes that his voice is beginning to crack, “On my back.”

Of course he wants that. Jaskier is beginning to think he likes pain, as he digs his fingers into Geralt’s back and drags them towards him, and Geralt grunts, hips stuttering at the movement. He’s a ballet dancer. Of course pain has become pleasurable to him.

Jaskier needs it harder. He needs a more intense angle. He wants Geralt not just brushing his prostrate but hitting it every damn time like a dancer hitting their mark in an intricate sequence. Jaskier whines at the drag of his cock - good, but not good enough - and Geralt somehow translates this correctly as impatience and moves one of the hands on his hips - good, Jaskier thinks, give up some control - to grasp Jaskier’s flexed thighs around him.

“My shoulders,” he says.

Jaskier stares back at him dumbfounded, too lost in the pleasurable slide of flesh to think at all coherently, but then Geralt’s hands are pushing his thighs up and up and - oh

The effect is immediate - Geralt’s next stroke hitting home in a way nothing else has and he keens, embarrassingly loud and wantingly. Geralt doesn’t seem to mind though. Not when his pistoning hips momentarily lose their rhythm and a strangled moan leaves his open mouth. Fuck. If being loud was all it took for Geralt to lose his composure then he should have tried it months ago.

“You are so fucking beautiful,” Geralt pants against him and Jaskier flushes at the praise. He still only has one leg raised onto his shoulder but he’s starting to think it’s enough as Geralt hits that spot inside of him every time, flawlessly, like a mark on a stage.

Geralt has lost his rhythm now - pounding into him, helplessly, led by desire - and Jaskier keeps screaming, gasping his name because he can’t stop now - it’s become a litany, just like the whispered praises - constant and miraculous - in his ear.

He doesn’t need to tell Geralt that he’s close because he knows it; he can read his body like nobody else ever could. “You can come,” Geralt murmurs against his cheek. “Anytime you’re ready. I want to see it. I want to feel it.”

Fuck. Jaskier’s back arches off the ground at his words. He’s so close, he can feel it in the tingling of his toes.

Geralt bears down on him, thrusts become deep and erratic and downright desperate and Jaskier knows he must be close too. He wanted to see him come undone and this is it, he realises - it’s written in Geralt’s uneven pants by his ear, in his choked-off, unfinished, praises, against Jaskier’s skin, in his stuttering hips, the sweat on his brow, the shaking of his arms - normally so steady - as they brace around him.

It’s this sight, more than anything, that sends him careening over the edge. He screams as his orgasm tears through him, more intense that it has any right to be considering that Jaskier has sensed it coming for what feels like a fucking lifetime. His back arches, his seed splatters across Geralt’s chest, and his visions blanks out to a peaceful, empty, vista; the kind of fuzzy, warm, static that you normally only get from performing a perfected, familiar, sequence. The fish dive. It feels like rising from a fish dive in Geralt’s sure arms.

He comes back to himself just in time to feel Geralt’s shallow thrusts within him - fast and desperate - he’s so close that Jaskier can see the stress in his body. He tightens his fingers, digging in - one in his hair and one of his back - and Geralt seems to come apart not a moment later; his entire body undulating before him, pulsing like his cock is inside, and for the first time in what feels like hours, his litany of praises comes to an unconscious, and no doubt, unwilling, stop.

Jaskier holds him through it as Geralt’s arms finally give way and his body collapses on top of his. His breaths come ragged and deep, in a way Jaskier has never managed to achieve on the dancefloor - Geralt always the definition of composed - and to see him sweaty and sated now twists something protective and wanting deep inside him.

They’re both a sweaty, disgusting mess, as they come down from the high. Semen and sweat stick to their chests between them but Jaskier pays it no mind as he lays kiss after kiss against Geralt’s slack lips as his spent cock falls from between them.

Geralt nuzzles into him and then he’s returning the kisses, sweetly, and earnestly, as he eases some of his weight off Jaskier’s chest and onto his own side.

“You’re a screamer,” Geralt observes. “I should have known.”

Jaskier shrugs tiredly, utterly fucked out. “Told you,” he murmurs, unable to resist another kiss. “Child prodigy complex and all. Got a lot to make up for.”

Geralt pulls away from his kisses with a frown. “I wish you wouldn’t joke about that.”

Jaskier sighs, stroking his hand across Geralt’s expression that had, up until this moment, been miraculously worry-free. “You never heard of self-deprecating humour?” he teases.

He knows Geralt has opinions on the topic. You don’t come up with the catchphrase - “Stop when you need to stop” - unless you’ve seen enough children pushed to the limits of endurance. He doesn’t know if it was his own experience with Renfri that made him cautious, or something with Ciri perhaps, but he cares. He cares deeply and personally about the welfare of his students, in a way no other teacher of Jaskier’s has.

Geralt ignores his teasing question but seems to answer Jaskier’s unspoken question instead as he rolls fully onto his back and stares at the moonlight-lit ceiling about them. “I remember where I was when I heard you quit ballet.”

Jaskier’s breath catches on an inhale. They haven’t talked about this, not since Geralt’s disastrous attempt at the very beginning. It’s a sore subject - one that Jaskier shies away from as much as Geralt shies away from the accident. Except, he realises, that had to work through Geralt’s demons to perfect the fish dive. They haven’t so much as touched Jaskier’s. He closes his eyes beside him and prepares for the conversation. If he can’t hear the words from his beloved Geralt now - endorphins secreting into his brain and come drying on his skin - then he will likely never be able to hear them.

Geralt seems to be waiting for his permission to continue and so Jaskier sighs, just once, before turning his face towards Geralt’s and nodding. “Tell me.”

Geralt rolls back towards him and his hand moves against his stomach, fingers tracing distracting patterns against his skin, as if Geralt knows he might need the anchor. “I was twenty-two,” he says, “Two months after I saw you in Romeos. I was dancing with Yennefer with the Novigrad company at the time.”

“Hmm,” Jaskier says, because he can recall Geralt’s performance history with far more clarity than his own. “Woolf Works. Your favourite production.”

Geralt smiles shyly at this, as if he can’t believe Jaskier remembered, but of course he remembered. They had learned the War Anthem movement a couple of months ago - as one of the few, solid examples of a male pas de deux outside of Matthew Bourne* - and Geralt had said afterwards - “I had watched in the wings, wishing I could have been out there, making history with another man in my arms,” and the yearning in his voice had told Jaskier all that he needed to know.

“Hmm,” Geralt agrees with a praising kiss against his shoulder. “Indeed. How well do you remember the production?”

“I have it on DVD, Geralt,” Jaskier says with a roll of his eyes. “I watched Orlando* every time I got horny. Which was, as you know, a lot.”

Geralt snorts his laughter into Jaskier’s shoulder and he loves this - he loves that he gets to have this. Then he sobers with another kiss onto his skin. “There are children at the end, do you remember? Playing. In the waves.”

“Hmm,” Jaskier says distractedly, because honestly, that had not been his focus - his main goal was to watch Geralt contort himself into obscene positions in a leotard - but, yes, he vaguely remembers the children.

“It’s an easy part for children, as these things go. Nothing too extraneous. But every time I stepped off stage, I swear I saw at least one of them crying.”

Geralt-” Jaskier says, burdened with sympathy. His own hand comes to cover Geralt’s on his chest.

“Ciri was among them. She was often the last to leave in the evening. Her family - well, you’ve seen them - they didn’t think their promptness a priority. But I would watch as Ciri’s tutor pushed her to dangerous levels, every single night, and - as I say, a month into our production, I heard about you.” He laces their fingers together as he says this, as if he needs the strength. “You were, without a doubt, the most talented dancer I’d ever had the pleasure to see perform-”

Jaskier feels himself flush at the praise but squeezes Geralt’s hand in a gesture to carry on.

“And I thought… if someone that talented can be broken by the industry then what the fuck is it doing to these children?” His anger shows in the clench of his jaw and the fire of his eyes but Jaskier strokes the pad of his thumb against his hand until he feels the tension drain out of him once more. “So I offered to train Ciri, using my own methods, and then, after the accident, it was the only thing I could think to do: train the most promising children before anyone else could get their hands on them. I didn’t want them to have to endure the absolute shit that you had to go through. I thought if I could prove that there was a more humane way to train children to the industry’s standards then maybe… the industry might change. A foolish notion now that I-”

Jaskier grabs his hand before it can rub over his face in the self-deprecating way that Jaskier knows is coming, and brings the hand to his lips instead. “It’s not foolish. It’s admirable. And it’s working. Your kids are talented and well-trained. By the time they go to the Royal Academy or fucking Juliard or whatever, they’ll know what their limits are and not let themselves get pushed around. I told you before, and I’ll tell you again-” he says, using his hands to pivot Geralt’s head towards him so he can’t look away. “If you were my teacher, I would not have burned out. I guarantee as much.”

A soft smile appears on Geralt’s face - genuine, and warm - as if he is actually listening this time. He turns his head to kiss the palm that holds him and then raises himself onto his forearm to look down at Jaskier with bright, loving, eyes. “Come home with me,” he murmurs.

Home, Jaskier thinks. What a concept.

---

He wakes up the next day in Geralt’s bed, his muscles aching pleasantly and his body sated and warm. Beside him, Geralt dozes peacefully, his chest rising and falling as rhythmically as his footsteps in a sequence.

He tells himself it doesn’t matter if he gets into Vizima or not. He knows that he will continue to dance with Geralt regardless but it’s clear that Geralt has finished with the industry and doesn’t plan to return. With this comes the realisation that if Jaskier does get in that he will have to be matched with another partner and he doesn’t know how easily that trust would come. He also cannot forget his fucking PTSD episodes every time he walks through a rehearsal room door. The only reason he came out of that callback intact was because Geralt had been there with him, but the thought of going back alone...

It’s daunting. He wants it and he’s terrified of it, and mostly, right now, in Geralt’s bed, he doesn’t want to think about it, so he stretches and rolls into the warm, comforting embrace that he knows and loves, until the anxiety begins to ease in his chest.

---

He notices the missed call on Monday while in the break room at fucking Tescos, sipping on an atrocious cup of machine-made tea. He had gotten out his phone to message Geralt the details of the utterly filthy position he had come up with sometime between the vegetable and the meat aisle when he sees the notification.

1 missed call from Vizima Company

He ducks out behind the back - luckily free from the loud hum of standing delivery lorries - and dials his voicemail with shaking hands.

“Hi Julian, it’s Mary from Vizima. We were all so impressed with your audition on Thursday. We would love for you to join us at Vizima Company and to take the principal role in the upcoming show. We recognise it's unusual but we would also like to extend this offer to your pas de deux partner, Geralt Rivia. We recognise that he did not formally audition and as a dancer with such a strong portfolio he may be uninterested, but you move so well together that we wanted to extend the offer regardless. Please call us back as soon as you have made your decision. We look forward to hearing from you.”

Well, Jaskier thinks, Fuck.

---

He doesn't have the balls to tell Geralt, not right away. They were expecting another round of auditions before any offers anyway, so it's not like Geralt even asks for an update when they meet late at the community centre that night.

"How was your shift?" Geralt asks from where he's stretching his legs at the barre.

"Please don't ask," Jaskier says, as he begins to lace up his pointe shoes. "Otherwise I have to acknowledge that I work there in that tremendously unsexy uniform and I cannot bring myself to do that right now when there are much better things to be doing. Namely, you."

"Such a charmer," Geralt mutters, but he's smirking when Jaskier joins him at the barre. "Work before pleasure," he mutters in a way that sounds more like a reminder to himself than an actual admonishment as he helps raise Jaskier's leg to his shoulder in the angle that he needs - his position still isn't at quite one hundred and eighty degrees, but, god, have they tried.

Jaskier falls into the mindless space of moving his body around Geralt's and it's not until Geralt's hands start to stray, start to loiter, that the damn voicemail comes back to him.

He breathes out, feeling the movement of his back against Geralt's chest, and reminds himself over and over that he is safe in Geralt's arms.

"I got principal," he says.

He feels the moment that Geralt comprehends the meaning; feels the stutter of breath against his back and his neck and the soft, admiring way, he breathes his name almost undoes him: "Julian."

His name. His career name. That's why Geralt has called him that the entire time, he realises. He could never divorce the idea of Jaskier as he is now from the dancer - Julian Alfred Pankratz - that he once was. He had believed in him, this entire time.

Geralt's lips fall onto Jaskier's neck, open mouthed and unmoving. He feels his arms tighten around him and then Geralt is whispering in that way that makes his knees weak - "I am so, so, proud of you."

Jaskier feels tears prickle his eyes at the words, heat overcoming him, and it would be so easy to give in and let Geralt praise him and celebrate this moment in the purest way they can but he has to tell him the full story before he loses his nerve. Inhale. Exhale. "They want you to be my partner for the show."

Geralt tenses behind him, his hands that had been trailing south, suddenly stopping midway - held tight to his abdomen, motionless.

"Geralt?" Jaskier asks, because he wants so desperately to turn and see Geralt's face but in this tight hold he is unable to so much as tilt his head towards him. "Did you hear me? They want you to join the company with me. I know you don’t want to return to the stage but I-"

"I heard you," Geralt murmurs, low and dark.

Fuck. He's never even heard that tone on Geralt before and he has no idea what it means until -

"We need to perfect your pointe if you're to be principal," he says factually and kicks Jaskier's feet out from beneath him and the same time his hand slips under his waistband.

Jaskier catches himself in time, spreading his legs and falling into a grand pilé en pointe.* He raises until his knees are bent in a perfect square and Geralt is holding him at the hip while his other hard strokes him to hardness. "Geralt?" he asks, because this is fine and all, but they were midway through a rather serious discussion.

"Don't make me repeat myself," Geralt growls in a way that goes right to his groin.

And, fine, if Geralt wants to do his kinky-teaching-sex stuff instead of talking about his feelings then he's not going to stop him. Geralt's been downright filthy in bed, of course he has, because it's what Jaskier needs and Geralt always gives Jaskier what he needs but they haven't done the 'teaching while fucking' thing that Geralt so evidently has a thing for since they first messed around in the studio. So, yeah, Jaskier wants to finish this discussion, but he also feels Geralt’s massive boner pressing against his arse and really, really, wants to give into Geralt's desire for a bit of dirty teaching.

“Hold the position,” Geralt says, because he knows, of course he knows that this is Jaskier’s weakest position en pointe. It puts a lot of strain on his thighs which are not as well toned as Geralt whose legs are packed with muscle from all the lifts he has to do. It’s something he needs to work on, and, of course, Geralt fucking knows this.

The only mercy is that Geralt lets him lean back against him, easing some of the weight from his legs, as he thumbs the head of his cock at the same time his lips trail across his pulse point, and Jaskier struggles not to buck into the touch.

Restraint, he remembers is the key to winning this game.

Geralt rewards his stillness with praise in his ear and then Jaskier has the opposite problem and almost melts into the floor.

It’s just a handjob, he tries to remind himself as Geralt fucking tortures him with his hands and his commands, but like everything Geralt does it’s been perfected into a fucking art form.

When Jaskier’s legs are shaking and his cock weeping, Geralt lets go and orders him to rest his feet. “No,” Jaskier whimpers, “I can do it. I can do it-” and strains his legs to stay true.

“I don’t want you to,” Geralt says. He gently knocks out his knees with his foot and Jaskier comes falling back onto the balls of his feet. He whines a little at his failure. “We’re moving onto the next exercise.”

“The next…?” Jaskier murmurs in disbelief but before he can question it, Geralt is tucking his hand underneath his thigh and lifting it to the side and up. The damn leg stretch.* Of course. “You are never satisfied, are you?”

“Not when I know you can do better, no.”

Geralt moves to his side as soon as his leg is at its full extension and leans against the stretch, not enough to add pressure, but enough to support it.

Fuck, Geralt. I love you and your damned perfectionism.”

Geralt laughs against his neck and returns his diligent hand to Jaskier’s cock. He feels Geralt rock his own erection into the dip of his raised thigh and he sounds fucking ruined by it. Jaskier remembers how much he loves to touch the taut muscles when they’re fucking like this, that he likes to remind himself of the divine position he has Jaskier in, and as his hips start to move with the same urgent thrusts as the hand on his cock, he has no doubt that Geralt is going to come from this sensation alone. It’s so good and so hot and he’s so, so, close when Geralt has the gall to make him switch legs.

Jaskier whines at the command but follows obligingly, letting himself be guided through the movements by Geralt’s confident hands until he stands on the other side of him and takes his cock in hand again. “I’m so proud of you,” he says, and Jaskier shudders, the words still having the same overwhelming effect on him. Jaskier had heard his unspoken praise in the sound of his name and the reverence of his touch but it’s something else to hear the affirmation and know that he did something good, that for once, he succeeded and someone actually cares.

“I love you,” Jaskier cries, meaning every possible interpretation of the words as he reaches his climax and spills all over Geralt’s hands. I love your hands, I love your body, I love your kinks, and your cock and the feel of your hair between my fingers, I love your strive for perfection, and your overarching need to care for others, I love you on lazy Sunday mornings and on aching Thursday rehearsals, I love being held in your arms in dance and in love and in companionship and knowing that I am utterly safe. I love you. All of you.

He doesn’t know how much of his rushing declaration he says out loud or if it comes out at all coherent but Geralt is making desperate, whimpering sounds as he rocks into the groove of his thigh and he knows he heard at least some of it as he comes with his name on his tongue and his cock twitching in the restraints of his leggings.

They breathe deeply together for a moment afterwards, Geralt holding him steadfast. Then, Geralt guides his leg down with a touch so gentle that it brings tears to Jaskier’s eyes. He feels Geralt press a kiss to his temple, feels his hand stroke his thigh, checking for cramps, and he wishes for Geralt to take him apart just as devastatingly every single day of his damn life as long as he puts him back together just as sweetly afterwards.

“I’ll do it,” Geralt murmurs.

Jaskier’s head is still so blissfully absent, coming down from the high, that he cannot process the meaning. He tilts his head and nuzzles into the exposed neck he finds there, safe in the scent of Geralt and the cradle of his strong arms.

Geralt sighs against him and he feels the warm exhale move through his hair like a breeze through a field of corn on a summer’s day. “I’ll do it,” Geralt repeats, and this time a little meaning slips through the blissful haze. “If you want to return to the stage, I’ll return with you.”

Jaskier’s heart starts pounding at the implied meaning as he turns in Geralt’s embrace to see his face. There’s no apprehension in his expression as Jaskier so feared, there is only love and hope and determination.

“I don’t know how long for,” Geralt admits. “I am old and-”

“Alessandra Ferri,”* Jaskier counters. “She is dancing at fifty five and still has magnificent form, you said so yourself about her performance in Woolf Works-” and belatedly, Jaskier realises why that production might have stayed in the prime spot as Geralt’s favourite ballet because it must have given him hope that he could return, one day, even if he didn’t know if he wanted it. Jaskier sighs and traces Geralt’s face with his fingers. “Your body is in good shape, Geralt. No injuries. You can keep doing this for another thirty years if you wanted to.”

Geralt inhales shakily at the idea that he clearly hasn’t let himself entertain. But he could do it the way the industry was heading. He could. Geralt rests his forehead against Jaskier’s, overcome, and Jaskier runs his fingers through his hair until he feels the tension leave him.

“How about,” Geralt suggests, his hands effortlessly lifting Jaskier into pointe, “We start with a single production with Vizima.”

---

The Vizima production, By Your Bedside, runs for three months to critics’ acclaim and when it goes on tour, they follow.

Inevitably, rumours of their affair end up in tabloids* but the press doesn’t unsettle Jaskier as much as he’d expected. Nothing does. Geralt is beside him every step of the way - in rehearsal rooms, and formal dinners, and interviews - and none of it feels as daunting with Geralt beside him.

When Geralt goes down on one knee in the middle of their shitty run-down community centre the eve before the tour, Jaskier can’t help the startled laugh that escapes him. He can’t believe his life has changed so utterly in the space of a single year.

Julian,” Geralt says.

And Julian feels it to his bones.