Geralt can tell Jaskier is stressed out.
He is not sure about what exactly, they have rather a lot on their plate while they are in a settlement that for once is bigger than a hamlet.
Geralt got a contract on a young wyvern, the innkeeper doesn’t like witchers so Geralt and Jaskier has to share again, Jaskier has been asked to perform but one of his strings snapped, a drunk and rather frisky woman decided Jaskier was a good catch and her equally drunk but angry husband decided he was, indeed, a bad catch and proceeded to start a bar fight, someone stole Jaskiers favorite ring and just because, the sole of Jaskiers left boot decided this was the day to really let yourself go.
They have two nights in this town and before they leave they also have a billion things to sell and to stock up on.
So yeah, Jaskier seems a little stressed.
And that just won’t do, not only because he is tossing and turning next to Geralt, keeping him too awake, but his friend had a shitty day and frankly deserves a good night's rest. Even if he has to share with Geralt.
He lies on his back, the scratchy blanket around his stomach (and tucked under him because Jaskier is a blanket thief), looking at Jaskiers tense neck and shoulders facing away.
“Are you awake?” Geralt asks, even though he already knows the answer.
Jaskier jerks, and twists around with a tired frown to look at him.
“Well, I am now. Thanks.” He mutters grumpily.
“We will find you new strings tomorrow.” Geralt tells him, aiming for comfort.
Jaskier just sighs and pulls his fingers through his hair. It’s sticking up in odd angles on top and stuck to his skin on his sides.
Honestly it looks rather funny, and it warms Geralt to see this side of Jaskier, soft, unguarded and grumpy.
“I know. It’s just… a lot at the same time. And I'm so tired but I can’t sleep and this bed isn’t helping me at all.”
Geralt knows that feeling all too well.
“I know a thing that might help.” Geralt says, regretting it the exact moment he says it.
Jaskiers eyes snap up to his, and he can feel his face heating up. Lucky it’s dark in here.
“If you say meditation I swear to-”
“-It’s not. Just. Uh. Let me borrow your arm.”
He is doing it. He is really doing it.
And if Geralt is completely honest (which he prefers to be with everyone except himself) he has been wanting to do this for a long, long time.
Jaskier looks at him for a solid three seconds, every beat of Geralt’s heart feels like a punch as he waits.
Jaskier lifts his free arm, the other propped under his head.
Geralt takes it and lays it across his chest, pretending like it is something they do, like this is no big deal, like this is some kind of normal.
Jaskiers arm is tense against him, like he is pretending exactly the same.
Geralt makes a point of not looking at him anymore, then he raises his arm and featherlight let his fingertips drag across Jaskiers skin.
Back and forth, up to the elbow and down to the back of his hand.
First with only two fingers, but when he feels Jaskiers skin prickle and hears his soft intake of breath he gets braver. Geralt spreads his fingers and kind of twirls them, sometimes letting his nails softly drag against the skin.
When he does a small shiver passes through Jaskier and Geralt fights a smile.
“That feels good.” Jaskier says quietly, his arm getting heavier against Geralt's chest as he relaxes.
“I know.” Geralt says back, getting bolder and lets his hand trace up over his bicep, trace it to the sensitive skin on the underside and then back down.
The sounds of the small town outside is like a backdrop to the little bubble that suddenly surrounds them.
Comfortable and warm, and Geralt is so focused on his task to let his fingers dance on Jaskiers arm that he first doesn’t notice his forehead pressing against his shoulder as he gets closer.
Geralt pauses and looks over at Jaskier.
He is definitely more relaxed than before, muscles loose and eyes half closed.
He followed the movement of Geralt's hand with his eyes but when Geralt pauses Jaskier looks up at him.
“Don’t stop?” He says with a little smile and Geralt can do nothing but comply.
Up to his bicep, all the way up to his shoulder, circling and then all the way back down.
All the while Geralt is burning up, he is trying to breathe calmly, not acknowledging the trust displayed from the bard, his breath tickling his arm.
There is something he always wanted to do.
Geralt already came this far, why not?
He does it.
When his fingers reach the back of Jaskiers hand, instead of returning back up they continue.
Softly caressing his knuckles and down on his fingers. And then slowly back up again.
Geralt is barely breathing, Jaskiers skin is unscarred and soft.
He never had a reason to, but he always wanted to touch Jaskiers hands.
They are beautiful and really expressive, always moving.
He does it again. He can’t resist.
Fingertips against Jaskiers middle knuckles, then all the way down to his nails.
Jaskier moves then, turning his palm upwards, their fingers touching as he twists it.
The angle looks a little tense and Geralt huffs a little laugh.
“That can’t be comfortable.” he says, as he lets his finger feel the rough skin on Jaskiers fingertips and downwards towards his palm.
“Shut up.” Jaskier mutters, but pulls his arm towards himself and bending his arm to make their position more comfortable.
“Is it helping?” Geralt asks, doing a splendid job at hiding his feelings as usual.
“It really is.” Jaskier says, and when Geralt braves to look over at him his eyes are almost closed.
When Geralt traces his fingers upwards, Jaskier softly strokes back, their fingers tangling and untangling.
It feels… unreal. Jaskier touching him back like this.
He knows the bard is a much more physical person, expressing his kindness with both touch and words, but Geralt always found it a little hard.
He shows his appreciation in other ways.
“I’ll go buy you some new boots before the hunt tomorrow, while you go buy the strings. I would offer to do that too, but I'm not sure i would get it right.”
“Thank you, Geralt.” Jaskier murmurs, sounding close to sleep.
Geralt is really brave tonight. He traces his fingers across the inside of Jaskiers wrist, tanned after all the time spent under the sun next to Geralt.
And up, up and up until he can brush Jaskiers wild hair behind his ear.
“Sleep.” Geralt says and pulls his hand back, but Jaskier catches it and laces their fingers together, laying them back down on Geralt's chest.
He burrows closer and their legs are touching in this half hug. It’s warm.
Geralt's insides flutters and Jaskier presses even closer.
“Good night.” He whispers, and not a minute later Jaskier is deeply asleep.
Geralt can’t sleep. His mind is racing and his skin is burning and his heart feels like the sun.
No, tonight there will be no sleep.