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the sunset, another victory

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Here is how life goes.

Jaskier, Julian Alfred Pankratz, Viscount de Lettenhove is quite in love with Geralt of Rivia, stylized the White Wolf.

Born a vampire, he’d felt no calling to any of the more mystical arts and had instead, after quite a while of boredom, taken to the lute and road. Geralt, a witcher, walked the Path of his people and hardly suffered any companionship, at all.

They made it work, though. Oh, how they made it work. Perhaps because Jaskier was just as immortal as he, and Geralt grew lonely; perhaps because Geralt couldn’t bring himself to bring his breathtaking collection of arms to bear against a monster who never hurt anyone, because the witcher was one of the most honorable men on the Continent.

Whatever the reason, Jaskier enjoyed his life. He enjoyed his love, in all the ways he could have him. It wasn’t Geralt’s fault that Geralt preferred the fairer things in life, and paid good coin to have them; any more than it was Jaskier’s fault that Jaskier spent coin and reputation both for the sustenance he needed, every fortnight or so.

Point was: they made it work.

Jaskier never went for Geralt’s throat, because Geralt clearly didn’t want it, not once in over forty years of companionship, and Geralt showed his care for Jaskier in all the little ways that such a gruff and reserved man knew how.

For example, he always made sure to watch the dark under Jaskier’s eyes, and direct them to a village of some sort when they’d been in the woods just a day too long. He smiled into his cup when Jaskier returned from someone’s bed with blood in cheeks and fresh life beating in his chest. Jaskier has never doubted that, somewhere along the way, reluctant indulgence had shifted quite completely into companionable snark, and Geralt truly does value Jaskier’s presence in his own way.

They make it work, this life they’ve chosen, and Jaskier would cut off an arm before he hurt Geralt in any fashion.

Which is why, when the bog-witch cackles her evil plan—and Jaskier is there for this part, usually, even if he’s not there for the messier parts of the monster slaying—he can’t help but laugh at her shortsightedness.

Geralt is panting on the ground, the poison wracking his system; the witcher looks up with a dire-faced grimace. Jaskier can see the glowing red veins bulging under his eyes, a stark contrast to the usual black.

Even now the beat of his heart is more audible than usual, beating almost as fast as a human’s. It is tempting, but the thing is: Jaskier’s seen Geralt calm and relaxed, white hair swept up in a tail as he cleans his blades on their only bed, as unguarded as he ever is. Comfortable. Happy. Inviting. Looking up at Jaskier with a half-grin and all the trust in the world.

This? This, with Geralt smelling afraid and stressed, sick and slightly injured? This is nothing, and Geralt surely knows it.

Jaskier brushes a sweaty, dirtied length of hair from the witcher’s forehead, a low pool of anger spreading in his belly at the audacity.

“Didn’t you hear her, Geralt?” Jaskier invited him into the joke. “We only need a vampire to rid you of the poison, one who won’t kill you for smelling like that.”

“It’s the Blood Lure. No vampire can resist that scent, and it’ll be worse the longer you wait! If you do manage to find one in these parts, there’s no telling which’ll kill you first: the poison or the monster!”

“Oh, you shut up!” Jaskier snaps, lashing out with gold in his voice. Compulsion nooses around her neck and stills her waggling tongue. “Go back to the village and wait for us to put you out of your misery. We won’t be long.”

She draws up sharply and spins around, but Jaskier has already turned back to what’s important.

“She’s right.” Geralt gasps, struggling to get to his feet. His sweaty hand slips on his sword hilt. “Fuck.”

Confusion blooms in Jaskier’s chest.

“What on earth could she possibly have gotten right in this scheme?” He demands. “It’s literally the worst executed plan I’ve ever heard of.”

Someone doesn’t pay attention, he’d thought rudely, in a sing-song voice that sadly wasn’t appropriate for the occasion. Relief had nearly sent him giddy when she’d monologued such a simple solution, tension draining out of him.

Who was he to deny the gift of idiotic enemies? They had to catch a break sometimes.

Jaskier.” His name, snapped in that familiar, exasperated tone. This time it broke around exhaustion. Geralt’s scent-pile hadn’t calmed down in spite of the good news and Jaskier felt the first stirrings of doubt and fear.

“Yes, Geralt?” He tried to hide the confusion under devout, if whippy, good cheer.

“She’s right. There are no vampires this far south, not for fifty miles at least. We’re fucked.” He spat at the ground.

Reality crashes down on Jaskier.

“You—you don’t think I--?” Even at his worst he’s never even looked at Geralt like that—not when the witcher was looking at him, anyway, and a man’s sexual fantasies aren’t the same as rude leering, at any rate, and he’d never given Geralt any reason to think—to doubt

Hurt indignation pressed the relief out of his chest, aching behind his ribs.

“She can’t have made this potion for witchers.” Geralt continued, giving up on his doomed venture to his feet and slumping back on his ass—Jaskier catches his arms and eases him on pure instinct. “Maybe it won’t kill me like it would a human. Might even wear off.”

His voice says he doubts it. Their luck isn’t that good.

“It’s Blood Lure.” Incredulity raises his voice, distaste apparent.

“You’ve heard of it?” Geralt’s eyebrow jumps up, attention turning. It looks like it takes great strength to move his head.

“Have I heard of—Geralt.” Jaskier protests.

“Alright, fine. Tell me about it.”

Honestly.” Jaskier gripes to himself. “’Have I heard of it,’ I ask you. Blood Lure has been around for centuries. It’s used mostly by “vampire hunters” to turn some hapless human into bait. Freshly turned or very young born vampires can’t resist the draw and when they give in, a pack of hunters tends to jump out of the woodwork and take them with their pants down, so to speak.”

“It’s a trap for the vampire?” Geralt asks, no longer questioning him.

Really, Geralt, now’s a horrible time to grow a sense of curiosity about these things.” He admonishes.

Clearly, there’s no vampire hunters here. There’s no turned vampires at all, due to the abundant sun, and what born vampire would venture somewhere so remote without a witcher to follow? Geralt’s eyes are tracking his explanation though, some clarity brought to bear, so he continues.

He’s surprised Geralt doesn’t know this already. He wasn’t exaggerating his surprise for the man asking this now, of all times. He’d very much assumed Geralt already knew all the lore about his kind, since the witcher had never once throughout their friendship asked.

“Use of that poison is pretty desperate, to begin with—it kills the human, if left alone, and doesn’t do anything to the vampire but make them a bit drunk and a lot pissed off. Granted it does work on some of the older vampires when nothing else will. I mean, even if you can resist the scent, it’s hard to let someone die like that when you can help it, yeah?”

Geralt grunts.

Obviously, he’s familiar with the concept.

“Are there—” He’s panting now, the poison seeping into his organs. “Are there a lot of vampires in Lettenhove, then?”

“Not as many as you’d think,” Jaskier says, absently—mostly just his family, a few friends here and there. It’s their territory, after all.

But Jaskier has just come to a cold realization. All of his attention is on Geralt, and the increasingly pained scent of him. Surely—surely not.

“Jaskier—” Geralt starts, but Jaskier is having none of that.

“Surely you don’t intend to wait and see!?” He demands, hands tightening on Geralt’s shoulders. The man flinches.

He--!

“What else would you have me do!?” Geralt yells right back, something oddly desperate in his face.

Jaskier whips back as though struck. As though slapped.

“How dare you!” He hisses, a hint of fang catching the better of him. “I—I have never—never once, given you a reason-- not ever, been anything but there for you—the nerve--!”

He’s so mad he can hardly speak. His hands are shaking. It’s already a fraught situation and the implication sends him reeling.

But Geralt’s entire body is shaking, blood turning to poison.

“I know you don’t care for it, I’ve always respected that, but is the thought truly so revolting you’d rather die!?”

Jaskier has never received anything like negative reviews, so to speak. He’s damn good at making love and taking little sips of life. He has people asking for repeat performances, on the rare occasion he doesn’t twist their memory to forget the bit with the biting.

He’s old enough that the kiss of his teeth is a goddamn gift, okay? Old and powerful enough that he can and often has brought people to orgasm with a single bite. None of that matters when Geralt has never once looked his way.

But Geralt’s never said anything strongly about his species, either, in one way or another, so the idea that it might-- that this is something to do with Jaskier specifically, is like icy cold water dumped all over him.

Geralt’s breathing grows more labored. Jaskier wants to shake him. Jaskier wants to know what’s so undesirable about him that Geralt would never—

That he’d even consider

“How can you not trust me?” He’s lived centuries and can’t recall a time when his voice sounded just this small and broken. After all these years—decades

“Jaskier.” Trembling fingers touch his jaw. “Of course I trust you.”

“Yes, of course.” He spits. “That’s why you won’t let me save your life!” Bitterness clouds his tone. He leans into the touch anyway.

Either Geralt truly doesn’t trust him to control himself or Geralt finds him so unappealing he’d rather die than suffer Jaskier’s mouth on him. Both ideas hurt so much he wants to stab the man and however suddenly self-conscious—utterly ridiculous, for someone his age—he flatly refuses to believe Geralt is so petty to risk his own life, even if Geralt does think him utterly revolting.

It doesn’t have to be sex, he thinks, wondering if that’s it. Geralt doesn’t like men, not at all that Jaskier has seen, which is fairly unusual, but surely it’s not the kind of engrained prejudice that would see him dead first?

Mortals will do a lot in preservation of their lives, things they’d never consider otherwise, and the notion that a quick bite from Jaskier is so godawful a concept that he won’t even think on it…

His chest feels utterly raw.

Geralt doesn’t want him at all, and he’d truly never harbored any doubt otherwise, but to think. To think! He’d never thought it was anything particularly serious, just a matter of preference. Never once thought there was something undesirable about him, and certainly not to the point that Gerald would--

“You idiot!” He accuses, and he’s not crying but you wouldn’t know it from his voice. He is distressed, alright? Geralt looks at him with desperate golden eyes and works his mouth, seemingly lost for words.

“C’m—C’mere,” The witcher rasps, pupils blown, fingers slipping around to cup Jaskier’s head, and Jaskier could deny this man not a single damn thing, actually.

He goes, pressing his face gratefully into the crook of Geralt’s neck, and only hates himself a little.

A vampire kneels toward a witcher in the middle of the wilderness, in the middle of the day in the hottest part of the Continent, and maybe it’s true that turned vampires rarely grow old enough to tolerate the sun, but Jaskier’s family was old when the Cataclysm happened and he was born under it, a screaming babe under a black sun.

If anything, the smell of the Lure pisses him off. He prefers the way Geralt smells and always has.

“Let me.” He insists, gathering his courage. If he asks outright and this man rejects him, it might destroy him. Jaskier can survive beheading, stabbings, and being burned alive. He’ll probably survive that, too, even if it doesn’t feel like it just now.

He takes Geralt by the hand, tangling their fingers together.

Let me, you idiot man, you foolish witcher.” He presses a gentle kiss to the column of Geralt’s neck, proving he can. “It never has to be more than once.”

The skin he touches is fever-hot, dangerous. If it comes down to it, he’ll damn well ask forgiveness instead of permission.

Geralt of Rivia isn’t going to die.

Jaskier can control himself. He can have this once and turn away from it, after. He’s not talking about the blood.

Having Geralt so close always feels like being punched out and breathless, whether it’s a bath or a massage or a spat of wrestling at their latest campsite.

He loves Geralt enough not to burden him with it, if Geralt doesn’t want him. He’d thought that was clear if nothing else.

He’d just have to work harder to show him, Jaskier supposed.

Geralt squeezes his fingers. The vampire pulls back to see his face.

“Jaskier,” He breathes. His lips are fever bright, the Lure bulging red in the veins all the way down his cheeks.

If anything, it seems to be working faster on witchers.

Jaskier brings the hand not holding Geralt’s to trace the glowing from his eye to the corner of his mouth, down his jaw.

“Don’t be stupid, Geralt.” He murmurs. “Say yes.”

Geralt is certain he’s going to die. He’s not stupid.

He can feel his body cramping and screaming under the poison’s influence, knows even if they did manage to find a vampire in this region—an unbearably unlikely thing—he’d never make it in time.

He can’t even walk.

There is no way he’d manage to kill it before it killed him.

If Geralt has the choice, well. He’d rather not die at all.

But if he has to choose.

This isn’t a bad death, with his bard before him. He’d rather Jaskier not see this, not be scarred by it—he’s aware enough to know the bard cares, if not as much as Geralt dreams of—but a small selfish part of him is happy he won’t die alone.

That it’s Jaskier here with him, in the end.

He’s delirious, barely aware of the nonsense Jaskier is telling him. He can parse the words but chooses not to, focusing instead on taking this in. He can’t help but drink in Jaskier’s expression, his scent, the warmth spilling out of his hands where they touch Geralt.

Not at a bad death, indeed.

“Geralt!” Jaskier’s voice is sharp, close to begging. Geralt squeezes his fingers. “Geralt, please.”

Oh, he is begging.

Geralt always thought it would be sweet, and it is, even if he’d prefer a bed under them. So many regrets. He paws at his sword grip with his free hand.

Silver in one hand, Jaskier’s hand in the other. It’s more than he ever though to hope for. His lashes feel so heavy on his cheeks, but he forces his eyes open again.

“It hurts.” He huffs, not quite meaning to say as much out loud. Fuck, but it hurts. He’s always been told the mutagens block out most pain, but it never really seemed like it. Everything he fought hurt him, one way or another.

“Oh, Geralt.” He forces himself to pay attention. Jaskier is important. What he says is important.

Jaskier has never, ever hurt him.

Hadn’t Jaskier asked him a question, earlier?

Well, no use pretending now. He usually puts up a token resistance, lest the bard get ideas in his head, but he knew he was fooling no one. He always agreed.

“Yes,” He manages, not really caring what the question was. It made Jaskier’s blue eyes glow a bit and that was worth it; that he could make Jaskier happy. Pain lanced through his organs, cramping like he was drowning, like he couldn’t breathe.

But at least he could make Jaskier happy.

“I’ll apologize later.” Jaskier says, and it’s so quiet, muffled as if from underwater, but he has helpfully put his mouth to Geralt’s ear. Geralt is too weak to shudder, but he makes a noise he hopes is encouraging.

Jaskier has nothing to apologize for.

His sweet kiss is another surprise, gentle at Geralt’s neck. There’s a hint of teeth, a little jolt, and Geralt grunts a bit under the bite. He can’t quite feel his arm but with a monumental effort—oh, and it’s already quite near—he puts his hand clumsily to the back of Jaskier’s head.

Yes, please. Jaskier, close to him. Jaskier, kissing him. The poison had Geralt feeling like he was burning alive, but this—

This was how he wanted to go.

The fire picks up and Geralt whines, sure this is the poison's final stage. He tightens his hand on Jaskier’s nape, squeezes their fingers and his eyes tight. He focuses on Jaskier’s smell, so nice and clean and never, ever afraid of him.

Oh, but—

Oh no.

“Lf.” He forces his numb tongue. “Lf yh. Ysk.”

He doesn’t want this regret. He swallows, Jaskier’s teeth at his pulse, liquid fire coursing through him. It becomes just a little easier and he gasps in air, grabbing onto the opportunity with both hands.

“Yask. Lov’ you.” He holds the bard close. “Love you. Jask’r.”

Paradoxically, sensation seems to return. His fingers tingle. His bruises throb with new pain. Jaskier shudders against him. Before, he couldn’t feel much beyond the pain of organ failure, but now he can discern the hot pull at his nape. Jaskier’s tongue and teeth work on him and Geralt shivers at the sensation.

Fuck, yes.

Geralt tries to pull Jaskier closer, but he must be too weak, still—weaker than he thought, because Jaskier doesn’t move at all.

He shifts his leg until Jaskier adjusts closer to compensate, until Jaskier’s free hand touches the ground to take his weight. He is so very careful about how much weight he puts on Geralt.

Like hell, Geralt thinks, because he can bear the weight of twelve Jaskiers on his worst day. Clarity hasn’t quite returned, helped not a whit by the mouth on him—

By Jaskier’s mouth on him—

But he’s himself enough to take the opportunity, sliding his hand down Jaskier’s back until he can settle on his hip and pull.

“Don’t stop,” He gasps, surprised to hear his voice breathless. He’s so hard he’s dizzy with it and pleasure curls through him, chasing out the last vestiges of fire.

Jaskier,” Geralt says, but it’s pure indulgence. Encouragement, and when he pulls again Jaskier goes.

Or comes, rather, his hips sliding flush against Geralt’s like he couldn’t resist, either. Geralt thrusts up as best he’s able, absolutely no leverage to be had, but Jaskier doesn’t seem to mind.

He makes a low sound into Geralt’s throat, sucking harshly at the bruise he’s formed there, and Geralt’s legs fan open of their own accord.

Jaskier settles more fully against him and Geralt breathes, chin tipped back, overwhelmed with how anything could feel so good.

Something so nice could never last, particularly for Geralt.

Jaskier’s tongue stills, his teeth move, and before it even happens Geralt is following the retreat of Jaskier’s lips. He flushes hot.

Brown hair tickles Geralt’s ear as Jaskier leans down again, a quick kiss.

Geralt shudders all over.

He wants more. He doesn’t remove his hand from Jaskier’s slim hip, not even when the hand holding his tightens a bit.

Don’t stop, he’d said, but why on earth would Jaskier want to continue? And for that matter, why was he kissing Geralt to begin with?

He blinks open gold eyes, suspicion building within him now that the outright pleasure has died down.

“What was that?” He asks, voice rough like he really has drowned. Again.

Jaskier is looking at him with bright blue eyes, mouth wet and pink. His cheeks are as flushed as Geralt’s ever seen them, even with several rounds of mead in him.

“You said you loved me.” Jaskier says quietly, an unreadable expression crossing his face.

“Geralt.” He says, and his voice breaks. “Do you love me?”

Geralt averts his eyes. His pulse hasn’t quite died down to what he’s used to, a slow thump beating perhaps two or three times as slow as a normal human’s.

“We need to figure out why the poison didn’t work.” He tries instead, casting his mind to the bog-witch and her plan. Where was she now?

“Why the—Geralt.” Jaskier’s voice takes on that scandalized quality it often does. His bard does so love to get worked up. “Geralt. I am eight hundred years old. Of course the poison didn’t work.

He sounds like he wants to strangle him and that’s rarer, for Geralt to drive him to that point. Usually Yennefer is around.

“Maybe Yennefer can tell us—” Geralt stops, mind catching over those last few words. Jaskier makes a noise like a tea kettle.

“You stupid witcher!” Jaskier pushes him down, not anything like hard despite his tone, and stumbles away from him.

Geralt reaches out helplessly.

His hand feels so cold from the sudden lack of Jaskier’s.

Jaskier makes it five angry paces away before he stops, shoulders shaking, and turns around. He marches back and kneels before Geralt once more.

“I can’t leave you when you’re like this.” He huffs. “I would never abandon you like that. But I am so very cross with you, Geralt. So cross.”

“You—” Geralt starts, only now looking over the bard with new eyes. Something he hadn’t quite wanted to acknowledge rises up to punch him in the face. “You haven’t aged in all the time we’ve known each other.”

“Oh, well done.” Jaskier snorts, but his hand is still gentle when he pushes it through Geralt’s hair. “Give the man a prize.”

Why?”

His brain trips over the ‘eight hundred years’ bit, frantically trying to figure out what kind of creature lent itself to such immortality. Jaskier’s ears weren’t pointed, as an elf’s were, and if he was a sorcerer he was the worst Geralt had ever heard of.

“Well, Geralt, I did presume you knew about such things, being a witcher and all, but if today has proved anything—”

Jaskier.” Geralt interrupts, scowling.

Jaskier brushes his fingers through the hair over Geralt’s ear. Belatedly, Geralt realizes his bard is comforting him. Sitting with him, in the dirt and the leaves, until his strength returns.

His heart spasms painfully.

“Geralt.” Jaskier’s lips murmur the word. He sounds distracted. He’s looking at Geralt with something so unspeakably soft in his expression.

Geralt can’t bear it. He settles both hands on Jaskier’s flashy doulet and pulls him close, buries his face in Jaskier’s scent. The smell of salt and sweat is so human, so perfect under his nose.

“Oh, Geralt.” Jaskier sighs, and his hand snakes up, under the mane of Geralt’s hair to tangle his fingers gently in the hair at his nape, pull him closer.

“I love you.” Jaskier says, and Geralt can feel his Adam’s apple bobble at the words. “I loved you when we met, and since then it’s only gotten worse.”

He smells like the slightest touch of fear, but like always, it’s never that he’s afraid. Not of Geralt. Not really.

“You’ve never said.” Geralt’s voice rasps out, surprised. His head spins, apparently not quite ready for this level of exertion. He doesn’t care.

“Of course not,” Jaskier snaps. “You don’t like men.”

“I like you.” Geralt says, as sure of this as anything. “And of course I like men—I’m a witcher.”

“What is that supposed to mean!?” Jaskier sounds like he wants to throw his hands in frustration, but he doesn’t let go of Geralt. The hand not in his hair slides down to his chest.

Geralt laughs into the soft skin at his neck.

“Did you think there were any women at Kaer Morhen?” He asks indulgently, and at this Jaskier does shove him. “Did you think we were celibate teens, then new adults let out onto the Path with a palpable frustration hanging about us?”

“Well when you put it like that, it sounds stupid.” Jaskier grumbled.

Geralt smiled helplessly. Fondness rose up in him.

“Never change, Jaskier.” He said. Jaskier snorted.

Before Geralt can ask what’s so funny, Jaskier used the grip on his hair to lead him back a bit. Geralt went, curious.

When he sees Jaskier’s face again, he’s surprised at the intensity of his eyes.

“You said you loved me.” Jaskier murmurs, eyes half-lidded. He looks and sounds like he wants to say it into Geralt’s skin, marry lips to flesh until the witcher is shaking apart under him.

Jaskier’s gaze drops down to his lips, and back up.

Geralt swallows, throat dry.

“I do.” He says, keeping his voice and chin steady. “I will never let anything happen to you, Jaskier.”

Jaskier laughs, eyes merry with it. Geralt feels his own body relax, gentling under the sound of his bard’s happiness.

“You’re all I want.” Jaskier’s voice was low, almost raspy with it. “You’re everything to me, Geralt of Rivia. If anyone wants to take you from me, they had best bring an army.”

And then he dipped his head and kissed Geralt, easy as anything.

Soft lips touched his, moving with a confidence that he should have expected from the bard. It’s darker than he expected, somehow. Hands slide until one palm is pressed to his cheek, the other over his ear and hair and both holding him still for the smooth catch of Jaskier’s lips, over and over again.

Geralt lifts his chin into it, lips falling open. Jaskier sighs against him, a warm tongue tracing the seam of his mouth. It slips over his teeth, inviting, and Geralt kisses him deeply. His eyes slip closed.

Jaskier moans softly.

Geralt’s blood races.

The taste of salt in his mouth.

Wait.

The tip of his tongue traces over a sharp canine, longer than it ought to be.

Geralt blinked in sheer surprise.

“You’re a vampire!”

“You are an idiot,” Jaskier huffed, eyes rolling, and pulled him back by the collar into another kiss. Geralt was surprised by his strength; he couldn’t resist. Soon, he stopped wanting to.

All his questions could wait until later.

My idiot.” Jaskier bit his lip in admonishment, softly, far too soft to draw blood. “Honestly.”

Geralt warmed under his touch.

“You’re older than me,” He murmured into the kiss, and Jaskier hummed in affirmation. His lips tingled.

“You’re stronger than me,” He gasped, and once more Jaskier bit his lip, the sting so slight not even a human could complain about it. Don’t ask stupid questions, Geralt heard, but he pressed on, pulling back so he could stare at the bard—the vampire—in wonderment.

“You’re immortal.” Geralt stroked his cheek with a thumb, taking in the face that hadn’t changed and likely wouldn’t. No more than his own face.

“I’ll never leave you.” Jaskier confirmed, speaking directly to the heart of his fears. “Never, Geralt. You must have known that already—you’ll never be rid of me, not for anything.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Jaskier.” He admonished, hardly daring to hope.

“Geralt. Oh, my Geralt. You’re one to talk.” He grinned into a kiss, a tease of a thing. “I will follow you anywhere.”

Geralt broke their locked gaze, unable to handle the heat of it. The swear, so sincere he could feel it down to his bones. He looked away.

“Well.” He searched for something to say—anything. Jaskier dipped his chin to kiss him indulgently. “Well, you’ll have to start earning your keep. If you’re this ancient vampire, surely you can kill monsters?”

Jaskier’s face morphs into something outraged, safe and familiar.

“I try! It’s always ‘Stay at the inn, Jaskier.’ And ‘Don’t follow me, Jaskier.’ I figured it was some matter of pride, or preference.” He deepens his voice comically.

“I don’t sound like that.”

“You do sound like that, actually.” The bard snarks.

“Well, obviously that was before I knew you were immortal.” Geralt huffs.

“Before you—It’s not like I made any effort to hide it!” Jaskier laughs, anger sputtering out. “Really, Geralt. I thought you knew.”

Geralt rolls his eyes and a strong hand cups his jaw, suddenly serious again.

“I always thought you knew.” Jaskier repeats, eyes burning blue. He blinks and there’s something soft to his expression again. “Forty years I travel with you, never aging, and you never thought to question why?”

Geralt swallowed, truth rising unbidden.

“I was afraid.” He admitted. “Good things don’t happen to me. I thought it best to leave well enough alone.”

A lifetime of loneliness, aching and cold, and Jaskier filled that space effortlessly with springtime, sunshine and song. He didn’t dare question it.

He couldn’t bear to be alone again. Jaskier’s hand tightened on him, jaw working.

“You won’t be.” He said, as if reading the thought. The fear. “I’ll never leave you. I guess I can even understand your reluctance… Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, yeah?”

His lips quirked a little, stroking his own sword. A gift horse, indeed.

Speaking of. Geralt looked around, scenting the forest around them. His memories of how they got here are shifty at best.

“Where’s Roach?” He frowned.

“About that…” Jaskier trailed off, suddenly shifty-eyed.

“Jaskier!”