"Hi! Hello. My name is Jaskier and if you could pretend to be my boyfriend for the next five minutes, I'll buy you a whole bottle of whatever it is you're drinking."
Jaskier gets to watch the stranger's face morph from total indifference (though describing it as resting murder face would be a little more accurate) into confusion, and finally settle on resting murder confusion.
"What's your name?" Jaskier whispers, and it might come out a little bit hissy. Maybe.
To his surprise, the stranger actually replies with: "Geralt," just as the two reasons for this dangerous game of improv arrive at the barstool where Jaskier accosted this Geralt guy 15 seconds ago.
Jaskier can all but feel their ragged breaths down his neck when the guy with the skull tattoo asks: "Where the fuck do you think you're going?"
"My boyfriend!" Jaskier whirls around, crowding back against Geralt until the back of his thigh hits Geralt's knee. He scrambles to put a hand on Geralt's leg and gives it an experimental squeeze. At the growl the stranger he's groping releases, Jaskier quickly removes his hand. "Geralt."
This, at least, seems to throw the two Harley-Davidson enthusiasts for enough of a loop that they don't start throwing punches straight away. They look from Jaskier, back to Geralt, before their eyes narrow back on Jaskier and the one with the neck tattoo says: "Fucking bullshit."
"No! No, I swear. We're very happy together, aren't we, uhm, baby?" Jaskier asks, a little too afraid to actually look back at Geralt.
Jaskier is the first to admit that this whole ruse is kind of a big gamble.
In the split second his brain took to come up with this plan, he had a lot to take into consideration. First, there was the certainty that these two angry guys were going to drag him off somewhere and beat him to a pulp. But then there was also the hope blooming inside his chest that this kind stranger would help him out. All while trying to add into that equation the more than likely possibility that this stranger might not be very kind, and not at all interested in helping him out.
In the end, he just had to weigh up the possible outcome that soon he'd find himself being beaten up by three huge men, instead of just the two, against the absolute certainty that the original two wouldn't stop to consider that Jaskier has an important gig next weekend, and that he needs his hands and his face in once piece for it.
We all know which option he picked. But, let's face it, Geralt hasn't made a peep yet. The possibility of the betrayed boyfriend and his brother getting some help from a homophobic bodybuilder were looking more and more likely by the second.
"You're gay?" Neck tattoo asks, and Jaskier automatically replies: "Bi," before remembering that probably wouldn't help his case right now. "No, you know what? It's time to come out with it, yeah? I'm totally a homosexual."
"Fuck off," Skull tattoo growls. "Emmylou said -"
"I don't know any Emmylou!" Jaskier replies promptly, and with as much conviction as he can muster. He even puts his hand over his heart. "I promise you, that wasn't me. Right, sweetheart?" He directs at Geralt.
He's getting pretty desperate here.
He blindly puts his hand back on Geralt's thigh and squeezes again, hoping against hope that he's not going to lose said hand. He needs it to play his guitar. He's got nothing else going for him whatsoever. He can't lose his guitar hand.
Neck tattoo and Skull tattoo, as if one scary, angry entity, both take a menacing step forward. There's nowhere left for Jaskier to go. He's literally trapped between a rock and a hard place, or in this case: two angry men at his front and a possibly even angrier man at his back.
Right as Jaskier starts hoping that if the fight does break out right here in the bar, at least the bar staff and security can come to his rescue before too much damage has been done, the hard place at his back moves. A hand lands on his shoulder and pushes him back until he's standing behind his hard place.
"You heard him, he's not your guy, so you can get lost now."
Jaskier can't see his face from here, but the tone in Geralt's voice suggests he's gone a step further than resting murder face.
A scuffle ensues, but it's over before any real punches can land. The guys seem to quickly realize that even though they're quite large, they're no match to the stranger Jaskier very cleverly picked out to be his five-minute boyfriend. Neck and Skull tattoo leave, calling out some crass things and homophobic slurs. They do so very carefully over Geralt's shoulder at Jaskier though, and not at Geralt himself. Maybe they are smarter than they look.
They retreat and Jaskier's knees start shaking just a little bit from the sudden adrenaline drop. Geralt sits back down on his barstool and Jaskier quickly clambers onto one of his own while he watches his would-be assailants leave. They don't take their eyes off of him until they've left the bar altogether.
"Thank you so much," Jaskier says as soon as they're out of earshot. "Those guys were out for blood, did you see that?"
Geralt grunts at him, but no words follow.
"Barkeep," Jaskier calls out to Samantha. "Put this man's drinks on my tab."
"You know nothing's going on your tab until you finally pay up, Jaskier," Samantha reminds him. She's beautiful and ruthless, and right now embarrassing him.
"Can I get you anything else?" She asks Geralt, who just grunts out a no and pays for his drinks himself before getting up.
"Uhm!" Jaskier gets up as well. "Thank you, really, sorry about the uhm drinks. And the guys. And the whole situation, really."
"It's fine," Geralt says in a way that makes Jaskier wonder if it is, though.
"Let me walk you to your car," Jaskier says, following Geralt out of the bar. "If we could maybe stop by my car first?"
Geralt doesn't say anything, but Jaskier keeps following him anyway. And good thing he did, because as soon as they walk out of the bar, Neck and Skull Tattoo are standing by their bikes with at least two other, equally scary-looking dudes milling about.
"Oh, fuck," Jaskier says, taking Geralt's right hand into his own and linking their fingers.
He can feel Geralt's hand kind of twitch and twist as he tries to pull away. Jaskier puts his own right hand on Geralt's wrist, however, keeping him close. Jaskier isn't under any sort of impression that he could physically make this guy do anything he doesn't want to, but it all comes back down to that hope that the kind stranger will help him out here.
Geralt just sighs deeply and helps him out.
The biker guys stare them down but don't approach as Jaskier tries to inconspicuously steer Geralt to his car at the edge of the car park.
"Sorry," Jaskier says. "My hand is probably super sweaty."
"It is," Geralt says, which, okay, grumpy.
Jaskier lets go when they've reached his car, as it somewhat blocks them from view.
"Don't suppose you'll let me kiss you so we can really sell this?" Jaskier asks hopefully.
"No, but I'll let you give me a ride to where I need to be."
That's even better than a kiss. If maybe a little less satisfying.
"I'm starting to think you don't have the best survival instincts," Geralt tells him once Jaskier's pulled out of the parking lot.
"What do you mean? I'm wearing my seatbelt same as you," Jaskier says.
"You screw around with a girl with a boyfriend like that," and Jaskier would deny it but he did, in fact, have sex with Emmylou. She'd told him she was single though, so Jaskier doubts this one is really on him. "And now you're giving a complete stranger a ride in your car."
This gives Jaskier pause. "Why, are you dangerous?"
"Do you think that if I were dangerous, I'd tell you that?"
"Maybe," Jaskier says.
Geralt shifts in his seat. Jaskier doesn't have the biggest car, and he looks a bit squished in there. He doesn't complain though.
"Why would you help me out there just to then murder me later?" Jaskier asks. "That doesn't add up. Also, I'm not completely defenseless, okay? Maybe it's you who made the mistake getting in the car with me."
Geralt snorts. "Sure."
"You don't believe I could be dangerous?"
"No," Geralt flat out states. "If you were 'dangerous' I don't think you'd have run to me to protect you from those guys."
"But see," Jaskier says. "Just because I don't have the muscle, doesn't mean I don't know how to defend myself. I just used my brain, didn't I? What's more dangerous than a smart person?"
"And your brain told you to what, run to the scariest looking guy you could see in that bar?"
"The hottest guy," Jaskier corrects him. His brain catches up a little too late to tell him: hey, maybe bite your tongue and keep that admission safely to yourself. "If I'm gonna have a fake boyfriend," he flounders on, trying to save the situation by being casual, "I'm going to make sure it's the most attractive guy in the room, obviously."
Geralt just hums at him again, not saying anything further.
They arrive at the motel Geralt had told Jaskier to drop him off at a couple of minutes later. The No Vacancies neon sign buzzes ominously and Geralt stays seated.
"I don't suppose you already had a room then?" Jaskier asks.
Geralt grunts his no.
"You don't have a car?" Jaskier asks carefully.
"In the shop," Geralt replies.
He's still not making a move to get out of Jaskier's car.
"Well," Jaskier says. "No worries, boyfriend! I have a couch you can sleep on!"
Jaskier is sure that a lesser man would have completely withered away at the look Geralt gives him at the word boyfriend.
"Okay?" Jaskier asks, cause Geralt still hasn't said anything.
"Fine," he finally grunts out and so, fine. Jaskier starts the car again.
"It's not much!" Jaskier says, racing ahead of Geralt the last couple of steps so he can throw his apartment door open and survey the situation before him. His apartment, like always, is sort of a mess. "I wasn't expecting company," he calls out into the hallway, "So do forgive the mess."
He's frantically gathering dirty plates by the time Geralt walks through the door, looking quite uncomfortable.
"It's fine, I don't care," he says.
"But I do," Jaskier says, running into the kitchen with half his tableware gathered up in his arms. "You don't get a second go at a first impression, and all that jazz."
"My first impression of you was a scared kid about to get his ass beat, squeezing my thigh," Geralt tells him.
"Oh," Jaskier tells his kitchen. "Right."
When Jaskier makes his way back to the living room Geralt is sitting on the couch, surrounded by some of Jaskier's (luckily clean) laundry, including a pair of bright yellow boxers.
"Let me just get those," Jaskier says, shoving everything back into the laundry basket. "I like to fold my laundry while I watch reality TV."
Geralt doesn't reply, and Jaskier is happy for it.
"You play?" Geralt asks, Jaskier follows his gaze to his collection of guitars against the wall.
"Yeah," Jaskier says. "Didn't you hear me at the bar? I'd been playing right before I came up to you."
"Wasn't paying attention, I guess," Geralt says.
"You know what?" Jaskier asks. "I'm starting to think you don't have the best people instincts."
Geralt snorts again, but Jaskier is pretty sure that on any other person it would've come out as a laugh.
"If you want another chance at seeing me perform," Jaskier says. "I'm playing at this really cool club in a couple of days." He grabs one of the flyers on his coffee table and Geralt glances at it with little enthusiasm.
"So," Jaskier tries next. "Want to watch a movie or?"
"I'll grab a shower," Geralt tells him.
"Ah, sure. Grab a shower," he's trying to remember the state he left his bathroom in this morning, but is coming up blank. "Just wait here a sec, I'll go and... grab you a towel."
Turns out his bathroom has seen better days, but it's definitely seen worse days as well. He just grabs the bottle of lube he keeps in his shower and clears away his dirty towels. He gives everything another quick look, before making his way back to Geralt with a clean towel and still clutching the bottle of lube in his hand.
Geralt looks at it before Jaskier can embarrass himself further by trying to hide it behind his back.
"Always be prepared," he says, trying to see the humor in the situation. Being faced with a bit of a stony-faced stranger as a conversation partner has never stopped him before.
To Jaskier's complete surprise Geralt doesn't huff or puff or growl at him, though. He sort of - gives him a slow once over, actually. Like he's considering it.
Jaskier would be a liar, and a bad one at that, if he claimed he hadn't thought about it. He's known Geralt for an hour and he's thought about it at least 15 times. He doesn't think it's very conventional to approach someone, ask them to pretend to be your boyfriend so you don't get your ass kicked, just to take them home and then try to fuck them.
Jaskier's never been a very conventional guy though, so that's okay.
He walks closer to Geralt, who's still just sitting on Jaskier's lumpy, yellow couch, and it's Geralt who curls his hands around Jaskier's thighs this time. He plucks the lube from Jaskier's grasp and drops it somewhere among the couch cushions, and Jaskier thinks that's probably his cue to get on the handsome stranger's lap.
When he wakes up the next morning, Geralt isn't where he left him, which was right next to him in bed. It's not like Jaskier really expects him to be anywhere else in the apartment, but he still checks anyway. He feels stupid, opening the linen closet in the hallway to check for a grumpy, white-haired man who could never in a million years fit in there. It's not like said man is still there to judge him for it, so hey. He sighs at the towels in the closet and goes to make some coffee.
It's not like Jaskier expected anything else, really, but he writes a series of vague and morose tweets about it anyway.
He gets zero likes and his landlady replies with: Darling, are you alright???
He deletes the tweets.
This gig he has lined up is somewhere else than his usual time slot playing at the bar.
It's not really his time slot at the bar, as much as it's him plugging in the mic on Tuesdays and playing some music. Before the staff got to know him it was a little awkward, but they got used to him pretty quickly. Now they don't bat an eye and try to chase him off anymore.
Jaskier isn't sure he can go back there sans boyfriend after the whole Emmylou thing though. He'll have to give Samantha a call and ask her if Neck and Skull tattoo are still prowling around there.
Best to leave it cool off for a little bit though.
Jaskier hasn't really been in the mood to play a lot of music anyway. Everything that comes out has sort of a little melancholic twinge to it. Which is ridiculous, really. He knows he's quick to fall for people, but this must've been some sort of record. Honestly, all the man did was grunt at him a couple of times in his car, and then a couple more times in his bed.
But he also saved him from a beat down he was decidedly not in the mood for, and then let Jaskier hold his hand in the parking lot of the bar, and then held his hand again as they gazed into each other's -
"Okay, you can spare me the details," Samantha groans. "What are you calling me for again? Is it to pay your tab?"
"No, no," Jaskier says. "Has he been back to the bar?"
"Your one night stand? Not that I recall, Jaskier."
"And the other two?" He asks, just cause he's got her on the phone now anyway.
"Yeah, they've been around."
He manages to pull himself together for the gig. He's a professional, after all. And he can definitely use this moroseness he's been prone to these last couple of days. An artist draws inspiration from real life, and this is a perfect well of emotions. In all honesty, he's actually started forgetting all about this Geralt guy by Saturday evening anyway. It was stupid, and Jaskier was obviously exaggerating because no man is really that attractive. Love makes people blind, they say. Which is definitely not to say that Jaskier is in love, that's fucking ridiculous. But as a figure of speech, it makes people blind. It makes people stupid and Jaskier has been especially rendered stupid by this guy, apparently.
The club doesn't look all that different from the other haunts he usually plays at. The stage is maybe a little bigger, and the place can hold a lot more people. It's still pretty early in the night, and yet there's already a bunch of people milling around, getting drinks and looking for a good time. A good time Jaskier can definitely help provide.
It's a pretty good crowd. He gets an applause after every song, some chuckles when he tries for a joke, and one of the girls in the group to the left of the stage is definitely giving him the eye. It's all looking really fucking fantastic until, right as he finishes a song, he spots Skull tattoo. He doesn't flounder the rest of the song, but only because there are no more words to sing and he could play this song in his sleep. Then he spots Neck tattoo.
"This next song!" Jaskier says, bumping into the mic with half his face, making a dull thud sound through the speakers. He backs up a little: "This next song is dedicated to my boyfriend, who is somewhere here in this room!" Some whoops and cheers sound from the audience, and Jaskier shoots a somewhat apologetic smile at the girl to the left of the stage.
"So this one's for you, baby," he gets out awkwardly.
If he were to ever really dedicate a song to a loved one, he hopes it would be a little better than the performance he puts down for this one. People don't really seem to notice though, Jaskier doesn't get booed off stage anyway. He does need to leave the stage for the next act to set up, though.
"This was it for me today," he tells the audience, desperately trying to stall. "Uhm, thanks again to my big and strong boyfriend, Geralt. For always having my back and being so, uhm. Strong."
The stage manager has started giving him a really nasty look and Jaskier is pretty sure he's not gonna be asked to come again, which is fair enough.
"Thanks," he finishes weakly.
"Have a good show," he tells the girls walking over to set up. "Would you mind if I watched from the side? I'm a really big fan." A hand on his shoulder guides him to exit the stage via the stairs.
As soon as he's down in the main room again, Skull and Neck tattoo are on him.
"Oh, hey," Jaskier says, feigning nonchalance. "What a coincidence. I didn't know you guys were into music." He tries to use his guitar to shield himself a little.
Skull tattoo fists his hand in Jaskier's shirt hard enough a seam rips.
No matter what Geralt insinuated that night, Jaskier has a very good survival instinct, which is exactly why he didn't want to be in the position where he'd have to fight these two guys. He's outnumbered, for one, and has zero experience with fistfights. Now he might be some sort of natural, but when it's his face on the line, it's never really been a risk he's been willing to take. It seems like he's run out of options now though, so he stands up straight to his full height, cause at least he's got that going for him.
If the absolute worst comes to worst he can still use his guitar to hit one of them over the head with.
"Now listen," he starts. "Back off."
Except that last part wasn't him. That last part sounded a lot like his boyfriend.
Geralt has his hand wrapped around Skull tattoo's wrist in a flash. It makes him release Jaskier's shirt enough so Jaskier can stumble out of his grip and move to relative safety behind Geralt.
"We've got to stop meeting like this," Geralt says to the two men. "He's not your guy, we've had this conversation already."
Neck tattoo gets all up in Geralt's face. "You're fucking liars."
"We're not," Geralt lets go of the other guy's wrist and Jaskier can see him grimace, making him think Geralt was probably holding on pretty tightly.
Jaskier can only describe what this guy starts doing next as an impression of a tea kettle's hiss. He's not sure if it's supposed to be intimidating, and without Geralt there it might've been, but currently it just looks kind of stupid.
Before Jaskier can figure out what's going on, Geralt turns to him, grabs him by the chin and pulls him in for a kiss.
A group of tipsy girls walks by them, and they all start cheering. Jaskier thinks the girl who was giving him the eye before when he was performing is among them. She lets out a wobbly "I want to find love like them!" before another girl puts a comforting arm around her shoulder and ushers her off with a: "You will, sweety." It's all pretty fucking surreal.
Maybe it was the kiss, or maybe it's the reminder that they're still in a club full of people, but Skull and Neck tattoo ease off a little after that. They seem to realize that there's not much more they can do. What is there to dispute when they've just kissed right in front of them?
"If we ever see you anywhere near Emmylou," Neck tattoo presses his finger into Jaskier's chest, but snatches it away again when Geralt tries to go for his wrist again.
"I won't!" And Jaskier can at least, without a shadow of a doubt, promise that. "I swear."
If not completely placated, the guys seem to at least possess enough smarts to just back off and leave.
Jaskier lets out a sigh of relief at their retreating backs and turns to Geralt. "Fuck, saved the day again."
Now that they're alone, Geralt doesn't seem as talkative anymore.
"What are the odds, huh?" Jaskier asks. "You, me, and those assholes. Like a weird four-way destiny. Except I'm guessing it wasn't a coincidence that they were here for my performance," and that's when it clicks. "And it's not a coincidence that you're here either, is it? The flyer."
Geralt rolls his eyes and fuck, it hadn't been a case of love makes you blind. He really is that goddamn attractive. "This doesn't seem like the kind of place I'd voluntarily hang out in?" He asks Jaskier, all bite and sarcasm.
At that moment the playlist that had been softly playing over the speakers cuts off because the next band is about to begin.
"Wanna get out of here?" He asks Geralt.
"Wanna walk me to my car and hold my hand in case those guys are still around?"
Geralt doesn't reply, just turns around and starts walking towards the exit.
As soon as they're outside Jaskier takes Geralt's hand even though, unlike last time, Neck and Skull tattoo are nowhere to be seen. Geralt doesn't try to pull away.
"I didn't actually drive here," Jaskier says once they've almost made it to the far end of the parking lot.
"Where were you leading us then?"
"That corner?" Jaskier shrugs. "Hey, you could've left a note or something, the other day."
Geralt starts pulling him to the opposite side of the lot. "Like a thank you note?" He snorts.
"Yeah, something like that."
"Really? A thank you note after having sex with you."
And yeah, maybe a 'thanks for sucking my cock' note left on his fridge would've been a little weird. He could've signed it with his phone number, though. It wouldn't have been weird then.
No. No, it still would've been a little weird.
"No just like, your number maybe. Or Instagram handle or, whatever."
They stop next to a brown car Jaskier supposes is Geralt's.
"So," Jaskier says to fill the silence Geralt seems unwilling to disturb.
"Get in the car," Geralt tells him, finally.
"Dunno what my survival instinct thinks about that," Jaskier replies.
"Fine, then don't," Geralt shrugs, letting the driver side door hit Jaskier in the side when he opens it and starts to get in.
"No, wait, okay," Jaskier says, scrambling to the other side of the car and throwing his guitar on the backseat before getting in.
"Where to?" Geralt asks.
"Did you get that motel room in the end?" Jaskier asks.
"Yeah," Geralt tells him. "Your mattress is better though."
"My place it is, then," Jaskier agrees.