Jaskier’s movements are economic, and efficient. Eskel knows the young man is a whore, that this is nothing more than a transaction, but it still unsettles him to see the way Jaskier cleans up afterwards, wiping away the oil and traces of Eskel’s come from his thighs with perfunctory motions. It makes Eskel acutely aware of how many times the beautiful man must have done this, how many times his body has been used in exchange for coin. He’s under no illusion that Jaskier would ever have chosen him freely, but he’d been a good choice for the night: he was skilled, had seemed keen, and had been vocal in an honest way. Of course, none of it was honest. Prostitution can be an artform, like everything else in life. Jaskier is clearly exceptional at his trade. Eskel had fallen for it. He ought to pay him extra.
“Water will be brought for your bath shortly,” Jaskier tells him, gathering his clothes and easing them back on.
“Thank you,” Eskel sighs.
“Do you require anything else?”
He shakes his head. Once he’s bathed he intends to venture back downstairs for some food, or perhaps go straight to bed.
“Good night then, Eskel,” Jaskier says, bowing his head ever so slightly as he makes to leave.
For some reason, Eskel can’t help calling out. “Wait!”
Jaskier stops, frozen halfway to turning towards the door. He regards Eskel patiently, perhaps a little curious but otherwise seeming unbothered.
“I would like your company while I bathe.”
There’s a little nod of acknowledgement. “Very well. I shall inform the madame.”
“Here,” Eskel says, and then reaches for his discarded things, slipping a gold coin from his recently filled purse. He sees the way Jaskier’s eyes grow wide at the sight of glittering yellow rather than dull silver or tarnished copper. “For the rest of the night as well.”
The breath leaves Jaskier in a rush as he takes the money, his warm fingers brushing against Eskel’s. “I’ll be back presently. Are there any other… requests?”
“Perhaps another blanket for the bed.”
Jaskier cocks his head at the request, but doesn’t comment on it. “As you wish.”
This time, Eskel doesn’t call out and stop Jaskier from leaving. He remains on the bed, leaning his weight back on his arms and staring up at the ceiling as he tries to figure out why he’s acting on a whim. He doesn’t need to fuck again. It would be nice, but something about those neat, efficient movements Jaskier made as he cleaned up are bothering him. He doesn’t know why he dislikes them so much. Such things are just a fact of life, nothing to be surprised or bothered by, especially not when Eskel has seen hundreds of other whores perform the same motions.
His bath is duly brought, and Jaskier returns. He has changed, and is wearing an outfit of soft blue that complements his eyes to devastating effect. Eskel is glad he bought his time for the night. As he sinks into the welcoming hot water, Jaskier rolls up his sleeves, moving over to the bath to help Eskel wash.
Eskel catches his hand before Jaskier can do anything, kissing the back of it and gently pushing it away again. “I’ve paid for your time, nothing more.”
Jaskier stares at him. “Do I displease you?”
Eskel sinks a little lower in the bath. “Far from it.”
“Then why…? Let me help. It’s the least I can do.”
The way his eyes widened as the coin was pressed into his hand sticks with Eskel. “I’ll give you another gold coin not to.”
Kneeling at the side of the bath, Jaskier chews his lip. There’s a long stretch of silence, in which Eskel thinks the matter has been resolved, and then Jaskier stuns him. “You can keep your coin, then.”
“What are you doing?” Eskel breathes, sitting upright as a hand claims his, holding it still so that Jaskier can bring the soap to bear on the dirt around his fingernails.
“No, I mean why are you doing this?”
“Does there need to be a reason?”
Jaskier stills his movements, looking up at Eskel. He bites his lip again, and Eskel feels a tug of longing.
“How about I pay you for your honesty?” he tries. He has more than enough coin right now.
“You want an honest whore?”
A smile tugs at Jaskier’s lips, and Eskel grins too. “That would be a rare thing indeed.”
Jaskier laughs, the sound all too short yet tenderly sweet. “It would.”
“Well?” Eskel prompts.
Jaskier’s thumb caresses Eskel’s hand, his gaze dipping for a moment. “In exchange for your coin, yes, I’ll give you what you want.” He looks back up at Eskel, holding him captive. “You’re handsome. Your company is no hardship.”
The lingering smile falls leadenly from Eskel’s lips, and he barely refrains from tearing his hand back. He’s wanted honesty, not pretty lies.
“You don’t believe me.”
Eskel moves to take the soap. He’s surprised to find it snatched back.
“No,” he’s told, with more confidence than anyone ever shows to a Witcher – even a naked one – while unarmed. “I want to do this. Let me.”
Eskel sighs, leaning back in defeat.
Jaskier hums in satisfaction, setting about helping Eskel bathe. His movements are efficient, yes, but his touch lingers. He moves slowly, seeming to delight in taking his time, almost savouring the act. Realising his eyes fell shut at some point while Jaskier was massaging the dirt from his scalp, Eskel opens them again. He turns to look up at Jaskier, finding him seeming content.
“You’re good at this,” he praises, because now that Jaskier has seen him looking, he feels like he ought to say something.
Jaskier smiles. “I know.”
When he leans in to kiss Eskel, Eskel lets it happen.
“Want to know what else I’m good at?”
“I think I can guess.”
“We have all night for you to find out.”
It’s temping, so tempting. Eskel thinks of the fact that this is a transaction, though, that everything in this establishment is bought and paid for. This is no different. “I’ll pay you not to sleep with me,” he offers.
Jaskier kisses him again, harder his time, and pulls back just enough to murmur his response against Eskel’s lips.
“Keep your coin.”