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No Turning Back

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Sometimes it all comes down to a choice, a simple moment in time where a decision is made that has the power to change everything. Sometimes the importance isn’t realised until later, when looking back can’t undo a thing, but other times, like now, the weight of it can be felt fully.

Geralt pauses at the fork in the road, Roach shifting beneath him. He reaches forward and pets the side of her neck, soothing her, murmuring reassurance that it’s okay. He’s almost tempted to let her decide, to see which path she picks. It would be easier that way, less of a burden. Looking back now, if he’d known all the choices he made would lead towards this point, to this moment, he… No, he still would have done everything the same. He doesn’t regret the years he’s shared with Jaskier, it’s just that now he has to decide if he wants them to be something more. Jaskier is no longer the cocksure young man who invited himself along all those years ago. He is older, a little wiser, and walking the Path alongside Geralt isn’t as easy as it once was. In the last few years, Geralt has watched him become weary, his body not quite failing yet, but the warmth of the coast tugging at his mind, making him think more of the life he leaves behind to travel with Geralt than of the adventures ahead. Most humans settle much earlier in life. He thought Jaskier was the sort who never would. In a way, Geralt knows he relied on that, he’d taken his company for granted.

But Jaskier had given him a sad smile last autumn, and uttered those words which had hung round Geralt’s heart all winter. They’re there still, a little lighter now, but still far from easy to bear. When Geralt missed Jaskier before, he always knew they would likely meet again, that he would be greeted with that smile, with songs and tales of a happy winter and excitement for the months ahead. Now, though, he knows Jaskier won’t set out to find him. They’ll never meet again on the Path.

If Geralt wants to see him, he has to make a choice. He has to decide, to pick between the two diverging roads in front of him, between selfishness and selflessness.

Roach fusses, and he sighs sympathetically. There is no turning back now, only going forward, either to find Jaskier or to seek out contracts. There may have been less work for Witchers the last few years, but that doesn’t mean there’s no work, that there are no monsters, no people in need. His purpose in life is clear. He was raised for it, moulded into the perfect tool for it. It’s what he was made to do. It’s the right thing to do.

So he decides.

He picks the path that heads south, not west.

He chooses his purpose over his heart, and the moment the decision is made it weighs heavily on him, bearing down with oppressive, suffocating weight. It makes his eyes sting, his body going cold with the wrongness of it. He urges Roach on, trying to ignore the wrongness of it, but he knows that he will never forget, he will never cease to regret his choice.

Sometimes it all comes down to a choice, a simple moment in time where a decision is made that has the power to change everything.

Geralt makes his choice.

And turns back, and picks the road that leads west, towards Jaskier.