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love you choc-o-lots

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Jaskier had learned a great deal about the world (and, more specifically, about Geralt) in the months he had traveled with him after their fateful encounter in Posada. He knew that his witcher had a heart of gold, far more worthy of the descriptor Noble than any blue-blood he’d had the misfortune to know (and yes , perhaps that was a bit hypocritical for him to think, but it’s not like he wasn’t including himself in their number. He knew what he was, and while he might seem like a truly stellar example of humanity compared to his father and cousins, next to someone like Geralt… ); he’d learned also that the Continent was far more inherently unfair than he’d ever imagined possible back in his reckless youth at Oxenfurt and he’d ignore the voice in his head telling him he was still a reckless youth that sounded far too much like a certain grumpy witcher. It started with the elves of Dol Blathana, of course, but the Great “Cleansing” had happened on such a wide scale, not to mention having happened long before he was ever born, that it had done nothing to prepare him to face the casual cruelties his friend experienced every day. Watching inns throw the witcher out into the cold rain at night despite having multiple empty rooms, or at best charging him double what they’d asked of jaskier himself mere moments before for their worst room and a stingy bowl of nearly rotten mush that maybe once had been stew, it filled Jaskier with a righteous rage that had him itching to test just how much of his childhood weapons training he could remember, because some people really truly were just asking to be stabbed. Watching Geralt calmly accept it , as if it were what he deserved , well. That always left him feeling as though he’d been stabbed, in the heart, with a rusty corkscrew. 

Geralt deserved so much better than the way humanity treated him, and so barely a month into their travels, Jaskier had decided that if he couldn’t entirely erase all the abuse his friend had endured through his long life, he’d just have to spoil him with all the luxuries and pleasures he could get his hedonistic little hands on, in the hopes of somehow balancing the scales. It might take him decades, but he was determined, more determined than he’d ever been in his life, and his stubbornness was already legendary in Oxenfurt, Lettenhove, and anywhere else he’d stayed for more than a few days once he was old enough to talk.

He started small; he hardly had the coin for anything extravagant, and given Geralt’s heartbreaking shock and suspicion any time Jaskier did so much as wish him luck as he left to fight the latest deadly beast, well, Jaskier knew he’d have to be careful to avoid spooking his friend with too much kindness and causing him even more distress. As awful as it was to see Geralt be so genuinely appreciative of such basic requirements as receiving a bowl from the same stew kettle as the rest of the tavern (rather than, well, Jaskier wasn’t sure where and he really didn’t want to know), watching the softening of his eyes and the minute upward quirk of his lips was much more satisfying, and if all he had to do was make sure he was the one bartering with tavern maids and innkeepers and just forgetting to mention who the second tray was for, well, it was so easy and Geralt’s reactions were so rewarding and the bard quickly found himself growing addicted to the rush of pleasing his companion (which wasn’t all that shocking of a development, really, once he stopped to consider his, hm, habits in pursuing other forms of mutual pleasure).

 

By the time they’d parted last fall, Jaskier had worked his way up from providing basic acceptable food and pricing to going out of his way to buy pastries and other treats whenever they passed through a market with relatively affordable pricing and insisting on sharing them. Geralt was still always wary at first when trying any of his offerings, but when he guessed right, oh, the look of stunned delight on his stoic friend’s face, the way he’d savored that miniature meat pie from Hagge in small bites stretched out over nearly an entire hour, he’d not been able to get the memory of that day out of his head all winter. Now, as he was making his way toward the Kaedwen border near Vergen where he would (hopefully) find Geralt, he could hardly contain his excitement; not only would he be seeing his favorite witcher again (and proving the nasty little corner of his mind that was sure Geralt would never want to see him again wrong) - he’d also managed to get his hands on a box of fresh Beauclair chocolates, his very favorite indulgence out of all the truly delightful luxuries he’s experienced over the years, right before he’d left novigrad, and he simply could not wait for his friend’s reaction to them. Despite his great love for the sweets and general all-around lack of self restraint in the face of pleasure, he managed to limit himself to barely a quarter of the delicious little squares over the long week of travel; after all, he’d had hundreds of them while Geralt, who’d been alive for decades before him, had never had a single taste, as he’d been absolutely appalled to discover last year, and that was such a tragedy, it was only fair to save the majority for him.

[ ({ e }) ({ e }) ({ e }) ]

Geralt! ” 

Though he’d given in and told the bardling the route he usually took out of the Blue Mountains each spring, Geralt hadn’t truly believed he’d ever see the kid again, but there he was, grinning like a fool at him from across the busy square, either entirely oblivious to or utterly unconcerned by the baffled and concerned looks he was getting from all the sane humans around them. Despite himself, Geralt found his mouth wanting to twitch up to mirror it, and it was only decades of practiced stoicism that kept him from grinning back and sparking a panicked stampede to get away from him because clearly , a witcher smiling couldn't possibly be anything but a herald of bloodshed and misfortune for all involved, right?  

By the time Geralt manages to navigate his way to where the bard is waiting, absentmindedly browsing the display of a nearby merchant though it was clear to anyone looking that nearly all his attention was locked on Geralt, he looked like he was about to vibrate right out of his ridiculous orange doublet with the force of his excitement.

“Jaskier.” Fuck, what does he say now? He needs to say something, that’s not enough, how do you greet a friend, or whatever they were, after months apart? He’s seen it happen enough to other people, why can’t he remember-

Luckily enough, he doesn’t have long to panic over such a glaring hole in his knowledge of human customs (knowledge of local etiquette and customs was sometimes just as vital as all the entries in the bestiary when it came to a witcher’s survival, when contractors looked for any possible excuse to short them on the coin they needed to keep their armor and weapons in shape so they could keep them alive ), as barely a moment later his arms were filled with excitable bard and his mind was filled with a whole new flavor of panic. After he figured out that the bard was not, in fact, leaping into his arms in hopes of protection from some undetected danger, that instead this was a hug , he felt himself freeze in place even as the bardling’s limbs managed to further entangle themselves with his own. He’d been hugged before, of course, though the only people who had done so since he was far too young to remember had been his witcher brothers, and somehow he didn’t think the familiar response of immediately tackling them to the ground for a playful bout of wrestling was the appropriate response in these circumstances, so what…? Ah, right. Hug him back, but carefully, DON’T make him feel trapped or threatened. He slowly brought his arms up to rest his hands ever-so-gently on Jaskier’s back, and apparently that had been the correct response, because a moment later the bardling was letting go and stepping back with a wild grin that warmed his chest even faster than Lambert’s paint-thinner moonshine. 

“Geralt! How’ve you been? How’s Roach? Did you miss me? I missed you, I kept thinking about you all winter! One of my friends in novigrad has several dogs, and one of them just had a litter of puppies, and there was this one really pale one that was born with the grumpiest expression on her face, and I tried to name her Geralt but my friend said she already heard enough about the real White Wolf from all my chatter, she didn’t need a second yapping menace associated with the name in her life.” 

Geralt found himself blinking in stunned silence at Jaskier, unable to process everything he’d just heard. “Uh- What? Yeah. What?”

 “Oh! I almost forgot! Remember how last autumn you said that you have tragically , not once in your long, long life, have tasted the wonder that is chocolate?” Without waiting for a reply, Jaskier reached into his travel bag and, with a dramatic flourish, pulled out a medium sized box made of surprisingly fine parchment and covered in delicate swirls of ink. “Prepare yourself for the sensory experience of a lifetime! A treat for your poor Witcher senses that is finally worthy of their sensitivity! A gastronomic delicacy unlike anything else on the continent! Before leaving the city, I managed to procure an entire box of Beauclair’s famous chocolate bites, and you simply must try some. Truly, loving these as much as I do, it’s an absolute miracle there are any left, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of depriving you, and the sacrifice will surely be worth it to know that I was right about how very much you’ll surely love them.” 

With another dramatic gesture, Jaskier swept the lid from the box and proudly presented it to Geralt, who couldn't help letting out a tiny huff of laughter as he moved to examine the, in all honesty, rather unappealing looking contents of the fancy box. They were small, brown, round-ish, and shiny in a way that was truly unfortunately reminiscent of wet clay, or, more accurately for the color, fresh dung. Was this the bard's idea of a joke...? But no, one look at his guilelessly pleased smile and longing, hungry gaze was more than enough to show Geralt that the bardling was entirely sincere. Reaching out to choose a piece, Geralt could feel the faint stirrings of excitement in his own heart; it was so very rare that he got to eat anything pleasant, for food to be anything more than a necessary means to an end, and if this ended up being like that perfectly seasoned lamb pie the bardling had found in Hagge... with a small smile of anticipation directed to his friend, Geralt popped the entire thing in his mouth. "Fuck!!"

"It's that good?" Jaskier asked, and fuck but he hadn't realized a human's mouth could stretch so wide without tearing their face in half, and he looked so smug and delighted and he smelled so fucking happy to have been right about this, and Geralt couldn't bring himself to burst the bard's bubble, no matter how bitter this cursed fucking chocolate was. He'd swallowed things far more disgusting for far less reward than keeping that smile on the kid's face; witcher mutations meant his body needed all the fuel he could get and so when humans refused to serve him anything better than the leftover slop they'd been saving for the pigs, he couldn't afford to be picky, and even that is nothing compared to the taste of some of the potions he downs on a regular basis.

"Hm." Geralt carefully shifted his mouth from the grimace it wanted to make to a clear smile. "It's... great. You were right. It tastes like... hm. I've never had anything that could compare," Geralt lied through his teeth. Luckily, based on the renewed beaming directed his way, the bard seemed to have bought it.

"Perfect!" Jaskier gave a delighted little laugh. "Here, if you like it so much, you should have the rest, much as it pains my heart to give such treasures away; it's not like I don't know where to find more whenever I please, after all, and you need to start making up for lost time."

"Oh, uh, great. Thanks, Jaskek, uh, Jaskier, you don't have to, truly."

"Don't think you're getting out of this! The world treats you far too harshly; the least you deserve is to enjoy a few pieces of chocolate, and like I said, I can always get more." Jaskier's expectant glare had Geralt accepting the package and picking up another piece to bite into. At least he had plenty of practice choking things down and pretending like nothing was wrong (the reactions of the villagers to his "ungratefulness" for their "hospitality" the one and only time he'd dared complain about the state of the mush he'd been served had been plenty to teach him that lesson), though he didn't normally bother to smile through it. He couldn't afford to drop the act, not when every moment of feigned delight had Jaskier smiling brighter and brighter (a human smiling because of him, because of his actions; it'd been nearly a year since they met, and he'd still not grown used to it; by now he wasn't sure he ever would), so he doubled down, moaning appreciatively after each bite and licking his fingers afterwards to ensure the bardling would look past any cracks in his act that might bring the whole thing crashing down.

Geralt would've "lost" the box somewhere by the next day, or emptied it in the forest and pretended to have eaten them all on his own, but the way the bard's joy flooded the air every time he saw him appreciating his gift was far too addictive. He carried the box with him, eating one single chocolate every few days, drawing it out for nearly a month before they were gone, and though his tongue was grateful, he would miss having such an easy way of earning that smile.