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The Boy who Ran

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Leaving the Feywilds had been scary. Jaskier has had a rough start back in the human world. After spending who knew how much time with the Fae - eating their food, singing their magic-filled songs, living carefree amidst the chaos that swirled through their realm– it had been strange to come back to a world where everything could be a threat. It had been scary, intimidating and oh so exiting.

Eventually, Jaskier had found his footing in the human world. Or rather, he had found Geralt of Rivia, who dragged him back to his feet when he misstepped. The witcher always did so with an annoyed grunt, with threats that the next time he would leave Jaskier to deal with the consequences of his actions alone.

And yet, despite his words, Geralt would always help him and make sure nothing bad happened to him until their paths separated for the winter, when Geralt would go back to Kaer Morhen and Jaskier would once again breathe in the chaos of the Fae court until it was time to find Geralt again.

“Jaskier” a barely noticeable smile tugged at the witcher’s lips, as Jaskier finally caught up to him. “How is it that we keep running into each other?”

Jaskier let out a bright laugh. “A strange coincidence, really.”

Except it was as far from a coincidence as could be. It wasn’t hard for someone who had lived with the Fae to find who they were looking for as long as they knew their name. “It’s good to see you again, my friend.”

Geralt hummed and Jaskier’s smile brightened. So they have finally reached a stage where Geralt wasn’t denying their friendship any longer.

“So where are you going?”

“Hunting.”

“What? I never would have guessed.” Jaskier huffed and bumped into Geralt’s shoulder good-naturedly as he walked alongside of his friend. “But it is very convenient. I desperately need new inspiration.”

“You’re not coming with me” Geralt grunted, but this time it lacked the bite Jaskier had learned to accept in the earlier years of their travels. “It’s too dangerous.”

A sly smirk stole onto Jaskier’s face. “You care about me.”

The grunt was answer enough.

Jaskier didn’t have a problem staying back while Geralt hunted. In fact, he much preferred it. While Jaskier knew that what Geralt did was important work, he still couldn’t find it in him to watch creatures get hurt, no matter how much time had passed.

So no, he didn’t have a problem not having to witness a fight.

He did however have a problem with the boredom. Jaskier had hoped that he could at least spend an evening drinking and exchanging stories with Geralt, before his friend would need to get back to work. He had looked forward to it.

Instead he watched Geralt disappear from his sight to chase some monster.

Jaskier sighed. It was just so boring without him around. What was Jaskier supposed to do while he waited? He had already sung so much that flowers had started to blossom around him.

It was nice to see that he still held some of that chaos he from the Feywilds within him. It wasn’t nearly as much as a born Fae held, but it was a part from the home Jaskier had found.

If only he could share the wonderful things he could do with Geralt. He wanted to show him how his songs could summon sunshine and how flowers could bloom where he danced. He imagined the wonder in Geralt’s eyes when he showed him all he could do.

In his heart of hearts, he knew it was an improbable fantasy. Geralt had no use for flowers and magic songs. Jaskier didn’t need to show him those things for Geralt to like him. The witcher might not ever say it, might even deny that they were friends, but Jaskier knew the witcher liked him as he was.

He sighed once more and stood up. Surely, Geralt must be done with the fighting by now. He should go after him and see if there was anything Geralt needed.

A screech behind him, made him pause. He turned around, a smile parting his lips as he saw the beast. The creature was magnificent. Sharp talons, even sharper teeth and wings that blocked out the sun. Jaskier had never seen such a creature, but he recognised it from Geralt’s descriptions. A forktail.

And it was headed straight for Jaskier.

What had Geralt always told him? If he ever saw a beast that seemed even in the slightest threatening, he should run and call for Geralt.

Now, Jaskier had neither a problem with running, nor with calling for Geralt. But absolutely nothing about this creature seemed threatening. In the Feywilds, children played with draconids, so surely this forktail wasn’t a threat.

“My, you are a beautiful creature!” Jaskier called out with a brilliant smile.

The forktail landed, squashing the flowers Jaskier had summoned before and bared its teeth. Its tail whipped to the side, like a cat readying itself to pounce on a mouse.

Jaskier furrowed his brow.

“That is no way to greet a friend.” If there was a certain power to his voice that no human should be able to possess than that was no one’s business but his own.

The creature let out a deep growl, but it hid its teeth away again and relaxed slightly.

Slowly Jaskier approached, hand outstretched and a soothing melody on his lips. With every step he took, the folktail seemed to calm more, until finally, he was touching the creature’s muzzle.

Jaskier’s smile could brighten the darkest night, as the forktail pressed gently against his touch.

“There you go. There is nothing frightening about you, is there?”

The creature’s belly rumbled with a sound that could almost be mistaken for a purr.

“Jaskier, get away!”

Violently, he flinched at the shout and whirled around. His heart skipped a beat.

Geralt was running towards him, the remnants of his last kill still on his armour and sword, which he held ready to strike.

“Geralt, stop!” There was no power behind his words. It would have been so easy. He knew Geralt’s name. If he wanted to, he could use the little chaos he had to make him do anything he wanted. He couldn’t. Not with Geralt. Not with his friend.

Something untameable flashed in Geralt’s eyes and he bared his teeth, eyes locked onto the creature.

The creature which had snapped away from Jaskier’s touch. The gust of wind that made Jaskier stumble was the only warning Jaskier got, before the forktail swung itself up in the air, ready to attack the witcher.

With growing terror Jaskier watched as the beast swooped down on his friend, claws outstretched.

“NO!”

He reacted without thinking. His feet carried him across the grass faster than a human should be able to run, the wind giving his heels wings.

The hard impact as he pushed Geralt out of the way left him breathless, but Geralt was safe. He wasn’t lying on the ground, speared by the forktails talons.

Pain. Why was there pain? It didn’t make sense, but it was unmistakable. It felt like fire racing up his side and something wet made his doublet cling uncomfortably against his skin.

He frowned down at himself. He had been sure that his doublet had been purely blue when he had bought it. So why was there so much red? He didn’t understand.

Panic gripped at Jaskier’s heart, making him unable to breath. Dark splotches blocked his view and his heart was racing.

Through the opal glass that Jaskier seemed to be looking through, he saw a blurry figure, clad in black wielding a sword, fighting a mighty beast.

Jaskier grounded himself in the view. Geralt was safe. Jaskier had protected him, now he only needed to make sure that he himself was alright.

He just needed to breath. He could do this; he could heal himself, he had done it before. Granted, it had always been minor injuries, scratches at the most, but he had healed them.

An unbidden voice fought its way into Jaskier’s mind. Did you though? Did you ever truly heal yourself?

The words sounded suspiciously like the mockery of one of the Fae who had never truly accepted Jaskier in their midst. You are not a real Fae. You are weak. Without the magic given to you by my sibling, you would be dead or still out there living a pathetic mortal life.

Jaskier clenched his teeth, willing the voice to go away.

He wasn’t weak. He had knit his own skin back together numerous times and he would do so again.

Still, the doubt lingered, couldn’t pushed away, try as he might.

He gritted his teeth and pressed his hands tightly against the gashes in his skin. Ever so slowly, a tingle spread across his side, replaced the fire that had been raging there before. He gasped as he felt the edges of the wound begin to close.

His vision swam, the colours of his surrounding blurring together. The sounds of the fight were drowned out by the blood rushing in his ears and the hammers pounding in his head from the inside. Any moment now, his head would split in half or Jaskier would burst from the unbearable exertion it took to grasp at the chaos.

It was too much. He couldn’t do this.

He panted as he felt his hands slip away from the wound.

The treacherous voice in his head had been right. He was weak. He was unable to do anything meaningful without the gifts of the Fae. Whenever he had called upon the Fae powers before, he had been in the Feywilds, where chaos reigned and Jaskier was free to take as much of it as he needed. He had never truly on his own.

Not as he was now.

No, that wasn’t true. He wasn’t on his own. He had a friend here, one who always made sure that Jaskier was safe. He just needed to call for help. That’s what Geralt had told him. He needed to run and to call for help.

“Geralt…” The sound barely made it past his lips. The word was drowned out in the sounds of the fight. They were faint, far away, but Jaskier could make out a voice, calling for… for something. He couldn’t understand. It didn’t matter.

He needed to run. He tried to put one foot forward, but before it had even left the ground, his knees buckled.

Jaskier went to the floor with a strangled gasp, that went unheard. There he was again, that confused three-year old he had once been, crying and not knowing why no one came to comfort him.

He squeezed his eyes shut, as though not seeing the world could protect him from it. As though the exhaustion and pain in his head and side weren’t killing him.

A hand touched his face. Warm. Comforting. Geralt.

With the strength of a hundred men Jaskier pried his eyes back open. His comfort was looking down at him, fear written all over his face. There was something fundamentally wrong about it. It was too open, too vulnerable. Geralt should never have to look so afraid.

Geralt’s lips moved, but the rushing of blood in Jaskier’s ears was too loud to understand him. He concentrated, put all the focus he had on his friend hovering over him.

Slowly, as though through a mist the words gained in clarity.

“You idiot! Why did you do it?” The almost unnoticeable tremble in Geralt’s voice was enough to shake Jaskier fully awake. “I told you to run.”

Jaskier cracked a weak smile. “I did run, didn’t I?”

“You were supposed to run away from the danger.”

Jaskier tried to shrug nonchalantly to ease Geralt’s mind, but it ripped at his wounds, eliciting a gasp from him.

He blinked to vanish the dark spots that came back with a vengeance, obscuring his view of Geralt. Panic once again seized Jaskier’s heart. Seeing Geralt had grounded him, had made the pain slightly more bearable. Seeing him now disappear behind a wall of black turned Jaskier’s blood into ice. Blindly, he reached out for him. He needed to know that Geralt was still there.

Gerlat’s hand found his.

“Am I dying?”

“No.” Geralt’s tone left no room for argument or doubt. “Not while I’m here. I got you, Jaskier. Trust me.”

Something warm settled in Jaskier’s chest at the words, gave him the strength to fight against the darkness and slowly regain his sight. “You know I always trust you, Geralt.”

“Good.” A pause. “I need to look at your injury. It might hurt.”

“I trust you,” Jaskier repeated and squeezed Geralt’s hand. He needed him to know that he meant it.

Carefully, Geralt loosened his fingers from Jaskier’s. Jaskier held his breath as Geralt opened his doublet and lifted his shirt underneath. The fabric was stuck to the gash and ripped the partially dried blood away.

Jaskier couldn’t repress the startled outcry. The little healing he had managed hadn’t been nearly enough to ease the pain away.

“How bad is it?” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

“It’s bad.” Geralt gave a small sigh. Cold, steady fingers prodded at Jaskier’s skin and made him hiss. “But not as bad as I had thought. The wound isn’t that deep, actually. It shouldn’t have bleed as it did. How is there so much blood from such a small wound?”

“It’s for dramatic effect.”

Geralt grunted the way he always did, when Jaskier said or did something that some might consider stupid. The sound held fond exasperation. But more than anything, it sounded relieved.

Despite the sharp pain, Jaskier held still as Geralt cleaned and bandaged his wound, talking softly to him to distract him from the pain.

Jaskier might be far away from home, he might not have as much power, as he had gotten used to over the years, but he had Geralt. He had a friend that would take care of him.

The human world was gritty and dangerous, but as long as he had Geralt, it was the most beautiful place Jaskier could imagine.