Geralt Rivia was a stoic, no-nonsense kind of man. His home was meticulous, his wardrobe functional, composed of only three or four colors, and his smiles sparse. Those who knew him, however, knew that he was also a deeply sentimental sap. His lawn was always mowed to exact HOA standards, but his window boxes were overflowing with flowers because they made his daughter smile. Their home was relatively austere, in tasteful shades of cream and gray that Yennefer insisted were “in”, except for Ciri’s room (a vibrant, almost painful purple, plastered over with years worth of pictures and posters) and the bathrooms (done entirely in a pirate theme, from Ciri’s middle school pirate phase) and the refrigerator (which was covered with Ciri’s art from third grade to present, held up with tacky magnets that Yen brought back from various tourist traps when she traveled).
The only other really sentimental thing that he had for all himself was an ancient, patchy stuffed horse named Roach, and even that was also somewhat for Ciri. When he and Yen had adopted her she’d been terrified and full of grief over losing so much so quickly in her very short life. Yen and Geralt had explained that they, too, had been adopted, and they understood that it was scary and that it was ok for her to be sad, and it had helped.
One night, Geralt had slipped into her room after bedtime, before the nightmares started, his normally frowny face soft, those big hands wrapped around the ancient horse. He’d knelt at her bedside and told her, quietly, about how he’d been all alone for years and years, until grandpa Vesemir had found him, and how Vesemir had won Roach for him at a county fair, and Roach had stayed with him for so long, watching over him.
But now Ciri might need someone to sit up with her at night. Humans like he and Yen had to sleep, but Roach didn’t sleep. Roach sat up and chased the bad dreams away when they tried to sneak in, and you only had to pay her in hugs and care.
For so many years, Roach had lived on Ciri’s bed.
Except now, Yennefer stood, her half-scraped breakfast plate still hovering over the trash can, her brain refusing to process what she was seeing. Roach, her battered body torn asunder. Handfuls of stuffing, like snow, yet horrible, sat atop her. Carefully shaking bits of potato and egg off of Roach’s mangled corpse, Yen numbly pulled her from the trash. Her plastic eyes had tooth marks in them.
“Oh Roach 2, what did you do?!” she gasped.
Hearing her name, their chocolate labrador puppy tumbled into the room, her tail wagging so hard it nearly bowled her over.
This would explain why Geralt had been in such a mood when she’d gotten back from her latest business trip. He’d tried to hide it, but something had crawled up his butt and died. Seemed like it was Roach that had died.
She’d read the training manuals that Geralt had brought home with the puppy after Ciri had left for college to manage his empty nest syndrome, so she knew that no amount of scolding now would do anything helpful, so all that was left was anger and sadness and helplessness.
She pulled her phone from her pocket and pulled up instagram. It took a little searching before she remembered the handle, but there he was -- @dearheartdollhospital. He was localish, and from the pictures she’d seen, he was pretty talented. It certainly didn’t hurt that Ciri was a massive fan of his content. If anyone could save Roach, it was probably him. But that was presuming that Roach even could be saved. She quickly fished out all of the pieces that she could find and then rearranged the trash. Best not to let Geralt see and get his hopes up. This may not still work.
Dear Heart Doll Hospital, as it turned out, was not a storefront, but a mail-in service to a post box. Meaning that if something were to go wrong, it would be that much harder to track the bastard down.
It was with no small amount of trepidation that Yennefer packaged up Roach the first’s mangled body and shipped her off to meet her fate. Based on the flurry of DMs with “Dr. Jaskier”, including pictures of the carnage, he was confident that he could, in fact, help her with the situation, and he’d even include progress pictures and videos. This, coupled with the fact that he didn’t charge payment until the repairs were completed, gave her a little confidence.
And Ciri seemed to like him, which was always a decent judge of a person’s general demeanor. She was almost as quick to judgement as Yennefer, but without the additional layer of cynicism.
The forms had seemed a bit much, but he’d insisted on knowing the doll’s name and owner and their backstory together. He’d insisted that this was an art, and rather than pestering her with questions about every little detail and drawing out the process, knowing the whole grand tale let him know when and where to embellish.
Probably he wasn’t a huckster.
This would be fine.
Yennefer abhorred dull men, which was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Geralt could keep up with her, blow for blow, and provide an actual challenge for her. It kept her thrilled and engaged. On the other hand, he was terribly observant.
It had all come out, less than 36 hours later, that yes, she’d found Roach, and yes, she had removed Roach from the trash, not Roach 2, and she’d mailed Roach 1 to the doll doctor, and no, Roach 2 had not swallowed Roach 1 and did not need to go to the dog hospital. It was all terribly fraught.
Roach 2 was let out of the crate and given a great many compensatory belly rubs, and then Yennefer took Geralt upstairs and gave him a compensatory rub of a different sort to apologize for nearly giving him a heart attack.
The first video came through to her e-mail on a Tuesday afternoon as she sat in her office. She had promised Geralt that they would watch the video together, so it wasn’t until well after dinner that they were able to sit down together and watch it on her laptop.
The video showed Roach’s mangled body laid out on a cutting mat on a workbench, bits of string and decorative pin cushions artfully arranged around the border of the shot. Strong, long fingered hands, with an absurdly large gold ring on one of the fingers came into frame. The hand gently stroked what was left of Roach’s head.
“Ah, Roachie darling, you’re being so brave.” “Dr. Jaskier”’s voice was surprisingly sweet. “Well, that’s no surprise, you’ve spent a whole lifetime being brave for dear Geralt, and taking care of him. But now let’s take care of you, shall we?”
The video cut to those same hands gently lowering Roach into a small tub of soapy water and gently rubbing those calloused fingers through her short, worn fur. One of the hands disappeared offscreen for a moment and then returned with a glittery purple toothbrush, which he used to gently spot clean the dog spit and breakfast crumbs out of the fabric. All the while he hummed a slow, gentle tune that sounded vaguely familiar, but Yen couldn’t quite place.
The scene cut again, this time to those hands gently lowering Roach’s body into a different tub of clean water. “Into the pool, my dear! Let’s go for a dip, you’ve been such a good girl.”
A surprising amount of dark hair was plastered to muscular forearms with the water as he massaged Roach in the clean water to rinse the suds out of her body. As she bobbed and sloshed limply in the tub he made animated whickering noises.
“Alright miss! Time to get out! Let’s get you dry and into bed, and we’ll see what’s to be done with you tomorrow, hm?”
Once again the video jumped, this time back to the workbench, where a pile of neatly folded hand towels were arranged to look like a mattress, pillows, and a blanket. Jaskier’s hands reappeared, pressing Roach’s damp body between two of the towels as he “tucked her into bed”.
The hands disappeared again, but there were sounds of something big and hollow being picked up, and then a gentle strum of guitar strings. “Now Roach darling, Geralt can’t be here with you himself, but I’ll sing you a lullaby, and he can sing along from home, how about that, eh?”
His fingers worked hypnotizingly across the strings of the guitar, and he began to sing.
It was just “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, but his voice was- well Yen wasn’t in the habit of giving compliments out freely when they weren’t deserved, but the man had clear musical talent.
“Don’t worry, Geralt. She’s in good hands, and she’ll be home to you soon.”
The video ended. Yennifer sat for a moment, turning to Geralt, whose brow was furrowed. “I may have not made it clear on the paperwork that you’re my husband and not my child.”
Geralt nodded. “Yeah, seems like there may be confusion.”
“I could message him, if you’d like?”
Geralt shrugged, telegraphing incredible (and completely feigned) nonchalance. “Nah. He seems to have a ‘thing’, I’d rather not throw him off his game.”
YennEfer rose, pressing a lingering kiss to Geralt’s temple. “Sure, let’s indulge him .”
The next three videos all concerned Roach’s re-assembly. Jaskier showed the process of color-matching her fur to re-build the bits of her that were missing that Roach 2 had possibly eaten. He showed the process of carefully re-attaching her “hoofie-woofies” and finding her an un-gnawed eye. He even showed the process of building out her mane, which Geralt was fairly sure hadn’t even looked that good when he’d first gotten her.
They also learned a little more about the man himself. There were camera shots that revealed his long, toned legs in too-tight jeans. They saw more of those hands and arms. At one point they caught part of his reflection distorted in the lid of his sewing tin, and learned that he had brown hair and the most absolutely horrifying electric yellow Hawaiian shirt on. Apart from his fashion sense, he was the exact sort of man that they might have picked up together back before they became parents.
They also learned that he hummed the entire time. Neither of them could place the songs, other than the customary lullabye at the end of each video, but they felt strangely familiar.
The final video involved a great deal of Roach mock-prancing, going through her “exercises” and leaping over fences made of popsicle sticks. It ended with a song, of course, and Jaskier offering Roach a big hug goodbye.
“It’s been wonderful to meet you, Roach, and I’ll miss you terribly, but it's time to head home to Geralt. You’ll tell him ‘hi’ for me, won’t you?”
He made Roach nod dramatically.
“It’s a long way, but you’re so very brave. Just remember to stay away from big old puppies!”
When Roach finally returned in the mail not three days later, she was probably cleaner and nicer than Geralt could ever remember seeing her. He smiled and made polite noises with a great many eye-rolls, but Yen saw him cradling her to his chest, carefully eyeing Roach 2, who seemed largely oblivious to it all. Roach-the-first disappeared to a tidy shelf in their bedroom that had mysteriously appeared some time over the past week, and a weight that Geralt would never admit to carrying finally slid off his shoulders.
As much as Yennefer insisted that Geralt didn’t need to do anything special to thank her, he still insisted that yes, he did. They compromised. They’d go on the prowl together and see if they couldn’t pick someone up together, but they’d do it at the fancy new wine bar that Yennifer had found with Triss and had desperately wanted to drag him to. It wasn’t Geralt’s scene, with its little plates of fancy foods and live music, but he could suck it up for one night.
The night passed pleasantly. The wine was excellent, Geralt had eaten before they’d left so the tiny plates weren’t completely intolerable for him, and the music was decent. When Geralt actually bothered to clean up, he cleaned up well, and they were attracting a decent number of looks.
Yennefer tossed her hair over her shoulder. “I like the brunette in blue, she’s got good legs.”
Geralt hummed noncommittally. “What about him?” He murmured over his glass.
Yen followed his gaze to the dark skinned man in the gray button up. “Good shoulders on him, but I think he’s more interested in ruffled-skirt over there.”
They’d narrowed it down to a man with a fantastic ass, but a wretched goatee (“You can’t see it if you’re sitting on his face-” “But I’d have to feel it on my thighs, Geralt!”) or the brunette with the good legs (“She seems high maintenance.” “Geralt, you married me , and anyway, it's just for the night.”) when the musician stepped away and a new one took his place.
He stepped onto the stage with his back to the room as he carefully unpacked his guitar, revealing long, toned legs, thick brown hair that was artfully tousled, and broad shoulders wrapped in an unforgivably vibrant teal shirt.
Geralt hummed again, his eyes tracing appreciatively up and down the musician, as he carefully unbuttoned his sleeves and rolled them up, revealing dainty wrists and very lovely forearms. “Well, I have heard good things about musicians and their hands,” Yen murnered to him.
It drew a half smile from Geralt, which was always a win.
When the musician turned, his shirt was unbuttoned lower than was technically decent, revealing a lovely, surprisingly hair chest.
His face was just as pretty as she’d hoped. He perched himself carefully on the stool, settled his guitar on his lap, and started to play.
He was good .
His voice was strong and clear, his fingers nimble and clever, and his song- oddly familiar?
Yennefer looked to Geralt, who was making a face oddly similar to when Roach 2 saw a squirrel. She glanced back to the singer, who seemed completely unaware, and back to Geralt. “What-”
The man began to sing, and it clicked. It was the song from the doll videos .
They stayed for his set, Geralt watching with his usual unsubtle intensity that made it look like he was trying to make your head explode with his eyes, to those who didn’t know him, and Yennefer with watching with significantly more grace and composure (if she did say so herself).
He was beautiful though, and they weren’t the only ones to notice. He glanced around as he sang, throwing winks and smiles. An hour later, he slid off the stage and was accosted by the brunette with the legs. Geralt’s face fell at that. Well, it fell as much as it ever did, which meant that instead of looking like he wanted your head to explode, he now looked like he rather wanted knives to materialize in you, possibly with assistance from a hand. Possibly his hand. It was a subtle distinction, but Yennefer had spent a lot of years looking at his face, and she knew him well.
She was about to console him when the musician - Dr. Jaskier - suddenly dropped a basket of bread rolls on their table and threw himself rather dramatically into a chair at their table. He threw her a dazzling grin that would surely cause a more delicate woman to swoon.
“I love the way the two of you just sit in a corner and brood. Very ‘children of the night’ vibes. Very sexy.”
Geralt’s eyebrows drew down in what was confusion, but could be mistaken by the uninitiated for rage or possibly intense gastric distress.
“Go on then, what did you think? Nobody else out there was shy with it - three words or less.”
Yennefer felt her lips twitch into a faint smile. “This is Geralt.”
Jaskier shot Geralt the same (rather promising, rather panty-dropping) smile. “Well hellooo Geralt. That’s so funny, I recently-” He paused, his thoughts projecting across that handsome, too-open face. “Oh no . Oh what are the odds-”
“To be fair,” Yennefer offered, “There isn’t anywhere on the forms to explain that the doll belongs to an adult.”
Jaskier threw his head back and laughed. “Oh dear, that’s an oversight on my part. I hadn’t even thought! Oh I’m so sorry, Geralt. And- Yennefer, wasn’t it?”
Yennefer nodded. Her name sounded good from his mouth.
Geralt shrugged. “I liked it. It was sweet. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so pristine, even back when I first got her. You did good work.”
Jaskier smiled at him again, but this time softer. “So, how is the old gal, eh? Doing well? Staying away from great big beasties with big sharp teeth and-” he leaned forward to pluck a brown fur from Geralt’s thigh, inspecting it dramatically, “-long brown fur?”
Geralt spread his legs subtly and leaned back in his chair. “She is, she’s doing well. She’s been put out to pasture well away from wolves and beasts.”
Yennefer saw the opportunity and took it. “You know, Doctor , if you’d like to conduct a post-operative visit, she has a sweet little paddock up on a shelf in our bedroom…”
Jaskier leaned in with a grin that was all teeth. “Well, I am a professional.”