Actions

Work Header

like a river flows

Work Text:

Jaskier is no stranger to falling in love. In fact, he would call himself uniquely qualified in matters of the heart, given his roles as a bard, a poet and an accomplished appreciator of men, women and - well, all those under the sun, really, he’d always fancied himself an equal opportunity lover.

But falling for Geralt of Rivia still blindsides him.

It’s not because Geralt isn't attractive or his type - he wouldn't be fucking the man if that was the case, after all - but because Jaskier thought he knew better . It's the reason he had felt confident sleeping with Geralt wouldn't ruin things, wouldn’t sour their friendship, that his care and admiration wouldn't turn from the platonic.

But as he lays by Geralt’s side, arm tight around the man’s narrow waist, white hair tickling his nose, Jaskier knows there’s no denying it. 

The inn currently housing them is substandard at best, the straw mattress lumpy and musty even to his human nose. He’s fairly certain he can hear mice in the walls. The lack of anything larger than a dented, shallow basin to bathe, coupled with their vigor of their prior activities, meant Geralt was smelling even more pungent than usual, an odor that by all rights should be utterly repellent. 

And yet.

And yet , Jaskier can think of no place he rather be, nothing he would rather change. Not if it meant not having Geralt in his arms like this.

He even finds himself enjoying the smell.

And, worse of all, he recognises the warmth in his chest, the smile tugging the corner of his lips even as he has such a distressing realisation.

Fuck, love . Jaskier was in love with Geralt.

He’s not sure how he missed it before, the friendship shifting into something more, nor exactly what brought on his sudden insight - maybe the sleeplessness brought on by the mice’s own vigorous mating - but he cannot undo the understanding, now that he has been made aware of it, no more than he can turn back time.

His first, slightly hysterical thought, is that he has to stop sleeping with Geralt.

It's the last thing he wants to do; even feelings excluded, the sex is great, and fun . And the Witcher is sure to wonder why Jaskier's interest had abruptly wilted, considering he'd orgasmed no less than three times the previous night.

But he finds he can't do it - can't sleep with Geralt under what amounts, in his opinion, to false pretences. For all some might take exception to his bedroom activities, he has one very firm moral code: he is always unfailingly honest with his bedfellows. He never makes something to be more than it is, never misrepresents his intentions. And their arrangement is strictly a 'lend a hand to a friend' type of situation, after all - Jaskier should know, he had been the one to proposition it, so many years before, during a particularly long dry spell, after catching himself staring at Geralt's luscious bottom one too many times. It had taken the Witcher some convincing to believe it was a good idea, but he hadn’t refused Jaskier ever since.

Well, there had been that whole deal with the sorceress and the lashing out atop of a mountain, but. Other than that.

And Geralt had been the one to chase him, to apologize and expound upon his regret for the whole thing. So it hardly counted, really.

 Luckily, they are in a fortuitous location. Unless Jaskier is much mistaken, the dingy little village they are currently occupying sits close to a fork on the road, one of which leads to his beloved Oxenfurt.

And it has been such a long time since he’s been, surely Geralt would not begrudge him a visit to his alma mater. Even if it means leaving the Witcher to his own designs for… however long it takes Jaskier to overcome this dreadful state of affairs.

Jaskier doesn't sleep that night. It’s selfish, and he knows he will feel shame at his actions upon the harsh light of day, but he can’t bring himself to mind, not just yet. If this is the last time he is to have Geralt in his arms, he wants to appreciate it properly; he never really paid it much mind, before, usually falling asleep shortly after their activities, or moving away in a sudden bout of musical inspiration.

(He maybe should have considered that more carefully, at the time. He’d had ideas for so many love ballads after laying with Geralt.)

Jaskier tucks his nose at the juncture of Geralt’s neck and shoulder, tugs the man’s back more snuggly against his chest, and sets about memorising the slow beat of Geralt’s heart. 

The next day Jaskier forces himself not to notice the looks of concern Geralt shoots his way, nor the tightness about his eyes when Jaskier proclaims it's been too long since he's been to Oxenfurt and that he should head that way.

Subtly but firmly making sure Geralt understood he was not being invited along twists Jaskier’s stomach, but it's for the best. The Witcher looks badly constipated for a moment, and Jaskier imagines he's displeased he'll have to go back to paying whores, or maybe at the fact that without Jaskier as a handy excuse, he can hardly justify staying in inns as often as they usually do.

But all will be for the best. He'll teach a semester in Oxenfurt, maybe - with luck the fall term won’t have started before he gets there - and when he meets Geralt again, he'll simply not rekindle their intimacy. Maybe Jaskier will invent some new muse or patron to convince Geralt he is taken, if the man is too insistent. It had happened before, after all. Or maybe he'll be over it all by then.]

Telling Geralt the truth doesn't even occur to him as a possibility.

It's not that he thinks Witchers can't love, he’s been around Geralt for far too long to buy into that whole nonsense about lack of emotions - he just knows Geralt doesn't love him . Jaskier had seen Geralt with Yennefer, before that ship had sunk ever so gloriously and terribly. It was certainly a far cry from how Geralt was with Jaskier.

And, well. Geralt could be an idiot, but he wasn’t stupid, and had lived a damn long life, to boot. If he was going to fall for Jaskier, he would surely have done, and realised so, already. 

Nothing to it, then.

With a forced spring in his step and friendly - friendly - goodbyes to Geralt and Roach, Jaskier set out towards Oxenfurt. 

 

-

He makes in time for the fall semester, in the end, with enough time to spare that he can comfortably air out his rooms and get himself reacquainted with the city.

Teaching, Jaskier finds, is the same as always; deeply rewarding and frustrating at turns. He enjoys the city bustle and the eager students and being able to discuss music and poetry at a much higher level than he’s usually able while on the road, but he also finds himself bored with the very same things, finds his skin itches with the desire to set out on a new adventure.  It's why he never took up the offer for a continuous position, this divided nature of his wants. But a ways into the semester, he's still at the point where the good outweighs the bad. He's content, as much as that is possible when the distance had done nothing to dull his aching heart.

Jaskier is finally leaving the classroom, after long moments of waiting for eager students to go first, as to avoid unnecessary bumping and jostling - truthfully, he's just as eager to leave, if not more, but it's hardly dignified for a professor to tussle with the students for the right to be rid of the classroom first - when he spots a familiar hear of white hair. 

“Geralt!” Jaskier exclaims, freezing in his tracks, upon spotting the witcher casually lounging - well, glowering at the students, really, but it was all the same with Geralt - outside Jaskier’s lecture hall, after his session is done. He hopes his surprise is the dominating note in his voice, that the conflicting pang of pleasure and dread that assaults him doesn’t quite make it through. Jaskier had expected it would be longer before he saw Geralt again.

“Jaskier,” Geralt rumbles - and fuck, Geralt’s voice always has him weak in the knees, doesn’t matter how long he’s known the other man. “You done for the day?” Jaskier nods, and tries not to chew through his lip as Geralt falls into step with him. 

If not for his current romantic predicament, Jaskier would be delighted by the fortuitous timing - the session he’s just finished was the last before all further academic activities are suspended for the festivities of Saovin. He had fully intended to spend this free time finishing the first major round of edits to his new poetry collection.

Never be said that suffering was without fruit. Not for a poet, at least.

As it stands, he hopes his plans won't change - for all his yearning for Geralt has only gotten worse in the time they’ve been apart, it is also a stark reminder of why Geralt can't be around Jaskier, not until the bard finds a way to get himself under control.

“Got a contract in my beloved city, I suppose?” Jaskier asks as he inwardly curses his luck. Geralt never takes contracts in larger cities - his services simply aren't as necessary in big urban centers as they are in the country - and usually, when he does, he's not given to lingering. 

“Hm,” is Geralt’s response, and, which tells Jaskier one of two things: either it is some sort of sensitive matter or so extremely dangerous Geralt thinks Jaskier would be put at risk by tagging along. Luckily, this is the one time Jaskier feels no need to push. 

“Staying long, then?” Jaskier realizes he’d made his way to his office without thinking, and is spared having to look at Geralt by the finicky door, which takes more than a couple of tries to get open, on a good day. 

Today, it takes Geralt taking the key from him. He gets it on the first time, the bastard.

“We’ll see,” is all Geralt replies to his question, and takes the time to organize his feelings under the guise of putting away the undoubtedly lackluster compositions he’s supposed to evaluate over the break. Of course, the one time Geralt doesn't seem to be in a hurry to put as much distance between himself and humanity as possible has to be when Jaskier desperately needs him to.

Explanations - or lack thereof - of what Geralt was doing in Oxenfurt, as well as more tidying than he can reasonably justify, done, Jaskier puts on his best smile and finally turns to face Geralt properly - a clear mistake. Geralt always looks so damn good without his armour - not that he doesn’t look good in it, mind, but there’s a softness, an intrinsic vulnerability to seeing a man usually so covered in layers with only soft cotton between him and the world. He still has his swords, of course, no Witcher worth his salt would ever leave them behind, but the point still stands.

“Accompany me for a drink, then? The Rosebud is ought to have some sort of special due to the approaching festivities.” It’s his favorite watering hole in Oxenfurt, something Geralt must know well enough by now, and Geralt nods his ascent accordingly, though there’s a peculiar furrow of confusion that accompanies it. 

Jaskier can hardly turn the Witcher away, after all, regardless of his inner turmoil; they've been friends for nearing two decades, and friends come first. Their friendship is the last thing Jaskier wants to risk, is the reason he desperately does not want Geralt to discover his feelings; losing it because Jaskier was trying to protect it would be some very cruel irony, indeed.

The way to the tavern is blissfully short, thankfully, for the conversation is horribly stilted, Jaskier uncertainty on how to act in light of his feelings not aided by Geralt frowning in his general direction at an above average rate. Jaskier starts feeling self conscious about his appearance - his hair is longer than he usually keeps it, and it’s is possibly the first time Geralt is seeing him with anything like the carefully trimmed facial hair he has grown since their parting. Being clean shaven is usually his preference, but it lends him some gravitas, he feels, which helps with the older, stuffier faculty who never miss a chance to look down on him, but Geralt seems definitely displeased by it, if the looks he's shooting Jaskier are anything to go by.

Things become easier as alcohol works it’s magic. They themselves back to their old rhythm, words flowing more freely from Jaskier along with the ale. Geralt… well, Geralt is as Geralt always is, but the seemingly perpetual frown is eventually replaced by the slight smile he usually dons when relaxed; not that it would be considered a smile on anyone else, the slight upturn of one corner of his mouth, but Jaskier knows better. 

Jaskier is both enjoying himself - how could he not, it’s Geralt - and wishing desperately he was back in his quarters, with a bottle of aged redanian brandy for company.

But he can hardly take Geralt there - it’s the first thing he would have done, before, soon followed by a tumble to celebrate their reunion, no matter how short their time apart had been. But now it is the last thing Jaskier wants - or, well, no, he wants it, had thought about it nearly incessantly since the last time he saw Geralt, he just cannot let it happen. Having Geralt in his rooms always did things to Jaskier’s libido, something about seeing the man surrounded by finery and all of Jaskier’s favourite things. He hardly expected to be able to control himself if that happened.

The ale, or perhaps the proximity to the witcher, must have gotten to his head, because he finds himself lost in a memory of Geralt, skin still glistening from a bath and smelling of Jaskier’s favourite oils, spread out delectably on Jaskier’s silken sheets, his hair loose in shiny waves, fawning out on the tall pillows under his head.

In his defense, it’s such a good memory. 

He can hardly explain it to Geralt, however, when he realises the witcher had been speaking to him; he doesn’t seem too bothered, however. In fact, had he been anyone else, Jaskier would have gone as far as say he looked fond .

“Sorry, Geralt, my dear; the day seems to have caught up with me,” he says, by means of excuse, though he realises the truth of his words when he feels a yawn threaten to make way to the surface. Indeed, the tavern is nearly empty, betraying the lateness of the hour.

“It is no matter,” Geralt says, far too gently. “We can.. retire, if you wish.” It takes Jaskier a moment to understand the implication of Geralt’s words - aided, absurdly, by the witcher’s thumb caressing the inside of Jaskier’s wrist, where it is hidden from the rest of the tavern by a collection of empty beer steins.

His mind feels suddenly as empty as his mouth feels dry; he wants , ever so horribly, and can hardly recall why he cannot. Even less can he remember what he had planned, in such a situation.

Jaskier realises he has taken too long to formulate a response when Geralt abruptly removes his hand and sits back, expression suddenly shut off.

“Unless, of course, you would rather I find myself lodgings elsewhere.” His tone is not harsh nor cold, but flat nearly to the point of emotionless. For the first time that night, or so it seems to Jaskier, Geralt looks away, but before he does Jaskier catches the briefest flicker of an expression that a lovelorn fool such as himself might call disappointed. It's gone as soon as it appeared, probably only an effect of the flickering light, for sure, but it is enough to weaken his resolve.

"Don't be absurd," Jaskier tells him, far more softly than he intended.

Unfortunately for Jaskier, neither the process of settling their tab with the drowsy madam, nor the brisk air nor the short, silent walk to Jaskier’s university-provided rooms is sufficient to clear Jaskier’s mind enough to help him formulate a plan to avoid his witcher. 

The truth is he doesn’t want to, simply; when they arrive, much too quickly, and Geralt, quiet and hesitant, reaches for Jaskier, he goes, determined to leave his regret for the next morning. 

Jaskier never claimed to be particularly strong willed.

The kiss is not what he would have expected, after so long apart; usually there’s more heat, desperation. Frequently, there’s teasing and laughter, too, specially if they had both been in their cups. Now, however, Geralt is holding Jaskier’s face almost delicaly in between his large hands, kissing him slowly and sensuously. It makes Jaskier want to tear out his skin, and he tries to press into the kiss, turn it dirty and aggressive, anything, since worse than enduring such torture is only the idea of ceasing to touch Geralt.

But despite Jaskier’s best efforts, Geralt expertly gentles the kiss, his fingers sliding into Jaskier’s hair to rub tiny circles into his scalp. 

It’s too much, far too much, and Jaskier finds himself breaking for air, but at the same time tugging Geralt even closer and baring his throat in invitation. 

He thinks the maneuver might have inadvertently led to his desired outcome when Geralt growls low in his chest, the vibration tangible against his hands where they are tangled into the front of Geralt’s shirt, but instead of the ravishing Jaskier half expects, Geralt noses his throat instead and breathes deeply, obviously scenting him. It’s something Jaskier never grew quite used to, that makes him aroused and self-conscious in turns, but he hardly has time to think about it before Geralt is licking a stripe up his neck, causing a moan to escape Jaskier.

“Can never decide which is better, your taste or your smell,” Geralt murmurs against his neck, and fuck, he’s trying to kill Jaskier, isn’t he, that’s the only explanation here.

“Bed,” Jaskier whines, urgently, both to avoid dealing with this strangely verbose Geralt - the man had never been one to talk during sex, why did he have to start now - and because his knees are feeling approximately the same consistency as the fruit pudding served at the faculty dining on special occasions. Geralt is only too happy to oblige Jaskier, even if the way he slides his hands behind Jaskier’s thighs and picks him up hardly lessens Jaskier’s inner turmoil. 

“Eager,” Geralt chuckles, before walking them towards the inner chambers and setting  Jaskier carefully upon the ornate bed.  

Fuck ,” Jaskier says, to keep himself from saying worse; between the alcohol and the heady feeling that is simply being the focus of Geralt’s attentions, he hardly trusts himself to speak.

“There’s no rush,” Geralt answers, settling beside Jaskier, the grandiose bed enough for both to lay comfortably with room to spare. It’s such a far cry from the cramped beds and bedrolls they’ve shared during their travels, and usually Jaskier would take a moment to luxuriate in it, consider the possibilities such setting might facilitate, but now thinking of it brings a pang to his heart. For all he is pretending to ignore it, he is aware in the back of his mind that this is to be their last time. He is allowing himself this moment of weakness, but he cannot let it go any further. To do so would only spell disaster.

Jaskier’s brought back to present by Geralt’s hands, dexterously undoing the buttons of his shirt, the professorial robes he had on dropped somewhere on the floor already, to be tripped upon in the morn; Jaskier feels like he is about to overheat despite the growing exposure of skin, since each inch uncovered is followed by Geralt’s warm lips on the revealed skin. 

When Geralt finally lifts his head, Jaskier is ready to thank whatever gods there are for the reprieve, only to be pinned by Geralt’s cat like eyes, glowing faintly in the low light. The fires are dutifully maintained by the university’s servants, but it is late enough that the embers will soon extinguish if not fed; if not for the plentifull moonlight, streaming in through the window, there would hardly be enough light for him to see by.

“What do you want?” Geralt asks, voice as wrecked as Jaskier imagines his own to be. 

“Anything,” Jaskier breathes out, because what his mind instantly provides, unprompted, sounds trite even to his bardic sensibilities, and there’s no way he is asking Geralt to make love to him.

For one, Jaskier doesn’t think he, let alone their friendship, would survive it.

“Hm,” Geralt eloquently says, and Jaskier would be glad for his companion’s return to his typical taciturn nature if it wasn’t for the fact that he can feel the rumble against his chest, where Geralt’s lips hover over his nipple, and fuck , doesn’t that go straight to his cock. 

Geralt laps at the pink nub almost lazily, before tugging it lightly with his teeth, and repeating, seemingly unconcerned with Jaskier’s answering keens. 

“Going to have to be more specific than that, Jask,” he says, finally moving away, only to lavish the same attentions on his other nipple. 

Fuck me ,” Jaskier finally gets out, and he’s not sure it’s a malediction or a command, but it seems to be enough for Geralt, who huffs a soundless laugh against Jaskier’s abused chest. 

“I’ll take it,” he rumbles, laying a chaste kiss to the middle of Jaskier’s chest, only to become seemingly distracted, if the deep inhale he takes, his nose pressed firmly against Jaskier’s chest hair, is any indication. “ Fuck ,” Geralt murmurs, still against Jaskier’s chest, low enough that Jaskier would not have caught it if not for the breath of air and Geralt’s lips moving against his skin. “You’re intoxicating,” he says, apropos of nothing, before sitting back on his haunches. Before Jaskier can ask - he’s not sure he wants to ask - Geralt asks, “where is the oil?”

“Same place as always,” Jaskier finds himself answering before he can think, and fuck if that doesn’t hurt. That Geralt would know him so well, would have been to this place, as infrequent a house as it is for Jaskier, enough times to know his way around.

He watches as Geralt stands, stopping briefly to feed the fire, before leaving the room to retrieve his favoured lubrication from the collection oils and such Jaskier keeps in his washroom and realises, almost hysterically, that Geralt is still fully clothed - or as fully clothed as the witcher could be considered without his armor. Jaskier himself is still in his open shirt and trousers, which have become so unbearably uncomfortable during the proceedings. He finds himself desperate to undress and to cover himself both, and it is only the sight of Geralt, carrying the familiar container, that distracts him. It is actually a mixture of soft fats, beeswax and clove oil that Jaskier himself prepared, though the recipe had come about after much experimentation with Geralt. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to touch it since his revelation, for all it is exceedingly good at it’s function - not that he had had much cause to use it, since arriving at Oxenfurt.

More distracting than the sight of the familiar jar, however, is Geralt’s curious expression as he contemplates the substance inside.

“What is it?” Jaskier asks, suddenly nervous. He’s not sure what Geralt is thinking, but somehow he doubts it to be beneficial to his current predicament. 

“Nothing,” Geralt says, though there’s a slight smile to the corner of his lips when he settles the lubricant down on the bed besides Jaskier, leaning down to kiss him far more emphatically than he had before.

Jaskier feels like he is drowning, with Geralt’s insistent kisses and body pressing against him, Geralt’s hands seemingly all over, touching his face, his chest, pushing off his shirt, finally , positioning Jaskier’s thighs so to better slot between them, and the last thread of his resolve snaps. His own hands - finally - slide hungrily over Geralt’s form, pushing under his shirt of feel the firm muscle, scarred skin and soft hair on his chest, and fuck, he needs to feel it against his own.

“Off, take this off, hells ,” Jaskier finds himself mumbling against Geralt’s lips, to the witcher’s apparent delight. 

“Your wish is my command,” Geralt replies, laughter in his voice, and nonetheless Jaskier keens when the man moves back to give himself enough room to pull his shirt overhead. “Needy,” he mutters against Jaskier’s mouth when he settles back in place, and the feel of skin on skin is enough to rob Jaskier of any rebuttal he might have had.

It’s soon not enough, however; Geralt seems content to continue rutting in their bottoms like teenagers, at least for the time being, but Jaskier quickly finds himself attempting to pawn off Geralt’s trousers, his own, anything for some level of relief . He craves the mindless feel of a good fuck, he knows that if only Geralt touches him than maybe he can silence his thoughts, if only temporarily.

Geralt does grant that wish, too, to his credit. The sight of his thighs and glimpse of his frankly excessive bottom when he stands up to remove those thrice damned trousers makes Jaskier briefly reconsider where this is going, but he quickly discards the notion; he knows that if he was to fuck Geralt, things would get out of hand quickly. They do it that way far more often than the reverse, when on the road - witcher mutations mean no trouble riding in the morning, and Geralt enjoys it so , after all - but in his current emotional state, Jaskier knows he’d show his hand far too easily if he where to take the witcher. Wouldn’t be able to make the act anything other than a physical show of his feelings, not with the heady trust it implied nor with the way Geralt usually prefers they face each other.

Not that Geralt plans to do it any other way, now, apparently; Jaskier turns around as soon as he manages to get his breeches off, but as soon as he does, thankful for the respite of hiding his face, Geralt’s large, warm hand is on his hip, urging him to flip again.

“I want to see you,” Geralt says, as he often does, one of the rare instances where he voices his desires in bed; Jaskier could never quite figure why he insists on it. It makes sense he wouldn’t want to turn his own back on anyone, even Jaskier, not after so many years of witcher training and the constant paranoia that surrounds his very existence. But when the roles are reversed? Perhaps he was afraid of hurting Jaskier, if he could not see any signs of discomfort on his face. 

Wordlessly, he does as his witcher asks, because when could he not. The answering rumble of pleasure certainly feels like a particularly sharp knife to his gut, as does the light hand Geralt runs over his forehead, pushing his overlong hair from his eyes.

“There you are,” Geralt says, like Jaskier had been away for months instead of turned for barely a handful of seconds. Fuck, Geralt must have drunk more than Jaskier realised, to be acting like this. 

Not that Geralt was ungentle with him, specially in the more recent years. But, surely not quite like this?

Rather than contemplate it, rather than suffer those amber eyes, pupils almost round with arousal but still so oddly tender, Jaskier drags Geralt down into a kiss by the back of his neck, and Geralt goes without complaint. 

If the kiss is softer than he thinks it ought to be, if he cannot resist putting every ounce of feeling into it, just this once, as a secret confession that only he will know, then well. It is not as if Jaskier expects to survive this night, not unscathed, not as he had been before.

He gets lost in the kiss, enough that he barely registers the way Geralt moves and rearranges them until there’s a slick finger rubbing circles against his entrance. Neither of them breaks the kiss, not until, after some time, Geralt finally has a thick finger fully settled inside of him, and the it is Geralt who moves, a barely suppressed growl low in his throat.

“You are so tight ,” Geralt says, voice full of awe, as he slowly works his finger in and out of Jaskier.

“I haven’t been, ah, indulging, much,” Jaskier says before he can stop himself - he’s always been vocal during sex, after all, and there’s only so much he can control, specially with the pleasant fuzz of alcohol in his head and the warm large bulk of man on top of him. Let Geralt make of that what he will; his preference mostly skewed towards women, after all, and bedding men could be tricky, sometimes. Risky, even. 

“I noticed,” Geralt says, cryptically, and before Jaskier can ask, Geralt twists his fingers ever-so-skillfully, hitting dead center of that delicious spot inside himself.

“Please,” Jaskier blabs, no idea what he is actually begging for, but Geralt gives it to him anyway, in the form of another finger. It is perhaps too soon, but he enjoys the sting, reminds him perversely that he hasn’t had anyone like this since Geralt, and there’s poetry in how the mix of pleasure and pain mimics that inside his heart.

There’s not enough begging to make Geralt hurry after that, however; the witcher takes his time, working Jaskier languidly while he licks and kisses and bites every inch of Jaskier he can reach. When he finally deems the preparation sufficient, Jaskier is panting, covered in a sheen of sweat, and pliant and loose. 

When Geralt at last slides into him, filling him up, it's a benediction, nay, it's pure relief .

" Fuck ," Geralt groans, with feeling, as he bottoms out, breath warm against Jaskier's ear. "Missed this," he says, pulling back and then breaching Jaskier again with a sharp trust. "Missed you," he adds, with another trust, sounding out of breath already, and it's such a heady feeling, that it's him undoing Geralt like this, that he affects the witcher so.

"Me too," he lets himself say, already knowing he will regret it come morning, but he can't bring himself to lie and deflect, not with Geralt so close, all around and inside him like this. He captures Geralt's lips in an uncoordinated kiss, too far gone for finesse. "Harder, I want to feel it, " he finds himself saying, because he want to be sore the next day, wants the physical remembrance to accompany his doubtlessly broken heart.

" Jask ," Geralt merely pants, deep in his chest, and complies, seemingly beyond words.

And his name on Geralt's lips is enough to push him to the edge, and he reaches to take himself in hand, only to have his hand pushed away by Geralt.

"Not yet," Geralt groans, and Jaskier keens, his world narrowed down to the feeling of Geralt filling him, hitting every so often that spot inside him, the heat of his skin, and the almost painful throbbing of his cock, pressed between their bodies but always on the edge of not enough. "You said you wanted to feel it," Geralt says, and, somehow, turns his trusts faster and more forceful, the pace almost punishing and perfect .

"Gods, Geralt-" Jaskier blatters on, nonsensical, as Geralt's hands come up to his shoulders, to hold him in place as he drives into Jaskier, the force of which is enough to rattle his rather sturdy bed. "Please, I need," Jaskier begs, as the pleasure builds to almost pain, nearly unbearable.

"I have you," Geralt mumbles, far too gently, and his calloused hand is finally where Jaskier needs him.

"Oh, yes, Geralt ," Jaskier moans, loud even to his own ears, but it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, because it’s barely a handful of strokes, firm and quick and just as Jaskier likes it, and he’s climaxing, seed covering Geralt’s hand and splattering his own middle, a dull roar in his ears. He’s idly aware of Geralt pulling out and the witcher’s own spent joining Jaskier’s, of soft lips lazy against his own, of a coarse cloth wiping the worst of the mess, of a large, warm bulk nestling next to him.

And then he’s asleep.

 

-

 

Whatever remorse Jaskier had expected to feel the following day, what he feels upon waking with Geralt in his arms is worse.

His stomach rolls in a way that had nothing to do with the alcohol he consumed the previous night, and he quickly but carefully extracts himself from Geralt, thankful that, for once, the witcher does no wake.

He at least manages to leave the bedroom, taking with him a robe to cover his nakedness, before he starts hyperventilating.  

The scenes from the previous night flash in his mind, and Jaskier feels a rare urge to cry. For all he is a poet and feels no shame in his emotions, he is not given to crying; little is worth it, he finds, and so many silver linings can be found. 

Now, however, he must close his eyes and force himself to steady his breathing.

With shaking hands, he takes his pipe and his stash of his favoured mix of herbal tobacco. It’s not a habit he indulges on the road, on the account of the price and rareness of the ingredients, but it’s useful enough for settling his nerves and helping him focus while composing that he maintains some at hand when possible.

The act of packing the pipe itself begins to settle him, and by the time the smoke has filled his lungs, his despair has morphed into anger at himself. 

Weak , he thinks, in a voice not dissimilar to his grandfather’s, may the bastard rot under the earth. 

It would have been painful to send Geralt away the previous night, yes, but much less so than what he now must do.

“Jask?” Jaskier is drawn from his thoughts abruptly by Geralt, standing at the door a mere few feet away. Jaskier hadn’t heard him - doubt he would have even if Geralt had been a regular man - and the startle was enough for him to drop his pipe.

“Shit,” Jaskier curses, not turning to look at Geralt, thankful for the excuse of recovering the fallen ashes.

“You smoke now?” Geralt asks, voice still strangely uncertain, now Jaskier has opportunity to pay attention.

“At times,” he answers, voice hollow to his own ears. His tongue feels stuck to the roof of his suddenly dry mouth, unwilling to do what must be done now he is facing Geralt, clearly still ruffled from sleep, for all he had bothered to dress himself in last night’s clothes. The sight breaks his heart in more ways than one, and Jaskier finds himself struggling to push down the sudden wave of longing threatening to take over.

“Are you alright?” Geralt asks, quietly, a wrinkle of concern firmly nestled between his brows.

“Yes,” Jaskier says, and he knows, he just knows Geralt can hear the rather transparent lie, can hear the rabbit quick way Jaskier’s heart is beating.

“Jask-” Geralt begins, only to be cut off by Jaskier.

“We shouldn’t have come back here last night,” Jaskier blurts, before his courage fails him again.

“What-” Geralt asks, and Jaskier can’t bring himself to look at him, but he knows that hollow quality, knows it means Geralt is doing his best to hide a surge of the emotions he pretends not to have.

“It’s- Geralt, it’s me, I can’t. It’s nothing you’ve done.” Jaskier forces himself not to flinch at the cliche - it’s not you, it’s me, really? Not his best writing, but it’s all he’s capable over the sound of his own heart breaking.

“Can’t?”

“Continue. This. This… arrangement.”

“Why?” The question catches him by surprise, even though it shouldn't, but his mind feels thick and dull with anxiety and heartache. 

“I just… can’t. I’m sorry. I don’t know how else to explain,” Jaskier settles on, dumbly, and he makes himself chance a glance at Geralt, can’t not know which emotions are trying to make their way on the witcher’s face. He instantly regrets it.

Geralt looks like someone shoved a dagger into his stomach. Jaskier should know, he had seen it happen.

Time seems to be suspended as Jaskier looks on while Geralt gets his expression under control, that horrible flatness taking over. Jaskier wishes, hysterically, that Geralt would rage and protest and demand an explanation, anything, and for a moment it seems he might get his wish.

“Jask-,” Geralt begins, but soon enough cuts himself off. Nods in apparent acceptance. “I’ll get my things, then.” Jaskier wants to stop Geralt exiting the study, stop him leaving altogether, but he doesn’t know what to say, how to stop him -  knows he shouldn’t. 

He considers, ever so briefly, despite everything, just telling the truth. That his rejection does not stem from an absence of affection and desire, but an excess. 

But truthfully his courage doesn’t extend that far. The idea of parting on a sour note is painful, but, he reasons, they had made through much worse, overcome harsher words, hadn’t they? Surely, Geralt would remember that Jaskier had once forgiven him a much graver trespass. 

Jaskier repeats it to himself, eyes fixed where Geralt had been, listening distantly to the sounds of Geralt dressing, strapping on his swords, putting on his boots. 

Geralt is back after barely any time at all. Jaskier is glad for the faint jangling of his swords, warning enough that he has something approaching a neutral expression when Geralt enters the study once more.

“I… apologise. For pressing when my presence was unwanted.” Jaskier’s carefully maintained placid smille falls at the words.

“Geralt, no, that’s not it,” he tries, weakly, but Geralt doesn’t seem to hear, already turning to leave.

“Goodbye, Jaskier.” And the thing is, Jaskier had steeled himself for anger. For Geralt to lash out. Not this strange… acceptance. Geralt seems cold and resigned, and that’s so much worse than any fury, the fact that Geralt would simply accept being refused as par for the course, with not explanation, nothing.

“There’s someone,” Jaskier blurts out, despite himself. He knows coming second stings, but should sting less than being dropped without explanation, and he finds he can’t stand the dejected air about Geralt’s shoulders. “I shouldn’t have, but I was drunk. You know how it is.”

“Not that drunk,” Geralt spats, anger suddenly coloring his voice in the opposite of what Jaskier had expected. Perhaps Geralt thought Jaskier was implying he had taken advantage? Quickly, he recalibrates his approach.

“No, perhaps not, but you know me, Geralt. Monogamy was never easy, for me. All I need is an excuse.” Self deprecation had always been a handy tool at Jaskier’s hands, and he employs it shamelessly now, adding a wry smile to sell the performance. It’s not even particularly untrue; quite a few of his romantic entanglements had ended quite unpleasantly after he slipped one too many times, before he learned better than to even try.

“That’s bullshit,” Geralt says, looking oddly hurt and angry.

“Yes, I always rather did think so,” Jaskier replies, with a forced smile, deliberately misunderstanding. “I am, however, trying. And failing, apparently, but I do believe my paramour will understand the... extenuating circumstances. This time. I rather you weren’t still in town, however, when I break the news. Might make it easier to forgive.” It’s a good excuse, Jaskier tells himself desperately as he watches Geralt, momentarily speechless. It both explains why Jaskier can’t bed Geralt anymore as well as assures Geralt won’t be around any time soon, specially not with winter fast approaching - Cirilla will be waiting for him in Kaer Morhen, after all. Jaskier feels bad for the mysterious contract Geralt had taken in the city, and the coin the witcher will lose, but maybe he can work a way around that. Geralt is creative like that.

“Who?” Geralt suddenly snaps, breaking Jaskier’s maniac reverie.

“Excuse me?”

“Who is this new lover of yours? To whom you’d promise yourself so completely?”

“Someone who expects discretion,” Jaskier says, the lie rolling smooth from his tongue; it’s couched in truth, after all. He’s lain with his fair share of powerful men with an excess of shame and duty. “Suffice to say, my new patron is the jealous sort.” 

“And you chose to indulge them?” Geralt bites out, his anger seemingly only increasing at Jaskier’s explanations, to Jaskier’s confusion.

“Yes, Geralt, I do,” Jaskier says, trying for defensive, but he has no idea how successful he is; his stomach is roiling, and he fears his façade will break soon if Geralt doesn’t leave. Thankfully, the witcher seems to be ready to grant him some respite; at Jaskier’s words, he turns seemingly to leave, before stopping at the door, turning his face so only his profile is visible.

“I know there’s no one else,” Geralt snarls, teeth bared. “Keep your reasons to yourself, then, bard. You will have your wish.” It’s such a horrible eccho of the previous night indulgence - your wish is my command - that it takes Jaskier a moment to parse Geralt’s meaning.

And, of course , it dawns on Jaskier with mounting horror, as he watches Geralt’s retreating back. Geralt can spot a lie a mile away, can hear the beating of his heart across the room, could probably smell the lack of another’s scent on Jaskier’s house, his bed, his skin. 

Jaskier, numb with realisation, doesn’t even flinch when Geralt slams the door on his way out.

What have I done.

 

-

 

It’s much longer, this time, before Jaskier sees the witcher again.

So many times, Jaskier had almost set after Geralt himself, made plans only to talk himself out on the next breath. While Geralt was a master of making himself scarce, Jaskier is pretty sure he could find the witcher if he tried.

He hadn’t been able to convince himself, however, that he would welcome Jaskier’s presence. Jaskier knew very well how long a memory Geralt could have. There was a bar in Novigrad Geralt refused patronage due to an incident that had happened nearly a decade before Jaskier had even been born. Jaskier shuddered to think how long it would be before he let go of the sting of Jaskier’s actions.

Would he even still be alive then? 

It was to his surprise, then, that he saw Geralt standing a few streets away from his quarters, one spring afternoon. It had been nearly exactly half a year since his disastrous visit, and Belleteyn was upon them. In the back of his head, Jaskier wondered if such meaningful timing had been deliberate, before dismissing it. Geralt had never been given to paying too much attention to such dates.

"Jaskier," Geralt says, and his voice is rough, low and gravelly in a way Jaskier finds he always manages to forget, somehow - and it's not fair, because it's been over 20 years and the way Geralt says his name still does things to him, had done purely in a platonic - or, well, sexual - way before, and now tugged at something deep inside him. Suppressing any visible effects of the shiver that runs up his spine is a nearly impossible task.

“Geralt,” Jaskier replies, dumbly, his voice barely audible to his own ears but, he knows, clear enough for a witcher’s hearing. His hand itches to reach forward and touch , certify that it’s not only his lonely mind playing tricks on him, but that Geralt is really here . Not only due to their falling off - spring is, and has been, for the past several years, Cirilla's time, to such a degree that seeing Geralt alone with buddying flowers surrounding him is almost shocking. For all Ciri is a grown women now, or near enough to not matter, there's still much she needs to learn and so the arrangement that had been made so many years before, when she had been but a child, persist - Winter and Spring for Witchering, Summer and Fall for Witching (a pun that had drawn groans for Witchers and witches alike, and, as such, Jaskier had been doubly proud of).

That's what Geralt and Yennefer had worked out once they managed to put that whole Nilfgaardian mess behind them, and Geralt has been religious about it so far. The thought of Geralt in Kaer Morhen with his child surprise and witcher-brothers had been a comfort through the previous cold months, in a way, as much as it had been painful. Comforting, because at least Geralt hadn't been alone, letting the spite burn him from the inside as Jaskier had so often seen him do. Painful, because for the last handful of years, Jaskier had also been there, if not for the entirety of winter, at least for the majority of it, courtesy of Ciri’s considerable proficience at portals.

"How's Ciri?" Jaskier asks, instead of the multitude of questions he has, because he is curious. She's not his, obviously, not like she is Geralt's, but he has spent enough time around her that he fancied himself an uncle-of-the-heart, of sorts.

"Opinionated," Geralt says, and he's gruff but there's that clear edge of fondness that he can't hide nowadays, even if he tries. "Good. Says she missed you this winter."

"I missed her too," Jaskier says.

'Missed this. Missed you,' echoes in his mind, seeming so long ago. The unsaid hangs heavily between them with the admission.

It's readily apparent his tiny sliver of hope that things would spontaneously return to normal once Geralt's ego unbruised itself had been for naught. Still, what Geralt says next takes him by surprise.

"Is there somewhere we can talk?" Geralt asks, and his face looks as pained as Jaskier imagines the request felt; he doesn't remember Geralt ever asking to have a conversation in all the decades he had known him.

"Of course," Jaskier finds himself saying, even if he desperately does not want to have whatever conversation Geralt is seeking. But he had long learned there's very little he can refuse the Witcher. Jaskier leads him towards his quarters, Geralt following him wordlessly, but instead of making their way inside, he turns towards the small communal garden behind the building. It should be fairly empty; most of his neighbours have left for Belleteyn celebrations already, so the chance of anyone running into them is low. He chances a look at Geralt and sees his decision was a good one - he's still tense, but his shoulders have gone down a fraction. Probably hadn't been looking forward to being in the place of their fight - if it could be called that; half a year and still Jaskier hadn't been able to decide. Jaskier himself still avoided the study most of the time.

Jaskier finds himself fidgeting with his rings - a nervous tell, he knows, one he's tried to train himself out of for years to no success. The garden is nothing grand, just a simple courtyard with mismatched array of plants, put there and cared for by the residents, and a couple of benches. He doesn't spend much time here - it's dreadfully cold during the colder months, and he's hardly in Oxenfurt during the warmer ones, preferring to travel. Mostly alongside Geralt.

He might be spending more time here in the future, he mournfully thinks.

Before he can decide if he wants to sit of stand, Geralt makes the decision from him, settling himself into one of the benches. He'll stand, then. 

He doesn't quite trust himself to be that close to the Witcher.

The silence stretches uncomfortably, but Jaskier, for once in his life, feels no desire to break it. He has no idea what to say, for once. And Geralt was the one who said he wanted to talk, so he could be the one to begin, he reasoned with himself, aware that he was being cowardly and childish.

"I was out of line," Geralt says, finally, and Jaskier knows him well enough to see it doesn't come through clenched teeth only through great effort. "Your business are your own. I should not have pried."

"Perhaps," Jaskier concedes, if only because in any other situation  - if his tale had been true - he would have been incensed by Geralt's words. "But I shouldn't have lied, either. I thought it would make things easier." Jaskier can't help a mirthless laugh. "Clearly I was mistaken."

The silence stretches again, and Jaskier knows already he'll be probably spending the night with a bottle of his strongest spirits, reliving every moment of this painful interaction.

"You are under no obligation to tell me. But you seemed… content. Before. What changed?" Geralt finally says.

And Jaskier appreciates Geralt giving him an out. The chance to keep his secrets. But he knew things would never be the same, regardless of what he di, the ship of their easy companionship had long sailed. And if he provided no explanation, then Geralt would be hurt. Would continue to be hurt.

Best it be him the one hurting.

"I was. I just didn't want to… trick you, I suppose," Jaskier says, putting off his confession for a few more moments, despite himself. Geralt frowns at him.

"Trick me?" 

"I seem to have made a rather foolish mistake somewhere along the way, my dear Witcher, one I am hoping you will not hold against me." Jaskier takes a deep breath, forces himself to stop meandering and avoiding. "You see, I appear to have gone and fallen in love with you."

Jaskier had hoped and feared many reactions from his confession, but a vague look of dumb confusion wasn't it.

"You feel in love with me? And so decided you no longer wanted me by your side?"

"No!" Jaskier nearly shouts, despite himself, the idea of not wanting Geralt by his side nearly as hurtful as it is preposterous. "I do want you by my side, Geralt. More than I should, probably. But I couldn't continue to lay with you without telling you, and. Well, I chose the coward's way out."

"Why?" Geralt asks, and there's a strange glint in his eyes. "Why couldn't you?"

"Because I was afraid telling you would come with our friendship as the cost. And it wasn't what we agreed on, when we started it. I couldn't just... sleep with you under false pretences."

There’s silence, for a moment. Jaskier can’t bring himself to break it, can’t even begin to imagine where they stand, now.

"I did. Have been, for a long time."

The world seems to freeze as Jaskier parses Geralt's meaning, the Witcher's eyes unwavering on his.

"How long is long?" he finds himself asking, his mouth feelings disconnected from the wild emotions truming in his chest.

"Long," Geralt says, simply, taking a step toward Jaskier. Jaskier is not sure when he even stood up. "Not… from the very beginning. I fought it, for a very long time. But I knew where I'd end up, eventually, if I accepted your offer. Couldn't say no. Could never say no, though I tried."

"That's, that's - it’s been years , Geralt." He doesn’t voice it, doesn’t want confirmation, but there’s a voice screaming in his head that it was possibly before Geralt met Yennefer, even.

"Yes," Geralt agrees, simply, and Jaskier feels dizzy. 

"But you didn't, you never said- "

"Neither did you."

"Because you didn't love me back," Jaskier replies, rather dumbly, but it can't be true, he can't wrap his mind around what Geralt is telling him.

"I did, Jaskier. But you were the one who didn't feel the same, not back then. And I didn't want you to run." Geralt pauses, and the thoughts are still running through Jaskier’s head, too many and too confusing to leave any space for him to even begin to parse what the witcher’s pained expression might mean. "Except sometimes I did. Pushed you away, figured it would hurt less, if it was all at once. If it was my choice instead of your rejection." And then it clicks, something he had never quite understood, for all he had forgiven Geralt; why the Witcher had pushed him away on that mountain top only to come back pleading for forgiveness not a few weeks later. Why his anger and hurt at being rejected had been taken out on Jaskier - someone who, in his eyes, had also rejected his love.

"How did you know I didn't?" Jaskier finds himself unable to not ask, even if he knows he’s as good as prodding at a wound; Geralt hadn’t been wrong, after all, but the image of Geralt wanting him and knowing he wasn’t reciprocated aches at him.

"You're not subtle when you're in love, Jask," Geralt says, strangely soft, and Jaskier realises with a tug in his heart he sounds nearly pained. "I saw it often enough to know."

"I would have fallen for you before," Jaskier says, quietly, something he had barely admitted even to himself. "I knew it the moment I lay eyes on you, almost. Certainly after you have the elves all your gold. But I knew - I thought - you'd never be interested, not like that. I shut down that possibility from the beginning. Couldn't let myself." Jaskier laughs, wetly. "I was always afraid of losing your friendship, Geralt. Even before you admitted there was anything to be lost."

“And if I reassure you, it cannot be lost?” Geralt asks, and Jaskier realises he’s gotten even closer while Jaskier wasn’t paying attention, and now he’s close enough that, if he wanted-

If he wanted, he could -

“What would you want?” says Geralt, and he’s close enough to kiss, close enough that Jaskier imagines he can feel his body heat, though that might just be the heated look of his yellow eyes playing tricks on his mind.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Jaskier asks, before closing that seemingly infinitesimal distance and kissing Geralt. 

Like the last time, he's surprised by Geralt's gentleness, the care and, fuck, love , he puts into the kiss, and a half formed realisation begins to take form in his mind. He finds himself breaking off the kiss, leaning his forehead against Geralt’s.

"Last time. Why were you in Oxenfurt?"

"You," Geralt says simply. "There was no contract. I just - I had to see you. You had been acting so strange when I last saw you, smelling of panic and worse. I worried. That something had happened. Or perhaps I'd done something. Something to make you run. I wanted to be sure."

"Oh."

"I was hopeful something had changed.” The admission sounds almost painful, and Jaskier finds himself rubbing his nose against Geralt’s to ease the pain. “You were still acting so strangely, but I could smell you hadn't been sharing your bed, and- I couldn't say the words, but I thought I'd show you. How I felt." A pause. "You seemed to enjoy it," Geralt continues, voice lower, the unvoiced question almost tentative. Jaskier cannot suppress another pained laugh.

"It tore me apart and made me sing, at the same time. I thought I was - reading into things, seeing what I wanted to see. And I promised myself I wouldn't lay with you again, not while I felt as I did, and I felt so guilty. For enjoying it so." It’s Geralt’s turn to offer affection to lessen his hurt, it seems, for the witcher runs his fingers tenderly across Jaskier’s cheek, almost apologetic.

“You don't have to, any more.”

“No, I don't, do I?” His laugh, this time, is short but there’s no more pain to it.

When he realises his smile is echoed across Geralt’s features, all Jaskier can do is kiss him once more. 

It’s some unfathomable amount of time later and they are lying side by side in Jaskier’s bed, warm and sated, when Geralt clears his throat.

"Tomorrow. Don’t let me forget. I have to send word to Ciri.” Jaskier, who feels his brains, at this point, are more a warm, content mush than anything else, tries to make a mental note, wondering whether he should get up to make a physical one.

“Uh, sure. What about?”

“She wants to talk to you. Said she would come down at Belleteyn to either congratulate us or make us get our shit together. Figured I should let her know to leave her daggers behind.”

Jaskier can’t help laughing. He suddenly has a feeling that everything would be alright.