Jaskier knew that most of his companions did not think he was the smartest at times. In fairness, he did often downplay his own abilities (the line about the bread had been an honest slip up that still haunted him to this day). Back in the court being smart was not an asset. Being smart meant you were watched, were given harder tasks, meant there were more eyes on you and more danger. So, he’d dumbed himself down, had played pretty and wide-eyed and naive. Had focused on smiling, on laughing, on being a pretty thing that the fae would admire and then ignore. That was what had saved him in the end, what had allowed him to escape from his glittering prison.
Jaskier knew how the world worked. He knew how to charm with the best of them (for charming a human was always far easier than charming a fae, prone as they were to fits and quick changes of mood). He knew how to speak for hours without ever really saying anything. And, contrary to what Geralt may think he knew when to keep his head down and his mouth shut. However, he also knew that to survive you had to keep your eyes open.
Jaskier knew all the court gossip, knew who was sleeping with who and who was out for another’s position. Even after being away from courts for months he was never caught wrong-footed. All the information was there if you knew how to look. Geralt never questioned how or where he got the gossip, he spread to him, found the information useless more often than not. Jaskier knew better. Geralt would never know about the kingdoms he’d steered them away from, with kings who set out word of a job as a trap for witchers. Would never know of the ambushes they had avoided because Jaskier had sensed the shifting of the atmosphere even before Geralt could and had led them down another path. And, really that was how Jaskier preferred it. Things were easier when everyone thought of him as a loudmouth fool, they never looked too deep when that happened.
However, he had also known that he wouldn’t be able to hide it forever. Yennefer had suspected it from the get-go. Had noticed the sharpness to his eyes and the way they took everything in. She could sense the sharp corners in him, the ones he tried to hide under fancy clothes and too many words spoken too fast to really be paid attention to. Borch had also noticed it, though the dragon had said nothing at the time, too concerned with his own agenda to care much what the bard was hiding or why. So yes, he’d known he wouldn’t be able to hide it forever, but he wished this wasn’t the moment it all came out. Geralt had lashed out at him, there on top of that mountain and Jaskier had felt something within him snap. The part of him that would always be stuck back in that court he had grown up in, surrounded by those who had taken him for their own amusement without a care for his own wishes, the petty, hurting, sharp part of him that he had held back so long came out with a vengeance.
“No” he’d scarcely recognized his own voice as he said it, well more liked hissed it. Enraged and hurt and angry and so much more. His eyes narrowed into slits.
“No, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to blame me for things that aren’t my fault. You’re hurt and upset but causing another pain won’t do you any good or make you feel any better. None of this was my fault, I was pulled along by destiny’s tide just as much as you were simply because I chose to stand by you throughout it all. You would have ended up here no matter whether I’d been there or not. You do not get to push me away because you’re afraid I’ll leave, just as you won’t be able to leave Ciri as your parents left you. You’re so afraid of being left again and of hurting others the way you’ve been hurt that you push away all the good things before they can leave on their own. It’s not done you and never will do you any good. The memories will linger and they will hurt more than anything else ever could anyway. You’re not sparing yourself any pain by doing this, just creating more for yourself. And I’m done letting you do it. You never loved Yennefer, not really. Cared for her yes, but you never mentioned her when you were apart. You were glad to see her when you met again but could live just fine without her. This hurts because she made this choice for you and you hate not being able to decide on the path your life takes. That’s fair, since much was forced on you already, but that doesn’t give you the right to do the same to me”. He cuts right to the heart of the matter, shoving in the witcher’s face some hard truths that Jaskier had realized long, long ago. He knew they would be hard for Geralt to accept, but he needed to do so or he would never be able to move on.
“I’m leaving, I’ll head down the mountain myself and wait with Roach while you think about what I have said. If, when you reach us you still want me to leave I will, and you will have your blessing, but I refuse to do so now”. Jaskier turned and headed towards camp to get started on doing just that. He already knew that Geralt would spend some time brooding before following, just as he knew that the other would not order him away when he did. He needed Jaskier just as much as Jaskier needed him, even if he hadn’t yet realized it. That’s okay, Jaskier had known for quite some time anyways, the Witcher’s actions spoke much more than his words after all.