Geralt was quite obviously a witcher. Obviously, as in it was plain to see. What with the white hair and yellow eyes? It was hard to miss such defining details in someone’s appearance. It took a particularly ignorant person not to see the way Gearlt’s pupils were slitted like a cat’s rather than round like a humans. These features were shared from town to town to help average folk identify Geralt as what he was. Tales of the Butcher of Blaviken did a lot to spread the word about how dangerous and violent he was. They all warned that he was a monster, and that the way to see that he was a monster was through his obvious afflictions.
Not to mention the exaggerations. The way people claimed him to have a tail or claws, or declared that his face was so scared it was hardly recognizable to be a face anymore. To be completely honest, that one probably had something to do with Eskel. Geralt’s older classmate had more than his fair share of marks on his face. Geralt often regretted that of all the ways Eskel could blend in with the humans- hiding those scars? Was nearly as impossible as hiding their eyes.
Though, the claws part was fairly true. Jaskier had noticed that if left uncut Geralt’s fingernails actually grew in rather pointedly. Though the witcher often trimmed them after baths, to keep them short. Jaskier imagined that if they were long they were likely to get caught on things and torn at or ripped. He assumed that that would hurt. Not to mention, he always kept his fingernails short for playing so he didn’t think much of it.
Jaskier noticed that after days of travel, Geralt’s canines always seemed sharper. Honestly, it was easier to see because out in the forest Geralt opened up a bit more. Rather than being as tightlipped and grumpy as he was around other people, Geralt would speak more often. He even smiled occasionally. If Jaskier was particularly funny, and Geralt was having a good day, his smile was all teeth. Wide and unabashed and Jaskier loved seeing it. Strived to think of humor clever enough to bring it out. Especially when they were out in the middle of nowhere. Geralt seemed more comfortable when they were far away from people. When it was just him and Jaskier. When it was just them, Geralt would grin and Jaskier would notice the sharp teeth.
However, Jaskier noticed that the fangs were not consistent. Or at least- he was fairly certain that he noticed that. See, they’d glint in the light of the fire, and Jaskier was almost certain they hung lower than the teeth beside them. But perhaps it was a trick of shadows. For surely, by the next town they visited, they were round and human again. There didn’t appear to be any excess pointedness, they didn’t seem as long and prominent . . . Then again, the laughter and talking came much less often, so he had less opportunity to look into Geralt’s mouth.
It seemed too odd a request to make directly.
And maybe Jaskier was wrong.
When they camped on the trail, Geralt would hunt for them. So long as he felt it was safe, he’d rather catch Jaskier something fresh than waste their longer lasting provisions. Jams, jellies, and dried meats could be saved for other days. When they were needed. Which often proved a helpful strategy on those nights that Geralt wasn’t comfortable leaving Jaskier behind. After nights of eating what Geralt would be able to catch they had plenty of food for Geralt to stay in the camp and watch the surrounding woods with suspicion.
What struck the bard as odd was the fact that when Geralt cooked the meat of whatever animal he’d killed, he only ever cooked half of it. Usually he’d try to catch two animals. One of them he’d sit by the fire and skin properly. After it was clean he’d poke it onto a stick and cook it over the heat of the flames. That meat was always given over to Jaskier. Jaskier had expected at first that Geralt would do the same thing for his own meal, but he did not. Instead he simply pulled off the skin and fur and started consuming the animal raw. He claimed it was a timing thing, he didn’t care to waste time or energy cooking something he could eat plain just as well. However, Jaskier thought that Geralt always seemed far more eager to consume the raw meat that was left over than the cooked meat when Jaskier prepared dinner.
But they were not always camped on the trail. When they stopped in towns, Geralt seemed to avoid meat altogether. He ordered stews and bread and ate substantial amounts of that assuming their budget allowed. He never complained about the meat in his soup, even when it was cooked in heavy seasonings and saltier than even Jaskier wanted to taste
For instance, there was once when Jaskier was asked to play in court, as he so often was, that he dragged Geralt along. When dinner came around, Geralt was served a rather extravagant bird. It was a large meal to begin with, but clearly prepared as some kind of token of gratitude. They’d done quite some work in town and the host had seemed rather excited when Jaskier informed him that Geralt would be accompanying the bard. For the sake of peacekeeping. But Jaskier could smell the spices on the plate from where he was sitting, and he hadn’t half of the strength in his senses that Geralt did.
“My good sir! I think my friend might be better suited with a simpler meal-” Jaskier started, his expression incredibly charming as he leaned in a bit too close to the server. With Jaskier’s attention as a distraction, the server seemed more than happy to listen to the request, even nodding along as Jaskier spoke.
Geralt’s eyes snapped over to the bard and he shook his head curtly, silent: Stop. Both Jaskier and the server noticed the stern look, and it was enough to snap the young man out of his Jaskier-induced trance. He regarded Geralt with far more caution than Jaskier.
The bard, however, remained blissfully ignorant to the newfound hesitation on their server’s face. Jaskier laughed through his frown and shook his head, “It is not a worry, I’m sure they have some left over raw meat,” He turned back to the server, missing the look of disgust the young man quickly had covered with impassivity. A look that Geralt certainly did not miss. “Would you be a dear and-”
“Jaskier.” Geralt snapped quietly, and then glanced back to the server. “This is fine. Thank you.” He said simply. The server glanced down between Geralt and the meal in front of him, and while Jaskier was staring at Geralt with exasperation, the server seemed rather annoyed. Such a phenomenal meal and the witcher had the nerve to be ungrateful for it?
Rather than make any remark, the young man simply nodded and turned, quickly retreating. Jaskier sat slightly dumbfounded as the server walked away. He turned to Geralt. “Come on now, you have provided your services on numerous contracts in the area. It is not so much a hassle for you to ask them to provide food you’d rather eat-” Jaskier started to explain, “I know that you don’t like asking for things, but surely, if they wouldn’t even half to cook it-”
Geralt stood rather abruptly. “I’ve made an appearance. Any husband or wife you’ve pissed off knows you have to return to me. They will leave you alone.” He said, as a goodbye and grabbed the plate full of food. He left the hall without words to anyone else.
Many of the things that made Geralt noticeably different were the things that made him harder. That showed how rough around the edges he was. How those rough edges were jagged and sharpened to prove most effective at cutting and stabbing anything that tried to get close.
Yet, there were some softer things. Little behaviors that showed the life Geralt had lived better than any physical mutation. How unkind life was to him was reflected in how hard he worked to make sure it was kinder to others. The lack of physical affection he received resulting in the way that he leaned into small touches. They were subtle, and gentle things. Things Jaskier had learned the hard way not to address.
Like the purring.
Of course, the purring had been quite the surprise. It was far less psychological than the other noticeable traits. And though it wasn’t a physical trait, that could be seen, it seemed more like an instinct than a learned behavior. Like an afterthought. How very cat-like for the white wolf’s chest to rumble when he was at peace.
The first time, and probably the last time Jaskier would hear that rumbling came on a pleasantly uneventful evening. The contract Geralt had worked on was simple and easily taken care of, and they’d made enough coin collectively to order a nicer room and a bath. Geralt didn’t necessarily need one, but it was a small reward for the witcher. He’d quickly climbed into the bath tub, and Jaskier situated himself behind the tub. Jaskier was rambling about some woman he’d met at the tavern across the road from the inn they were staying at. He was talking mindlessly as he gently untangled Geralt’s hair and washed it.
Despite his chattering, he was paying attention to his friend. He was making certain that the witcher didn’t grow uncomfortable, making sure that the water stayed warm. He knew that Geralt would never ask directly to fix something if a nuisance appeared, so Jaskier made certain that he’d catch anything that could bother Geralt before it began to.
In all of that attention Jaskier heard it.
It was just this soft rumble in Geralt’s chest. Honestly, Jaskier didn’t think Geralt even noticed that it was happening until Jaskier’s hands faltered and he quieted to listen to it. Almost immediately, it stopped.
“You were- that noise- what uh . . . what was that noise?” He asked carefully.
As if that question alone had filled the tub with ice, Geralt suddenly seemed rather eager to get out of the tub. Jaskier wasn’t sure why, but he felt guilt curl in his stomach. He should have known that addressing it would upset Geralt . . . though, honestly, how could he possible have known that? Geralt pulled from his hands rather abruptly and scooped water from the tub, pouring it over his own head to clear away any remaining soap. “Get me a towel.” He demanded, his tone gruff and expression hard.
Jaskier frowned, but nodded anyway, getting up to grab a towel he eventually handed over to the witcher. “It sounded pleasant.” Jaskier tried. Perhaps if he could reassure Geralt that he was just curious . . .
Geralt shook his head, “Shut up, bard.” He snapped and retreated to the bed, sitting on the edge of it to meditate. Though Jaskier wasn’t an idiot and knew damn well the difference between Geralt sitting in silence and when he was genuinely meditating. The man sat in that rigid position for a while. Jaskier didn’t bother him, deciding that Geralt should take his time opening up about whatever that had been.
But, if Jaskier thought that they’d be addressing this anymore, he was very wrong. Geralt didn’t make another sound for the rest of the night.
Jaskier had been having one hell of a time recently. He and Geralt had been on the road for a couple of weeks, now and it was starting to wear them both down. They were running low on patience, food, and energy. Not to mention the fact that Geralt had been particularly grouchy and Jaskier couldn’t be mad. He understood the anger. It was fair.
The last contract that Geralt was employed though was a striga. Which, by the way, were awful, awful creatures to fight. Mostly because, if you’re Geralt, you cannot simply fight them. Not truly. His heart was too big to forget that the monster he was fighting was actually, usually, just a frightened young woman. So instead he fought them off until he could bring them back. To make matters worse, they rarely survived the transition back into a young woman after being a monster for so long
Still, after a long, gruesome fight with an incredibly disappointing end, Geralt returned to his employer to update the woman on the status of the job. The striga was dead, and Geralt had come back from the fight to collect his payment so he could move on.
As in, he’d come directly after the fight.
While he still looked pale and furious. While his eyes were still black.
Certainly there was an explanation that Geralt had come up with. Somewhere in the back of Geralt’s mind, his reasoning had been that he was in a hurry to get out of this town. He’d felt uneasy since they arrived. Towns like this, backwater, backwards, always had a tendency to frown upon his arrival. Sometimes that’s all it was. A frown and then they all moved on. Sometimes it grew into something violent. Geralt had no reason to believe that it would escalate, but the behavior had been less than welcoming and Jaskier was bound to go off on the next person who was unpleasant with Geralt. The bard might just be the tipping point into violence this time.
Luckily for this woman, Jaskier was not here.
He approached her carefully, but he got no words out before she began to scream. Her words were biting, no elegance to spare as she accused him of being a monster, an abomination! He could only kill those evil things because he was one of them!
It wasn’t exactly a dialogue Geralt wanted to continue having. He’d long since stopped being personally offended by hysterics at his expense, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed standing there for them. So, he left without collecting his coin. And then, much to Jaskier’s displeasure, they packed up and left that same night. Which meant that they went out onto the road with less provisions than usual. A circumstance, not helped by the way that word spread to the next couple towns over. Each time they went to stop they were run out of town by some angry mob-like group of people who refused to withhold judgement until after they’d interacted with the subject of their hatred.
Then finally, the pair of them enter a new town and receive no more than the usual stares. Geralt may have to keep his head down more than usual, but no one approaches them or tells them to leave. A small victory.
A victory quickly displaced by the stupid innkeep who doesn’t trust that Jaskier is good for his word.
“You don’t have enough coin for the night.” He said simply. Jaskier can’t help but take note that he is an ugly old man. Not dissimilar to a troll.
He smiles his most charming grin and nods, “A valid concern, but my friend here is going to pick up a couple contracts in the area before you know it, and I can bring in customers with performances in your lobby!” He offers. “You can hold onto my ring as a sign of good faith until we’ve paid you in full for the night!”
The troll-like innkeeper shakes his head. “Mhm. You have a place to stay tomorrow night after you’ve spent the evening performing by the bar. But as of right now, a simple necklace is not enough.” He counters.
He starts to sputter, his jewelry is anything but simple! But Jaskier is exhausted and sleeping on the forest floor outside of town seems so incredibly uncomfortable right now, so he huffs. “I can play tonight. You settle my friend in a good room with a bath, and I will play well into the evening. I notice that you’ve no live music right now. I’ll fill the silence.” Jaskier assured. “I- cannot guarantee a late night, but I can offer a full one. Please.” He said quietly.
Geralt knew better than to speak right now. It would only get him in trouble, and make Jaskier’s negotiation more difficult.
The innkeeper thought about it for a while before finally nodding. “Yes. Fine. Go. Play, and I will get your friend to a room.” He turns briefly to call out behind him. He tells a young woman working behind the counter to go draw a bath. She smiled at Jaskier with a faint blush on her cheeks before turning away to do what the innkeeper had asked. It’s a testament to his exhaustion that Jaskier not only does not respond to the flirtatious behavior but remains completely oblivious to it.
“Make sure it’s scalding!” Jaskier said, knowing that Geralt’s skin was thick and he could rarely feel the warmth unless the water was very very warm.
The innkeeper nodded and sent her on her way before leading Geralt away from the crowd that Jaskier turned to go entertain. He truly didn’t want to play right now, wasn’t up for a show, but Geralt stalked away and Jaskier found a small comfort in knowing that the witcher would finally be given the welcome and respect he deserved. Even if it was just for a night. Even if it was paid for . . .
By the time that Jaskier made it up to Geralt and the room they’d been given, he was all but ready to collapse. It had been a long day of travel. A long night of playing. He was hungry, but food could wait until tomorrow.
He was already dreaming of silk sheets and giant beds by the time he swung the door open to their room. He noticed a couple of things all at once. There was a plate full of food, (still steaming, no doubt thanks to Geralt’s use of igni), Geralt was sitting on the floor by the fire with a small mirror in front of him, the man was clean and damp from his bath . . . and there was a metal tool in his mouth.
Tiredness clouded Jaskiers confusion, and in a rather ineloquent manner he just stood there and muttered. “Geralt? . . . What the fuck?”
Geralt had the decency to look slightly embarrassed to be doing- whatever it was he was doing. “Jaskier.” He said, acknowledging the bard’s presence.
Jaskier nodded vacantly and then shook his head, “Geralt.” He said again, as if Geralt hadn’t answered because he hadn’t heard him properly. “What. The fuck.” He said, exhausted. “What are you doing?” He asked.
Geralt tilted his head and shot Jaskier a funny look, his mouth open as if to answer the question, his brow furrowed as though he wasn’t sure how to. And then Jaskier noticed the unevenness of Geralt’s teeth. How one of his canines was sharp, long, threatening, and one was dulled, rounded out. Fuck, was this one of those times? Had Jaskier been tricked by the light?
He stalked over and kneeled in front of Geralt, reaching out and tucking his thumbs under Geralt’s top lip. He lifted them and examined Geralt’s teeth as one might a horse. “What’s wrong with your-” He said and his gaze dropped to the tool in Geralt’s hand. It was rough. Looked a bit like something used to polish and smooth wood. A file?
Jaskier’s eyes widened and he looked up at Geralt in surprise and- something else. Geralt couldn’t quite figure it out. Not quite condescending enough to be pity . . .
“Geralt?” Jaskier said quietly.
Geralt just sat there, lips dry from the strange encounter. “Hmm.” He muttered in acknowledgement.
“Were you- before I got back in here- were you just . . . filing your teeth?” He asked, tone almost incredulous as he stared at the other man.
Something about all of this told Geralt that his answer should be no. That Jaskier wanted his response to be something like, “Of course not, how silly. I was simply . . . “ And then offer a logical explanation to explain all of this away.
Geralt gently caught Jaskier’s wrists and stood, pulling the bard up. “You need to sleep.” He said softly.
Carefully, without further addressing Jaskier’s question, Geralt guided Jaskier to the bed. He helped the man undress to his small clothes, pushed him up into the bed and carefully tucked the blankets around Jaskier so that he was warm and comfortable. Then it was Jaskier’s turn to catch Geralt’s wrist and tug him closer. “Rest tonight-” He requested. “Please don’t- do that to yourself-” He tried. He only sort of noticed the odd expression on Geralt’s face before his eyes were closed and he was falling asleep.
Geralt finished his task and then sat in front of the fireplace, meditating well into the morning.
Geralt’s hand flew up and snatched at the wrist in front of his face. He opens his eyes to Jaskier sitting far too close to him. The bard is sitting on his knees and leaning in towards Geralt’s face, with his hand outstretched like the previous night. Only this time, he hadn’t yet stuck his fingers in Geralt’s mouth.
“What?” He grunts, unenthused with the lack of space between them. He is not expecting the genuine look of frustration still on Jaskier’s face. Especially not after a full night's sleep, knowing there is breakfast downstairs for them to eat. Geralt arched a brow.
Jaskier gaped in return, “What? . . . What!” He huffs. “Like I didn’t come in last night to find you mutilating yourself. I will not believe that you couldn’t feel what you were doing to yourself- I refuse to ignore it-” He said. Like everything else that they simply brushed away and willfully avoided talking about.
“Jaskier.” Geralt breathed. Jaskier assumed that he was going to interrupt, to insist something like: ‘It’s too early in the morning for you to question me about the incredibly concerning things you found me doing last night.’
“No!” He said, and crossed his arms over his chest like a petulant child. “Don’t try to shut me up about this. You don’t want to have meals prepared specially for you-? You don’t want to talk about the- the purring-? It’s adorable, but fine. You don’t want to acknowledge that we’ve been wandering for the last month because you don’t want to upset people by staying in a town you aren’t welcome in? Fucking fine, but-”
Geralt frowned, “Jaskier . . .”
“This is ridiculous. Those are your- your teeth, Geralt! Those are bone. With nerves in them! They aren’t- fingernails to clip!” He rambled. He stares at Geralt, his breathing slightly heavy and his expression almost feral. “You didn’t answer me last night, when I asked you what the fuck you were doing and I see that you also ignored my request to stop in favor of continuing to file your goddamn teeth down- ”
“Dandelion!” Geralt said, and gently squeezed the wrist he was still holding.
Jaskier’s eyes widened at the tone and he glanced down to his arm as he realized that he hadn’t pulled away from the grip at all, but instead inched closer in his ranting. His eyes dropped to Geralt’s lips, as though trying to see through them to continue to inspect his teeth.
Geralt simply rolled his eyes. He didn’t seem as irritated as Jaskier had anticipated he would be. Instead, he sort of looked amused by the display. Though the somewhat fond annoyance turned into curiosity as he saw Jaskier’s frustration stay bubbled up beneath his expression. Geralt shook his head, “I’ve . . . told you. About this. Or at least- mentioned it, while you were around-” He said carefully, as though any wrongly placed word might set off another verbal spill from his companion.
Jaskier stared right back at Geralt and sputtered, “Of course you haven’t- I would have remembered if you had told me that you took a gritted metal to your own mouth-” He started.
“I mentioned it to Mousesack. At- Calanthe’s court.” Geralt said. “I told him that I’d had them filed.”
“What- . . .” He started to ask, ready to argue that Geralt said no such thing. Except that, Jaskier remembered the comment. He thought it had been intended as a joke. A laugh at the expense of those fools who exaggerated Geralt’s less- human features. Looking back, Jaskier supposed he could see that it was still a joke. However, it was laughter at the expense of humans who thought they were safe from those they feared because they couldn’t see the threat. “You were laughing- it seemed callous- You cannot expect that I would have understood that.” He huffed. “I know I’ve learned to read you fairly well, but your humor is an entirely different script-!”
Geralt shook his head gently and slowly dropped Jaskier’s hand, “There was no accusation. I am not bothered that you didn’t know- I merely thought that you did.” He said. “Similar to the shock of- this . . . whatever this is. You are angry. Upset.”
“Of fucking course, I am upset-”
Geralt tilted his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “Why?”
“Why?” Jaskier huffed.
He received little more than a nod in return.
Jaskier took a deep breath to try and calm himself. He supposed it wouldn’t help to yell or snap at Geralt. Especially considering the fact that his anger was not placed at Geralt but at whatever it was in this awful world that had convinced Geralt that he needed to- gods. Jaskier’s mouth felt tingly at the mere thought of taking a file to his own teeth. He closed his eyes and collected himself before turning his attention back to Geralt. “I- am quite livid . . . with the world. That you’ve been given such a shit hand . . . that you feel the need to- quite literally alter yourself in order to- what- I don’t understand. What you thought you were accomplishing by this? Why would you do something like this? Because people don’t like that you have fangs?” Jaskier asked incredulously. He was trying to take this at Geralt’s pace. Trying to speak slowly, with less words. He didn’t want to overwhelm Geralt, and he certainly didn’t want to make him feel even worse about this whole situation.
Geralt nodded slowly, “Hmm.”
That certainly wasn’t helping. “Hmm, what? What does that mean.” Jaskier retorted in slight frustration.
Geralt seemed rather lost in thought for a few moments but he finally spoke up. “Did you know that my fingernails are about three times as thick as yours? And that they are substantially stronger when they grow in. It is nearly impossible to break them on something like- fabric or getting my hand caught in a pinch.” He commented slowly, quietly. “I clip my fingernails only after they’ve soaked in hot water for a bit, because otherwise your clippers would do nothing on them.” He said.
Jaskier stared at him, a frown tugging at the corner of his lips. “What?”
“But I clip them because if I don’t, they grow in like claws. They are sharp. Dangerous.” Geralt explained. He seemed to regard Jaskier carefully. “If I try to shake on a deal for a contract and the employer sees the state of my hands- well, they’ve gone so far as to tell me to fuck off. Assure me they will find someone less- atrocious to deal with their problems.”
The frown grew and Jaskier shook his head. “Over your fucking fingernails? That’s ridiculous.” He snapped.
Geralt watched him and hummed, neither agreeing or disagreeing with the bard. Geralt was well aware that it was simply the straw that broke the camel's back. That the employers were simply afraid of him, and reluctant to hire him anyway, but it was the first genuine excuse that they had to get rid of him. He continued. “If we go to a court, one at which you are playing, and they serve me a meal without hassle? I count myself as grateful for the evening. There is no reason to send it back.”
“Unless it’s cooked in a way that’s unbearable for you!” Jaskier argued. “There is no reason for you to eat something disgusting and over-seasoned when you prefer raw meat!” He said adamantly. He shifted where he was sitting to get more comfortable. He mimicked Geralt’s meditative position, legs folded over each other, and sat close. Their knees were touching. “It’s not like you’re asking them to prepare a meal that will take another two hours to make.”
Geralt nodded some and smiled, “No, you’re right. It takes no time to cut a slab of raw meat for me. It also takes no time to see the blood run down my chin, deem me too animalistic and kick both of us out. You lose a night of playing, not to mention the pay for your work. And if I’m not mistaken you also enjoy leaving those parties with a young man or woman at your side.” He commented. He couldn’t help but smile at the heat on Jaskier’s cheeks. There was no need to be bashful over something like that.
The bard protested weakly, “But you like raw meat . . .”
“So do dogs.”
Jaskier frowned and shook his head, “That’s not fair. You’re not a dog.” He said, voice soft.
Geralt hummed, “No. I am far more dangerous. A wolf, actually.”
Jaskier’s head dipped and he stared at his hands, clasped in his own lap. He noticed how light and small and weak his fingernails were. How he could do little more than scratch someone, let alone use them to cause actual damage. He supposed that he had seen Geralt let his nails grow out and use them when facing a nasty creature. Still . . . for such harsh judgement to be passed over something like that? God forbid Geralt wants to eat whatever the hell he damn well pleased!
Growing up in Lettenhove, Jaskier had seen just how hateful and judgmental people could be when they were sheltered and bigotted. He’d lost his family to their own ignorance. He was far from naive to the way the world could be so horribly cruel . . . but it hadn’t occurred to him in so long. He’d run away from that life of judgement and torment. Geralt hardly could do that. Not when hatred for his kind seemed to run through every main source of water, poisoning anyone who was foolish enough to drink from seemingly innocent cups. Not when there were physical appearances that gave away his identity to whomever wanted to know it.
He perked up slightly, “The purring-! That’s far more cat-like than anything else-”
It was Geralt who blushed this time, shaking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. “I suppose it is.” He agreed. “Believe it or not, I don’t think the animal matters. So long as the similarity serves to remind people I’m not human.” He admitted. “Though- That’s something I can usually control.”
An upsetting train of thought ran through Jaskier’s mind and he couldn’t help inquiring, “Does it hurt- in your chest or something?”
“Not to- . . . uh. Purr?” He asked.
Geralt smiled softly and shook his head, “No. It does not. The only strain is making certain I am never so distracted that I don’t realize I’m doing it . . . You and a whore or two are the only people who’ve ever managed to direct my mind elsewhere long enough for me to relax like that . . . “ He explained. “Though they were both far more . . . uh, blatantly disgusted? I think, would be the most accurate way to describe the sentiments.
Jaskier wouldn’t admit to the thoughts that ran through his mind at the knowledge that there were some ways that Geralt compared him to a whore. He supposed he should be offended, but instead he found himself curious as to whether or not he could distract Geralt the same way a prostitute could. If he’d do an even better job. He shook his head to clear those thoughts away and bit the inside of his cheek. “I like the purring. I think it’s cute.”
Geralt laughed and shook his head, “I was never meant to be cute . . . but thank you for your kind words. Hollow as they might be.” He dismissed the compliment, much to Jaskier’s frustration.
But suddenly it was making a lot more sense. Knowing how very insecure and weary Geralt was of looking any more like a witcher than he had to, explained why Geralt always waited until the potions wore off before returning to camp. Explained why he was always quick to hide in their room whenever they got to a tavern. To groom and clean himself up.
He might not take great care of his hair, or wear softer, more comfortable clothes, but it was because his efforts went into trying to- soften his appearance. No matter the cost. “Does it hurt?” He asked again and reached up without thinking. He gently held Geralt’s jaw, running a thumb over Geralt’s bottom lip. “When you file them . . . does it- do you feel it?”
Geralt glanced down and nodded. Lying would do little good. Jaskier made a noise that sounded a lot like heartbreak, and for the first time Geralt seemed to be bothered by this conversation. He seemed to regret hurting himself to please others.
“Why? Why would you do this? They aren’t worth it, you shouldn’t have to hide- let alone continually harm yourself just to . . . fit in.” Jaskier said adamantly. He looked over Geralt’s face. The witcher finally looked like he regretted his behavior.
He hadn’t realized that it would also hurt Jaskier.
“That’s just- the way things are.” He said, resignation evident in his voice.
Jaskier shook his head and his free hand grabbed Geralt’s arm. “No.”
“I- know you’re trying . . . to change the world’s perception, but this isn’t something you can fix. And it sure as hell is not something you need to take responsibility for.” He said evenly.
“No.” He muttered.
Geralt smiled gently and shook his head, “I know. I know it bothers you. But we can simply go back to pretending you didn’t know-” He started to offer.
Jaskier didn’t even have to say it this time, hie expression said enough. No.
Geralt sighed, “Then what do you want me to do? I can make certain that I don’t do this in a shared room again. I am not trying to make you uncomfortable.”
Jaskier shook his head more firmly and gripped tighter. “No.” He said again. Jaskier took a deep breath and shook his head, looking at Geralt with stern concentration. “You will have to stop. Stop doing things to yourself that will hurt you. Stop doing things that take away your advantages and strengths. Stop hiding the parts of you that display your joy even if it isn’t with words.” He said and shook his head, “Because- I’m a narcissist. And I don’t care about other people. I don’t care who is afraid of you because your teeth are sharp, I don’t care who wants to gawk at your hair or your eyes or your gods damned fingernails. I care that you are happy. And healthy. And sure of who you are. Not hiding it because the world is full of idiots. Please, Geralt. I don’t care how far we have to travel to get to a place that accepts you for who you are and how you look. Any place in between us and there does not deserve your help.”
Geralt frowned ever so slightly. He had the arguments in the back of his mind, honestly, he’d prepared them when he first thought that Jaskier knew what he did to fit in with the crowds that Jaskier so often enjoyed. Seeing as he never had to use them, they were perhaps a bit rusty, but he had them . . . . Except that, Jaskier was looking at him in such a way that Geralt knew he’d already lost this fight. It was rare. Incredibly. Rare for Jaskier to decide something so vehemently that there was no changing his mind. Rarer still for Geralt to genuinely be unable to change Jaskier’s mind about something . . . But he could see now that this was not a fight he was ever going to win. Now that Jaskier had noticed, he would be on the watch and if Geralt’s teeth so much as seemed shorter Geralt would hear about it. He’d suddenly lose his files.
He stared at Jaskier and sighed, and then finally nodded, “I will stop filing my teeth.” He said, trying to sound exasperated. Trying to make it seem like it was a ridiculous concern and even more ridiculous a request . . . but that he’d do it anyway. Simply because Jaskier asked.
Jaskier gave him a small exasperated laugh. “Thank you. Yes. Please. Stop- gods, Geralt. Stop filing down your own damn teeth.”