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And Then There's You

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Jaskier scrapes the last few coins out of his guitar case and deposits them into his jacket pocket, the weight lighter than he had hoped for. Zipping up his guitar, he swings it over his shoulder and ducks into the coffee shop right behind him.

Inside it's warm, the smell of coffee and baked goods lingering in the air, Christmas music playing over the speakers and mingling with the sound of chatter and laughter. Jaskier rubs his cold hands together as he walks to the counter, and Essi gives him a bright grin.

"How'd it go out there?"

Jaskier frowns. "Pretty shit. I thought Christmas was the season of giving? Aren't people supposed to be charitable?" he complains.

Essi makes a face at him. "Sorry, Jas," she says, and Jaskier sighs.

"It's fine. Another week of instant soup and ramen, I guess," he says and fishes a few coins out of his jacket, dropping them on the counter. "Can you make me a coffee? Regular."

Essi gives him a pitying smile. She knows that, if Jaskier could afford it, he'd be buying the sweetest, most complicated drink they have on the menu, topped with as much whipped cream as possible and extra sprinkles. But that's way too expensive and Essi can only give him drinks on the house so often.

He goes to stand at the end of the counter to wait for his order and pulls his phone out to check his messages. The mother of one of his students has sent him a text to cancel her daughter's lesson this week and Jaskier bites back another sigh. He really needs to find another job, but between his own classes and the gigs he plays in pubs for very little to no pay and the lessons he teaches he's already pretty busy.

"Here you go," Essi says, breaking Jaskier out of his reverie as she places his drink in front of him. She leans in closer, smiling. "Maybe I can cheer you up a little: A certain someone is sitting at his usual table."

Jaskier doesn't whip his head around to look the way he wants to. Instead he turns very slowly, casually, to glance at Geralt, who's a regular at the coffee shop. The mere sight of him makes Jaskier's stomach swoop. He looks amazing, as always, wearing a thick, charcoal knit-sweater, his white hair pulled back into a messy bun.

"You should go talk to him," Essi says.

"I can't," Jaskier mutters. "He's… all that, and I'm all this."

"Jask," Essi chides.

"No, you don't understand," Jaskier says and frowns. They've already had this conversation several times, but Essi hasn't given up. "He's the man of my dreams, Essi. And he's never even looked at me when I'm playing outside and he comes in here. There's no way he's interested in a broke university student slash busker."

"You're a catch."

"A very poor catch," Jaskier replies. "What would I even say to him? Hi, I've been gazing at you longingly for the past six months. Would you want to date me? By the way, I can't even afford to buy you one of the fancy coffees you drink."

"You're a student," Essi says and rolls her eyes. "Students are broke, it's a fact, he can't hold that against you. Also, he could buy you a fancy coffee."

Jaskier makes a face. "I'm already depressed enough. Let's not add rejection to the situation."

"What will I do with you, huh?" Essi asks in a murmur.

"I'd say ice cream and wine, but right now we can't afford either," Jaskier reminds her.

Essi laughs. "I'll see if I can pick up something very cheap on the way home tonight," she offers. "On me, if you do the dishes."

"Have I told you recently that you're the best roommate ever?" Jaskier asks with a sweet smile.

"Eh, never hurts to hear it more often," Essi says with a shrug and a grin. "So. Do we have a deal?"

She holds her hand out theatrically and Jaskier shakes it, schooling his face into a somber expression. "We most certainly do."


*

Jaskier's drink has gone tepid by the time he leaves the coffee shop and starts trudging home. He keeps sipping it anyway, because he paid for it and he won't let it go to waste. And the amount of sugar he added makes it sweet enough for it to be almost enjoyable.

He tugs his scarf a little higher to ward off the chill and dodges people as he makes his way down the busy sidewalk, always careful not to hit anyone with his guitar case. Soon he leaves the shopping district behind; the streets become less crowded and Jaskier slows to a more leisurely stroll. It's already starting to grow dark and there are lights and stars and other Christmas decorations twinkling in the windows. Jaskier likes to imagine who lives in each apartment and if they have someone to share the holiday season with.

Christmas time always makes Jaskier's heart ache a little. As beautiful as it can be, it's a reminder of how lonely he is. He has Essi, of course, but eventually she will go home to spend the holidays with her family and Jaskier will spend Christmas alone on the couch, watching TV and getting tipsy on cheap booze.

He envies Essi, sometimes—not that he wants to spend the holidays with his own family. Christmas was never fun in the Pankratz household anyway, even before Jaskier came out and declared he wanted to become a musician all in one dreadful conversation. But Jaskier longs for someone to share the holidays with. A family of his own choosing. A partner.

Right now, all Jaskier has is a mountain of schoolwork waiting for him.

Sighing, Jaskier trudges on.


*

It's another day of busking and wowing the endless sea of people that pass by the coffee shop. If this were a movie, Jaskier thinks, some talent scout would just happen to walk by any day now and offer him a record deal on the spot, changing his life forever. A true Christmas miracle.

Unfortunately for Jaskier, his life isn't a movie and miracles don't exist. He's tired from getting too little sleep, his feet are starting to ache, and the icy wind is making his cheeks hurt. On the plus side, he's decided to play some jolly holiday songs as well as some of his own tunes today and the crowd seems to appreciate it, judging by the amount of coins piling up in his open guitar case. Jaskier is only a little bitter that cheesy Christmas songs seem to be doing better than his own compositions which he works incredibly hard on, but he gets it; the holidays are right around the corner and people are out shopping for gifts and it fits the atmosphere. And at least it will put hot food in his belly.

It's enough to brighten his mood. Until clouds start gathering in the sky and it begins to snow, very lightly at first but then the flakes start coming down progressively faster and thicker and Jaskier really doesn't want to ruin his guitar, so he's forced to call it a day much earlier than anticipated.

Slipping into the coffee shop, he considers if he's made enough to justify buying something more fancy than a black coffee. The place is crowded today, people taking a break from Christmas shopping or the cold or both. Jaskier doesn't pay attention to his surroundings as he stands in line, frowning at the coins in his hand as he tries to make up his mind.

There's an outburst of laughter and he glances back to see a group of teenagers in line behind him, pushing and jostling each other, and before Jaskier can move out of the way one of them crashes into him—luckily hitting his shoulder and not his guitar. He careens forward, right into the person ahead of him.

"Oof," Jaskier gasps as he connects with a solidly muscled back.

"Careful," the man says, his voice deep and pleasant as he catches Jaskier by the arm and keeping him steady.

Jaskier looks up, apology on the tip of his tongue, then freezes when he realizes who he's just plowed into.

It's Geralt. Of course it is.

Jaskier feels his cheeks heat up. "Sorry," he mutters.

Geralt glances past Jaskier, his hands remaining on his arms, at the group of teenagers continuing to mess around behind them. "Not your fault," he says. "Are you okay?"

"Just fine," Jaskier assures, and Geralt nods and lets go of him. "I hope I didn't hurt you?"

A small smile tugs at Geralt's lips and Jaskier just about dies. "Takes a bit more to hurt me."

Jaskier nods, biting down on his bottom lip.

Behind the counter, Essi coughs and Jaskier realizes that there's nobody waiting in front of them anymore. Geralt clears his throat and turns.

"Hi there. Your usual?" Essi asks.

"Please," Geralt says and then glances over his shoulder. "And whatever he wants."

Essi's eyebrows shoot up and she looks both surprised and intrigued, while Jaskier feels himself growing flustered.

"Oh no, you don't have to," he says. "I should be buying your drink, really."

Geralt shifts aside, making room for Jaskier. "I insist," he says and gives Jaskier a small smile. "Please."

"Oh. Well. Uh, just a coffee, black," Jaskier mumbles. "Thank you."

"Are you sure?"

"He hates black coffee," Essi chimes in, and Jaskier glares at her.

"Oh? What does he like?" Geralt asks, sounding amused as he looks between Essi and Jaskier.

"Vanilla latte with extra whipped cream and caramel sauce and sprinkles," Essi replies.

"Essi," Jaskier hisses.

"I can't lie to a loyal customer, Jaskier," Essi says with a wicked smile and turns back to Geralt. "Shall I add that to your order, Geralt?"

"Please do," Geralt agrees.

"You really don't have to," Jaskier says, peering at Geralt. He's pretty sure his cheeks are burning red, but he just can't believe this is happening, that Geralt is right there and has noticed him and is buying him a freaking drink.

"Hmm. It's nothing," Geralt says, and the way he's looking at Jaskier with a small smile makes Jaskier's stomach swoop.

"Thank you so much," he says. "That's really very kind of you and absolutely unnecessary, but thank you."

Geralt nods and then turns to pay. Jaskier really wants to say more, but he doesn't know what, so he just stands next to Geralt awkwardly and then shuffles after him to the end of the counter to wait for their drinks, while Essi shoots him little looks.

"Pretty packed today, huh?" he finally blurts out. "No empty tables."

Geralt looks around and hums. "Yeah. Luckily I wasn't planning on staying. I'm meeting my brothers downtown."

"Oh, well don't let me keep you. Not that I am. You're just waiting for your drink, of course," Jaskier rambles and if Geralt wasn't watching him he'd facepalm.

"Hmm," Geralt hums.

Jaskier adjusts the strap of his guitar case and shoots Essi a helpless look, but she just shrugs. Jaskier lets out a quiet sigh and fiddles with the rings around his fingers as they continue waiting for the drinks. He's almost glad when their coffees arrive and put him out of his misery.

"Well. Have a good day, Jaskier," Geralt says, and Jaskier nods dumbly, momentarily speechless because Geralt said his name.

"You too," he mumbles and gives a small wave. It's not until Geralt has stepped out of the coffee shop that he groans and slaps his forehead in frustration.


*

Jaskier is in the middle of a song when Geralt walks past him on his way into the coffee shop a few days later. All Jaskier can do is smile and give him a little nod, which Geralt returns before vanishing inside.

Jaskier hopes he isn't just getting something to go today, but will stay a while so Jaskier can take a break after a few more songs and maybe go say hello. They know each other now, sort of, so it wouldn't be weird for Jaskier to try make some small talk—at least if he doesn't get completely tongue-tied again.

And if he starts small now, it can slowly turn into more over time, build up to a real conversation. Jaskier doesn't dare hope for much more yet. For all he knows Geralt isn't into men or is already in a relationship. Hell, Geralt might have a wife and children.

It's a sobering thought and it dampens Jaskier's mood a little, so the next song he picks is something a bit more somber and melancholic. It clashes horribly with the festive spirit of the people rushing by or stopping for coffee, but it fits Jaskier's state of mind.

He sees a flash of white from the corner of his eye halfway through his current song, and he turns his head to find Geralt standing near the door, a to-go cup in his hand. There are a few other people milling around, listening, but Geralt has never stopped to watch him play before and Jaskier's heart beats a little faster in his chest. He tries not to let his nerves show as he finishes the song before stopping to some scattered applause.

Jaskier gives an exaggerated bow and then faces Geralt.

"Hi," he greets.

"Hey," Geralt replies and moves closer, holding out the cup. "It's cold today. I thought you might like something to warm you up."

"Oh," Jaskier says, taking the offered beverage. "Thank you. That's so sweet of you."

Geralt hums and stuffs his hands into the pockets of his coat.

Mustering up all his courage, Jaskier gives him a little grin. "You know, if you keep buying me drinks I'll have to find a way to pay you back eventually."

Geralt snorts and gestures at Jaskier's guitar with one hand. "Consider it an exchange for the free entertainment."

"Ah yes, there's that," Jaskier agrees. "Is there any particular music you like? People who buy me coffee get to ask for a song."

"That's a rule, huh?" Geralt asks with a small laugh, his eyes crinkling around the corners adorably. He really is very handsome, Jaskier thinks. The sheer size of him should make him intimidating, but there's a gentleness about him that draws Jaskier right in.

"I don't know much about music," Geralt admits. "But I liked the song you just played."

"Oh, did you? That was one of my own," Jaskier says with a beaming smile, pride swelling in his chest.

"It was good."

"Thank you," Jaskier says and then hesitates briefly, taking a sip of the coffee—sweet and vanilla-y, just the way he likes it. "You know, if you liked it you should come to one of my gigs sometime. I usually stick to my own songs when I play gigs."

"Hmm. Maybe," Geralt replies. "Where do you play?"

"Here and there. Mostly student bars and stuff," Jaskier says.

"Have you ever played at The Wolf's Den?" Geralt asks.

Jaskier shakes his head. "No. I've heard of it though," he says.

"My brother runs it. He's always looking for new artists," Geralt explains. "You'd be a good fit. He'd like your music."

"Yeah?" Jaskier asks and he can't keep the hope out of his voice. He's still trying to establish himself in the local music scene and the places he's played so far have been pretty small and the pay nearly non-existent. The Wolf's Den would be a big step up. Jaskier has never been there himself, but he knows it has a good reputation and the bands who play there are definitely more established than he is.

Plus, since Geralt's brother runs the place and Geralt, presumably, frequents the bar, then Jaskier might get to spend more time with him, get to know him better.

"I can give him your number," Geralt offers.

"That would be amazing," Jaskier admits. "I have some stuff up online. I can send him links or he can just look my name up on Youtube, if he's interested."

Geralt nods and pulls out his phone. He unlocks it and then holds it out to Jaskier. "Give me your number. I'll pass it along."

Jaskier bites his lip, excitement curling in his stomach. He's always looking for new venues to expand his reach and make some money and playing at The Wolf's Den would be an amazing opportunity for him. And on top of that Geralt asked for his number and there's a tiny chance that maybe this will lead to more than a new gig. They might actually talk more, get to know each other.

Jaskier puts the coffee down to free his hands and take the phone.

"There you go," he says once he's saved his number in Geralt's contacts.

Geralt hums and takes the phone back, typing something, and a moment later Jaskier feels his own phone buzz in his jacket pocket. "Just in case you need to contact me," he says.

Jaskier nods stupidly, his heart beating fast in his chest. "Yeah. Yeah, just in case," he stutters.


*

Jaskier is pretty sure the entire apartment building must have heard the loud whoop he just let out when he read the text. He'd only passed his number on to Geralt yesterday and he had hoped he would hear from his brother, but he hadn't expected to hear from him so quickly.

"What the hell, Jask?" Essi calls out from her room, and Jaskier is already rushing through the small apartment to throw open her door.

"Essi!" he exclaims, and Essi looks at him with wide eyes. "Geralt's brother just texted me! He looked me up and he wants to know if I want to play at his bar on Friday."

"Seriously?" Essi asks, dropping the book she's been reading.

Jaskier is so excited he can barely keep himself from yelling at the top of his lungs or doing a little victory dance around Essi's bedroom.

"I'll be playing at The Wolf's Den. Me!" he bursts out, the grin on his face so wide it almost hurts. "This is huge!"

Essi returns his grin and jumps off the bed, pulling Jaskier into a tight hug. "I'm so happy for you, Jask," she says and then draws back, looking at him with a sly grin. "Do you think Geralt will come?"

Jaskier bites down on his lower lip. "I don't know. Maybe? I mean, he must have put in a good word for me and it is his brother's bar," he says. "Will you come? That way I know at least one person at the bar will be cheering for me."

Essi's face falls. "I have a date this Friday," she says with a frown. "But I can reschedule. Or talk him into going to the bar."

"Oh no," Jaskier says, shaking his head. "Don't you dare change your plans for me. I'll be fine on my own."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," Jaskier promises, and Essi smiles, looking relieved.

"If Geralt is there I'd only be getting in the way anyway," she teases.

Jaskier feels his cheeks heat up. "It's not like that."

"Oh, it's not? He bought you two drinks within a few days and helped you get a gig. I'd say you definitely caught his attention," Essi points out and reaches up to tug at a strand of Jaskier's hair. "I told you you're a catch, Jask."

"We'll see," Jaskier hedges, but maybe Essi is right and Jaskier does have a chance with Geralt.


*

Jaskier arrives at The Wolf's Den early. The bar is too far away from his place to walk, so he had to take the bus. He was so worried about missing it or the bus running late that he left his apartment an hour early, after spending way too much time agonizing over what to wear and styling his hair.

Despite the early hour, there's already a decent crowd and Jaskier feels some of the tension leave his shoulders as he steps inside. It's spacious and warm, the atmosphere pretty relaxed, and he instantly likes the place.

Clutching the strap of his guitar case, he walks up to the bar.

"Hi. I'm looking for Lambert?" he says when one of the two barkeepers comes to his end of the counter.

"Found him," the barkeeper responds with a grin. Jaskier isn't sure what he expected—someone who looks more like Geralt probably. Lambert is nearly as built as Geralt, but that's where the resemblance ends, his hair red and curly instead of Geralt's gray, and he gives off an air of wild mischief as opposed to Geralt's gentle calmness.

"Nice to meet you," Jaskier says politely, holding out his hand, which Lambert shakes with a snort. "I'm a bit early."

"Better than late," Lambert replies. "You want a drink?"

"Sure, yes. A beer would be good. Nothing too strong since I'll be performing. Which you know, of course," Jaskier rambles, his face heating up.

Lambert gives him an amused grin. "I see what Geralt means."

"About what?" Jaskier asks, but Lambert has already turned his back to him.

He repeats the question when Lambert returns with his drink, and Lambert chuckles.

"You'll have to ask him about that later," he says with a wink.


*

Geralt shows up while Jaskier is getting ready to go on stage, and his stomach does a summersault when he walks up to the mic and spies him sitting at the bar. He takes a few calming breaths, pushing down his nervousness.

There's always this moment before he starts playing for an audience where he wants to turn around and flee, but then he starts playing and all worries leave him. Today is no different, and it only takes a couple of minutes for Jaskier to get lost in the music and the rush of performing.

He plays for a good forty-five minutes, including a few covers here and there but mostly sticking to his own songs. Despite the fact that nobody is familiar with them, people seem to be enjoying his performance, nodding along and cheering between songs and laughing at the stupid jokes he makes in between. It's absolutely exhilarating. Even more so because every time he looks Geralt's way, sitting at the end of the bar, he finds Geralt watching him intently.

He ends his set to loud applause and whistling, and he's pretty sure he's grinning like a fool as he thanks everyone for listening and tells them where they can find him online before he packs his guitar up and hops off the stage.

As he squeezes past people to get to the bar, he tries to decide on how to greet Geralt, whether to start with a simple hello or give him a hug. He makes up his mind when he reaches him and Geralt stands to greet him, a slight smile on his face. Jaskier steps right into his space and throws his arms around him, relieved when Geralt returns the hug without hesitation.

"Hi," Jaskier says and gives him a tight squeeze. "Thank you so much for making this happen!"

"I didn't really do anything," Geralt mumbles, looking sheepish and maybe even a bit flustered when they draw away.

"You totally did," Jaskier insists.

Geralt shrugs and then waves his hand at the stool next to his and Jaskier realizes that despite how crowded it is, Geralt has kept the chair next to his empty.

"Thank you," he says, carefully propping his guitar against the bar between their stools before sitting down.

"You were good," Geralt murmurs, resting his arm on the counter and leaning in closer.

"Yeah? I'm so glad you thought so," Jaskier says. "This place is amazing. And the crowd was so nice."

He knows he's gushing, but the post-performance high is still going strong and he feels giddy with it. He can barely refrain from reaching for Geralt and touching his arm or bumping their knees together.

A throat clearing behind the bar startles him a little and he turns to find Lambert standing there, watching them with an amused glint in his eye. He places two beers in front of them and then three shot glasses filled to the brim with a clear liquid.

"Good job up there," he says and then picks up one of the shots in a toast.

Jaskier and Geralt pick up theirs and Jaskier coughs as he tosses it back, the liquor burning down his throat. "Thanks for the opportunity," he croaks.

"I'd say Geralt deserves all the credit, but he knows shit about music. It wasn't really your sweet voice that caught his attention," Lambert says with a smirk.

"Lambert," Geralt hisses. "Shut the fuck up."

Jaskier's eyes widen and he looks from Lambert to Geralt, his cheeks growing warm at the implication. "No, tell me more," he says, an eager smile tugging at his lips as he leans in. "What was it if not my voice?"

Geralt glowers at him, while Lambert cackles.

"Geralt," Jaskier coaxes.

"What do you think?" Geralt grumbles, looking petulant. He's older than Jaskier, in his early thirties if Jaskier were to guess, but right now he looks like a sulking teenager and it makes Jaskier feel jittery.

"I think," Jaskier starts and places a hand on Geralt's knee, licking his lips, "I wouldn't mind it one bit if it wasn't my voice you liked."

"I do like your voice," Geralt says and holds Jaskier's gaze. "Among other things."

"This is sickening," Lambert says loudly. "I now regret ever starting this conversation."

"Lambert," Geralt says, turning to glare at his brother. "Piss off."

"Yeah, yeah," Lambert says with an eye roll. "Word of advice, brother. Don't fuck this up, because he's far too pretty for you as it is."

Jaskier bites his lip to hide his grin, feeling warm and giddy and happy.

"And you'd know what that's like," Geralt replies.

Lambert looks to his left, to the man serving people at the other side of the bar, and grins. "I do," he says.


*

Jaskier is definitely a little tipsy by the time they leave The Wolf's Den. Lambert had given him all his drinks for free, insisting that he was basically an employee if he played at the bar regularly from now on, and Jaskier had gotten a little teary-eyed at the unspoken offer of more paying gigs.

And then there's Geralt. Geralt, who is currently walking him to the bus stop a couple of blocks down, refusing to let Jaskier walk there on his own in the middle of the night after a few drinks. Geralt, who he's talked to and flirted with and shared little touches and warm smiles with all night long. The crush Jaskier had on him before tonight is now multiplied by a thousand.

"I think this might just be the best night of my life," Jaskier says, ducking his head to hide from the icy wind.

"I think that's the vodka speaking," Geralt teases, shuffling closer and slipping an arm around Jaskier's shoulder. "You should have worn a scarf and a hat."

"Bus stop is right there," Jaskier counters, waving his hand down the street.

Geralt hums.

They reach the bus stop a minute later and Jaskier double checks the timetable, just to be safe.

"Shit," he mutters and pulls his phone out with cold fingers to confirm the time before glancing at the timetable again.

"Missed it?" Geralt asks.

"The last one left an hour ago. I looked it up before I left my place! I swear it said there was another bus leaving in a few minutes," he says, dismayed. His good mood evaporates. He'll have to call a taxi and at least he has enough money to pay for a ride thanks to the gig, but that money was supposed to go towards rent and food.

"Hey," Geralt murmurs. "It's not a big deal. I live about fifteen minutes from here. You can crash on my couch."

Jaskier turns around to face him, and Geralt looks absolutely sincere. "Really?" he asks. "Are you sure? I don't want to impose."

"Hmm. Unless you're allergic to cats."

"You have a cat?" Jaskier asks.

Geralt gives him a small grin. "Yeah."

"Well," Jaskier says and ducks his head, smiling. "I can't say no to that offer if there's a cat at your place."

Geralt hums and then he unwinds his scarf and slings it around Jaskier's neck. "Come on, let's go then, get you out of the cold."

"Geralt," Jaskier mutters and moves to tug the scarf off again. "I can't take this. You'll get cold."

"I don't freeze that easily. And my coat is definitely thicker than yours," Geralt points out and slips his arm around Jaskier's shoulders again, steering him towards the direction they just came from.

Jaskier sighs and as they start walking, he leans into Geralt a little, enjoying the bulk of his body pressed against his side.


*

"She's so sweet," Jaskier says, smiling up at Geralt as Geralt dumps a pile of blankets and pillows on the other end of the couch.

Jaskier had assumed maybe Geralt would suggest Jaskier sleep in his bed with him once they got to his place—and he wouldn't have been totally opposed—but Geralt hasn't even so much as alluded to it. He's been a perfect gentleman, giving Jaskier a quick tour so he knows where the kitchen and bathroom are and setting out a spare toothbrush for him before going to get the bedding.

"She is if she likes you," Geralt says. "She's an absolute hellion when she doesn't."

Jaskier grins and looks down at Roach, curled up next to him, one of her paws on his thigh as he strokes between her ears. "Oh, does that mean you like me, darling? You do, don't you?" he coos.

Geralt snorts. "You'll probably have to share the couch with her. She doesn't look like she's about to leave your side," he says. "If she gets too annoying, just shoo her off."

"I will most certainly not do that," Jaskier protests.

Geralt smiles. "Alright," he concedes. "Well. I'll head to bed then. Do you need anything? I can lend you something to sleep in."

"I'm good," Jaskier says. He stands up and places his hands on Geralt's shoulders, leaning in to press a quick kiss to his cheek. "Thank you for letting me stay."

"Hmm. No problem," Geralt says, and Jaskier thinks he looks a little flushed as he bids him goodnight.

Jaskier falls asleep with a purring Roach curled up at his side and Geralt just one room away. There's something there between them, something more than just physical attraction, and Jaskier feels warm and fuzzy as he drifts off thinking about Geralt's pink cheeks and small smile after Jaskier kissed him.


*

There are nicer ways to wake up than to a cat walking up his chest, meowing loudly, her claws sinking through the thin fabric of Jaskier's t-shirt.

"Ow," he grumbles and reaches for Roach to lift her off him. "Roach."

Roach's meows just grow louder, more reproachful.

Jaskier squints at her, mind still foggy with sleep. "Uh. You probably want to be fed, huh?" he mumbles and rubs his eyes. "I don't know where your food is, darling."

Roach makes a move to jump onto Jaskier's chest again and he sits up with a groan.

"Alright, fine. Let me see if I can find it. If not, you have to take this up with Geralt."

He rolls off the couch and Roach hops off as well, following him closely as he pads into the kitchen.

"Be a dear and tell me where Geralt keeps the cat food?" he asks.

"In the cabinet on the far left."

Jaskier squeaks and whirls around, a hand pressed to his pounding heart. "Geralt."

"Sorry," Geralt says with a short laugh. His eyes roam over Jaskier's body briefly, and Jaskier feels himself blushing when he realizes he only has on a t-shirt, boxers, and, unfortunately, socks. Geralt, meanwhile, is already dressed, wearing a pair of black jeans and a dark hoodie.

"I should go put clothes on," he stutters.

"You don't have to on my account," Geralt says, the corner of his lips lifted in a sly grin.

"Ugh, you're going to make me blush, you awful man," Jaskier says, covering his face with his hands. "Stop."

"You're already blushing," Geralt points out. "And it's cute."

"Okay, that's enough. I'll go get dressed," Jaskier says. "You feed your cat. She's been very vocal about needing food asap."

Geralt laughs. "Alright. Eggs and toast okay for breakfast?"

"Yes," Jaskier says. "But you don't have to feed me. I can get out of your hair as soon as I'm dressed. I don't want to overstay my welcome."

He takes a couple of steps towards the door, but Geralt catches him by the wrist, holding him back gently.

"I might have some bacon too," he says. "And coffee, of course."

Stay, Jaskier hears, and his chest warms.

"Okay. That sounds perfect," he agrees, and Geralt hums, not yet letting go of him.

He shifts, stepping closer, his gaze dropping down to Jaskier's mouth. "Can I?" he asks.

"Yes," Jaskier murmurs, his heart stuttering in his chest. "Please."

Geralt smiles as he leans in and then Jaskier's eyes slip shut as their lips meet, brushing together softly. Jaskier brings his free hand up to Geralt's neck, sighing into the kiss, and they're both grinning when they part after a few short moments.

"I must have morning breath," Jaskier says sheepishly.

"You do," Geralt agrees, and before Jaskier can feel too embarrassed Geralt leans in and kisses him again.


*

Jaskier is humming quietly as he lets himself into his apartment and drops the keys into the little bowl by the door. The string of fairy lights he and Essi put up in the window and the ugly, plastic Christmas tree they bought a couple of years ago are lit up, basking the dark living and kitchen area in a warm light, which means Essi must be home already.

It's been a long day for Jaskier, the morning filled with classes and the afternoon with teaching piano lessons. The latter paid well, so he can't complain, but he's happy to be home.

He turns on the lamp and shuffles into the apartment, dropping his bag in the hallway and kicking his snow-crusted shoes off before draping his coat on the rickety coat hanger that always almost topples over the moment anyone so much as touches it.

"Essi, I'm home," he calls out as he heads to the kitchen to see if they have anything edible in the fridge.

A gift bag sitting on their tiny table catches his attention. It looks fancy, a matte black with a golden bow on the side, tufts of tissue paper sticking out.

"Hey," Essi says, shuffling into the room behind him. "How was your day?"

"Fine," Jaskier says and nods at the gift. "From your date?"

"No, from yours," Essi replies.

Jaskier looks between the bag and Essi, his eyes wide. "From Geralt?" he asks.

Essi chuckles. "Yup. He came by the coffee shop, looking for you," she says.

"Really? Can I open it?" Jaskier asks excitedly as he reaches for the bag. "Do you know what's in it?"

"No idea," Essi says.

Jaskier pushes the tissue paper aside and peers inside. "Oh," he murmurs, a smile breaking out on his face as he pulls out a thick, soft scarf as well as a hat and a pair of gloves, all in a beautiful burgundy color. "Oh. This is so pretty. And so soft. Essi, look."

Essi is watching him, a soft grin on her face. "He's got good taste."

"Doesn't he?" Jaskier asks and winds the scarf around his neck. "I'm never taking this off. This is my new favorite thing in the world."

Essi laughs. "Alright, you weirdo," she says.

Jaskier grins and grabs the hat, putting it on and pulling it down over his ears. "How do I look?"

"Very cute," Essi says and holds out her hand. "Give me your phone. I'll take a picture for Geralt, I'm sure he'll like that."

Jaskier flushes, but he hands Essi his phone. "What do you think? Cute or sexy?"

"You're wearing a scarf and a hat inside, Jask. I'm not sure you can make that look sexy."

"Have some faith in me, Essi," Jaskier complains and pouts exaggeratedly, batting his eyes.

"That's not nearly as flattering as you think," Essi says dryly.

"Rude," Jaskier huffs, but he settles on giving a sweet, wide smile when Essi snaps a few pictures.

He takes the phone from her and checks the photos when she's done, finding a couple he's happy with. "Thanks, Essi," he says and checks the time to see if it's still early enough to call Geralt. Geralt is a freelance journalist and there's some kind of dinner gala he's attending this evening and Jaskier is slightly disappointed to realize he will probably already be there.

So he settles for sending Geralt one of the pictures and a text, thanking him profusely.

You look cute. I'd rather be with you than at this gala right now, Geralt replies after a few moments.

I wish you could be here. Will you be at the coffee shop tomorrow?

Not sure. Busy with work this week. Are you playing at TWD's again on Friday?

Yes! Will you come? Be my loyal fan and supporter? I will pay you in kisses xxx

Hmm. Let me take you out to dinner before your gig.

Jaskier smiles, reading the last text. Feed me and I'm yours, gorgeous, he replies and hides his giddy grin in the thick folds of the scarf. It's way too warm inside to keep wearing it, but he's not ready to take it off just yet.


*

"This place is so nice," Jaskier says, looking around the restaurant. It's small and cozy, intimate without feeling stuffy or overly romantic. There are a few couples and small groups of friends, but also a couple of families with younger children.

"My family and I like coming here. It's my father's favorite place to eat when he's in town," Geralt says.

"Oh? Where does he live?" Jaskier asks.

"Kaer Morhen valley, up north in Kaedwen. But he usually comes down here for the winter these days, stays with my brother at his farm."

"Lambert?"

"No. I've got another brother, Eskel," Geralt says.

"You're quite close to your family," Jaskier notes, and Geralt nods. "That's nice."

"Hmm," Geralt hums, smiling softly. "We got really lucky, my brothers and I. We were all in foster care, but we got taken in by Vesemir when we were still pretty young and we couldn't have asked for a better home. Nor someone who could have better handled three rambunctious boys with their fair share of baggage."

Jaskier licks his lips and makes a thoughtful noise. "I'm sorry. That must have been pretty tough for young kids," he says. "But I suppose sometimes chosen families are better than the ones we're born into."

"Speaking from experience?" Geralt asks, raising an eyebrow.

Jaskier twists his water glass in his hand and shrugs, feeling a lump forming in his throat. "Yeah," he says.

A warm hand settles on his, squeezing, and Jaskier gives Geralt a wobbly smile.

"I'm sorry," Geralt says.

"It's okay. I have Essi," Jaskier says quietly and turns his hand over to grip Geralt's fingers between his. "And I've got my music. That's always been what kept me going, even when I was younger. I took a lot of classes, learned all kinds of different instruments."

"How many?"

"Badly? So, so many," Jaskier says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I wanted to try out everything. The ones I stuck with were the piano and the guitar. And, funnily enough, the lute."

"The lute," Geralt echoes and snorts. "Bit unusual."

"Oh absolutely," Jaskier agrees with a grin. "But I love it. I feel like I step into another world when I play it. I'm actually planning on writing my dissertation on medieval music. A bit nerdy, I know, but it's just something I'm passionate about."

"Passion is good," Geralt says. There's no teasing or mocking in his tone, and Jaskier smiles.

"If you want, I'll play it for you sometime."

"A private concert, hmm?"

Jaskier cocks his head to the side, his smile teasing. "Yes. I hope you know that's a privilege only very special people get to enjoy."

"I'll keep that in mind," Geralt notes and knocks his foot against Jaskier's playfully under the table.


*

It's snowing when they leave The Wolf's Den after Jaskier's gig. They'd stayed for one drink before Geralt had leaned in close and asked in a low murmur if Jaskier wanted to come back to his place again for the night. The intention had been clear in his voice and Jaskier had suddenly been eager to leave as quickly as possible.

This time walking back to Geralt's place, Jaskier feels a lot warmer, wearing the scarf, hat and gloves Geralt gifted to him. Snow crunches under their boots and despite the fact that there are other people out and about still, most of them probably going to or coming from bars in the area, it feels peaceful. As they walk, Jaskier reaches for Geralt's hand and tangles their fingers, even though it's slightly awkward through the two layers of gloves. They leave the busier area behind, walking down quieter residential streets until they reach Geralt's apartment building.

Upstairs they leave their boots by the door and Geralt takes their coats and hats and scarfs to hang them up to dry in the bathroom, melting snow dripping from the garments, while Jaskier crouches down to greet Roach and pet her.

"Do you want a drink?" Geralt asks when he returns. He hands Jaskier a towel for his guitar case.

"I'm good, thanks," Jaskier says as he pats it dry.

Once he's done, he stands and turns to Geralt, wrapping his arms around his neck. The ends of his hair are wet where they stuck out from underneath his hat and Jaskier twists his fingers in the strands.

"How about you show me your bedroom? I'm sure we can think of something to help us warm up," he asks, gazing at Geralt through his lashes.

The corners of Geralt's lips quirk up. "Hmm, sounds like a plan," he agrees, slipping his arms around Jaskier's waist and pulling him closer while leaning in for a kiss. His hands are still chilly from outside when he slides them under Jaskier's shirt, and Jaskier shudders and presses closer, seeking the warmth of Geralt's body and the heat of his kisses.

They stumble blindly through the apartment, Jaskier trusting Geralt to guide them, and they only break the kiss to start tugging off clothes.

"Fuck, how are you even real?" Jaskier murmurs the moment Geralt's shirt is off. He slides his hands down Geralt's arms, feeling the bulging muscles under his palms, and ducks down to kiss along Geralt's collarbone.

Geralt sinks his fingers into his hair, tugs him back up and kisses him, deep and filthy and needy. Jaskier can feel the outline of Geralt's cock against his hip and he moans into Geralt's mouth, squeezing his hands between their bodies to undo Geralt's jeans.

"You too," Geralt murmurs, biting down on Jaskier's lower lip and then licking away the sting, pleasure sparking down Jaskier's spine. "Want you naked."

"Yeah. Yeah, okay," Jaskier agrees breathlessly. He pushes Geralt's jeans down below his ass and then steps back to leave the rest to Geralt while he starts shucking off his own clothes. His eyes are glued on Geralt though, watching him push his underwear and jeans down in one go, and Jaskier makes a quiet noise when Geralt is fully naked, his half-hard cock thick and heavy.

"You okay?" Geralt asks, and the asshole has the nerve to look amused like he doesn't know fully well what effect he has on people.

"Perfectly fine," Jaskier says, trying to wriggle out of his jeans. They get tangled around his foot and he hops around helplessly, trying not to fall. Geralt reaches for him quickly, steadying him.

"Okay. We never have to talk about that again. Let's just forget this ever happened," Jaskier mutters.

Geralt laughs. "I think it was cute," he teases.

"That I nearly face-planted after seeing your cock? Yes. Truly adorable. Really attractive, I'm sure," Jaskier snarks.

Geralt slips his hands to Jaskier's hips, pulling him close. "Yeah. You are," he says, and Jaskier melts against him.

"Sweet talker," he murmurs, meeting Geralt's lips for a kiss.

Geralt hums, fingers sneaking under the elastic of Jaskier's boxer-briefs, pushing them down, his hands settling on Jaskier's ass.

"Geralt," Jaskier groans, and Geralt guides him backwards, until the back of Jaskier's knees hit the bed.

He breaks the kiss and gives Jaskier a nudge. "Lie down. Let me see you," he says, and Jaskier sits down clumsily, lying back.

Geralt grins at him and reaches for Jaskier's underwear again, tugging them down his legs and tossing them aside. "Look at you," he says, eyes roaming over Jaskier's body.

Jaskier feels his face heat up in a blush. His cock is already hard, curved up against his belly and wet at the tip.

"Don't just look at me. Come down here," he says, his voice rough with need.

Geralt bites his lip and grins. "Scoot up," he says, propping one knee on the mattress.

Jaskier nods and scrambles to move further onto the bed, before reaching for Geralt to pull him down on top of him. He settles into the space between Jaskier's splayed hips and Jaskier moans when Geralt's weight presses him down, their cocks sliding together.

"Oh fuck, darling," he hisses and arches his back.

Geralt hums and rocks down against him, while bringing their lips together in a deep kiss. His hand curls around Jaskier's thigh, pulling it up around his hip as he grinds down, and Jaskier digs his fingers into the meat of Geralt's shoulder and moans into his mouth. He can't do anything but hold on, sharp pleasure coiled tight in his belly as their bodies move, their cocks sliding together.

"What," Geralt asks, breaking the kiss and pressing his lips to Jaskier's chin, up along his jaw. "What do you want?"

He sounds breathless, his voice all low and raspy, and Jaskier loves seeing Geralt unravel, slowly falling apart bit by bit.

"Fuck me," he says, and Geralt groans and buries his face in the crook of Jaskier's neck. His hips still.

"Fuck," he finally says and lifts his head, his eyes dark and cheeks flushed. "You can't just say that, Jaskier."

Jaskier laughs, but it comes out choked. "Noted. But will you?" he asks. "Please."

"Fuck, yes. Of course. Anything you want," Geralt agrees and lifts himself off Jaskier briefly to reach for the nightstand. He drops a foil wrapper onto the pillow and then pours some lube onto his fingers.

"Like this or do you want to turn around?" he asks, rubbing Jaskier's hip with his clean hand.

Jaskier licks his lips. "Like this," he decides and lets his legs splay wider, giving him more room.

Geralt hums and leans down. He kisses a path down Jaskier's stomach, sweet and distracting, while he slips his hand between his legs and presses slick fingers behind his balls, rubbing gently over Jaskier's entrance.

"In," Jaskier demands eagerly and he feels Geralt grin against his belly.

"Demanding little brat," he murmurs, but Jaskier feels pressure against his hole before one finger slowly sinks into him. He moans and Geralt presses more kisses to the soft skin of his stomach.

"Good?" he murmurs, and slowly moves his finger in and out.

"You don't have to be so fucking careful with me," Jaskier tells him, rocking down eagerly on Geralt's finger. Geralt hums, lips brushing over skin. His chin drags against Jaskier's cock and Jaskier groans, tossing his head back.

"Geralt," he whines. He buries his fingers in Geralt's hair, the half-bun already coming undone, and pushes him towards his dick.

Geralt laughs, his breath damp and hot against Jaskier's cock, and he licks over the head, slowly, teasingly, while nudging a second finger inside.

Jaskier is pretty sure he's going to lose his mind if Geralt keeps going at this pace, keeps dragging it out. But it's also heaven. Geralt works him open slowly, moving slick fingers in and out while kissing and licking and sucking on his cock teasingly.

By the time he has three fingers inside of Jaskier, Jaskier is writhing under him, making increasingly needy demands for Geralt to fuck him, to let him come. He's on the edge already, his entire body tingling with pleasure, and each brush of Geralt's fingers against his prostate has him seeing stars.

He's not sure whether to sob in relief or protest when Geralt pulls his fingers out, leaving him momentarily empty, but then Geralt grabs the condom and gets himself ready before hiking Jaskier's legs up over his shoulders.

"This okay?" he checks, giving Jaskier's thigh a squeeze.

Impatient and needy as Jaskier feels, he can't help but find it sweet how considerate Geralt is being. "Perfect," he agrees. "But if you make me wait any longer I might kill you."

"Alright," Geralt says with a wry grin. He shifts, guiding himself into position, and Jaskier bites his lip and moans when he feels the thick head slide between his cheeks and nudge against his hole.

Geralt pushes forward, slowly pressing himself in.

"Fuck," Jaskier gasps.

Geralt stills, and Jaskier whines and shakes his head.

"Keep going. Fuck, keep going," he says, and Geralt hums and starts moving again.

He sinks into Jaskier with slow rolls of his hips, working himself deeper and deeper with each thrust and Jaskier wants to cry with how good it feels. The stretch is perfect; Geralt is thick and long and despite the prep and lube, there's a bit of burn, but Jaskier loves it. He rocks his hips, coaxes Geralt to go deeper, faster, and Geralt lets out a low grunt, grabbing Jaskier's thighs and thrusts the rest of the way in.

"Fuck," Jaskier gasps, tightening his muscles around him to feel just how full he is.

"Jaskier," Geralt groans, sounding choked. His eyes are darker than their usual warm amber, fixed on Jaskier, and Jaskier feels pinned by the intensity of his gaze, almost overwhelmed by the sensation of having Geralt inside of him.

"Ready?" Geralt murmurs, and Jaskier nods.

Geralt draws out and thrusts right back in, and Jaskier lets out a quiet cry. The noise is muffled by Geralt leaning over to kiss him, the stretch making Jaskier's thighs burn.

He keeps rocking into Jaskier with small but deep thrusts, pressing kisses to his mouth and jaw as he fucks into him, his cock dragging against Jaskier's prostate with each push.

"So good," he murmurs, the praise so sweet Jaskier's heart swells and heat coils tighter in his belly.

"Darling, please," he begs. "Fuck, please make me come. Need it so bad."

"Then touch yourself," Geralt says. "Want to see you fall apart."

Jaskier groans and slips a clumsy, eager hand between their bellies, wrapping it around his cock. He'd already been on edge before they started, Geralt fingering him almost enough to get him off, and it doesn't take long for him to bring himself over the edge now. He jerks himself fast and keens when he comes, pleasure crashing over him.

Geralt grunts and thrusts into him a few more times, fingers digging into Jaskier's thighs, before he too comes with a low murmur of Jaskier's name. He slumps down on top of Jaskier, releasing his hold on Jaskier's legs, letting them slide off his shoulders, and turns to press his face into the crook of Jaskier's neck.

They lie tangled together, Geralt warm and heavy on top of Jaskier, and Jaskier holds him close, tangling his fingers in Geralt's hair and pressing soft, open-mouthed kisses to whatever bit of bare skin he can reach.

"Geralt," he murmurs.

Geralt hums, smoothing his hands down Jaskier's side, coming to rest on his hips. He kisses the side of Jaskier's neck before he lifts up, his cock slipping from Jaskier's body, and Jaskier sighs, disgruntled.

Geralt smiles down at him, looking disheveled and sated. "Let me get a towel," he says.

"No," Jaskier says, reaching for Geralt. "Later. Don't go."

Geralt hums and lets himself be pulled back down, settling down next to Jaskier and pulling him against his side. Jaskier cuddles close, ignoring the mess of lube and come and sweat between them, perfectly content to lie in Geralt's arms.


*

Jaskier pours another packet of sugar into his coffee, ignoring Essi making a face as he crumples up the paper and adds it to the small pile next to his mug. It's Essi's break and they've managed to snag one of the few empty tables.

"You know, maybe you should wean yourself off sugar," Essi says. "You'd have to worry less about your expensive taste in drinks and it'd be better for your health."

"Heathen!" Jaskier exclaims, narrowing his eyes at her. "Don't even suggest such a thing. Plus, the gigs at The Wolf's Den pay well. I can indulge every now and then nowadays."

"Is it going to become a regular thing? Playing there?" Essi asks and breaks her cookie in half, passing part of it to Jaskier.

"I think so," Jaskier says and takes a bite. "Lambert says I'm a great fit and people like listening to me."

"Don't speak with your mouth full," Essi teases.

Jaskier sticks out his tongue, coated with chocolatey crumbs. "Anyway. I've got another gig lined up at the bar this weekend. And then a couple in January," he says. He stirs his coffee and makes a thoughtful noise. "It's a bit of a Christmas miracle, isn't it?"

"What is?" Essi asks.

"You know, all of it," Jaskier says, waving his hand around. "I'm playing at a bar that actually pays me well and earning some extra money. And Geralt and I are… you know, a thing."

Essi looks at him, clearly unimpressed. "You're not starving anymore and you're getting laid," she says. "Jas, I love you, but if you call that a Christmas miracle, you're setting the bar a bit too low."

"Hey! Things haven't been this good in a really long time," Jaskier protests.

"Yes. Because things have been really shitty for a long time," Essi counters. "I'm happy for you. I am. But maybe aim a little higher, okay?"

Jaskier stuffs another piece of cookie into his mouth and shrugs. "The higher you aim, the farther you can fall," he says once he's swallowed.


*

"I jinxed it, didn't I?" Jaskier asks. "By saying I got my Christmas miracle?"

Essi, who has the blanket from the couch wrapped around her shoulders and a steaming mug of tea held between both hands, frowns.

"Well," she starts.

Jaskier sighs and tugs the sleeves of his sweater over his fingers, trying to keep them warm.

The heating stopped working sometime in the middle of the night and they woke to a freezing cold apartment. Their hopes that the issue would be fixed by the end of the day, were, unfortunately, dashed by their landlord, who had just dropped by to let them know that the entire building is without heat and that the repairmen who came in that morning couldn't fix it. The entire system needs to be replaced, and this close to Christmas, it will have to wait until after the holidays, until a new heater can be ordered in.

"This is the worst," Jaskier grumbles. "What are we going to do now?"

Essi shifts, the blanket dragging across the floor, and an awkward look passes over her face that has Jaskier instantly suspicious.

"What?" he asks.

"Well, I was texting with Priscilla earlier," Essi starts. "She says we can both stay with her."

"No," Jaskier says.

"Jaskier," Essi pleads.

"No, Essi, I can't. You should take her up on the offer, of course. But I'm not going to stay in the same apartment as Valdo," Jaskier says vehemently, shaking his head. "That wouldn't end well."

"It's better than freezing to death," Essi points out. "And you can avoid each other, surely. It's just for a few days."

Jaskier huffs and crosses his arms over his chest, both to covey more annoyance and to keep his fingers warm. "That's a few days too many," he says. "Seriously, Essi, go stay with Priscilla. I'll figure something else out. I'm sure I can find some couch to crash on for a bit."

Essi gives him a doubtful look, but she's kind enough not to point out that Jaskier doesn't really have any close friends other than her and Priscilla.

"Look, I've got plans with Geralt tonight anyway, so I'm set for tonight," Jaskier says. "There are a couple of people from uni that I'll text, see if anyone has a couch for me. If nothing works out, I'll reconsider Priscilla's offer."

Essi arches an eyebrow. "Promise? I don't want to come home from the holidays to find out you died of hypothermia, just because of your damn pride."

"He stole one of my songs," Jaskier reminds her. "It's not pride, it's justified fury and a deep-seated dislike. But I'll stay with Pris if there are no other options."

Essi sighs and her shoulders drop. "Okay, fine," she says, sounding relieved.

She doesn't need to know that there are no people from uni he's close to who might let him stay with them—especially because everyone will probably be heading home for the holidays, and he doubts anyone will just hand them the keys to their apartment. But if all else fails, he can always just stay at his and Essi's apartment and bundle up in several layers of clothes and blankets.


*

Jaskier teaches three consecutive piano lessons that afternoon before heading to Geralt's. They are his last sessions before Christmas, and he gets some extra money from two of his pupil's parents as a gift, leaving his wallet pleasantly full for once. It's improved his mood a fair bit and he tries not to think about his housing dilemma, wanting to just enjoy a quiet night in with Geralt without worrying about anything else.

Geralt is waiting for him in the open door of his apartment and Jaskier grins, feeling giddy and excited just seeing him. He throws his arms around Geralt's neck once he's close and gives him a kiss.

"Hi," he murmurs, while Geralt's hands rest on his hips and squeeze.

"Hey," Geralt says. "Come on in."

Jaskier allows himself to be ushered inside, unwinding his scarf as he goes.

Geralt has just taken his jacket from him when Roach saunters over. Jaskier immediately crouches down to greet her and give her pets.

"Hey there, my darling," he murmurs as he scratches below her chin. "Have you missed me? I've missed you."

Geralt hums, and when Jaskier glances up he finds him smiling fondly down at them.

"What? She and I bonded," he quips and stands up. He toes off his boots, careful not to splatter the muddy, melting snow everywhere, and places them by the door before following Geralt into the kitchen.

He sniffs the air and watches Geralt lift the lid off a pot to stir something inside.

"It smells amazing in here," he says. "Did you cook? I didn't know you could cook."

Geralt gives him a sheepish look and snorts.

"I'm afraid breakfast is the best I can do," he admits as he lowers the heat on the stove. "Eskel made this. I picked it up earlier, and it came with very detailed instructions on how to finish cooking it, so even I can't fuck it up."

"Mmm. Am I dating the wrong brother?" Jaskier asks with a chuckle. He steps up behind Geralt and hooks his chin over his shoulder, watching the stew simmer in the pot while he slips his arms around Geralt's middle.

Geralt replaces the lid and gives him an amused look over his shoulder, his hands coming to rest on top of Jaskier's. "He's into women, I'm afraid."

"I guess someone in your family had to be," Jaskier replies with a grin. "Though it wouldn't be the first time I've slept with a straight guy."

Geralt turns his head, his nose brushing against Jaskier's temple. "I bet," he murmurs. "Can't imagine anyone resisting you."

"Some have. But I'm glad you couldn't," Jaskier admits and pulls away from Geralt. "Even though you didn't even look at me when you walked past me for weeks."

Geralt turns around, a puzzled expression on his face. "What?"

"You never noticed me until the day you bought me a coffee," Jaskier points out.

"Of course I noticed you," Geralt says. "What are you talking about?"

Jaskier raises his eyebrows. "I never saw you looking at me."

Geralt huffs out a quiet laugh.

"You get pretty lost in your music," he says. He leans against the counter cabinets next to the oven. "Believe me, I noticed you. I just… I'm not very good at approaching people."

"You did fine with me," Jaskier says.

"Hmm." Geralt reaches for him, tugging him closer. "You crashing into me was a good icebreaker."

Jaskier laughs and leans into Geralt, resting his hands on his shoulders. "So you never would have talked to me if it wasn't for some rowdy teeangers?" he teases.

"I would have eventually. I just needed an in," Geralt admits with a small grin.

"Darling. You could have just come up to me and grunted, as you like to do so charmingly, and I would have gone home with you," Jaskier says.

Geralt quirks an eyebrow and waves a hand at the stove. "Are you telling me I don't have to go through all this effort?"

"I wouldn't go that far. It's very much appreciated," Jaskier says. "And I will certainly show you my appreciation later."

Geralt hums and leans in, brushing a kiss against Jaskier's cheek. "Let's get you fed then," he says.

"Yes, please," Jaskier says and steps away to give Geralt more space so he can serve up the stew.

Jaskier's eyes widen when they head for the dining table, tucked away in the corner of the large living area, and he spies the Christmas tree across the room. It's tastefully decorated with silver baubles and classic ornaments, though Jaskier spies a few more colorful ones that pique his interest.

"I don't know why, but I didn't really expect you to have a tree up," he notes. "It looks lovely."

Geralt gives a smile as he sits down at the table, looking fond.

"Ciri, my goddaughter, deserves all the credit," he says. "I had her and her parents over a few years ago right before Christmas. She must have been four or five. And when she asked where my Christmas tree was and I told her I didn't have one, she threw a bit of a fit and said everyone had to have a tree. So we went out the next day and got one and it's become a Christmas tradition since. She always helps me decorate it."

Jaskier doesn't think he could be more smitten with Geralt, but hearing him talk about his goddaughter with such an adoring expression on his face makes his heart melt a little.

"That's so sweet," he sighs.

"Hmm. Bit of a waste, honestly. I always spend the holidays at the farm, so I won't even be here on Christmas," Geralt replies with a small shrug.

"You get to enjoy it now though," Jaskier points out. He dips his spoon into the stew and takes a first bite. It tastes as good as it smells, hot and hearty and delicious.

"Good?" Geralt asks as he starts eating as well.

"Amazing," Jaskier says and is eating another spoonful when a thought occurs to him. "Hey. Do you take Roach with you to the farm? Because if you don't and you need a cat sitter, I'm totally available. I could stay here so she doesn't get lonely. We're best friends now after all, Roach and I."

"Ciri and Pavetta, her mom, always take care of her. They live just down the street," Geralt says, and Jaskier feels his face fall before he schools into a neutral expression. "You don't have any plans for the holidays then?"

"No," Jaskier says, trying not to sound upset. "Essi is going home, so it's just me."

He must not be doing a very good job, because Geralt gives him a soft look, though he doesn't prod. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine. I'm used to it by now," Jaskier lies and bites his lower lip. "It just would have been convenient if you had needed someone to stay here."

"What does that mean?" Geralt asks.

Jaskier's shoulders slump and he sighs. "Our heating's not working right now and it won't be fixed until after the holidays," he explains. "But don't worry about it."

"How can I not worry about it?" Geralt asks.

"It's not that bad. With Essi gone I can take all the blankets and I'll make myself lots of tea, and if I gather all the candles and light them, that's almost like sitting in front of a fire, right?" Jaskier says, his tone dismissive.

"Jaskier," Geralt murmurs and shakes his head. "You're not staying at your place without a heater in the middle of the winter. You can stay here, of course. Or you can come with me, spend the holidays with my family."

The offer alone is sweet enough that Jaskier feels his chest constrict and he gives Geralt a smile. "I wouldn't want to impose."

"You won't," Geralt says, shaking his head. "We've had friends around for the holidays before. We don't make a big fuss about Christmas, it's pretty casual. We just hang out, eat, drink. There's always stuff to fix around the farm and the animals need to be taken care of and everyone pitches in. Having another person there to lend a helping hand is always appreciated."

"We've only known each other for a few weeks," Jaskier points out, not convinced Geralt's family would really welcome him. "That's different than having friends over. I'm basically a stranger."

"I've gotten pretty close to you for a stranger," Geralt replies with a smirk, and Jaskier rolls his eyes. "And Lambert and Aiden know you as well. And like you. I'm sure they'd be happy to have you there."

"I don't know," Jaskier hedges.

"Jaskier. Do you really want to stay at your place in the middle of winter without working heat? Come on. Spending the holidays with my family surely has to be better than that."

"It would be better than freezing to death," Jaskier admits with a sheepish grin. "I just don't know, Geralt. I don't want to make your family uncomfortable."

Geralt hums and shifts, pulling his phone out.

"What are you doing?" Jaskier asks as Geralt starts typing.

"Texting them."

"Geralt! You can't ask stuff like that over text. At least call them," Jaskier argues.

"Too late," Geralt says. He sets his phone down on the table and then smirks at Jaskier. "I told them you said being with us for the holidays would be better than dying of hypothermia, but only marginally."

"You did not," Jaskier exclaims. "Geralt! Give me your phone. I swear if you texted that…"

Geralt laughs and when Jaskier tries to reach across the table for his phone, he scoops it up and holds it out of reach. Jaskier huffs and darts up to round the table, and they end up tussling for the phone for a few moments, before Geralt, laughing, pulls Jaskier onto his lap and wraps his arms around him, holding him tight.

Jaskier feels Geralt's phone, which is still in Geralt's hand, vibrate against his backside, and groans.

"Please, please tell me you didn't really text them that," he pleads.

"I didn't," Geralt says, grinning, and Jaskier slumps in relief.

"You're an awful man," he complains.

Geralt hums and looks at his phone over Jaskier's shoulder. "Lambert says you should bring your guitar," he says.

"Have your dad or Eskel said anything yet?" Jaskier asks in a murmur, worry curling in his gut. He tugs at the collar of Geralt's sweater, smoothing it into place.

Geralt grunts and Jaskier thinks there's a faint blush on his cheeks. "My dad just replied," Geralt says. "He wrote, I'm happy for you, son."

"Oh," Jaskier says. "I guess that means he'd be okay with me coming?"

"Jaskier. He took in three foster kids. He obviously has no problems with taking in strays," Geralt says, and Jaskier huffs.

"Watch who you're calling a stray," he warns playfully.

Geralt grins and leans in, kissing Jaskier quickly. "A very cute stray," he amends. "Who will be the reason we're going to end up eating cold stew."

"You're the one who pulled me onto your lap," Jaskier counters.

"Hmm. But you're to blame for me not wanting to let you leave my lap again," Geralt says, and Jaskier laughs softly. He frames Geralt's face with his hands and kisses him.

"Sweet talker," he murmurs against Geralt's lips, and Geralt hums.


*

Jaskier pulls on his gloves and grins at Geralt. "I'm ready," he declares.

Dinner left him full and warm and he convinced Geralt to take a stroll around the neighborhood to stretch their legs.

Geralt grabs his keys and switches off the light in the hallway, ushering Jaskier out of the apartment.

A fresh layer of snow has fallen since Jaskier's arrival and flakes are still coming down, fat and fluffy. Jaskier hooks his arm around Geralt's and leans into his side, turning his face up to catch some of the snowflakes with a grin.

"This is nice," he says softly. "Very romantic."

Geralt smiles at him and hums. "Which way do you want to go?"

"Which direction is nicer?" Jaskier asks. "I want to see all the lights and decorations in the windows."

"Let's go right then," Geralt suggests. "We can walk past Pavetta and Duny's place, I can show you Ciri's window. She picked everything out herself and it's pretty garish."

Jaskier laughs and falls into step next to Geralt. He brings his free hand up, resting it on Geralt's upper arm. "I'll probably love it then," he says.

"You probably will," Geralt agrees. "I'll have to introduce you to her sometime. She'll love your clothes. Always complains about me only wearing dark colors."

"I'd say she has a point, but you do look so dashing in black," Jaskier says. He grins at Geralt before turning his attention to the houses around them, marveling at the Christmas lights and flickering candles and the occasional peek of a Christmas tree.

"I always do this around Christmas, look into windows to see how people have decorated," he says softly. "I always wonder who the people living there are. Who they're spending the holidays with. If anyone is all on their own as well. Sometimes it feels like it's just me, you know, even though I know that's not true."

"Hey," Geralt murmurs, and brings his hand up to cover Jaskier's. "You're not going to be alone this year."

"You're right," Jaskier agrees and smiles. "Tell me more about what you do for the holidays. I want to know so I don't look completely clueless."

"Nothing special. There's lots of food. Eskel and Vesemir cook, Lambert always has the drinks covered. Other than that we just hang out, catch up. Do things around the farm that need to be done. We usually play card games—Vesemir started teaching us games when we were kids and it became a bit of a tradition. Lambert, Eskel and I still get together every few weeks and play a few rounds, have some nice whiskey," Geralt says.

"I'm not sure if I'll be much help. I've never been on a farm," Jaskier worries, and Geralt shrugs.

"We'll find something for you to do. You can help with the dishes, set the table, that kind of stuff," he reassures Jaskier. "And you can help feed the animals. There are some horses, a few stray cats, and way too many goats."

"I get to feed goats?" Jaskier asks excitedly.

"Some of them are menaces," Geralt warns.

"Hush. They're goats. I'm sure they're adorable and perfect," Jaskier argues and Geralt snorts.

"Eskel will fucking love you," he says.

"I hope so. I want them to like me," Jaskier admits, briefly resting his cheek against Geralt's shoulder, ignoring the wet, cold snowflakes against his skin.

"They will," Geralt promises. "I… don't usually bring people home. They'll be happy that I'm bringing someone."

Jaskier makes a contemplative noise. "You want to bring me home, though, right? You're not just doing it because you feel like you have to?" he asks. "Oh, what am I saying. Of course you don't want to take a guy you've been seeing for less than a month home to meet the family. Gods, Geralt, I really shouldn't be coming."

Geralt stops walking and it brings Jaskier to a halt a moment later. He turns to face Geralt, finding him regarding him with a somber expression.

"Jaskier. I wouldn't take you home with me if I didn't think chances are you will be around for more Christmases to come," he says, his tone stilted but sincere.

"Don't you think that's too soon to say?" Jaskier asks quietly.

Geralt brings a hand up, cupping Jaskier's cheek and Jaskier feels the warmth of his skin through the layer of his glove.

"Are you planning on ditching me soon?" Geralt asks with a small smile.

"Darling," Jaskier murmurs and leans into Geralt's touch. "If you ever want to get rid of me, you will have to be the one to end things, because I certainly won't."

Geralt smiles and leans in, bringing their lips together for a kiss. Jaskier sighs into it happily, smiling against Geralt's mouth.

He wonders what they look like from the outside, standing on a deserted sidewalk in the dark with snow swirling around them, kissing and smiling. Like the closing shot of a movie, terribly romantic and cheesy.


*

Something heavy resting on his chest wakes Jaskier, and he brings his hand up to bat at it, only to encounter soft fur. He squints, revealing Roach blinking at him with big green eyes, and he can feel the vibrations of her purring under his palm.

Geralt is fast asleep next to him, an arm curled loosely around Jaskier's waist, his face mere centimeters from Jaskier's shoulder. Jaskier smiles as he looks at him while patting Roach.

As carefully as he can he reaches for the nightstand and grabs his phone, opening the camera to take a couple of pictures of all three of them.

He checks his messages when he's done and sees he's been added to a group chat called Rivia GC and his eyes fill with tears instantly.

There's also a text from Essi, asking him if he's found a place to stay.

He grins and starts replying, attaching the photo of him and Geralt and Roach to the message.

I'm spending the holidays with Geralt and his family. I really am getting my Christmas miracle, Essi.

He puts his phone away and, careful not to jostle Roach, snuggles closer to Geralt. Outside it's just starting to get light and the snow is still coming down. Jaskier grins as he watches it swirl through the window and quietly starts humming It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year under his breath.

It really is, he thinks to himself, now that he has people to spend it with.