“You really need to work on your impulse control, Geralt. Really? Another one?”
His Chief, ex partner and ex wife Yennefer von Vengerberg sighted deeply, her stormy eyes and thin lips expressing her displeasure.
“You need to stop frightening your partners away. The whole department is already afraid of you and your constant bitch face. What was it this time? Let me see-”, she skimmed over the report, “-here it is. You need to work on, I quote ‘his lacking skills in communication, anger issues and’- oh, thats a new one, ‘sexual harassment’?”
He felt the intense judgement of her one raised eyebrow.
Detective Rivia felt a headache coming.
“That idiot didn’t move fast enough when we were shot at, so I grabbed him by the hips. A bullet grazed him anyway so I threw him over my shoulder and hightailed the hell out of there.”
Her left eyebrow was joined by the other.
“You threw Leo over your shoulder like a damsel in distress?”
“More like a sack of potatoes. A damsel gets a bridal carry. I have some manners.”, grumbled Geralt, the smallest of smiles tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Yen snorted at that, an honest smile lighting up her beautiful face.
“Yeah. I remember those. You even used them every other tuesday.”
They smiled at each other for a while, indulging in memories past.
Gosh, he still loved that woman. But four years of fighting and an ugly divorce was enough proof of their incompatibility in regards to romance. They had been good work partners, great even, before Yennefer worked herself up the ranks. They had some great chemistry then until it twisted into jealousy, dissension and an unhealthy relationship. Thank god they’d left that behind. All that was left now was deep fondness for each other and their shared love for their adopted daughter.
Chief Vengerberg rifled through a big neat stack of files for a moment, then presented Geralt with a manila folder.
“Your new case.”
Geralt opened up the folder eagerly. The information was sparse, the coroners report still missing.
“A teenage girl was found under St.Gregory’s Bridge, washed ashore. No ID, no witnesses, no crime scene.” Her expression was grim. She probably thought about their own girl, save and alive at home.
“One shot to the heart, though. The ME said he has a lead. He wants to talk to you about that. In person.”
Yens evil smirk was back when Geralt groaned in despair.
“Don’t play pretend with me, you big grumpy closeted bi-disaster. I noticed your tongue hanging out and your tail waggling every time we were down in pathology.”
So the guy was cute. Still an irritating little pest, though.
When he opened the door to the pathology lab, Electric Light Orchestra blarred from every speaker. Geralt winced, his delicate hearing not used to such extreme volumes.
His attention was rapidly otherwise occupied however, when his eyes fell on the forensic pathologist. Even though the white lab coat concealed what was probably very tight jeans, the movements were still what Geralt considered an obscene amount of hip shaking.
Deeply immersed in his work, sometimes hovering over the dead body, fiddling with an instrument, then typing or checking something on his laptop just to look into a microscope next, the goofball still had the energy and thought process to sing along to Mr. Blue Sky, even wriggling one hand like a conductor when it was free of use.
The song ended and instantly shuffled into the next. Without missing a beat, the ME sang along, his beautiful voice echoing through the halls of the dead like it intended to fill it with life again.
“When I was a boy, I had a dream
All about the things I'd like to be
Soon as I was in my bed
Music played inside my head
When I was a boy, I had a dream”
Geralt was mesmerized for a minute or two. He had no idea how such a man like Dr. Julian Pankratz - full of life, mischief and love for music - came to the decision of working with the dead.
He shook himself out of his reverie. Geralt was here to do his job. Not watching the enjoyable and endearing show of this tour de force.
Not that it was enjoyable. Neither was it endearing. At all. Annoying and nerve wrecking. Yes. That was definitely the words he was looking for.
“Don't want to work on the milk or the bread
Just want to play my guitar instead
When I was a bo-OI! Shani, we talked about this! ELO is a holy sacrament. Mess with it and my wrath shall smite you with Rick Astley on repeat,” he remarked playfully when the deafening music stopped, still engrossed in his work.
“I’m not even sure if you deserve music privilege for the rest of the month. I know you had a rough week but there is only so much Sam Smith I can take. Our clients would complain, too, if they still could. I’m pretty sure the head trauma in cold storage Seven rolled around in her everlasting sleep. But never mind that now, did you pick up the sample from the biology geeks? You told them it was for me, right? Was the red head with the cute little diastema there? Beware of that guy, he may flirt like he’s all cinnamon roll, but once the light is out, a ferocious beast in the sack. Ripped that nice blue Armani shirt right of my-”
Geralt cleared his throught very loudly at that point.
The medical doctor stilled. When he looked up and spotted white long hair and the body of Adonis in a black sweater, his face lit up like it was Christmas and Geralt the present he always wanted.
“Detective! How lovely of you to visit me in my humble place of employment.”
Geralt raised an unimpressed eyebrow.
“You asked me here, Dr. Pankratz.”
The medical examiner bristled his nose like he smelled something rotten. “None of that ‘Dr. Pankratz’, if you please. Dr. Pankratz is my father and shall never be spoken of. I already told you to call me Jaskier. Everybody does.”
There was an awkward pause, where Jaskier assessed him for a second, as if he was trying to figure something out. Then the bright smile was back on his face again.
“Anywho, let’s get to the Mysterious Case of the Floater under the Bridge,” Jaskier veered of.
“Redanian girl, probably around seventeen. I could bore you with her medical record but I know your appreciation for keeping it short and relevant. She actually died by drowning. She was still alive when she was pushed into the river.” He looked distressed with his words, looking at the body with true sad compassion.
“But her life would have been forfeit anyway. She was shot. ‘What caliber?’, you may ask now. And here’s the twist.”
He rummaged around a desk for a second, a mess of books, petri dishes, medical reports, snack wrappings, a plush horse with too many eyes, a figurine of a llama and other curious knick knacks. Then he lifted up an arrow.
“May I present to you: the murder weapon. Well not the actual weapon. This one is from a friend of mine. But I’m pretty sure it’s the same make. I send my minion Shani with the small particles we found in her chest to the lab to confirm.”
“She was shot with ... an arrow.” Geralt tried to wrap his mind about this peculiar way to die.
“Crossbow to be exact.” He pressed a button on a remote control, which made a beamer come to life, projecting a model of a person with a crossbow on the whiteboard, shooting at another figure. “The force and trajectory of the shot-”, he began and then went of with mathematical, physical and anatomical details that went way over Geralts head. He watched Jaskier instead, who used his elegant hands to underline some points with elaborate gestures, eyes sparkling with intelligence and the high of figuring out the puzzle.
“- so in conclusion, considering the medieval garb she was wearing, our murderer - as well es our victim, are LARPers.”
Geralt blinked two times at that.
“Yes, Detective. And as the case may be, I know that crowd a little bit since I am a very active NPC bard.”
He shrugged out of his white lap coat, revealing a slim waist in tight black jeans and a black satin shirt with floral embroidery on the sleeves. He magicked his mobile from somewhere, scrolling through a list of addresses.
“So I thought we may start with the Butcher’s Yard Theatre, where at least three active players I know of are working at the moment. Maybe they know who our Jane Doe is. If we get no leads there, I am pretty sure the barkeep at the Rosemary and Thyme could know something, he’s playing an inn keeper three years in a row now and probably knows every face around the Novigrad roleplay scene. And then we-”
“There is no ‘we,” hissed Geralt.
“I don’t need your help. And the last thing I want is someone needing mine.”
Jaskier looked at him with his cerulean eyes, full of wonderment, understanding and determination.
“And yet here we are.”
Geralt only now realized how close they stood to each other. He took in the mens olfactory range: amber, sandalwood, mandarin and jasmine. He smelled devine. His stance was open and unthreatened and his eyes… knowing. Accepting.
Geralt felt unsettled for a second, for even if the men was not as strong as him, even a bit feminine and seemingly naive and unburdened by the hard world, he was in no way the goofball he presented at.
He was a perfect version of himself. More than Geralt ever hoped to be.
The moment of epiphany passed by when Jaskier threw him one of his patented sunny smiles once more.
Then the ME doned an expensive looking blazer with … buttercups?- and strutted out of his lab with purpose.
Geralt followed grudgingly.
“There is still a a dead body on your table.”
Jaskier waved one of his delicate hands in a deterrend motion.
“That’s what minions are for.”
“You will not speak. I’ll do the interviews.”, grunted Detective Rivia.
“Of course. I’ll be still as a mouse.”
“Will you? Thought you were physically incapable of that. Is that why you’re working with the dead? Because they can’t complain when you babble endlessly and screech to ELO?”
“Excuse me?” Jaskier looked hurt about that comment for a second, then caught himself.
“I’ll let you know that I’m a hit on karaoke night. I actually wanted to study the arts but… I had very strict asshole parents I tried to please ‘till I got twenty. Going into pathology was kind of a last fuck you.”
“Mh.” There was a longer story there.
“Don’t ‘Mh’ me, Detective. That was your disparaging ‘Mh.’ I could tell. The next time that sound comes out of your mouth it better be a more positive sound. Or better yet: words! Have you ever heard of the concept of stimulating conversation, Detective? You should try sometime. Might thaw a bit of that grumpy unapproachable atitude of yours. Not that I care, you are a delight. I really like the way you just… sit in a corner and brood.”
“Mh,” remarked Geralt, his left corner of the mouth slipping into a miniscule halfsmile.
They took their exit, Geralt getting into the expensive looking sleek car of the forensic pathologist without too much grumbling.
"So... what is this larp stuff, anyway?"
Jaskier turned to the sexy man of steel as if he just asked a particularly stupid, but endearing question and laughed a carefree melodic laugh that was made of light and angel song.
"You'll see. Might even like it. You look like a guy who can handle a sword."