Geralt never meant that.
"If life could give me one blessing, it would be to take you off my hands!"
Geralt felt the world crumbled in front of his own eyes when Jaskier's scent turned sour and lost, slowly walking away from him.
When he took the way down of that mountain, Geralt realized he missed his flamboyant bard and the joy he brought to him. He missed his chattering, the sound of his lute and his singing, the sound he made when inspirations struck to him, hands scrambling away to open up his notebook.
"It seems today will be a good day, don't you think, Geralt?" Jaskier would say with a smile on his face as he closed the book back, slipping it on his bag again. Geralt would hum, secretly In agreement, mouth twitching into a smile he hid quickly.
Now his Path was in complete silence. Only the sound of the birds chirping, Roach's occasional snorts and huffs, and the grass and dirt crushed below his feet. It was too silent. Everything seemed so dull this time. He didn't even feel that energized into taking a contract anymore and it had only been five months since that mountain.
They had parted before, sure. Geralt to Kaer Morhen on Winter and Jaskier to Oxenfurt, searching for shelter and teaching there. Even on their early journey together, they parted every three week or so, finding each other again not long after.
What made this farewell different?
It's the uncertainty that Jaskier would be back , Geralt thought. It's the certainty that Jaskier wouldn't be back .
It hurt him more that he liked to admit.
Even Roach showed her dislikeness of not having the colorful human around her anymore. She nipped at Geralt occasionally, especially after Geralt went back to the camp that day on the mountain and it wasn't because Yennefer left him.
It was because he made Jaskier left him.
Yennefer went on her 'come and go' mode to Geralt after that mountain. never staying long with the witcher, but always bumped into each other. They were tied with destiny after all. But it wasn't like before anymore. They weren't like before anymore. And Geralt thought he would be sad because of that.
He wasn't surprised anymore when his sadness towards the lack of presence from certain someone just grew stronger with the breathing reminder of the witch.
He met Ciri not long after that. Well, Ciri found him, but it didn't matter. Her presence has been a great impact for Geralt. The silence surrounding him subsided and with it his worry for her too.
If only the worry of not hearing a word about Jaskier the Bard could too.
"Are you friends with Master Jaskier?" Ciri asked, one day, when they already set up a camp in the middle of a forest, staying there for the night. Geralt nearly choked on his dinner.
He let out a grunt as soon as he recovered and stared at the girl, full of questions.
"You know Jaskier?" he asked finally when Ciri just stared back at him, confused too.
"I do. He is a court bard that often performed on my birthday," Ciri answered with a little smile at the memory. "He liked to tell me story of this particular White Wolf secretly to me, said that if Grandmother knew, he would be hanged."
Geralt snorted softly. But his heart ached a bit. He ached too easily at the reminder of Jaskier nowadays.
"Jaskier is…" he trailed off. What was Jaskier to him? The bard certainly had won the title 'best friend' years, probably decades, ago, even if Geralt didn't want to admit it. His only friend, his only travel accompaniment.
His bard , his mind supplied easily. Geralt felt a knot tightening in his stomach.
Not only that. Geralt wasn't a fool. He knew the bard was interested to him, but on the other hand, Geralt thought he fell in love with everyone and it was just a phase that would passed.
Turned out, no. It has been almost two decades since the realization and the bard didn't budge.
Geralt realized he had fallen too.
"…was a friend," he said finally. Ciri gave him a look.
"Was? What happened?" The child gasped, realizing something. "Is he…?" she asked with sad eyes.
"No, no, he is not dead," Geralt answered quickly, though it looked like he said it to convince himself. It has been months and Geralt never heard of the famous bard even once. He used to—before the mountain—and sometimes it eased his worry from separating too long. "We had a disagreement."
Ciri looked at him, skeptical.
"Really?" she asked. "Is that why he is not here? For how long?" Ciri huffed at him. She pulled her cloak around her tighter and Geralt made a mental note to buy a new one for her at the next village.
It also reminded him of Jaskier, of many nights they had spent together in the cold night air.
"I don't think a simple disagreement would drive him away. From his stories, I know you had been friends with him long before I was born."
Geralt's heart ached again at how true it was.
"We had a fight. Well, I blamed him," he said. His voice broke a little when the image of Jaskier's hurt expression flashed into his mind. "I haven't seen him since."
Ciri stared at him for a long time, considering his words. Geralt shifted uncomfortably under her eyes, also because of the reminder that Jaskier had been hurt on that mountain and possibly hiding from him now.
To his surprise, Ciri moved to sit next to him then pat his hand that was nearest to her.
"We have to find him then," she said, "so you can apologize." When Geralt looked up, Ciri was staring into his eyes, determined.
"Okay," Geralt said. "Sleep first."
When Ciri had finally slept in her bedroll, warm and safe, Geralt threw some pebbles around quietly to pass time. He didn't feel like sleeping after that conversation.
He really hoped this silence would go away soon.
When Geralt saw him, he broke down.
He was a witcher, supposedly a being without emotions, considered as a freak, mutant, and a monster that was strong enough to kill other monsters. He had to maintain his reputation, especially in front of other villagers like this.
But when Geralt saw Jaskier, the dam broke.
The poor bard was confused and panicked.
"No no no no, Geralt! Why are you crying?" Jaskier asked, hands flailing around him. "I'm supposed to be mad at you, you know. Now you are crying and I feel bad! Is this an allergic reaction? Is it that disgusting to meet me again? Well, I'll let you know that I can handle myself and don't need you as my knight in a shining armor!"
Jaskier was rambling because he was nervous, Geralt could tell, as the bard's went to clutch at the gash near his stomach. The bleeding had stopped, thankfully, but Geralt was reminded once again that Jaskier was human, only human, and those eight months without him could get his bard killed.
Geralt tried to find his words there, as Jaskier sat on a rock he had set the bard to sit on. They were also surrounded by the rest of the villagers on that small village, possibly staring at them with confusion. But Geralt couldn't find himself to care.
"Geralt? Why are you only staring at me? Geralt? Are you hurt? Knock your head somehow?" Jaskier made a face at him. "Ugh, I'm supposed to be mad at you. It's hard to be mad at you if you are crying, Geralt! I feel like I should be the one crying right now. I'm injured and hurt because of your words! Geralt? Are you listening? Well, I supposed not because my voice is probably that annoying to you. I should stop—"
Jaskier did stop talking after that, but it was because Geralt suddenly rushed forward to hug him.
"Geralt! What are you doing? You are dirty and I'm bleeding! Geralt?"
But Geralt just hugged him tighter.
"I'm sorry," he whispered to the bard's hair. "I'm sorry. I was hurt, but I shouldn't do that. I'm sorry."
"Geralt, you are making it difficult to be mad at you," Jaskier whined, muffled by Geralt's armor.
"Be mad. I deserve it," Geralt said as he pulled back, just far enough so he could see Jaskier's eyes. His hands went to frame the bard's neck and arms. "But you don’t. And I'm sorry." Jaskier stared back at him and it's the first time Geralt had seem him so speechless.
"Two decades, Jask. I didn't regret it, I don't regret it, never. I like your presence and the noises you brought," Geralt decided to continue on. He had to. Even if the bard decided that he wasn't worthy for a friend anymore—or even more than that—, the witcher knew he deserved a sincere apology from him. "I'm sorry that I pushed you away. I'm sorry that I never called you my friend. But you were, Jask, and probably more." Geralt stammered at his last words and he could see Jaskier's eyes widening.
"And if you'll have me…" Geralt trailed off, a little scared to see Jaskier on his eyes.
The bard sighed dramatically, though Geralt found the pout that grew on his face cute.
"That wasn't fair of you, Geralt," Jaskier said. "On that mountain."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"And you always keep me at arm's length."
"But you know about my feelings. You has to know."
"I know, Jask."
"And yet, you pushed me away."
"I'm sorry. And I'll say that for the next decade or so if you want."
"Ugh, do I need to shut up now? I'm going to launch into another ramble."
"Go on," Geralt said. "The silence had became … too much, without you there."
"Even with your child?" Jaskier nodded at the white haired girl who was helping other kids cleaning up the mess the recent event had left.
"Jaskier." This time Geralt stared right into his eyes. "No one can replace you. Ever."
The bard looked down at his hands, which were fidgeting hard, and Geralt had to swallow down the urge to soothe it.
"Geralt, if you go on like this, I seriously won't shut up," the bard said, looking hopeful.
"Talk then. Don't ever shut up on me."
Jaskier went to return the hug and Geralt felt his tears flowing again.
"I forgive you so stop crying," Jaskier pat his back. "You are getting my doublets wet."
"It's ruined anyway."
"Yeah, ugh , this is one of my favorites too."
"I'll buy you a new one."
"…No need, Geralt. Thank you for saving me though."
"Always," Geralt grumbled, once again reminded of the fact that Jaskier was only human. "Don't die on me."
Jaskier snorted. "Difficult task, but I think I'll manage.
Geralt smiled, sincerely, for the first time since that mountain. "Good."