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To Help, Not Hurt

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The hunt shouldn’t have been too difficult, Geralt had determined from the villagers’ terrified whispers that a wyvern had been carrying off the local livestock into a nearby swamp. What he hadn’t realized was that the villagers’ indescision on the size of the beast meant that there were actually three. When he’d found the poor creatures they’d been ravenous, little more than skin, teeth, and bones. It was clear they were young and had left their mother’s care too early, and Geralt felt almost bad for the sorry little things. That pity quickly evaporated when the wyverns’ lack of size and strength was made up for with their speed and vicious hunger. 

One exhausting fight and several potions later, the wyverns lay slain around Geralt, his teeth bared as he panted, his eyes blackened to pitch and framed with strikingly dark veins. He was at least relieved that Jaskier had actually listened to him this time and stayed behind when Geralt had told him to. He was loathe to frighten the bard while he looked like this. But of course, he hadn’t listened. Why would the bard choose now to start listening to him when he rarely heeded Geralt’s warnings of danger before?

“Geralt!” The bard’s footsteps were loud to Geralt’s over-enhanced ears, treading noisily through the underbrush towards him. He turned away as Jaskier broke through, arms flailing and his lute strapped securely to his back.

“Geralt? Ah there you are! I was hoping not to miss all the action since you always leave out details but it seems I was too late for- three?!” His animated babbling is cut off with a squawk when he finally catches sight of the creatures. “Oh that councilman is going to be paying more than triple for this, he barely offered a reasonable fee for one and we both know he was going to try and cheat you out of even that pathetic-”

Jaskier.” Geralt’s growl was rougher than usual, hissing through gritted teeth as the remainder of the potions burned through his veins. Jaskier’s tirade is cut off again, and Geralt can feel the bard’s eyes on him. 

“Are you injured?” he asks, sounding concerned. Geralt grunts a negative but keeps his face turned away. He hears Jaskier’s footsteps draw closer, irritation in his voice. “Geralt I swear if you’re pulling your ‘oh I’m a big bad Witcher who can survive anything out of pure stubbornness’ bullshit, I will knock you out and drag your sorry ass to a healer myself.” Geralt holds in a snort at that, the bard was unlikely to be able to incapacitate him even if he was injured.

A hand lands on Geralt’s shoulder, and he jerks away from the touch. “Geralt,” two hands now, grasping at his armour and pulling him to turn around. “Geralt, look at me.” Jaskier snaps, pulling harder and squirming to resist Geralt’s attempts at pushing him back. Jaskier manages to wriggle a hand around to reach for Geralt’s face and Geralt grabs it, unable to quell his instinct to face the perceived threat, teeth bared in a snarl.

The moment Jaskier’s eyes land on Geralt’s face he inhales sharply, the sour scent of his fear filling the air. Geralt purses his mouth, jerking his chin to the side and waits for Jaskier to shove him away. Waits for the inevitable sound of his bard running away in terror, having finally glimpsed the monster he’d really been following all this time.

Except there was no shoving, there was no running away. Instead his grip tightened around the straps on the front of Geralt’s armor, pulling him closer. And he began speaking, rapidly, to match his racing heartbeat that Geralt could hear.

“Geralt, what is this? Is it poison, or v-venom, or whatever these creatures have? Geralt what do you need, Geralt what can I do?” He sounded close to panic, but Geralt stood stunned by the realization that Jaskier wasn’t afraid of him but instead afraid for him.

“Potion.” he managed to bite out. Jaskier hastily cast his gaze around the clearing, searching for Geralt’s bags.

“Where are they? Which one-“ Geralt shook his head, cutting him short. He took a deep breath, summoning the words.

“No. This is the potion.” Jaskier’s face scrunches in confusion, and Geralt gestures to himself. “It does this, it’s not venom.” he explains.

“So, it’s one of your Witchery brews that does this?” Jaskier ventures. Geralt nods. “And there’s no deadly venom currently melting your insides into soup?” Geralt shakes his head. Jaskier visibly relaxes, relief pouring from him in waves as the scent of fear dissipates. He sags forward, dropping his forehead to Geralt’s chest. “Gods Geralt, don’t scare me like that,” he breathes, “I thought for sure you were dying on me.” Geralt doesn’t know how to respond, but he tries to hold still even as his body itches to move while the potions still course through him.

Jaskier lifts his head, eyes curious as his eyes rove over Geralt’s face. He lifts a hand to run his thumb across Geralt’s cheekbone where he knows the veins are darkened and prominent. Geralt tries to suppress his flinch at the touch, but Jaskier notices. “Does it hurt?” he asks gently.

“No.”

“Liar.”

Geralt huffs out a short breath, thinking of how to explain. “The potion enhances the senses. It doesn’t cause pain, it is just...” he struggles for the right words, “... a lot.” he finishes lamely. Without a fight to focus his heightened awareness on, the lasting effects leave him feeling charged and restless. But Jaskier just nods, understanding. Always understanding.

His other hand raises to frame Geralt’s face, cool fingertips brushing over his forehead and under his eyes as Jaskier continues to peer curiously at him. The touches become smoother, rubbing delicately at his temples, over the hinge of his jaw. Geralt allows his eyes to slip closed as Jaskier’s thumbs slide up the bridge of his nose, pressing softly under the arch of his brows. His focus slides into the soothing pressure, his jaw unclenching and his breath slowing.

Geralt sinks into the relaxing movements, tension slowly easing as the final effects of the potion subside. Finally, yellow eyes open and he is met with a look of nearly unbearable softness on Jaskier’s face. But the bard perks up almost immediately, grinning brightly and drawing his hands back to clasp them together in front of his chest. Geralt misses them already.

“So! Shall we head back for the payment you are duly owed?” Geralt hums noncommittally, turning and kneeling to collect his proof of the kills. “Not to mention I’ve a new song to compose, an epic battle against three mighty wyverns!” Geralt does snort at that. The starving juveniles were hardly mighty. “And what do you think of this; the Witcher’s eyes as black as night / It’s certain then he’ll win the fight.” His voice carries through the trees. Geralt frowns. “Not my cleverest accomplishment I’ll admit, but it’ll be fine with some work.” Geralt stands with his trophies collected, begins the trudge back to the village.

“Don’t put that in a song.” He growls. Behind him Jaskier’s sigh sounds wounded, and he sways dramatically into a nearby tree before following. Geralt turns a severe glare in his direction, and the bard is entirely unaffected by it.

“So cruel is my muse.” He sighs, sliding his lute from his back. “It was quite the stunning look though.” He says, and Geralt is struck dumb by his words. He jerks his head around to stare at the bard, but Jaskier is absently plucking at his lute. He grumbles something that sounds suspiciously like ‘unfair’ and distractedly strums a few chords, muttering to himself about what rhymes with wyvern.

Stunning? Geralt thinks, almost hysterically. He must’ve misheard.

They continue their walk to the village, accompanied only by the sounds of their footsteps and Jaskier’s soft humming.