“You’re awfully chipper today,” Geralt huskily commented, looking down at the bard from atop Roach.
“Couldn’t sleep. Felt like there was a goddamn stick up my ass all night,” Jaskier apathetically shrugged, visibly forcing a weak smile. From that point on, the duo travelled in unprecedented silence.
As soon as the two arrived at the tavern, Jaskier seamlessly merged into the crowd of rowdy drunks, leaving Geralt behind to pay for their room. As the bard mindlessly wandered around the dimly lit tavern, a few drunk dwarves noticed the face of the famous singer.
“Hey bard, give us a song or two,” The taller of the few dwarves yelled from the top of a dirty wooden table.
“Sorry folks, maybe tomorrow. I’m a bit tired tonight,” Jaskier acknowledged the men, swiftly dissolving back into the crowd in search of Geralt. It wasn’t hard to find the other man. His tall stature and broad shoulders stuck out among the dwarves and skinny knights. The bard slid up next to Geralt as he spoke to the owner of the tavern.
“Witcher, I’m sorry but I can only get you one room with this coin,” The innkeeper spoke, lip trembling under the heavy stare of Geralt.
“Understood,” The older man grunted, shoving a small pile of coins towards the tubby man behind the counter. Geralt took the key and set off down the hallway, his bard following feebly behind him.
Inside the small room there were two twin beds, a fireplace, and a single nightstand in between the beds. Jaskier gently set his lute in a bare corner of the room and flopped onto the nearest bed, letting out a loud groan and closing his eyes.
“Feeling any better?” Jaskier's short lived moment of bliss was interrupted by Geralt's deep voice.
“Oh, uh yeah. A little I guess,”
“You can sleep in tomorrow,” Geralt sat down on the empty bed, looking over at Jaskier and beginning to remove his armor.
“Thank fuck,” Jaskier sighed, kicking off his shoes.
“I won’t need you for this contract anyway,”
“You don’t really need me for any contract, Geralt,” Jaskier comment was met with the soft thuds of Geralt's shoes and armor on the floor. The next few minutes were
filled with the shuffling of clothes as the men changed into their sleep clothes. Usually, Jaskier would never pass up the opportunity to subtly stare at Geralt as he changed, but lately he was just too damn tired to keep his eyes open to watch. As soon as the bard had changed into a loose fitting nightshirt and his boxers, he crawled under the covers and instantly fell into a deep sleep.
A few minutes later, Geralt slid under the covers of his bed, laying down and facing Jaskier. Fortunately, Jaskier was facing him as well. Soft hair fell lightly over a single eye, just barely falling past his eyelashes. As of lately, the bard had started to let his hair grow out more. Though it was still soft and feathery, Geralt could see where it had begun to grow nappy. A smudge of dirt was smeared across the sleeping man's cheek. Jaskier, usually nit picky and a perfectionist about his appearance, had stopped caring so much. He let dirt build up on both his face and his clothes. When he was out with Geralt he stopped being so cautious around every mud puddle or dusty road. He simply walked through the mud puddle, he allowed dust and grime to build up on his clothes.
As Geralt pondered this, he grew more and more concerned for his companion. He never noticed the beginning of all of this, but now, when he sat back to look at
Jaskier, it all popped out. The radical change of attitude in his bard was unsettling. Nowadays, Jaskier was just tired. He stopped playing as many gigs at the taverns or castles they visited. The only time he appeared at peace was in his sleep.
“Fuck,” The Witcher stated, turning over to face the ceiling. “Fuck,”
Soft dawn light slid through the cheap curtains that had been lazily draped over the windows. Geralt gently stirred awake, swiftly and silently wiping the sleep from his eyes, and emerging from his warm bed. Careful not to wake his bard, he slid on his armor and pulled on his boots. Before leaving to meet with the contractor, he took one last look at Jaskier. The bard was hugging his pillow, leaving his head with nothing to rest on. The corners of Geralt's lip twitches just a bit. He grabbed the pillow from his bed and gently slid it under Jaskier's head. His hand lingered on the bard's head, in his soft hair for just a beat too long before he pulled away and walked out the door.
Nine hours later, Geralt returned. He expected to see Jaskier with his lute in hand, rearing for new song material. But, when he opened the door he saw no such thing. Instead, he saw Jaskier still curled up in bed, staring blankly at past Geralt. He didn’t even flinch when Geralt let his sword haphazardly clatter to the floor as he began to remove his armor. He stripped down to a tight pair of black pants and a loose black shirt before moving to Jaskiers' side.
“What’s wrong?” No response. “Jaskier,” Geralt repeated himself, louder this time and the bard snappe out of his dreamlike state.
“Shit, sorry, I was zoned out,” Jaskier forced a small smile, groaning as he stretched in bed.
“What’s wrong?” He deadpanned, squatting next to Jaskiers bed.
“What do you mean?” He sat up, one pillow between him and the headboard, the other pillow wrapped in his arms.
“Don’t fuck around Jaskier, something’s off,”
“I’m just tired. One more day of good sleep and I’ll be fine.”
“You’ve slept all day,”
“I know,” Jaskier bit his lip and stared down at the pillow in his hands.
“I told you, I’m tired,” Jaskier's eyes grew cloudy as he defended himself.
“Bullshit,” A heavy silence shrouded the room, “Listen, Jaskier. Something is wrong. We’re past the point of ‘I’m just tired’”
“Why do you even care, Geralt,” Jaskier furrows his eyebrows, scrunches up his nose, and continues to stare straight down.
“What?” Geralt tilts his head slightly.
“Why do you care? You’ve never cared before. Why do you start now? Just tell me if you need me to go down and play for some more coin,” He paused for a moment,
“Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that,”
“That’s- that’s not it,”
“Then why?” Jaskiers voice quivers, and he looks up at Geralt for the first time. His sharp, blue eyes were watering. Geralt felt a pang in his chest.
“I care about you Jaskier,” Geralt reluctantly admitted, “I want you to be ok,” He whispered.
“Oh,” Jaskier whispered in return, his grasp tightened on the pillow, “This wasn’t supposed to happen,”
“You weren’t supposed to care,” The bard squeezes his eyes shut, letting a tear slide down and rest on his cheek, “I-I don’t want to be a burden,”
“You’re not a burden,”
“Shit,” Jaskier let out a choked sob.
“Scoot over,” Geralt slid into the small bed next to his bard.
“Don’t be,” Geralt slowly wrapped an arm around Jaskier.
“Yeah,” Jaskier sniffled, leaning into Geralt, “It’s just, it’s really hard Geralt,” Jaskier let out another sob, burying his head into the older man's neck.
“You’re okay,” Geralt whispered into Jaskiers hair, “It’s okay, you can tell me what’s wrong any time. I’m just-I’m worried,”
“Give me a moment,”
“Of course,” Geralt threaded his fingers through Jaskier's hair.
“I’m just sad sometimes.”
“And I think everything’s going to be ok, but I’m not sure. It’s just, it’s really scary,”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t think you cared,”
“Don’t ever think that. I’ll always care. How long have you been hiding this kind of stuff?”
“I’ve always dealt with it. Sometimes it’s worse than others,”
“How can I help?” Geralt rubbed Jaskier's arm.
“Oh, I’ll be ok. You, you don’t have to worry,”
“How can I help?” Geralt repeated himself.
“I don’t know,” The bard’s voice cracked, “Just be here for me,”
“Done,” Geralt whispered into Jaskier's hair.
“Thank you,” Jaskier looked up at Geralt.
“I’m sorry for ever making you feel like I didn’t care,” The Witcher brought his bard closer to him, their legs tangling together. He tucked a silver strand of hair behind his ear, “You don’t deserve that,”
Jaskier simply nodded in response. Geralt pulled Jaskier closer to him yet, scooping the bard into his lap, and turning him so they were face to face.
“Hi,” Jaskier nervously smiled, his face reddening.
“Hi,” Geralt suppressed a smile, leaning towards Jaskier until their foreheads were touching. The older man drew in a short breath, “You’re pretty,” He whispered, his hot breath on Jaskiers face. He brought his rough hand to Jaskiers jawline, running his thumb over it. His other hand made his way to the back of the bard's smooth neck. A shaken, red-faced Jaskier licked his lips.
After what felt like an eternity, Geralt closed the gap between them, pressing his lips softly against the bards. Jaskier savored the taste of meat and ale on the taller man's lips. He relished every short second of the gentle kiss, bringing his hand to comb through Geralt's long hair.
When Geralt carefully pulled away, Jaskier almost burst into tears again. He needed the older man's lips back on his. He placed one hand on Geralt's thigh underneath him, and his other hand was delicately set atop Geralt's toned chest. He gingerly leaned back in and pressed his lips against Geralts, yearning for the sharp taste of him. After a few moments, he was satisfied and pulled away.
“We should have done that a long time ago,” Jaskier mumbled dumbfoundedly.
“Hmm,” Geralt grunted, his eyes soft. Jaskier let himself collapse into Geralt's sturdy chest. Taken aback, Geralt took a moment to gather himself. With his hands
intertwined in his beard's hair, he said, “I love you,” Jaskier stirred in his arms, twisting himself to get a good look at Geralt's face.
“Don’t feel like you have to say that,”
Jaskier buried his face back into Geralt's chest, “I know I cried in front of you, but you don’t have to feel bad. You don’t have to say things you don’t mean,” Jaskier hid
his face in Geralt’s shirt.
“I don’t say things I don’t mean. You know that, Jask,”
“Are you sure?”
“I love you,”
“I love you too,” Jaskier whispered, closing his eyes with a contented sigh. Geralt continued to stroke Jaskiers hair as the smaller man fell asleep curled against his chest.
As the sun rose the next morning, Jaskier began to stir against Geralt. He slid out of bed quickly in order to take a piss. He came back, and Geralt was sitting up in bed, wide awake.
“Good morning,” Geralt's deep morning voice sent chills down Jaskier's spine.
“Do you not have an inbetween? You’re either asleep or wide awake. It’s a little unsettling,” Jaskier yawned, stretching his cramped limbs towards the ceiling and groaning.
“Good to see you too,” Jaskier walked to his bed, preparing to fall onto Geralt when the older man stood up.
“Hey! You were supposed to be my pillow,” Jaskier protested.
“Sorry to inconvenience you,”
“You don’t appear to be very sorry,” He whined, picking up his lute and tuning the strings.
“We’ve gotta get going. We need to be in Cintra by noon tomorrow. How are you feeling today,”
“Not perfect, but better I think. Definitely better,” Jaskier quieted down as he plucked a simple melody out.
“You sure that’s the truth? I’m not going to let you get away with lying anymore,”
“I mean, I’m a wee bit tired, but I’ll be alright,”
“Good, pack your stuff. I’ll let you ride on Roach with me,”