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Black Sun Blood

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It took him a while to notice it.

Well, all right, no. It didn’t take him a while to notice it. Geralt could smell it coming off Jaskier constantly. Sensing a person’s fear, adrenaline, lust… all of it through smell, it wasn’t the same thing as reading a person’s mind. He could tell what someone was feeling but that didn’t mean that he was able to tell what they were about to do next, or read why they were afraid, or who they were lusting after. It was more like… just knowing someone’s emotional state.

And Jaskier always smelled like smoking, mouthwatering pork, like melting butter, with the sharp undercurrent of musk—in short, he smelled like desire. Like lust.

Really, it wasn’t any shock the idiot couldn’t keep it in his pants when he walked around like a cat in perpetual heat.

But Geralt couldn’t really blame Jaskier when the bard also smelled all the time of warm sunlight, and spring flowers, like honeysuckle—like something that Geralt couldn’t quite name, and could only call love.

Jaskier truly seemed to fall in love with every single person that he met. Like a helpless puppy, enamored with whoever was in front of him, at least for a brief time. It never seemed to last. And if he was perpetually falling in love with everyone, no wonder he was constantly smelling of lust as well.

And so Geralt did his best to put it out of his mind. If Jaskier smelled that way even when there was no one else around, even when it was just the two of them in the middle of the woods… that was best put out of his mind, too. He’d rather be back in Blaviken than admit it out loud, but the bard was his best friend. Geralt wasn’t going to let it be ruined because he gave into…

He wasn’t going to ruin it.

So while he noticed it right away, it took him a while to realize what it actually meant.

It was Yennefer who finally pointed out the truth.

“You’re an absolute idiot,” she told him. “Honestly, your looks and your swordsmanship are the only thing going for you. Jaskier doesn’t smell like that all the time. He only smells like…” Her nose wrinkled. “Like that when he’s around you.”

Oh.

It was difficult to prove, of course. If he was close enough to smell Jaskier, generally, Jaskier knew he was there. But he carefully arranged to come back to town a few times after a job and sneak around the back (convincing Jaskier to stay behind in the tavern had been more headache-inducing than fighting the damn monsters) to lurk, silently, watching as Jaskier performed.

Every time, he’d found Yennefer was right. Sometimes Jaskier would be flirting with someone and the lust smell would be there, but not nearly so strong. Most of the time, it wasn’t there at all, even though the fresh bread smell of Jaskier being pleased and happy would be there.

The sweet summer sun smell was never there. The honeysuckle was missing. The—the love smell.

Once he knew that—what the fuck was he supposed to do about it!?

There was no way he could… not when he had only recently gotten Jaskier back. Not after he’d fucked things up so badly with Yennefer. Not when he was a Witcher. He’d been gone for a few months only to return to find Kaer Morhen choking on dead bodies, children gutted and left to rot in the moat. He’d heard stories about Witchers taking lovers, and those lovers being attacked, beaten, murdered. He wouldn’t subject Jaskier to any of that, and he especially wouldn’t subject Jaskier to… well… him.

He was a monster. Mutated beyond what was natural. He was a necessary evil. He was there to do what others could not, so that people could live in safety—or, well, all right, safer than they were otherwise. And someday, Jaskier was going to see that. Someday he was going to realize that Geralt was—what they all said he was. Geralt just tried to brace himself for the day that happened and do everything in his power to delay that day.

For one thing, his hunts didn’t take nearly as long as Jaskier thought they did. When he could convince Jaskier to stay in town it was much easier. By the time he got back, the potions would have worn off and his eyes and face would be normal again (well, normal enough, anyhow). No reason to scare the villagers more than necessary. But when it was the two of them, when Jaskier insisted on watching the fight, Geralt had to either avoid the potions completely or work harder to get out of Jaskier’s sight and avoid being seen until they were pumped out of his system.

He lost track of the times he found himself sitting on a rock or crouched near a monster corpse, just waiting for his eyes to return to normal. Checking his reflection in rivers and pools to make sure. He knew what he looked like when he was like that. Like a walking corpse. Like the sort of thing mothers warned their children about, and older siblings teased the younger ones would come out of the darkness and eat them. Geralt would sit there, and wait, until the horrid jet faded from his eyes, his veins, and his skin was warm and had the tint of life to it again, and his teeth no longer looked sharp.

Then he’d get up, and collect what he had to, and return to Jaskier. And if he breathed in deeply after a hunt when he walked into the campsite, inhaling the spike in the summer sun scent that radiated from Jaskier as the bard caught sight of him, well. Nobody could tell on him.

Someday, Jaskier would know, and he’d stink of sour, acrid fear, like rotting lemons, just like everyone else. But Geralt would do everything to avoid that day. To stave it off. Just one more day, and one more, and one more, and one more.

 


 

But of course it was bound to happen at last.

Geralt finished off the kikamora, glaring down at it. Motherfuckers were hard to kill, and even with his Witcher mutations and the mutagens still pumping through him, he was breathing hard.

It took a few hard hacks with his sword to separate the head from the rest of the body. He understood why people wanted proof that he’d actually killed the creatures they’d hired him to kill, but it was another fucking annoying—

“Geralt?”

Shit.

He shifted his weight, turning his body and face away from Jaskier so that the bard couldn’t see. “I told you to wait over by Roach.”

“But how could I possibly get a good look from back there? The people demand new stories, Geralt.”

Maybe if he kept his head down… but no, there was no hope for that. Jaskier could obviously see that the monster was dead and was scrambling over the rocks to try and get a better look, kicking at the kikamora’s legs. “Oh, that is absolutely disgusting. Ew.”

For someone who was so bad at fighting and so ready to run at the first sign of trouble, Jaskier possessed absolutely no sense of self-preservation. And gods damn it, did the man have to keep smelling so happy the entire time? “Stay back.”

“Are you hurt?” Jaskier stuffed his notebook away and walked up to Geralt, who was certain his heartbeat could be heard like a booming cannon, even to a human’s ears. “You’re normally only so cranky when you’re injured, what’s the matter.”

He tried to jerk his head away, but Jaskier tugged at him—and that was when he knew Jaskier saw it.

“Oh.” Jaskier inhaled swiftly, and Geralt braced himself. Waited for the stink of fear to sour in his nose, waited for Jaskier’s face to fall and for him to stutter and step away. Jaskier’s eyes were wide, and dark, and he was still gripping the front of Geralt’s guts-covered shirt like he had forgotten what to do with his hands, or what his hands were even for.

But the sour fear never came. Instead the hot lust smell intensified.

If Geralt were the type to let his body give away his thoughts, he might have stumbled back in shock.

Jaskier was staring up at him, eyes almost black themselves as his pupils went wide, and it wasn’t fair because Jaskier didn’t know that Geralt could tell when he was—and he couldn’t know because then he’d want to know, if Geralt knew that Jaskier was serious about the could-be-played-off-as-a-joke flirtatious remarks he made, why Geralt had never said anything and he’d assume that Geralt didn’t—and Geralt did

Witchers didn’t feel, or so people said. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t. It was more that… being known as emotionless creatures was better than getting set up for more pain. Better to leave potential lovers heartbroken than have those lovers die.

“Do you always look like that?” Jaskier asked. His hands were still in Geralt’s shirt. “Is this your… true form or something?”

“Potions.” He could hear Jaskier’s racing heartbeat, so loud, louder than anything else in the world in that moment. “Move.”

He took Jaskier’s wrists and gently detached Jaskier’s hands from his shirt, pushing him back. Jaskier scoffed, but if he thought Geralt couldn’t see the blush on his cheeks despite the dusk, he was dead wrong.

“So you just… take those potions? And it makes you look like… that?”

“Hmm.” He picked up the head and started to walk back to Roach so he could shove the head into one of the sacks he kept on hand for just such a purpose.

“How have I never seen this before?” Jaskier scrambled after him. “Geralt, have you been doing this all the time? Or just tonight?”

“A few times.” Ah, there was Roach.

“How have—have you been keeping this from me!?”

Geralt rolled his eyes at Roach, who huffed in agreement. Finding the sack, he stuffed the kikimora head into it. Ugh, he could use a bath. At least now they had enough coin to make that a regular occurrence.

Why did Jaskier sound so offended?

“Honestly, Geralt.” Jaskier was getting into one of his huffy moods, clearly. “Do you have any idea what you—I could put this into a song, I mean the imagery alone, and the metaphor…”

Geralt whirled around. “Like fuck you’re putting this in a song.”

Jaskier rolled his eyes. Even with a black-eyed, corpselike, snarling Witcher in his face, Jaskier was unfazed. Geralt didn’t understand it. Why did he smell no fear? Could Jaskier truly—trust him that much? “And why not? You have no nose for artistic opportunity—”

Geralt knew he was staring, but he couldn’t help it. “Have you lost your wits?”

“Have you ever had any to begin with?” Jaskier shot back.

A growl worked its way out of his throat. Jaskier still didn’t seem fazed. If anything, the lust smell spiked. “People already fear Witchers. I don’t need to give them more reasons.”

Jaskier stepped back and slowly drew his gaze up and down Geralt’s form, as if seeing it in a new light. “Well. I suppose—some might find it disconcerting.”

…some?

“I won’t put it in a song,” Jaskier added. “If you don’t wish me to. I don’t find it—you’re still you, after all, Geralt.”

Those words echoed in his head for days afterwards. You’re still you.

 


 

Jaskier didn’t see him like that for another month.

Not for lack of trying on the bard’s part.

He was more determined than ever to join Geralt on hunts. Not on the boring ones like drowners. But the more intense ones—the ones where he must have realized that Geralt needed a bit of a boost. And he was constantly asking questions about it.

“Does it make you stronger? Faster? Does it numb pain?”

“How long does it last?”

“How do you make the potion?”

Geralt tried not to answer, to ignore him, but it was difficult to avoid Jaskier completely when the man had set his mind to something. He was worse than a dog with a bone. The only thing he could do was try to avoid taking the potions altogether—but that wouldn’t last him forever. There was going to come a time when he would need one.

That time came thanks to Jaskier, and honestly, Geralt considered punching him in the gut again over it.

It had been a month, and they were on a griffin hunt. Geralt tended to avoid going after griffins. Most of them left people alone and tried to find places away from civilization, but sometimes, one would go rogue and start going after people’s sheep. Once they had a taste for it, they’d become holy terrors to the village. And—reluctant as he might be about it—he had to take care of it.

There had only been sightings of one griffin, so he had assumed it was a lone male, perhaps driven to hunting near humans because another male had shoved him out of his territory. Jaskier had insisted on coming along, even though Geralt had told him to lie low (literally, he’d told him to lie down in the grass next to Roach, who was also lying down on command because she knew how to behave), and Jaskier was jumping up and already composing some damn song lyrics—when the second griffin swooped down and nearly took a chunk out of the bard’s arm.

Jaskier was many things, some good, some bad, but thank the gods that quick on his feet was one of them. He dove down out of the way, but now there were two griffins on them, and Jaskier was right in the middle of the battle with him and there was no way he could protect Jaskier and handle two griffins at once—

Fuck.

Geralt yanked the potion out of its pouch on his belt and yanked out the stopper with his teeth, downing the bitter drink in one swallow and sliding the bottle back into place.

Almost at once he could feel the change, the thick black fire that raged through his veins. It was like tar, like pitch, replacing his blood and being set alight with every pump of his heart.

“Does it hurt?” Jaskier had asked him once.

Yes. No. Did it matter? He was used to pain, of the physical sort.

He blinked, his eyes adjusting, his limbs twitching, energy and strength filling him. A snarl crossed his lips before he could stop it—but why should he? He was the hunter, now, the White Wolf.

Geralt had no idea what he looked like when he was like this, but he knew how others had looked when he’d watched them training back at Kaer Morhen. They were blurs, and it required the sight of a Witcher to even keep up with them. To normal humans, it was probably close to impossible.

Judging by the way Jaskier’s jaw was completely dropped by the time Geralt could look over at him, Geralt could probably guess he looked impressive. He sniffed the air surreptitiously as he walked away from the fallen griffins, cleaning his blade as he went. No fear smell. Jaskier was staring at him with dark eyes, breathing so deeply his chest was heaving, his mouth open.

“I told you to stay low.” Geralt sheathed his sword. “It almost got you.”

“I’m all right.” Jaskier scrambled to his feet. “It didn’t get me, and you—you were—”

You were an idiot.”

“—magnificent,” Jaskier went on, as if Geralt wasn’t towering over him looking like the unholy offspring of a drowned corpse and a demon. “Honestly, Geralt, that was fantastic.”

You’re still you. Geralt glared at him. “You could have died. That griffin could’ve carried you off.”

“But you were there,” Jaskier replied, simply, like he was reminding Geralt the sky was blue.

Geralt grit his teeth. Why did Jaskier trust him so much, why did he feel so safe with him, even now, with the burning tar in his veins pulsing like poison? “I might not have been fast enough. You need to be careful.”

“I’m perfectly careful!”

“No, you weren’t!” He was shouting and snarling, a sight that he knew had to be terrifying, but Jaskier wasn’t even flinching. He just kept looking at him and smelling like—like that. Like honeysuckle and summer, like roast pig and hot butter. Like warmth and desire and home. “Are you really so desperate to see me in battle?”

He wanted to call Jaskier out. He didn’t want to call Jaskier out. If he did—he didn’t know what would happen but he was terrified either way of the possible results. He wasn’t even aware he could be afraid anymore, and yet, here he was. Scared of Jaskier just like he’d been scared of Ciri, scared of the idea of someone…

Jaskier scoffed. “Well, how else am I to see you like… that?” He gestured at Geralt’s face.

“Is it really so freakish to you?” Geralt spread his arms wide. “Go on, then, take a good, long look.”

Jaskier looked torn between that soft sympathy that he would get—the way he’d been when he’d said let’s go to the coast—and laughter. “Geralt. I don’t think you look like a freak.”

Geralt swallowed and looked away. He didn’t want to have this conversation. You’re still you. “We should go.”

“Did you—how are you so thick? Honestly, Geralt, sometimes you’re so stupid I want to slap you.”

“Hmm.”

Jaskier grabbed him and yanked on him, and Geralt let himself be yanked. He wasn’t sure if Jaskier genuinely thought he was strong enough to move a Witcher around or if he realized that Geralt let himself be manhandled. “No, no, we are talking about this, Geralt, I really didn’t think I could get any more obvious and I was sure that you knew and were just politely ignoring it but do you really think—do people truly see you as freakish when you look like this? Did you think I would be scared of you? Scream and run?”

For some reason, it made him ashamed to say, “Yes.”

Jaskier, to his surprise, didn’t get angry. “You’re an idiot.”

Geralt wasn’t about to put up with this sort of bullshit—but then Jaskier’s hands came up, pressing on either side of Geralt’s face, holding his face, and Geralt thought for a second that his slow heartbeat had stopped altogether.

He was sure that Jaskier could feel the heat of him. Feel the mutagen pulsing through his veins just underneath the skin, creating the black spiderwebs that ran the course of his body. But Jaskier didn’t look away. Instead, he stepped closer, his blue eyes right on Geralt’s.

“You’re an idiot,” Jaskier repeated. “But you’re not a freak. Not… to me, at least. You’re… you’d still be Geralt even if you sprouted horns.”

His scent spoke the truth of it. There was no fear at all. Geralt felt fairly enveloped by the lust—it was like a cloud.

Jaskier took a step back, his hands dropping down from Geralt’s face. “There. Is that enough proof for you that the big, bad Witcher isn’t much so to me? Well—you are big.” His gaze dragged down Geralt’s body and then snapped back up to his face again, like he’d been caught at something. “But bad? Not so much, my friend. I know you’re all… soft and gooey on the inside. And not in a… guts way, in a… well, you know what I mean.”

This would have been so much easier if Jaskier only smelled like lust. If he didn’t smell like—and if Geralt hadn’t come to associate it with—and if he just—if it was just some sort of thing, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t Jaskier wanting some novelty in his sex life it was more and Geralt didn’t know what to even do with that—

Which was the excuse he’d tout until his dying day as the reason he blurted out, “It turns you on.”

Jaskier actually jumped a little, like he’d been startled, and looked so guilty that Geralt almost turned around and walked away, pretended he hadn’t said anything.

But then Jaskier raised his chin defiantly, and oh, Geralt always forgot that about Jaskier. That Jaskier, for all his running around yelling for Geralt to help him, was actually quite brave in the end. Recklessly so, yes, and it got him into trouble constantly, but Jaskier simply seemed to forget that staying out of harm’s way was an option. He’d hop in front of a runaway horse to try and stop it and wouldn’t even think about the possibility of getting kicked in the head until it had already happened.

It was stupid of him beyond all reason, and it made Geralt’s whole chest warm.

“And what if it does?” Jaskier demanded. “I have to say, Geralt, I’m a bit surprised you noticed. Not that I thought I was being subtle but I haven’t been subtle for, oh, several years now and you’ve managed to completely miss every single hint I’ve ever—”

“I haven’t,” Geralt snapped, his teeth clenched. Apparently they were having this conversation, now. Which was. Just dandy.

“You haven’t…” Jaskier said, his eyes narrowing. Geralt could see the moment that it clicked for him because the bard’s eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open, his body rearing back in that outraged way that he got, already shaking his head. “You—this whole—you—you absolute—you arse, why the fuck didn’t you say anything!?”

Why the fuck? Because people were suspicious and fearful and stubborn and resistant to change and he was still just as likely to be spat at or stoned as he was welcomed when he entered a town. Because Jaskier was renowned in court and on the street and deserved better. Because Geralt either said nothing or said the wrong thing and either way he still didn’t understand why Jaskier kept smelling like that, and it was so much harder to ignore it, to ignore everything that he was feeling, when he had the mutagens flowing through him. Everything was enhanced. Tenfold.

Fuck it. This conversation was over. Geralt tried to move around the bard, but Jaskier darted to the side to block him. “Oh, no, you can’t—we’re talking about this.”

“Not while I’m like this, we’re not.” Not when he could hear every creak of the trees in the wind, and every beat of Jaskier’s heart. Not when he could smell Jaskier, both the honeysuckle shampoo and the musk of his sweat but Jaskier, that smell that was like summertime, the way Jaskier was feeling, the emotion in him. Not when he could count every shade of blue in the bard’s eyes, not when he could see every leaf on the tree, not when it was all so bright as to be nearly unbearable.

Not when it would take close to nothing to snap his control.

Jaskier thumped his fist on Geralt’s chest, as if that would really be enough to keep the Witcher from moving wherever he damn well pleased. “No, no, we are talking about this now. You look—and you were—why didn’t you say!” Jaskier’s fist on his chest turned into a palm, pressing, oh so fragile. Geralt could break every bone in his hand if he’d wanted to—not that he wanted to, he would never, but—he could, and Jaskier still—

“Is it that you don’t…” Jaskier swallowed. “I mean, I quite well figured that, but I also assumed that if you knew you’d be kind enough to give me a straight rejection, Geralt. Ignoring something that bothers you is far from your usual style.”

That was true enough. Geralt might not say much but he knew how to make his displeasure about things known and he did that, heartily. It was one of the few things he could indulge in as a Witcher, when he had to watch himself with everything else. Everyone expected Witchers to be gruff and rude, so why not let himself be clear when someone annoyed him?

Jaskier tapped his index finger on Geralt’s armor. “So, either you noticed and were cruel and said nothing, leaving me to make hints and pine all this time—or you noticed and haven’t said anything because you—”

Geralt shoved Jaskier’s hand off, growling before he could stop himself. He could not let Jaskier continue down this line of inquiry. The bard was too clever for his own good.

Jaskier practically clawed at Geralt’s arm, and the last of Geralt’s patience snapped like a dry twig. “Do you have any idea what you’re dancing on the edge of?” he asked. He grabbed onto the bard’s shoulders before he could stop himself, squeezing (not tight enough to bruise, never, but tight enough to make Jaskier go still). “I can smell it on you, all the time, and right now—you think you know what you want, but you don’t, you don’t want me, especially not like this.”

Jaskier’s eyes looked like fire as he grabbed onto Geralt’s wrists where Geralt was holding onto him. “Don’t you ever,” he hissed, “make the mistake of telling me what I do and don’t want.”

Then he surged forward and kissed him.

Geralt yanked at Jaskier, clawed at him, manhandled him until the bard was pressed completely against him, slammed against a tree, straddling one of Geralt’s thighs. Jaskier didn’t even whimper, just yanked at Geralt’s hair and kept kissing him savagely, like he was trying to prove a point.

Knowing Jaskier, that was probably exactly what he was doing.

He had to stop, he really should stop, he needed to stop—but Jaskier still smelled like summer, like smoked pork, like sunlight and cider, love and lust, so strong that Geralt was drowning in it, and he couldn’t stop, not when Jaskier smelled like this, felt like this, kissed like this—

Jaskier wrenched his mouth away and for a horrid moment Geralt was convinced that he’d done something wrong, pushed too far, shown the bared monstrous maw and at last gotten Jaskier to realize the insanity of what was happening, and it was like a bucket of ice water down his spine. But then the bard just tugged on his hair again, forcing Geralt to stare into his eyes.

“You can smell it on me,” he said. Not asked, but stated. “Then you must know it’s not going away. It hasn’t yet. It never will. I want you, now. I wanted you yesterday. I’ll want you tomorrow.”

Geralt’s hands flexed around Jaskier’s hips instinctively and Jaskier shuddered, the cider smell spiking. Mulled wine, pork, hot butter, those Geralt knew, they were lust. Warm summer, fresh flowers, a pine-tree campfire in winter, that was love. What was cider?

Both? As one?

“Even,” Jaskier added, his hands moving to cup Geralt’s face, “like this.”

Geralt grunted. “I look like a walking corpse.”

“You look like the sort of fantasy no one admits to wanting and everyone dreams about,” Jaskier shot back. He kissed Geralt again, scraping his teeth along Geralt’s bottom lip, tugging, as if he was trying to prove that he was just as dangerous, as deadly, as sharp as Geralt was in that moment. “Fuck, the moment I saw you like this I would’ve let you take me as many times as you wanted.”

Geralt shoved his hips forward without thinking, the bolt of heat striking him hotter than lightning. “Watch your tongue.”

“I know exactly where my tongue is,” Jaskier replied, cheeky.

Geralt growled and kissed him, got a hand around the back of Jaskier’s head so that it wouldn’t bang against the tree as Geralt rolled his hips, feeling that cider smell spike, feeling Jaskier hard against him even through their clothes, feeling Jaskier moan and press just as eagerly back.

“I’m serious,” Jaskier managed. “You don’t—you have no idea how much you—Melitele’s sake, Geralt, we can have the talk about your self-esteem later just fuck me—”

Geralt had no idea what the sound he made was. It was a growl, almost, but seemed to come up from the heels of his feet and rumble all the way up through his body. He didn’t need a talk about his self-esteem, he needed—

Oh, fuck it. He’d just fuck Jaskier senseless and then the bard would have no choice but to actually be quiet and listen.

He didn’t even bother with his own armor, just rapidly undid the laces to his trousers and then yanked at Jaskier’s clothes until he could bury his nose in all that soft, warm, delicious skin. The hot wine-butter smell spiked as he got Jaskier’s pants open and could spread the bard’s legs wider, and Jaskier whimpered loudly, the sound echoing through Geralt’s bones. Every single creature, magical or otherwise, for miles around could probably hear and smell what they were doing, staying far away from the coupling. Good. Good. Ferality was taking over and Geralt wanted everyone to know that Jaskier only smelled this way for him. None of his admirers, none of the people he flirted with, not a one of them made Jaskier smell like this. It was Geralt’s, and Geralt would inhale Jaskier and make him sing and the whole forest would know.

Geralt sank his teeth into the meat of Jaskier’s shoulder and Jaskier made a sound somewhere between a choke and a wail, his hand shoving down between them to wrap around Geralt’s cock. He was just so—unashamed about it, touching Geralt eagerly, wanting to touch him like Geralt wasn’t literally pale as death right now, wasn’t snarling and biting down nearly hard enough to make Jaskier bleed.

At the very least, monstrous or not, Jaskier knew what he was doing when it came to another man’s cock. He kept making these little whimpers the whole time like he was the one getting fucked, like he wasn’t the one giving the stroking but receiving it. And Geralt’s body was on fire, his spine simmering like a sword plunged into flame, but he wasn’t about to be called selfish, not when it came to Jaskier. Not when Jaskier looked at him like this and said you’re still you.

Geralt lightly smacked Jaskier’s hand away, then took the both of them together, their cocks sliding against each other, and Jaskier moaned through a full damn octave. He smelled, sounded, felt so fucking good, and Geralt wanted to bury himself inside and never come out.

Jaskier tugged on his hair, yanked until Geralt jerked his head up, ready to growl again, but then Jaskier was licking into his mouth and Geralt supposed that was all right. He couldn’t smell Jaskier as well as when his nose was right up against the bard’s skin but kissing Jaskier was an acceptable substitute. Jaskier held onto Geralt like he thought the latter might pull away or simply fade altogether, vanish on the wind.

Geralt didn’t know what it was like to be held like that. With… desperation. Like he was that important, like he was vital.

Jaskier wrenched his mouth away, gulping in air, staring up at Geralt entranced. Staring right into Geralt’s black sun eyes, his chalk white skin, his pulsing veins, and gaping like he’d never seen anything so…

“…truly magnificent,” Jaskier announced, and Geralt tugged on the bard’s hair just to get him to stop fucking complimenting him.

Jaskier made a sound like he’d been punched in the gut again, and Geralt’s spine melted just a little as the air was shot through with overwhelming scent as Jaskier spilled between them.

Fuck. Jaskier moaning through an orgasm was too much for Geralt’s senses right now, like this, shoved him right up to the edge. Just a few more strokes and—

Jaskier grabbed Geralt’s wrist. “No, no, stop, wait, I want—don’t come yet, I want you to fuck me, Geralt—”

They were in the middle of a forest, Jaskier had already come, and he was still insisting on that!?

…someday, Geralt was going to stop indulging his bard. Someday.

He pulled back with an impatient growl as Jaskier dove—literally—for their packs, finding whatever oil most suited, and then scrambled back to Geralt, shedding the rest of his (already ripped) clothes as he did so. Geralt winced when he saw what he’d done to the bard’s clothes, knowing how much Jaskier paid for and treasured them, but at the same time, he didn’t quite care. They were in the way of him getting his hands, his nose, his mouth on Jaskier’s soft sweat-slick skin.

Jaskier held the oil out, but Geralt didn’t take it. “You don’t want that.”

“What did I just say?” Jaskier demanded.

“I can’t be gentle, right now, Jask,” Geralt snapped. He could see the firm outline of his teeth curving around Jaskier’s shoulder right where it met his neck, could see bruising fingermarks on Jaskier’s hips. How much more hard use would he get out of the bard before this was over? And if Jaskier wanted it then Geralt was more than willing to give and to take, oh how he wanted to take, to roll around in that lust-love cider smell, but he didn’t want to hurt him.

“I don’t want gentle,” Jaskier replied. He held out the oil. “I want you like this. We can do gentle later, if you’d like, when you’re back to your normal state, I’ll happily let you spoil me and far be it from me to reject any romantic gestures you’d like to throw in while you’re at it—I actually have a list if you’re in need of inspiration—but right now—”

He could hear the bard’s breath coming in short, see Jaskier’s pupils wide and black, almost but not quite as black as Geralt’s own eyes, could smell the lust rising off Jaskier like waves. “—right now you are the White Wolf, and I’m feeling rather like being devoured.”

Fuck, the bastard couldn’t just say things like that. Geralt wanted to leap on him and shove his cock in, need sliding through him and seeping in through all the cracks like rainwater until he was drowning.

Reining it in with every ounce of his willpower, he took the oil.

“You probably should’ve stayed dressed,” he noted.

“As if you would’ve stood for that,” Jaskier scoffed.

Geralt couldn’t even refute it, not when he was already giving into temptation and nosing up along the column of Jaskier’s throat while his fingers found their place, a purr coating the inside of his chest as Jaskier whined and whimpered. He wasn’t sure he would ever tell Jaskier this but it did hurt, it did, the potions all hurt, it was tar on fire in his blood, but this, this, this, it didn’t hurt at all. This fire cleansed and purified. He basked in this fire like a dragon.

“Melitele, look at you,” Jaskier breathed, nipping at Geralt’s skin like he was trying to taste the slithering ink beneath. Geralt curled his fingers in response and Jaskier yelped, melting against him like Geralt had found a way to liquify the bard’s bones.

He wasn’t gentle. He couldn’t be gentle. He just wanted Jaskier, wanted Jaskier around him, on him, wanted to be inside

Jaskier swore loudly and colorfully as Geralt did precisely as he wanted, yanking and clawing at Geralt’s armor with such vicious wantonness that it was a good thing the bard didn’t have claws or Witcher strength. Geralt bit him in response, and Jaskier swore even harder, his voice breaking, but he only pressed himself closer to Geralt. Like he wanted to erase any and all space between them. It was good like this, so good, but it wasn’t—wasn’t quite enough.

Geralt pulled out, and Jaskier inhaled to begin what was undoubtedly an impressive tirade, but Geralt flipped him over before the bard could, sliding back in.

Jaskier gave his longest, loudest groan yet, and it seemed to echo through the entire forest, through Geralt’s whole body, his oversensitive ears absorbing the noise and drinking it like cool, rich ale. Jaskier scrambled for purchase, shoving his hips back, a clear sign for Geralt to just get on with it. Geralt pressed him further into the ground, growling, fixing his teeth to the back of Jaskier’s neck. Jaskier groaned in frustration, now unable to move, only able to take what Geralt gave him.

Perfect.

Geralt couldn’t even think properly anymore as he chased Jaskier’s scent, his cries, his pleas and the taste of the beads of sweat on Jaskier’s skin. He just wanted, he wanted, he wanted, all of his sensitive senses narrowed down to the bard, his whole world becoming the size of a pinprick, the size of just the two of them, the shape of them as he fucked Jaskier like the animal, the monster, he always tried not to be.

I don’t want gentle.

I’m feeling rather like being devoured.

You’re still you.

Jaskier wanted this. He could let go.

Geralt drove into the tight heat of him, set his teeth to Jaskier’s skin until bite marks stood out all over the bard’s back in shades of red and blue and purple like messy flowers, fucked him harder and harder and harder until Jaskier couldn’t even make noise anymore and Geralt felt like he was splitting the bard in two. And yet no matter how rough the thrust, Jaskier would push back into it. There was nothing but the smell of cider, hot and warm and comforting, desire and home mixed up into one. Jaskier wanted this, he wanted this, he loved, he lusted, he loved—and Geralt jerked over the edge, snarling and growling like his namesake, wrapped up in the heat of the bard. It felt like his spine was a heated sword that had just been plunged into the water at a forge.

Jaskier was completely limp underneath him, and Geralt belatedly noticed the sharp musk smell mixed in with the rest, and realized that Jaskier had come again at some point.

He drew his nose up Jaskier’s throat, feeling less on fire, feeling less pain. Colors were no longer sharp as knives, and he couldn’t hear the rustle of every leaf above them. The mutagens were starting to fade. Jaskier smelled like a cat that had just swallowed a rat or been given a bowl of cream, despite the fact that he was pinned between the muddy forest floor and one very heavy Witcher.

Geralt forced himself to pull out, even though he wanted nothing more than to stay joined like this for the near future, so that he wouldn’t crush the bard, and slumped to the side. The effects of the potion dying down always made him feel temporarily slow and blinded, his senses dulled, until he got used to them again. He couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to have his senses be at the level of a normal human’s. It would probably drive him mad.

Jaskier looked at Geralt with the dopiest smile on his face, reaching up to press his fingers against the bruises—the ones that he could reach, at least.

“Should’ve known you’d chomp all over me,” Jaskier mused, sounding delighted.

Geralt didn’t know what to say. If he should say anything.

The bard moved on top of him, pressing his ear to Geralt’s chest. Geralt stared at him. “What are you doing?”

“I thought so,” Jaskier said, sounding triumphant. “You’re purring.”

Was he? He hadn’t noticed. Perhaps he was.

Jaskier pushed himself up so that he and Geralt were practically nose to nose. “Do you really think you’re a freak, like this?”

He knew he was. “Witchers aren’t human, Jask.”

“Oh, I know.” Jaskier pressed his ear to Geralt’s chest again, like he just had to listen to the purring some more. “But that doesn’t make you a freak.” He paused. “It hurts you, doesn’t it?”

It turned him into a walking corpse, made his senses so sharp they sank into his mind like claws, made his blood burn. Of course it hurt. “I’m used to it.” Hardly noticed it, actually.

“Next time,” Jaskier said, Jaskier with his mottled meadow of bruises on his back and neck, Jaskier with his hoarse voice, Jaskier with the drying spend on his stomach and between his legs, Jaskier with the marks of Geralt’s own hands on his hips like brands—Jaskier, who spoke as if his every opinion and decision was law. “Next time you have to swallow one of those things, you come to me.” His fingers stroked lightly along Geralt’s chest. Geralt’s purr intensified.

You come to me. The implications could not have been clearer.

Geralt pushed himself up, but it didn’t dislodge the bard, who just clamped on tighter and kept using Geralt’s chest for a pillow. “We need to go.” Find a tavern where they could both wash off, and buy a bed where they could both sleep. Go to the alderman for the griffins and get paid so they could afford the wash and the bed.

“Come to me, next time, Geralt, please,” Jaskier insisted. “Don’t ride it out alone.”

He smelled of summertime, with flowers and sunlight and honeysuckle. He smelled of winter, with the warm fire in the hearth, the cinnamon apple cider in the jug, with the pine tree sprigs hanging from the ceiling. He smelled of mulled wine and hot butter and roasting meat, like all that made a man’s mouth water, like desire and comfort and home. And his blue eyes were doing that coquettish, earnest thing where Jaskier tried his damndest to look like a puppy.

Geralt didn’t—he didn’t want to ride it out alone. The idea of finding a rock to sit on, clenching his fists for however long it took for his heart to beat the poison out of his system, sounded like torture compared to this, to Jaskier. “Hmm.”

Jaskier beamed at him. “But we’re not going to lie here forever, are we? Because while getting the life fucked out of me while you’re all… witchery, witchered-up, is quite nice, as I’m sure you could tell with all of your sniffing, but getting leaves stuck to me is not how I saw myself spending my evening…”

Geralt rolled his eyes. The potion was almost completely out of him now, the world settling down into normal. “Hmm.”

“And next time I expect you to take your armor off as well,” Jaskier added. “Does the whole… witchery business go all the way down?”

Geralt wasn’t answering that. He got up, nearly knocking Jaskier off him and only saving the bard by grabbing onto his elbow and yanking Jaskier to his feet as well as Jaskier flailed. “Geralt! I demand an answer. I’ll find out one way or another. I’m rather disappointed I didn’t get a good look at your cock while I was—Geralt do stop glaring like that—”

Not a trace of fear in him. Not a trace of fear the entire time. Gods’ sake, the bard wanted more.

You’d still be Geralt even if you sprouted horns.

Magnificent.

Geralt didn’t understand it. But maybe—maybe just this once he wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe this time he wouldn’t, couldn’t ruin it.

“Next time,” he agreed, tucking himself back in and handing Jaskier his undershirt.

Jaskier’s shocked, delighted expression, the spike in his scent, was worth it.