Geralt looked up from his mixing, meeting Jaskier’s uncharacteristically serious face. “Hm,” he replied, acknowledging he had spoken before going back to his work.
Geralt stopped. It was the way he phrased it. Not “I want your attention,” which he’d heard before. Not “I want you to recognize me,” which he’d also heard. Not “I want you to say thank you,” or “I want you to tell me my name,” or “I want you to help me.” Jaskier was always specific. Spoke a language of precision that made him very easy to understand and please. The very simple communication was a welcome relief from the metaphor and innuendo of his songs and Geralt was more than willing to comply. This was another thing Jaskier needed.
Except Jaskier got touched all the time, so why was he asking? No, Geralt reflected on the words used. “Hug me,” Not “I want you to hug me.” Jaskier didn’t want a hug. Yet he was demanding one.
“Why?” Geralt asked.
“You need one.”
He needed one? Geralt looked at his hands as if they held the answer. Jaskier always spoke from his heart, whether honesty or falsehood. He needed more clarification.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“You are human,” he said. “And you need physical touch.”
Geralt almost argued that he wasn’t human, not anymore, but Jaskier shook his head. “Hug me, Geralt. You need it.”
Geralt still didn’t understand. Why? How was he supposed to do that? Was he supposed to just…
...Go for it?
Geralt set his mortar and pestle down and rose to his feet. “I don’t think I need it,” Geralt said. If Jaskier did him the service of speaking bluntly, he would as well.
“There’s no harm in it. Nobody’s around, you know this. And Roach might judge you but she can’t speak to protest. So hug me. Wrap your arms around me until you’re content.” Jaskier was still being so honest. There was nobody. Geralt would have smelled them if there was. But all he smelled was the woods, and Roach, and the campfire, and Jaskier, who smelled like all those things, plus lavender from his hair oils.
“It sounds stupid.”
“I know,” Jaskier quipped. “Do it anyway.” Geralt clenched his hands into fists at his sides.
“Phrase it differently.” he nearly said please, still as honest as he dared to be. Jaskier took a moment to think, then nodded.
“I want you to relax and let go,” Jaskier said. Geralt let out a quiet breath he didn’t know he was holding and brought his hands up slowly, sliding them under Jaskier’s arms at the same pace.
Simmering heat ripped through Geralt’s body at the contact, searing in its goodness and complete in its devastation. Geralt’s breath wavered when it came out next, and he wrapped his arms around Jaskier’s torso, tugging him gently against his chest. Still, the burn remained, though it wasn’t burning, it was desperation— it was the need that Jaskier could sense, it was the reason Jaskier had asked this of him. Jaskier’s hands touched his back in response, and Geralt snapped.
He hugged Jaskier against his chest tighter than he held his brothers, his mentor, his grip on his own life weak in comparison to the way Geralt clung to Jaskier’s body, like a breath of fresh air after drowning. It was rising, it was him, blind, and seeing color for the first time.
Jaskier was silent, but there was noise— it was Geralt. He was panting and there was a sound coming from his throat and wetness on his cheeks— crying. Geralt was crying.
“Why,” Geralt croaked, still holding him close, instinct driving him to hide his face in his neck, let loose the sound trapped in his chest and breathe and hold Jaskier. His touch was good and Geralt was spoiled by it, Crumbling under its strength.
Finally, Jaskier spoke.
“I will always try to be what you need.” The sentence only devastated him further, affection clawing its way through Geralt’s stomach, overheating his chest, making his tears come faster. Geralt’s legs were failing him, but he couldn’t let go, not yet—
Geralt dropped his weight slowly and Jaskier followed, sinking to his knees and then onto their sides, embracing, their holds never faltering, Geralt’s grip infinitely tighter than Jaskier’s, though the bard’s was easily more captivating. He cried until his head hurt, until no more tears came, until his sorrow turned to love that blinded him again. And all through it he held Jaskier, hugged him tighter than he’d ever thought he was capable. Even when his grip loosened he remained close, unwilling to look at Jaskier lest he laugh at the Witcher’s blotchy cheeks and red-rimmed eyes. Geralt inhaled the scent of Lavender and life, and calmed for the first time in decades.
“That’s better,” Jaskier said, one hand moving from Geralt’s side to the back of his head, rubbing it, soothing him with gentle words that brought the tightness back to his throat, heat back into his face and his chest and his gut.
What now, he wondered. What did he do now? Jaskier had said to hug him until he was content, but Geralt was more unsettled, unsure of himself. He only knew that he didn’t want to let Jaskier go, didn’t want to stop basking in this good, devastating love. How could he, knowing that it existed? What path could he take that would lead forward and yet go nowhere, somewhere he could stay in the arms of his only friend but life could continue moving? What would he do now that it was over? Was it even over? Jaskier hadn’t wanted to hug Geralt. But he’d known that Geralt needed a hug and he wanted to ease Geralt’s pain, so much pain. Who was he, without the pain?
“Geralt.” A steady voice interrupted him, soft but thick with emotion. That was a voice he knew, a voice that asked for things, things it wanted, a voice that spoke clearly and from the heart, whether honestly or falsehood. It came from a person who knew Geralt better than he knew himself, who spoke with precision and was easy to understand and please.
“Hm,” He answered. It was the most he could do, acknowledge that Jaskier had spoken, while he was floating in uncertainty, flying despite being perfectly grounded in his arms.
“Go to sleep.”
And Geralt closed his eyes.