The beach isn’t Jaskier’s favourite place to be, exactly. For one, there’s usually a lot of sun involved, and that is never a good thing for keeping himself wrinkle-free. He also has a tendency to burn, rather than to tan, which is never fun, and then there’s the fact that sand gets everywhere. Everywhere . A teenage dream-turned-to-reality-turned-to-nightmare taught him a lesson he’ll never forget. It still hurts now, all these years later.
Shuddering, he pushes the thought aside in favour of happier ones. The beach umbrella slung over his shoulder is becoming increasingly heavy, but he’s almost there, Priscilla walking beside him with the picnic hamper. The rucksack on his back is stocked with drinks and a change of clothes, as well as a blanket to sit on and a towel for Priscilla, because she’s beyond insane and actually wants to go swimming in the ocean, heedless of the dangers hidden within. If he weren’t so genuinely disconcerted by the monsters he knows are lurking in the depths, Jaskier might actually go swimming himself. Perhaps if he got into trouble he’d be rescued by a tall, handsome lifeguard with distinctive scarring on his face, and the two of them would fall in love and live happily ever after.
As it is, he’s not going in the water, so he’ll have to come up with another way for the two of them to fall in love.
His plan, grand though his dreams are, is simple. The spot he chooses is nearby the lifeguard’s lookout, but not right next to it. He’ll be visible, but not obvious. At some point, he’ll walk over and ask a question – he’s mentally preparing a list of possible options – and then the handsome man will be won over by Jaskier’s charm and good looks, and find it impossible to say ‘no’ to him. It’s the perfect plan. It can’t go wrong.
Well, unless the lifeguard isn’t attracted to guys.
Or if he’s already in a relationship which… is very likely because who wouldn’t be throwing themselves at the guy’s feet?
Or if Jaskier just isn’t the guy’s type, which would be beyond tragic because just one glimpse two weeks ago and Jaskier knew this guy was his type. Well, he assumes he is. Tall, dark hair, strong physique, his heart in the right place? Ideal. The whole volunteering to help watch over people and rush in to save their lives thing is very, very sexy. It must be why lifeguards in general are so attractive.
Well, now that he’s here, he’s going to have to find out if his plan is as perfect as he tries to reassure himself it is. Priscila had laughed at it, and then agreed to go along with the whole idea, and to even throw in some outrageous flirting with any gorgeous girls that happen to be around. Jaskier thinks she would have done that anyway.
They set up, and Jaskier’s heart sinks as he realises that the lifeguards are changing over. His tall, handsome guy clambers down, exchanging brief words with the guy who replaces him. After that, he’s gone. And there’s sand in Jaskier’s shoes. He kicks them off and morosely tries to tip the grains out, knowing they’re going to be there forever. Maybe his dream life with a lifeguard isn’t going to become a reality.
Still, they’re here now, and he’s sure he owes Priscilla for something, so he dusts the blanket off and settles on it, careful to keep in the shade. Priscilla downs a fruity soda and then disappears off towards the ocean. She’s going to get hiccoughs and cramps and drown, he’s sure.
Another reason beaches aren’t really Jaskier’s scene is that there’s not much to do. There’s only so much time he can spend applying sunscreen, and then the options are to read, or to daydream. He tries reading for half a page, and then goes for the third, forgotten option, and has a snack. He’s back to the plan of daydreaming, and has settled comfortably on his back at last, when a shadow appears at the edge of the umbrella.
“You won’t catch a tan like this,” they say.
Jaskier sits bolt upright, and then realises it worsens his line of vision. All he can see now are strong, tanned calves and bare feet half buried in the sand. “Um, excuse me?”
He almost has a heart attack when the intruder bends down enough to peer beneath the rim of the umbrella. The unfairly handsome face of the lifeguard smiles gently at him, making Jaskier wonder if he’s fallen asleep and is managing to have the most vivid dream of his life.
“Hi,” the lifeguard says. “May I?”
“Uh…” Jaskier says eloquently.
The lifeguard stoops to fit under the canopy and perch himself at the edge of the blanket, and it’s then that Jaskier realises he’s not wearing his recognisable lifeguard top. He still has the vivid red shorts on, but the white t-shirt he’s wearing looks very much like it’ll turn transparent at the merest hint of water. Pity it isn’t forecast to rain very specifically under this umbrella.
“Am I doing something wrong?” he wonders, because there’s no reason for this guy to be here, approaching him. There’s sand under Jaskier’s collar. The detail is too specific and evil to be part of a dream.
“No, your friend just…” the lifeguard glances at Jaskier, who promptly has at least four different crises when he sees the colour of the guy’s eyes, the healthy depth of his tan and the way the scarring tugs his lip up a little to reveal a flash of teeth. “Said you’d like some company.”
Oh, she did, did she? Jaskier isn’t sure if he ought to vow to thank her or take vengeance. “I’m okay,” he insists. “I’m not sad or anything.”
“She didn’t say I was depressed?”
“No.” There’s a look of genuine concern, which Jaskier supposes is to be expected from someone who passes their time looking out for others. “Are you?”
“No! Well, not that I know of…” He’ll have to double-check later. Things might have changed. “What did she say?”
“Uh,” the lifeguard looks nervous for a moment, chuckling and rubbing his very impressive bicep. “Something like ‘my friend Jaskier thinks you’re hot, would you go talk to him because I’m worried he’s going to sit there all day melting into the sand and not say anything to you’.”
Jaskier splutters, indignant. “I was going to!”
The lifeguard raises an eyebrow.
“I mean… I’d hoped to…” Jaskier adjusts. “If the opportunity arose.”
He suddenly feels deflated. This guy is gorgeous. He’s beautifully tanned and proportioned all over, strong, with kind eyes, an attractive mouth, and did he already say that he’s beautiful? Jaskier knows he must be just another idiot in a long line of fools who’ve hit on the lifeguard.
“I’d have liked that.”
The statement gives Jaskier a glimmer of hope. He looks back up from where his gaze had fallen, meeting amber eyes. “Yeah?”
The guy nods. “I noticed you last week, and twice before that. I wouldn’t have minded if you’d come over.”
The lifeguard bites his lower lip, fingers drawing an idle pattern against his knee. “Jaskier, right?”
Jaskier looks over at the lifeguard, taking in Eskel’s appearance, trying to commit it to memory. “So is this the part where I ask if you want to go on a date?”
Eskel smiles, somehow both handsome and shy, the corners of his eyes creasing and making Jaskier think that tans might not be something for him personally, but there are some people who were just made for them. “I think so.”
“Well, how about it?”
The smile becomes more confident, Eskel’s hand falling from where it had been rubbing his bicep. “I’d like that.”
Jaskier can barely believe it.
Maybe he’ll get his happily ever after after all.