The last words a soulmate ever speaks to their other half is written somewhere on the body - usually on the wrist. As far as Jaskier knew, he had no words, not even hidden on his back or the crease where thigh met buttock. He figured it was fair enough, he was a little unusual, it was probably just as well he didn’t have a soulmate. Because he died at a bit of an alarming rate. Jaskier just didn’t have the common sense most people did, ran into danger, dove head first into anything that looked fun or exhilarating and was sometimes rewarded with a great tale. Other times, he died. Just a little. But he always came back. So he had a lot of last words and could never truly guess whether they would all be on a soulmate’s body or if only his very very very last words would adorn someone’s skin if he had a destined other half. But, considering his skin was clear of all words, it wasn’t something he had to worry about.
By contrast, Geralt had an existential crisis when his words faded into existence. The first sentence had him absolutely giddy with excitement, it seemed even one destined to be a Witcher could have a soulmate. Only, the words didn’t stop coming. Over the course of two weeks, it wasn’t one line that darkened on his skin. He wasn’t even an unlucky rarity with two, one on each wrist. No, his body was a canvas filled with a variety of phrases from “oh shit” to “hey come look at this” and “ooh, tasty!” All the way to much more sinister things like “Run!” and “Take me instead” as well as “I love you.”
He couldn’t help but wonder what kind of star-crossed life he was destined to lead if he had so many soulmates and they all died. While Witchers lived for unimaginable number of years, usually killed before they grew old, Geralt knew that even if he found human soulmates, he couldn’t have so many he outlived. There were over three dozen lifetimes ending on his skin. So, he did the only thing he could. Wore long sleeved, dark clothes, hid his shame, avoided all contact and relationships, fearing that any attachment would spell doom for the poor idiot who ended up as a soulmate of his.
It was all going surprisingly well until a curiously upbeat bard decided to not just approach him but accompany him. Against his best judgement, Geralt permitted it. He had been lonely, the company was welcome even if he acted like it was a burden. But Jaskier made life more pleasant, his chatter and songs a nice break from the monotony of Roach’s silence and the scream of monsters.
They were foraging for berries to garnish their rabbit with when Geralt heard some words that sounded vaguely familiar.
A moment later there was a coughing, choking gasp from the thickets Jaskier had been. It was the first time Geralt’s heart stopped out of fear. He pulled his shirt up and looked at the words on his abdomen, thick, black and clear as day, “Oooh, tasty!”.
“Jaskier!” he bellowed and charged towards the bard. He got there just in time to see Jaskier wipe frothing spit from his lips and cough awkwardly.
“Maybe leave those berries out of our dish.” He nodded towards some bright red berries that looked poisonous, Geralt didn’t even have to know what they were to know that.
Still, Jaskier was alive and that was all that mattered. But some phrases kept Geralt up at night. He heard Jaskier exclaim “hey come look at this” and by the time he was there, Jaskier had a very angry bear next to him, bear cub defensively behind her. And a curious amount of blood on the ground.
Things made more sense when Geralt was called to deal with some kikimores. Jaskier was hot on his heel, merrily chattering away when the forest around them went still. They spotted the kikimore nest too late and Jaskier could only shove his lute at Geralt with a harsh “run!” before he was being dragged away, into the lair.
The fact he resurfaced a few minutes later, spluttering and indignant would have been funny if Geralt hadn’t been in the middle of avenging him. Once the immediate danger was dealt with, they could sit down, tidy up and have an open and honest conversation.
Geralt even took his shirt off, showed off all the various last sentences and Jaskier took them in with wide eyes.
“Yeah, I die a lot,” he admitted after a minute of awed silence. “Here.”
Dipping his finger in the ash of their dwindling fire, Jaskier began to cross off all the words that they had died and lived through. It became a ritual after that, whenever Jaskier died, he engaged in a complicated game of word search on Geralt’s skin to find the phrase and crossed it off. Some were funny, like that time he said “I love you” while Geralt was taking a bath, slipped on some spilled water and smacked his head on the dresser. He woke up to Geralt giggling hysterically.
But others were worse, Jaskier never spoke of what happened after he said “take me instead” to some bandits and made Geralt walk away. It took him a few days to return and he was unusually silent.
One conversation was a constantly recurrent topic. Logic dictated that if Jaskier’s words were all over Geralt’s body, then they were soulmates. And yet Jaskier’s body was still as pristine as the day he was born. Geralt checked him regularly and thoroughly but no words ever showed up.
“How long do Witchers live for?” Jaskier asked as he was settled between Geralt’s legs, leaning his back against a firm chest, by the glowing embers of a fire. He could feel the shrug even if no words came. “See, I think we are soulmates. I definitely want you to be mine at any rate and there’s no disputing that I’m yours. Which makes me think, I die enough for the both of us. Maybe I have no words because you just never die.”
It was something that drew a laugh from Geralt, deep and rumbling. He liked the idea but didn’t put a lot of faith into it. But he didn’t argue, after all, his track record for immortality was so far, so good. And if Jaskier was right, well, they had the rest of times to discover that.