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pride (in the name of love)

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Chaos surrounds him.

There’s no other way to describe the situation. It’s sheer absolute pandemonium inside Passiflora, packed far past its capacity with what seems like at least half of the revelers from Cintra’s Pride festival cramming into booths and crowding the dance floor and spilling out onto the sidewalks of Redania Boulevard, all of them hugging each other and giggling wildly and screaming into everyone’s ears, into Geralt’s ears.

It should be irritating–the incessant noise, the press of the crowd, the confetti swirling in the air, the humidity lingering into the night and somehow finding a way inside. Geralt should be annoyed and irked and downright vexed.

He’s not, though. Because for him, there is only Jaskier. Nothing else, no one else, exists.

Jaskier captures all of Geralt’s attention. He’s magnetic; Geralt couldn’t possibly look away even if he wanted to, and oh, that’s the last thing he wants.

For much of the evening, Jaskier had been firmly ensconced next to Geralt in one of the plush circular booths, resting his head on Geralt’s shoulder, occasionally reaching up to adjust the crown of pink and purple and blue daisies adorning Geralt’s head, drinking whiskey sour after whiskey sour, and clapping and singing along as his band, minus him, played a wild and raucous set. Various members of the band had tried to lure him up onto the stage, and had kept trying as the evening slipped past twilight and well into night, but Jaskier had shook his head, swung his legs over Geralt’s lap, and held him closer.

(Geralt, swept up in the festivities, hadn’t minded, hadn’t minded one bit. There’s something simply intoxicating about being in Jaskier’s arms where other people can see them. Something that settles warm in Geralt’s chest. It strikes him that he is immeasurably lucky, having this man, this man made of the light of the sun’s rays and the smell of fresh flowers and the sound of a crystal-clear violin note lingering in the air, choose to be with him, with him, every day. It quiets that tiny part of his mind, which speaks far less often now than it had in their early days together, that wonders what is someone like him doing with someone like me?)

The band had reached their third encore, they announced that it was the last song of the night, and Essi turned her very best puppy dog eyes Jaskier’s way, a silent exhortation. Jaskier turned to him. One song? his blue eyes had said, pleaded. Geralt had chuckled and pushed him out of the booth, lightly, gently, in lieu of answering, and now, now Jaskier dances atop of a very long table to the screams of the crowd, singing–at the top of his lungs–a ridiculous number of words ridiculously fast. He is an absolute vision.

At some point in the day, Jaskier had acquired a violently pink feather boa from somewhere, and as he dances, he drapes it across his shoulders, occasionally waving the ends of it when he spots someone he knows in the crowd. Whenever his eyes meet Geralt’s, he winks, flicks the end of the boa Geralt’s way, gives a saucy swing of his hips, and it’s almost enough to entice Geralt up onto the table himself, to pull Jaskier back against him and slow his dancing down, so much slower, into something sensual, something sinuous, something so supremely seductive it would be entirely inappropriate for a room full of drunken revelers.

(But oh, how Geralt wants.)

Jaskier has never particularly been one for subtlety, and, to that end, his clothes are a riot of pink and purple and blue, from the spirals and swirls on his tie-dyed crop top to the flowers embroidered along the seams of his navy blue pants. Geralt can’t stop staring at the miles of bare skin visible between the bottom of Jaskier’s shirt, small enough that it’s hardly worthy of the name, and the waistband of his almost indecently low-slung pants.  Geralt’s fingers itch to trace the lines of the tattoos on Jaskier’s ribs, to trail the barest of caresses along the one on his spine, to run featherlight over the piercing dangling from his navel, to delight, as Geralt always does, in the look of his hands on Jaskier’s waist, sliding down to his hips.

(He had so indulged that afternoon, while they were getting ready at Witcher Brothers, after Jaskier had finished painting the bi pride flag on Geralt’s cheek with a flourish and placed the flower crown just so on his head and declared him to be perfect, darling, so lovely and so perfect. Geralt had rested his hands on Jaskier’s hips, right where the waistband of his pants started, and he had dragged his fingertips along that line of soft skin, slowly, back and forth, a tease, a promise, and he had thrilled in the tremble that ran through Jaskier. He had given in, easily, no resistance, none at all, to the passionate kisses Jaskier bestowed upon him in answer to his touch, and he hadn’t even minded when they were twenty minutes late in meeting the others outside the shop and he had to endure Lambert’s rowdy catcalls and Yen’s raised eyebrows and Ciri’s rolled eyes.)

Jaskier dances as though he has not a care in the world, and he sings as though it’s his personal mission to lift the spirits of everyone within earshot, and Geralt’s in awe, in awe of how freely he moves, in awe of how beautifully he sings, in awe of the light that shines from his soul and touches the souls of everyone who hears him. There’s confetti in his hair and glitter brushed over his cheekbones, mixing with the pink and purple and blue swirls painted all over his face, and it shimmers in the low, red lighting of the club, making him look ethereal, star-kissed.

He is beautiful, so very beautiful, and he finishes the song with a triumphant cheer and a delighted laugh, and his smile is bright, so very bright, and Geralt gets to see that smile every day. It’s the first thing he sees when he wakes in the morning and the last thing he sees before he slips into dreams at night, and that, the reminder that Jaskier is Geralt’s and Geralt is Jaskier’s, it makes Geralt ache deep within his chest, but it’s an ache of joy, it’s an ache of love.

Jaskier takes a deep bow and jumps down off the table and endures innumerable back slaps and hugs and high fives and air kisses and finger guns as he makes his way back to Geralt. He slides into the booth and right onto Geralt’s lap, and in between kisses–perfect, desperate, searching kisses–he whispers against Geralt’s lips, “I could feel your eyes on me the entire time, it is time to get home right the fuck now, we have to go.”

Geralt finally has his hands back on Jaskier’s waist, all that bare skin right there for his starving fingers to explore, to caress, and he’s loath to let Jaskier go, now that he’s back in Geralt’s arms, but the prospect of Jaskier’s bed–which is quickly becoming their bed, as Geralt and Roach are there at Jaskier’s townhouse more often than not–with Jaskier in it, under him and over him and surrounding him, blazing so bright with want that it’s nearly too much for Geralt to take, well, that’s too enticing a possibility to pass up.

“Far be it from me to disagree with that directive,” Geralt murmurs back, his words half lost in a growl.

Jaskier shoots him a wonderfully wicked smile as he clambers out of the booth, pulling Geralt along behind him, through the club, and out onto the street, stopping only to give Essi an enthusiastic hug, complete with smacking kisses on her cheeks and a marvelous performance, my dear yelled over the hubbub of the crowd.

They head towards the rail line, hand in hand, Jaskier nearly skipping in his haste to get home. He hums while they walk, a few bars of a melody here, a chorus of another song there. Geralt thinks he recognizes a bit of the song Jaskier just sang in Passiflora, but it seems slower, less frantic now that he doesn’t have to whip the crowd up into a frenzy. Jaskier is not quite drunk, but he’s definitely tipsy, and every time they have to wait to cross the street, he leans into Geralt, his arms sliding loose and languid around Geralt’s waist. Geralt supports him, easily, one hand resting at the small of Jaskier’s back, the other toying with the end of the feathered boa, reaching up to brush it against Jaskier’s nose.

Jaskier laughs at that, at Geralt’s turn into whimsy. The boa is long enough to drape across Geralt’s shoulders as well, and Jaskier takes advantage of the fact that they’re of a height to do so. It draws them close, draws them together, and when Geralt looks over, he can almost count every single one of Jaskier’s eyelashes, every single speck of glitter on his cheekbones, sparkling in the starlight.

It’s funny, Geralt thinks as they swipe their cards and step onto the platform to wait for the railcar, he always associates Jaskier with sunshine. He’s so bright and cheerful, his smile rarely dims or wanes. If Geralt had to assign Jaskier a color, it’d be yellow, he’s so full of light and love and joy it’s as though he’s ablaze with it, dazzling and radiant. But now, here, he looks at the way the starlight reflects in Jaskier’s eyes and bathes him in its cool gaze, its gaze turned warm by the heat of Jaskier’s smile, and he’s stunning in the starshine, too. He’s luminous, all around, day and night, a beacon to light Geralt’s way, constant and steadfast.

Jaskier turns to him, his smile soft, sweet, and it’s on the tip of Geralt’s tongue to say that, to say your smile is incandescent, you shine oh so very brightly, I was wandering in the dark before you but you, you guide me home, you are my home, but the words tangle up, they overwhelm him, they’re too much. So he leans in and whispers I love you, because he can do that now, he can say those words, and say them easily, and Jaskier kisses him and is still kissing him when the railcar arrives minutes later.

The car is crowded enough with fellow Pride-goers heading home that they have to stand, and Geralt holds onto one of the handles with one hand and onto Jaskier with the other, his hand spread over Jaskier’s bare stomach, anchoring him, holding him close.

Jaskier leans back against him, one of his hands resting over Geralt’s, occasionally tracing nonsense patterns on the back. He tilts his head against Geralt’s and chuckles, barely, just loud enough for Geralt alone to hear, every time a shiver passes through Geralt’s body at his touch. “So, Geralt,” he says, voice a little dreamy, the way it gets sometimes when there’s nothing in the universe but them. “Your first Pride. Do you have a review?”

“Hmmmm.” Geralt thinks back over the day, how Jaskier and Ciri had raided Triss’s flowers to make crowns for everyone, how Jaskier hadn’t once complained about sticking to the periphery of the parade where the crowds wouldn’t bother Geralt too much, how Jaskier had taken a moment and danced with all of their little family every time they would run into each other, how they had signed petitions and listened to speakers and collected reading recommendations and brochures for different organizations (all stowed carefully in Triss’s tote bag for safekeeping), how it had been a day of fun and joy and love, but, most especially, a day of community, a day of embracing everyone, everyone, within the community. “More activism and advocacy than I had expected.”

Jaskier nods. “Pride’s more than just a party.”

“I liked that,” Geralt says. “I really did. You know, I”–he pauses and Jaskier squeezes his hand, reassuring, comforting–”I felt accepted today. Like, I felt like people saw me and they just . . . saw me, me, and they said, we love you, we’re glad you’re here.”

Jaskier sniffs, just a little, and he presses a kiss to the corner of Geralt’s lips. “You are accepted, my darling, and just as you are. And also I love you, and I am so very glad you’re here, and especially that you’re here with me.”

Geralt tightens his hold on Jaskier’s waist; he closes his eyes as Jaskier sighs and settles in, somehow even closer. “Thank you,” he whispers. “We can go back next year.”

Jaskier turns his head, and Geralt feels rather than sees his smile. “That, my love, is very high praise indeed.”