Jaskier almost leaves.
When Yennefer appeared, he knew things would take a turn for the worse: if when it’s just him and Geralt he can sometimes allow himself to hope, to wallow in a little fantasy world where his feelings might be reciprocated, there is no mistaking the truth for anything else when she is around to remind him that he’ll always come second, at best.
He tried to ignore it. The whole time, he ignored every longing look Geralt threw her way, he made a pathetic attempt at pulling Geralt towards himself and he still went to her — he could only cling to the idea that it would be temporary, that Yennefer would go, as she always does, and it’d be him and Geralt again.
Apparently, he can’t get that either.
His eyes sting and his stomach has somehow managed to sink all the way to his knees, and Jaskier almost leaves, because that rejection is only the natural progress of things, because Geralt has been setting him aside ever since she showed up — he wants to leave. He’s tired and hurt and he wants to be okay.
He wants to go home, he thinks, and the notion is absurd, because he hasn’t had what one would call a home in a very long time, having chosen the wonders of travel and not feeling quite alright keeping still for too long. The closest he could perhaps come to the concept is that feeling of peace and quiet – only broken by his own chatter, of course – whenever he and Geralt set camp somewhere and it’s just them and Roach and everything fits — like something in him can finally still and whisper: Here. This is where you are supposed to be.
He has known Geralt for more than half his life. He can hardly imagine not having him ever again, it’s been twenty-two years, for fuck’s sake, and — and just like that, anger bursts in his chest.
Because it’s been so long and he deserves better than this. If Geralt wants to push him away, he’d better grant him the courtesy of a proper break-up, of a long, heart-wrenching conversation explaining the how and the why and giving him some proper closure after twenty-two years of friendship.
It might not be that long for a Witcher, but for him — fuck this, he’s not leaving, not like this, not so easily.
When he begins marching back towards Geralt in big, angry strides, his stomach boiling and his fingers itching, it’s with the intention of yelling. If Geralt thinks that he can cut him off just like that with a few cruel words – Jaskier has heard way worse when he was way younger and fuck him, he’ll have to do better than this – he is wrong and he will give him a piece of his mind —
He sees him standing with his back turned, so ridiculously tense that if he didn’t know any better Jaskier would think that he’s anticipating to fight a monster of some kind, and it’s so familiar that Jaskier’s heart clenches painfully, and the only thing that he can think is that he wants to keep him, that Geralt has been one of the very few things in his life that hasn’t turned out to be temporary, and he doesn’t want it to end now.
He does the only thing he can think of doing, a little panicky and probably also mildly suicidal given the possibly disastrous outcome, and instead of yelling he keeps walking until he is crashing against Geralt’s back, wrapping his arms around him as tightly as he can.
If Geralt wants to slice him in half for this, great, at least it won’t be him doing the leaving.
Geralt doesn’t kill him. Instead, he goes very still, arms hanging loosely by his sides while Jaskier just keeps clinging, as if that could somehow be enough.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Geralt eventually growls, and it’s supposed to be angry, but Jaskier has known him for too long, and it sounds a lot like he’s terrified.
Jaskier, eyes burning like wildfire and a very annoying lump in his throat, holds on even tighter, because he’ll hardly hurt him and he really, really doesn’t want to let go. The sword on his back makes everything a little uncomfortable, but he couldn’t care less.
“You are an asshole,” is the first thing that he says, his voice trembling just a little. “And I’m doing this to spite you, because you may want me gone, but I don’t want to leave.” He takes a breath, somehow thinking that it will help him keep himself in check, but instead it only seems to fuel the tears pushing behind his eyes. “Also, you probably need this,” he adds, because he knows it’s true. When Geralt is this much of a bastard, it’s usually because he’s hurting, badly enough that he doesn’t know what to do with it. “Asshole.”
Geralt could shake him off. He could shake him off the same way he could have gotten on Roach and left him behind without so much of a parting word, the same way he could have walked away every time they crossed paths again over the years, the same way he could have left alone in the early morning instead of shaking him awake.
Jaskier won’t let him get away with saying that he never wanted him around and that he’s only brought misery in his life, because it’s horseshit, and even if for a moment, standing there and listening as Geralt spat his own pain back in his face, he honestly doubted everything he ever thought he knew about himself and about them, he refuses to believe that Geralt doesn’t care about him, not when he has twenty-two years yelling just the opposite.
Geralt could have left any time, and he could push him away now. Instead, he keeps still, some tension eventually melting away from him as he brings one hand up, his fingers digging into Jaskier’s arm.
He might just cry from relief, honestly, if not because of everything else that just happened.
“Do you really want me to go?” Jaskier eventually has the courage to ask, hoping for definitive proof that the storm really has blown over and he doesn’t have to keep holding them together with both hands.
Geralt stays silent for a few, painfully long moments, but he’s still holding onto his arm. He squeezes him a little tighter as he answers, roughly: “No.”
Jaskier breathes, a small smile tugging at his lips in spite of everything as he nods, his cheek still pressed tightly against Geralt’s shoulder and something finally unclenching in his chest. “Good,” he mutters. “You would have had to kick me off this mountain otherwise.”
He doesn’t dare looking, but he likes to think Geralt might be smiling too.