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Still There

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Jaskier was leaning against a tree on a grassy hill, strumming on his lute, humming and singing foul words about friends who were capable of discarding people on a whim. 

“Is that about me?” A familiar low voice asked, causing the blood to boil in Jaskier’s veins. 

Months had passed since their parting in the mountains, but Jaskier could still remember all too clearly the words Geralt had spat at him that day. Without lifting his gaze, he stood and marched up the hill, away from the man who had expressed very succinctly how little he thought of him. 

“Jaskier, wait!” Geralt shot his hand out to grab Jaskier’s arm and turn him around.

“What is it that you want from me?” Jaskier asked, keeping his voice calm but not devoid of bitterness. As he was standing higher on the hill, lifting his chin allowed him to look down at Geralt with more scorn than he normally could.

“I came to…” Geralt swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing visibly, as if words were stuck in his throat. Jaskier almost turned away to just walk down the hill and leave his former friend behind before Geralt spoke again. “I came to apologize.” He looked as if his words were supposed to change something right away, but Jaskier just kept giving him the same cold glare. “I followed you from town to town, each time missing you by a week, then a day, until I finally found you.” Geralt’s voice was soft, his eyes pleading, but Jaskier wasn’t fooled. He wore his black leather armour, suggesting he hadn’t stopped at an inn to leave his belongings, but had come looking for him straight from the road. 

“Congratulations. Mission accomplished. You may go now,” Jaskier answered in a flat tone, not befitting a poet. 

“Jaskier…” Anguish broke through the single word on Geralt’s lips. He wiped his hands on his breeches as if they were sweating... as if he were nervous.  

“You can’t woo me with your pretend regret. I don’t care anymore, Geralt. I regret caring in the first place,” he lied through clenched teeth, his calm resolve on the verge of collapse. He would rather have died a broken-hearted man than never have cared for Geralt at all. 

“Why are you saying this?” Geralt’s hand dropped from Jaskier’s arm. “You’re still angry… I deserve that, but-”

“Only you would think that you can spit foul words into a friend’s face and then expect to be forgiven without a decent apology. Only you wouldn’t know why I’m still angry at you after all these months. You know, for quite a smart guy, you can be incredibly thick.” Jaskier shook his head, scoffing. “Words can wound more than your swords.”

“I apologised. What else do you want?” Geralt was genuinely asking, the prick. He had the nerve to look clueless and confused before his brows lifted in a pitiful impersonation of a puppy waiting to be kicked. He had to be kicked away; Jaskier’s heart had suffered enough for a lifetime, he didn’t need to forgive Geralt just to be discarded at the nearest opportunity. 

“I want to know how sorry you really are.” Jaskier swung the lute gently on the belt across his chest so that it rested along his lower back. He put both hands on his hips, fairly certain that his next words would be what would drive Geralt away. “So, ah… kneeling would help.”

Without hesitation, Geralt fell to his knees, shocking Jaskier to his core. Once he took in the sight before him however, heat pooled in his abdomen, bringing erotic images with it. Even angry, Jaskier couldn’t help but admire rough beauty when it was before him. Geralt looked up, his mesmerising yellow gaze full of remorse.

“I will do anything, Jaskier. Anything .” Geralt’s gravelly voice sounded with anguish, but Jaskier wouldn't budge. Even if his heart sped up at the sheer proximity of the man it beat for, he kept his mouth shut. He wanted to forgive, but he was afraid he wouldn’t live through another heartbreak; and Geralt was bound to hurt him again. 

Jaskier racked his brain for ideas on how to successfully make Geralt run and never look back in his direction, for both of their sakes. He observed Geralt’s pose, on his knees, with hands to his sides, and wished he was kneeling for a whole other reason than apology and regret. Jaskier’s cheeks flared with heat and his body responded to the ultimate idea of how to push Geralt away.

“Oh really? Prove it.” Hands shaking just slightly, Jaskier unbuttoned the front of his breeches. Geralt’s eyes widened, and the astonishment painted on his face would have been comical if Jaskier wasn’t shaking inside his own body from the horror of what he was about to do, while at the same time finally showing Geralt his well-hidden desires. 

Jaskier’s hands stopped, holding the flaps of his breeches together, waiting for Geralt to flee, call him names, hit him… do any of the things he’d done to him in the past. 

Instead, however, Geralt looked up again with determination painted on his well-chiseled features. 

Jaskier panicked, but tried to keep a neutral expression on his face. Hold it together, Julian, this is the only way to drive him away for good.

He made a high squeak at the back of his throat when Geralt placed his hands high on Jaskier’s thighs. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…

Anything ,” Geralt repeated and the glint in his eyes changed into something beyond the need of atonement, something more intense than affection. Jaskier had seen Geralt’s affection directed at him before, but this was more, a lot more… It was lust. Could it be possible? 

Here goes nothing, Jaskier thought and parted his breeches, letting his already semi-hard cock spring out. 

He watched Geralt’s breathing pick up, his lips part before he licked the bottom one. His hands drifted up, almost to Jaskier’s hips as he neared closer. The only thing Jaskier could hear was the loud thudding in his ears, and it took him a moment to realise it was the sound of his heart.

“Enough!” Jaskier yelped, staggering away. He stuffed his cock back in, and buttoned his breeches hurriedly. “I forgive you. You proved your sincerity. You may go now!” he yelled, turning his back to Geralt, unable to look at him. He knew however, that he would remember the look on Geralt’s face from moments before for the rest of his life. That couldn’t have been lust, but he would imagine it so in the dead of the night when his hand would wander under the covers. 

“Jaskier!” The shuffling sound suggested Geralt stood up and closed in the distance between them. 

Jaskier felt Geralt’s presence at his back and he wanted to lean into it. He wanted for Geralt to envelop him in his arms and hold him close, as a friend would… or a lover. Geralt was neither. 

“I said, you’re forgiven. We’re done here,” he said with resignation.

“Wait. Did you mean it?” Geralt’s gravelly voice was full of disbelief.

“Yes. I meant it. You are forgiven. Your witcher hearing is not deceiving you. Now, leave.” Jaskier kept his voice level, but it still broke at the last word.

“Look at me, damn you!” Geralt spun Jaskier around with a hard grip on his arms, clearly irked. 

Jaskier pursed his lips, and looked at Geralt from under lowered lashes, anger, and residual resentment still lingering in him. 

“I can’t believe you were ready to suck my cock to say you’re sorry. I don’t want a pity fuck. Go away,” Jaskier spat back, not breaking his resolve, even if his throat constricted with anguish. 

“I wanted to do it, I still do,” Geralt blurted out in a matter-of-fact voice. Immediately, his eyes widened as if he couldn’t believe what had just come out of his mouth. His hands loosened the grip on Jaskier’s arms, until he folded them across his chest. 

“Did you hit your head? Fall off Roach and was dragged for miles? Or maybe-”

“No!” Geralt interrupted, huffing like an exasperated ox, then let out a foul curse at the heavens before focusing back on Jaskier. “Be serious! I need to know...did you really want me to…” He motioned between them in lieu of explanation, clearly at a loss for words. Obviously, now he struggled to express himself, while he had been full of interesting things to say back on that wretched mountain. 

“Did I really want your full, gorgeous lips wrapped around my cock?” Jaskier scoffed in disbelief. This was not happening. 

Geralt nodded, swallowing visibly, waiting for Jaskier’s response. 

“Are you seriously asking me that? You’re impossible!” Jaskier’s voice rose in pitch as his calm demeanor went to shit and he flailed his arms in the air. “I followed you to the ends of the world. I sang ballads about your sorry arse, and rubbed chamomile on it. I sought your warmth at night in the woods…” He pointed an accusatory finger at Geralt’s chest. “And you dare ask if I want your mouth on my cock?” 

Geralt let his shoulders rise and fall in the most annoying, pitiful shrug Jaskier had ever seen in his life. The audacity!

“I can’t believe this…”

“Answer me,” Geralt asked, calmly this time, but that didn’t cool down Jaskier’s incoming outburst.

“Yes, damn it! I want your mouth, your hands, your whole body on me. Always have, you blind, emotionally constipated ox!” Jaskier burst out, his chest heaving, his fists at his sides. He was tired of this charade. He was tired of being hurt and humiliated.

“I…” Geralt frowned and staggered back, sitting on the side of the hill, looking toward the town in the distance. “I didn’t know… why didn’t I know?”

“Cause you’re an idiot.”

“Right.” Geralt rumbled. 

Jaskier glared, huffed, then put his hands on his hips. “Of course I am,” he mumbled under his breath but Geralt and his witcher hearing picked it up anyway, because he levelled an exasperated stare on him. 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked with a confused note in his voice. 

“Tell you what? It was obvious to everyone around us. It was safe to assume you knew as well, or at least suspected. Since you never showed any interest, I left you be in that regard.” Hid my attraction and sought release elsewhere. 

“But you and all the women…”

“Well, not only women. But men don’t gossip that much, so you just don’t hear those bedroom stories.”

“Oh…”

“Now you know, off you go.”

“Why are you trying to get rid of me?”

“Because I don’t want hope where there is none. I don’t want to open my heart again and have you tear it out and stomp all over it. Been there, done that. No, thanks. I’m not that kind of a masochist.” Jaskier crossed his arms, looming over the sitting man.

Geralt frowned, seemed to mull the words over. He looked up again, opened his mouth and closed it, letting out only a growled “Hmmm.”

Moments passed. Jaskier cocked his hip, waiting for Geralt to finish what looked like intense thinking. 

“I’ll let you sit alone and brood, it’s what you’re good at.” Jaskier picked up his lute and descended the hill, heading to the inn he already had a room at for the night. Leaving Geralt behind was the wisest choice, but he was already hurting at the prospect of never seeing his witcher again, never sharing a meal, never talking for hours until daylight… never feeling Geralt’s heavy arm wrapped over him in the darkness of night.

Chapter Text

The sun had set and Geralt was still sitting on a hill, mulling over what Jaskier had told him, analysing their time together since the moment they’d met. It was quiet around him, bar the soft whoosh of the tree leaves on the wind, while in his head there was a commotion of epic proportions.

True, the ballads were mostly about him but that’s why Jaskier had followed him in the first place; he’d needed material for lyrics, so by default Geralt played a big part in them. However, Jaskier didn’t have to praise his morality and prowess in them. He didn’t have to sing to him when they’d been alone on the road, or play soft melodies on his lute when Geralt couldn’t sleep, yet he did. 

“Fuck,” he spat, shaking his head at his own blind stupidity. 

Apart from his fellow witcher brothers, he had never had a friend with whom he was comfortable to be around, let alone ask for help. Despite that, he hadn’t thought twice when he’d asked Jaskier to apply chamomile on his wounds, even if it meant touching places that he usually kept covered. That was one of the first indications that his attitude was different towards the bard. Alas, he’d chosen to pay no heed to it. Even the chain of events that had led to meeting Yennefer had been propelled into being due to him trying to save Jaskier from the djin magic. 

He rested his elbows on his knees and let his head hang, as he could feel a pounding headache building in it.  

When on the road, Geralt had quickly noticed that Jaskier was unable to thermoregulate the way witchers could, which resulted in him being permanently cold at night. That made his snuggling up to Geralt perfectly logical as sharing body heat was the most basic of survival techniques known to man. Geralt had thought nothing of it then, and if he might have enjoyed the physical proximity a bit more than was requested of him, then that had been just basic instinct and the need for human touch. He would wrap his arms around his bard at night to give him as much heat as Jaskier needed to sleep soundly, but in the morning he needed to get up early and relieve his throbbing need. He had told himself for the longest time that it was only because it had been morning, and not because he’d spent the night pressed to the lean body that fit next to his so perfectly. He had been fooling himself for a long time, before he’d realised how wrong he’d been

He’d always been ashamed of Jaskier finding out that his physical proximity to Geralt had clear consequences. He feared being laughed at, and rejected, even if he was aware of the enormous capacity for empathy that Jaskier possessed. Geralt had craved Jaskier’s body for a lot longer than he dared to admit to himself, but there’d never been an opportune moment to ask how Jaskier felt about that concept. Or maybe, he’d just never had the words, let alone the courage to utter such questions aloud. 

Desperately, he’d tried to balance his intense affection towards the bard and stuff his feelings for him into a neat box labelled “friendship”. It had been a hard task but Geralt had honed this ability to perfection. He’d learned to disguise the dark pit of anger that brewed in him whenever he’d seen Jaskier romancing someone, and turned it into off-handed remarks packed with disdain. Meanwhile, inside he’d felt as if he’d been pierced by an arrow. 

After all, he was a mutant, an abomination people either feared or wanted something from. He had a looming feeling that even the women he’d slept with, had done it for the thrill and bragging rights of bedding a savage, brutal witcher.

Then there was the mystery that was the exuberant Jaskier, with his smiles, praises, but also many secrets. He had never pushed Geralt away, yet not asked for anything but simple protection when in trouble, the likes of which Geralt would have granted anyone deserving in his presence. 

All the jealousy and confusion faded when at the end of the day, it had always been Geralt’s name Jaskier whispered in a soft tone as he drifted off to sleep. It was Geralt who’d been the recipient of the sleepy look Jaskier had given him in the morning, it was Geralt’s name that had been the first one he yelled when in trouble. 

Geralt had never taken those actions as signs of anything more than friendly affection, he knew better than to mistake that for an invitation to spend the night doing more than sleeping side by side. He hadn’t wanted Jaskier to think him soft or sappy but each time those lovely blue eyes, full of tenderness, had landed on him, he’d wished he could reciprocate the look without Jaskier thinking less of him.

He’d been a young witcher once, full of ideals and expectations; enjoying the wind sweeping through his hair as he’d ridden his horse, proud of his footwork when handling his sword. Abandoned by his mother, yet trained by Vesemir who’d become like a father to him, he’d gained enough confidence to reach for what he thought could be his, like happiness.

He’d felt free to enjoy the company of anyone who would have him. He’d wondered about being with a man many a time, but only when he’d seen a tall and lean stableboy did he feel that pang of lust that had pushed him to approach the man. He had thick blonde hair that was swept back, and a stubble that would feel great scratching Geralt’s inner thighs. 

Quickly after approaching him, Geralt had been led to a stable and kissed within an inch of his life as straws of hay dug into his back through the linen shirt. Geralt had wanted the act to be slow, he’d wanted to touch and savour every moment, but the man laughed in his face. “I thought you were a witcher. If I wanted a loverboy, I wouldn’t have dragged you here. Now show me how strong and rough you are or move along.” Angered at the jibe, Geralt had done as asked, partly because he’d wanted to prove to the man what he was capable of, partly because he’d been ashamed of his softness. His brothers surely would laugh at him too, or worse, Lambert would call him a romantic…

All the other encounters with men from then on had been fast, rough and meaningless. Then again, his encounters with women didn’t differ greatly, except some women actually enjoyed him being an attentive lover. 

For decades, he’d been wanted for his skills or his honed physique, never for his company alone. Not until he’d met a certain flamboyant bard.

Jaskier had barged into his life unannounced, and the blinding sunshine of his presence must have dimmed Geralt’s wits enough to make him unable to see the pure affection Jaskier showcased towards him on every occasion. 

Jaskier had always been friendly to everyone, but upon further analysis, Geralt had to admit that the bard had been right; he had shown more of it to Geralt than to anyone else. There’d been more happiness in Geralt’s life since he’d met Jaskier than ever before and the fact that Jaskier’s attention was focused so much on him, played a big role in it. He’d finally felt appreciated, needed, maybe even cherished.

They’d been through a lot together and at the end of every adventure, Jaskier had been the only one who remained by his side. Even if not clearly stating his feelings, Jaskier had been calming him, supporting him, encouraging him… oh…

Geralt recalled their conversation at the mountain. He’d been sitting on a rock, looking at the breathtaking views of mountains covered in greenery, while his head had been full of images of Borch’s last moments. He had thought him dead then, his mutant strength amounting to nothing, if he’d been unable to save the old man and his two warrior companions. Of all the people travelling with them then, it had been Jaskier who had come to console him.

“You did your best. There’s nothing else you could have done.”

Then he had the audacity to doubt his worthiness as a travel companion, after which he’d indeed made a clear offer, Geralt had been too dumb to decypher.

“We could head to the coast, get away for a while… Life is too short, do what pleases you while you can.”

Jaskier’s words echoed in his head, making him feel like a complete fool for not understanding the meaning of the words. How could he have been so blind not to see what had been before his eyes all along? After the conversation had ended, he’d gone looking for any scrap of a relationship, while Jaskier had been by his side and offering it indirectly, with every smile, every semi-casual touch, every song.  

Sure, Yennefer had greeted him in her bed, but she’d never truly wanted him; they were not compatible outside of crumpled sheets. Yennefer’s words the day after had hurt him, but in retrospect, he could see that the cruel words he’d spat at Jaskier moments after, had been much worse. Finally, he was getting closer to understanding that Jaskier had the right to be as mad at him as he currently was. 

“Because I don’t want hope where there is none. I don’t want to open my heart again and have you tear it out and stomp all over it.” 

Jaskier’s words from just hours before indicated that Geralt’s outburst on the mountain had hurt him deeply. The words had meant to do just that, but Geralt hadn't anticipated that Jaskier cared about him enough to be so hurt.

Straightening his back, he felt resolve fill his body. He had to attempt to fix what he’d broken. He had no idea how, but finally talking about their issues, their friendship and the physical attraction on top of them seemed like the wisest choice.

Geralt didn’t know if he could belong in bed with Jaskier, but he desperately wanted to try if Jaskier would even have him as a friend again. If not now, then in a month, a year, or a decade. Time mattered not, he was willing to wait. He would wait for forgiveness he didn’t truly deserve, because his hunt for happiness resumed anew. 

With determination, he marched down the hill, then from inn to inn, enquiring about Jaskier. His mind was so preoccupied with the image of Jaskier’s face as he looked down at him hours before, he almost asked about a bard with blue eyes and a beautiful smile. However, the name alone was enough for anyone to know who he was looking for. 

In no time, he was pointed to an inn where Jaskier had retired for the night. His first thought was to barge into Jaskier’s room and demand an audience. Maybe they could talk, have a drink, maybe they could… Then again, if Jaskier needed to be away from him to think things over as well, then he had the right to that. 

“Do you have any parchment and paper?” Geralt asked the innkeeper, instead.

“Aye. Pay for yer room and I’ll get ye a whole sheet,” the innkeeper snarled, eyeing him suspiciously before he spat on the floorboards of his own establishment. 

“Fine,” Geralt reached for his purse and tossed a few coins on the counter. 

Within moments, he was staring at a blank piece of paper, his quill-filled hand hovering over it with indecision.

I will travel east by morn, come with me. G.

He folded the letter neatly and asked the innkeeper to hand it to Jaskier with his breakfast or when he left his room, whichever would be first. 

After retiring to his room, he struggled to fall asleep. Tossing and turning, he finally imagined Jaskier agreeing to his offer to travel alongside him again as they worked to resolve all their issues along the way. That comforting thought let him finally drift off to sleep.

Geralt woke up a bit after sunrise, immediately threw clothes on his back and asked the innkeeper if the letter had been delivered. 

“Yes,” the innkeeper said in an off-handed tone, sizing Geralt’s battered clothes with a judging stare. “He read it, tore it up and left west an hour ago.”

Geralt frowned, and with growl, moved to gather his belongings quickly. Jaskier couldn’t have gone far and Geralt was determined not to let him go without giving Geralt a chance to explain, this time truly saying what he felt. If only Jaskier would let him try to rebuild their friendship, he could be at peace. Even if Jaskier ultimately decided he wouldn’t want to travel with him, Geralt couldn't go on knowing Jaskier hated him.

Fueled by resolve, Geralt dug his heels into Roach and galloped to the next town, the rising sun warming his back as the wind swept his hair back.