Geralt wakes up to the sound of the back door opening at 3:47 AM, and automatically tries to roll over so Jaskier will have space in the bed when he comes slinking in from his gig. He's confused when his body fails to move, and he sleepily blinks himself awake to find Jaskier snoring on his chest, Yennefer sprawled artlessly against his other side. He squints at the clock, trying to make sense of it, and then remembers. Jaskier's teaching this semester, not doing much performing, so there’s been less early morning arrivals. So who… oh.
Right. Ciri's 18th birthday, she left last night to party with friends and presumably get legally drunk for the first time. (Not that she hasn’t partied plenty- it had just only taken one morning of Geralt ruthlessly dragging her hungover body out of bed to go for their morning run and yoga session at daybreak for her to learn some restraint. Teenagers, honestly.)
But it is 3:48 now, and Geralt wants to make certain his daughter made it home in one piece, so he carefully extracts himself from his partners and climbs over Jaskier out of bed to grab sweatpants and pad through the townhouse and down the stairs to the kitchen. There’s a faint clattering noise and a small curse, and he walks through the dark until he finds Ciri standing at the fridge. She’s in much more disarray than she left, hair out of its nice updo and now in a messy bun, clothes definitely different. A casual, loose grey tank top and red and white striped shorts of a ridiculously baggy cut are paired with her oversized, mostly unlaced combat boots, and he is irrationally fond. She’s limping a little as she takes out some of their leftovers to reheat.
“Have a good time?” he asks, and Ciri jumps a good three feet in the air, whirling around.
“Fucking shit,” she gasps, grabbing her heart. “You asshole, make some noise!”
“Oh,” Geralt says, stepping into the kitchen proper with a sheepish grin. “Thought I did. Sorry.”
Ciri punches his arm in a companionable sort of way, swaying a little. “Fucker. You’re as bad as Jaskier at his sneakiest.”
“I’m honored you think so.”
Ciri snorts. He can smell the beer she’s had, and cocks his head. She seems pretty well put together after her first formal night of drinking, and while she’s definitely swaying a little her eyes are clear and coherent.
“Sobered up, or didn’t have much?”
“Sobered up,” she says primly. “I was careful since I know I hate puking and I didn’t really want to get like, proper smashed ever again. I don’t think I really like beer though, the an Craites had me try a bunch of fancy kinds and I don't think it was worth the money. I did like the cocktails, those were fun. I had kind of a lot though, early in the evening before I realized I was getting a little more wasted than I wanted to, and um.”
She pauses, and her face does something very odd. Geralt cocks an eyebrow at her.
"Well," Ciri says, carefully not looking at him. "You know how a couple years back you talked to me about drinking, since I’d started and you wanted me to really think about it? And how sometimes you do stupid things because it seems like a great idea in the moment?"
Geralt leans on the counter, fighting his grin. "Oh yes, I do."
That had been a fun day. Yennefer had delighted in telling Ciri all about the time she came home to find Geralt, Eskel, and Lambert in her dresses. Jaskier had told her about how he got his first broken limb running from friends at college. Geralt had given in to cajoling and told her about the time he woke up four countries over without his passport and a newfound fear of tequila. Eskel had related the theft (and later, sober purchase) of Lil Bleater. Vesemir had told her the dumb shit he did was classified.
"Do you, um… do you remember what uncle Lambert told me?"
Geralt's grin widens. "Oh, Ciri. You didn't."
Lambert, sane and ridiculous man that he is, had told her all about the very stupid tattoo he got as the strongest warning, and even showed it off. It was a truly terrible thing, but it had been how he met his best friend and later partner, so really, it was all well and good.
Ciri sighs, and pulls up the right leg of the baggy shorts to show him the match to Lambert’s tattoo, covered very neatly in its protective plastic. The tattoo is five words written in simple, clean lines, definitely professional work.
This is my first tattoo.
Geralt howls with laughter, bending over near double as he cackles with complete glee. Ciri buries her face in her hands, but she's smiling in spite of herself as she watches Geralt absolutely lose his mind laughing.
“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” she gripes, but she doesn’t seem mad. “Look, it seemed like a great idea and I was even mostly sober at that point, okay!”
Geralt manages to pull himself upright, still wheezing. “Jaskier’s never going to let you live this down, and Lambert’s going to be thrilled.”
“I knooow,” Ciri whines, but her smile widens as she walks over to hug him tight. He hugs her back, ruffling her hair before bending to kiss the top of her head. “I know I did the whole stupid stereotype thing getting a kinda-drunk tattoo, but I kind of love it? It was a really, really fun night, and Cerys’ brother paid for it because he thought it was funny and I kiiinda might have made out with Cerys? So that might be something, because she’s really pretty and I’ve liked her forever and why am I telling you this?”
Geralt grins. Of all the joys his life has brought him, Ciri is the best. When she had first come to him, a nervous 13 year old full of fear and trauma enough to match his own, he had wondered if there was any way that they could make things work. Now, 5 years on, with Ciri a solid weight in his arms and his partners safely asleep upstairs, he feels nothing but contentment and ease. They’ve helped heal something in each other.
“Because I’m your father and I love you,” he says, and feels it in his bones. “Cerys is nice. She’d be a good match for you.”
Ciri looks up at him with big eyes. “You mean it?”
“Do I make a habit of saying things I don’t mean?”
“Only when Jaskier is being silly,” she says, very reasonably, and Geralt snorts.
“That might be true.” He bends to kiss her forehead, letting it linger. “I’m proud of you, Ciri. You’re growing up into a fine young thing. Eat your food and go to bed, the others are coming for breakfast since we didn’t do a dinner for you last night.”
She squeezes him tight before pulling away, smiling. “Night, papa.”
“Good night, cub.”
Jaskier and Yennefer have found the center of the bed when he returns, and he gently nudges them over so he can slide under the sheets, pinning Jaskier in the middle. He watches them for a moment, heart exceedingly soft. Yennefer is free of tattoos except for the small butterfly in between each of her wrist scars. Jaskier has plenty, most of them on his torso and upper thighs, lots of silly little drawings paired with larger, more meticulous full art pieces. Geralt’s favorite is his right half sleeve, a chaotic whirl of purple flames, lush greenery, bars of music, and golden eyes the exact same shade as Geralt’s own. Geralt’s tattoos are all a bit silly, things from his younger years that he loves but would definitely not get again.
He thinks he might want one for Ciri, and for his partners. Something to think about.
Yennefer stirs in her sleep, making a vague whining noise, and both Jaskier and Geralt reach out to find her arm in the dark. She settles, and Geralt rests his head on a pillow before burying his nose in Jaskier’s hair.
Sleep takes him quickly.
When he wakes up, it’s to Yennefer mid off-key rendition of one of Jaskier’s songs. Jaskier himself is at the vanity, brushing his hair. It’s getting on the longer end of how he likes it, and Geralt watches him frown at it, then wince as Yennefer’s voice cracks on a note out of her range.
“Morning, my dear,” Jaskier says, spotting him stirring in the mirror. “Ciri get home alright?”
“Yep, same time as you usually stumble in,” Geralt says, his voice a rasping rumble. “Time’s it?”
“About 10. Yenn called in,and my charming in-laws are on their way,” Jaskier says, smiling at him. “Aiden’s out of town so I imagine Lambert will be here first.”
Geralt feels a slow grin light his face. “Good.”
Jaskier’s eyebrow shoots up. “Good?”
“You’ll see.” He beckons. “C’mere. Wanna hold you.”
Jaskier melts, and immediately comes to join him back in bed. Yennefer comes out of the bathroom, gloriously wet and lovely, and the pair of them give her a very appreciative look.
“What?” she says, knowing exactly what, and goes to her wardrobe.
“Your range is improving,” Jaskier says, tucking his head under Geralt’s chin and nuzzling. Geralt runs a hand over his broad back, feeling very content indeed as they watch Yennefer towel off and reach for her clothes. “If you do warm ups in scales as you start you’ll have better vocal control for the high notes, but you've definitely expanded by half an octave either direction.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, I do like your falsetto pieces. Did you take the blue chiffon top to the cleaners?”
“Oh, yes, it’s hanging in Geralt’s closet. I picked everything up yesterday, forgot to move it.”
Geralt traces over one of Jaskier’s tattoos, a little line drawing of a birdcage with an open door and a line of poetry underneath. It’s such a mundane morning, Jaskier in his arms and Yennefer getting dressed, Geralt sprawled and thinking only of the work he has to do later in a vague, nebulous sense. It doesn’t matter right now, because his people are here and safe with him.
“I love you both,” he says with a happy sigh, and Jaskier coos, leaning up to kiss him.
When they finally make it down to the kitchen and the massive table, Lambert is already there and has started on making pancakes. Ciri is nowhere to be seen, but that’s not much of a surprise.
“Morning, assholes,” he says brightly, because the bastard is a morning person. “Aiden says hi. Where’s the menace?”
“Asleep, probably,” Yennefer says, heading straight to the cupboard for tea. Jaskier’s already had coffee, probably, he tends to wake up early and then just be up no matter how tired he is. Geralt likes both coffee and tea in theory, but rarely in practice, so he just fetches himself a decadent glass of ice cold water and ignores the rolled eyes that his partners share. Everyone’s allowed their oddities, and besides, he needs to go to the gym later anyway and a caffeine buzz wouldn’t help.
Ciri stumbles into the room and makes a happy noise, beelining to her uncle to wrap her arms around his waist and shove her head into his chest. Ciri’s gotten tall, and Lambert might be the shortest of the three of them but he’s still got height on her.
“Morning, brat,” Lambert says, hugging her with one arm and ruffling her hair.
Geralt nudges him away so the pair can go talk, taking over the pancake cooking. It’s not his favorite kind of breakfast cooking, but Ciri is a fiend for pancakes so they’re going to have to enjoy it. Eskel will be happy, that’s for sure, and Deidre will too. Eskel’s goddaughter loves pancakes smothered in syrup, much like Ciri, and the two have enthusiastically bonded over breakfast foods. Geralt will never understand them, but he doesn’t have to.
“Cub,” he says, looking over at Ciri, and Ciri grimaces. Lambert looks between them, intrigued. “Don’t you have something to tell everyone?”
“Now?” Ciri whines, and Geralt raises an eyebrow at her. She groans, and turns to face the trio of curious onlookers. “So… remember how Lambert told us about his first tattoo? And you know how drinking maybe sometimes makes things seem like a better idea than they are?”
“Oh fuck, no, you didn’t,” Lambert says with dawning glee. Ciri groans and stands up to pull up her shorts enough to show him the words to the assembly. Lambert breaks into his most hideous, honking laugh, falling over sideways as he cackles. Ciri groans, sitting down and letting her head hit the table. She bangs it a couple of times for good measure, but Geralt can see her smile through her hair. Yennefer is cackling fit to match Lambert, and Jaskier is clearly delighted.
“Awww, you match,” Jaskier coos, dropping a kiss on Ciri’s head. “Adorable. Do not do the same with your papa, sweetling, he has terrible taste in tattoos. Eskel, maybe, but he’s not much better.”
“I promise I won’t get a tribal style tramp stamp like Geralt’s,” Ciri grins, and Yennefer’s cackling turns into a shriek as Lambert starts howling with even stronger laughter.
Geralt shakes his head, cheeks flushing as he puts down the pancakes. “It was a different time,” he mutters, not meeting anyone’s eyes.
“Sure, sweetheart, keep telling yourself that,” Jaskier grins, grabbing his chin to pull him into a kiss. Geralt goes, humming happily when Jaskier lets him go. Of course, Jaskier immediately then adds, “That still doesn’t excuse the barbed wire on your bicep. You sure you don’t want to get it covered over with daisies? Or give that wolf howling at the moon a nice pastoral scene?”
Geralt sighs as everyone laughs, feeling warmth wash over him in a wave as the door opens and Eskel and Vesemir call up to them, Deidre’s voice a light alto counterpart to their baritone and bass. His family is here, his wonderful people, and he pulls Yenn in as she walks past to snug her up tight against his side, Jaskier’s head on his other shoulder and an arm around his waist too as Ciri and Lambert both careen down the stairs to show the others their latest chaos.
Yennefer settles against him, kissing his cheek. “Happy, my love?”
“Extraordinarily,” he says quietly, and smiles as they walk together to see the new madness unfold.