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Like a Fish Out of Water

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Geralt stops short in the bathroom doorway. He stares at the bathtub for a long while, trying to wrap his head around what it is that he’s looking at. Surely the hangover after last night’s TwitchCon afterparty couldn’t have made him hallucinate… this.

“Jaskier, why the fuck are there fish in my bathtub?”

What Geralt is currently looking at isn’t the bathtub alone - a nice, round tub which takes up almost half the space in his large and overly fancy bathroom - but also its contents. Because apart from being filled to the brim with water, there’s also multiple live fish circling inside of it. They all seem oblivious to Geralt’s confusion, swimming back and forth, occasionally splashing water onto the floor.

Geralt is certain there were no fish here when he had left for the convention. Perhaps letting Jaskier housesit was a mistake.

Speaking of whom - Jaskier is at his side as soon as he speaks, as though he was waiting for Geralt to ask this. In fact, Geralt is pretty sure he was waiting for it, the absolute menace.

“They’re roaches!” he says with a grin, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. It might as well be to him, Geralt is never quite sure what’s going on in Jaskier’s head.

“Yes. I can see that. That doesn’t answer my question.”

“What, you don’t like it? I got them for you!”

Geralt turns to look at him. Jaskier is, of course, pouting, sticking his bottom lip out like a child. Really, the worst part is that it’s working and Jaskier knows it, if the twinkle in his eye is anything to go by. Geralt’s frown deepens and he does his best to keep his expression neutral, to not give in to the puppy dog look.

“I didn’t ask for fish in my bathtub, Jaskier.”

Jaskier is undeterred, though. “You’re no fun, darling,” he says as he pushes past Geralt to saunter into the bathroom. He perches at the edge of the tub, crossing one leg over the other as though he’s posing for a photo. The image is absolutely ridiculous, especially with the fish still swimming behind him. “Look at them! Aren’t they so very beautiful? I was thinking, well, you can’t keep Roach in your house, obviously, but now you have many roaches to keep you company instead. And I’d even venture to say that these roaches are preferable to cockroaches.”

Geralt crosses his arms and says nothing. He continues to glare at Jaskier and eventually Jaskier seems to understand this as his cue to elaborate.

“Well, alright, so all of you were gone, I got lonely - I thought, I could get a roach! Obviously I wasn’t going to put your horse in the bathtub, I’m not stupid, hence -” He waves an arm to gesture towards the fish. “- common roach. And anyway, I got just one, at first, but then that one seemed lonely so I got it some friends.”

“And now there’s three fish. Swimming in my bathtub.” Geralt feels a headache coming on. He can barely resist the urge to bang his head against a nearby wall. Instead, he rubs tiredly at his temple. Words cannot quite express the exasperation he is feeling right now. Nor can tone. “Jaskier, I’m not keeping them. Take them away. Put them in your own bathroom, if you like, I don’t care.”

“I don’t have a bathtub, remember?”

“And neither do we, apparently,” another voice chimes in from behind Geralt. Turning his head, he sees Ciri standing on her tip-toes, trying to take a look into the bathroom over his shoulder. “Are those… roaches?”

Immediately, Jaskier is on his feet, throwing his arms up in the air as a wide grin spreads over his face once more. “Yes! Finally, someone around here gets it!”

Geralt does not resist the urge to roll his eyes at him. Unfortunately for him, though, it looks like Jaskier’s plan - although calling it a plan feels like an overstatement - has worked on someone after all. More specifically, on Ciri, who has crouched down next to the bathtub and is now looking into the water curiously, dipping the tips of her fingers under the surface of it, letting the fish swim around them.

“Oooh. They’re cute. We’re keeping them, right?”

To Geralt’s genuine relief, her eyes are still on the fish and so she doesn’t have to watch the silent exchange that takes place between him and Jaskier. While Jaskier grins triumphantly at her question, Geralt glares daggers at him in response. Maybe, just maybe, it’s about time to start digging a grave in his back garden.

Of course, Jaskier can never let anything go without some commentary, not even with the clear annoyance on Geralt’s face.

“Now, don’t be so grumpy, sunshine,” he chirps. “You love them too, admit it.”

“Shut up,” Geralt grunts. “Is this another one of your brilliant business ideas? Are you planning to sell the fish water this time?”

Jaskier actually lights up at that question and Geralt mentally curses, immediately recognizing the mistake that he’s probably just made. Fuck his entire fucking life.

“Well… now there’s a thought. I can’t imagine it’d sell better than your bathwater did, but… you know, I’ll have to think about it.”

“...Jaskier. I was making a joke.”

“Were you? It’s a good idea!”

Definitely a mistake. The one time he decided to make a joke, of course it was a mistake.

Not wanting to have Ciri listen to this entire conversation, he grabs Jaskier by the shoulder and drags him out of the bathroom. Jaskier follows without any complaint, still grinning as though he just struck gold.

“For fuck’s sake, don’t you dare try to jar my bathwater again,” Geralt hisses as soon as they’re out of Ciri’s earshot.

(Not that she doesn’t already know about the… bathwater incident. Geralt is pretty sure she had just as much fun with it as Jaskier did - perhaps the two of them had been spending too much time together.)

“Geralt, dear, have you seen how bad your facecam is? It’s horrible. Awful. Can barely see your face in it and that’s only when you actually bother to angle it at anything that isn’t your chin. Anyway - point is, you need a better webcam, stat. And what do you need to buy it? Money. Obviously. So this is perfect! You have to change their water regularly anyway, this way it won’t go to waste. Endless supply of - of fish water money!”

It’s only because of how long he’s known Jaskier that Geralt can believe he’s being serious about this, no matter how absolutely stupid the entire idea is. He’s not sure what level of stupid it is, exactly, and whether it ranges above or below selling his own bathwater but… it’s definitely high fucking up there.

“I’m going to fire you.”

Jaskier scoffs. “Technically, I don’t even run your store - “ Oh, of course, because now Jaskier cares about technicalities. “- so you’re not paying me for this. I’m just going to… suggest some things to your merch people, is all. And then I will oh so kindly offer help in getting the actual… well, merch. Besides! You like me too much to fire me.”

It’s all just excuses and Geralt knows it. After all, Zoltan (who, unlike Jaskier, is officially one of his merch people) will happily go along with whatever inane idea Jaskier has come up with this time. In fact, Geralt wouldn’t be surprised if it was Zoltan who ordered the damn fish for him in the first place.

On second thought, maybe he should find enough space for two graves in his back garden.

“I’ll buy a new webcam, but you’re not selling any more jars of water.”

Geralt can already see the edges of the pout, the pleading eyes, but then Jaskier seems to hesitate. Ha. Looks like Geralt hasn’t lost this one just yet, then. Apparently Jaskier’s care about Geralt’s public image (or, more specifically, his webcam image) is even greater than his need to put new ridiculous business plans into motion.

“Fine,” Jaskier budges eventually. He is pouting, still, but it’s a pout of defeat now rather than of pleading. “Fine, Geralt, have it your way! But - “ And at this point the smirk returns to his face. “- you’re still keeping the fish. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Ciri likes them, so… can’t just get rid of them.”

He slips out of Geralt’s grip and struts away towards the kitchen, with his phone somehow already in hand. Geralt can only imagine that he’s either texting Yennefer or Zoltan (or, worst of all, both) about what just happened.

“By the way, Geralt, you have five minutes to tell me what you want for lunch, otherwise I’m picking again!”

Great.

What the fuck is he supposed to do with three common roaches?

It’s when they’re sitting on Jaskier’s sofa, having had a couple glasses of wine, that Geralt’s mind drifts off. It drifts off for long enough that he suddenly remembers something he hasn’t yet had a chance to ask Jaskier about.

“Jaskier.” Geralt elbows him to get his attention, eliciting a soft ‘ow’ and a tilt of the head out of him. “Who are himbo, babygirl and whore?”

Jaskier blinks owlishly, clearly not comprehending the question. Geralt blames it on the alcohol, because frankly, it’s really rather simple.

“Hm? What?”

“...your tweet,” Geralt elaborates with a sigh. Having no idea where his own phone is, he reaches for Jaskier’s instead, picking it up from where it’s laying between them on the sofa. He scrolls through Jaskier’s Twitter until he finds it. “From yesterday. ‘omw to take a few pics with himbo, babygirl and whore <3’.” he reads out loud.

“Wh - less than three? Geralt, dear, that’s just a heart.” Jaskier snatches the phone back with a frown. “As for himbo, babygirl and whore…” Slowly, a grin spreads across his face. It’s far too mischievous for Geralt’s liking, as though Jaskier is scheming something yet again.

“Don’t worry about them, big guy,” he drawls with a wink and a pat to Geralt’s knee. He stands up, swaying a bit as he does. “Better worry about if - if we have enough wine,” he continues, staggering his way out of the room to look for more alcohol.

Geralt narrows his eyes. There is definitely something more to himbo, babygirl and whore.

After the last few days of having to deal with fish and… fish-related shenanigans, Geralt has actually been looking forward to this stream. Finally, a couple hours of relative normality when he doesn’t have to think about any roaches (fish or otherwise, as much as he loves his horse) and instead gets to just do what he does best - kill fictional monsters and occasionally grumble something to satisfy the chat.

At the very least, it starts off normal. An hour goes by, he has to take a break when a package arrives at his door, and suddenly things take a turn for the stranger...

“So I bought this book yesterday - it’s about fish,” he says casually, once he’s back at his desk. He hasn’t really been planning on bringing up the fish incident, but, well, he figures he can at least mention what the delivery is that pulled him away from the stream. “No, not fishing, it’s about - taking care of fish. I’ve never had fish before.”

He’s looking at the chat as he talks and that’s how a few messages in particular get his attention. He frowns, and goes silent as he reads them more carefully.

“...what fish pictures? On his - OnlyFans? What do you mean, my bathtub is in them - Yes, fine, I’ll take a look…”

He already has a bad feeling about this. Apparently, according to the chat, there are some fish pictures on Jaskier’s OnlyFans. He’s never kept up with Jaskier’s socials, the man posts far too often for Geralt to have any idea what new pictures he’s been taking, never mind when or where, but this is… images of Jaskier perched on the edge of his bathtub, three common roaches swimming behind him, flash in front of his eyes. He shakes his head. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

(There’s never any coincidences when it comes to Jaskier.)

With a heavy sigh, he looks up Jaskier’s profile and - he doesn’t even have to look very far before he sees the aforementioned fish pictures.

There are two of them, specifically, and Geralt clicks on the older one first. Of course, he’s the only one who can see this - he’s not about to stream Jaskier’s paywalled OF for the entire internet to see.

“Fuck,” he mutters as soon as he’s able to take a proper look at the picture. “That is my bathtub.”

The picture itself is… rather tame, he supposes, which is a stark contrast against other pictures Jaskier has on his profile. He’s dressed in a long burgundy bathrobe and he is, just like Geralt was imagining, lounging on the edge of the bathtub, in a similar way to when Geralt had first found the fish there. The caption under the picture is ‘Hanging out with himbo, babygirl and whore!!’ which… somewhat explains Jaskier’s mysterious tweet from the other day. Except not really. He still has so many questions.

“And my fish -” Wait, when the fuck did he start thinking of them as his? He’s not sure what’s worse at this point, the fact that he’s currently looking at Jaskier’s fish pictures or that this entire situation has made him consider these fish to be his own. He didn’t even want them! “And the fish,” he still makes a point of correcting himself.

Opting not to linger on it for too long, he opens the second picture. In this one, Jaskier is still in his bathroom (because of course he is), but this time he’s shown just from the waist up and he is… holding one of the fish up, as though he had just fished it out of the water. ‘Dick pics are out, fish pics are in! <3’ reads the caption underneath, and Geralt groans audibly. He takes another look at the picture then and… why are Jaskier’s eyes so bright? And why is this dopey smile actually… pretty? He’s holding a fucking fish, he shouldn’t look so attractive while holding a fish, this isn’t fair.

Geralt drops his forehead to the desk with a rather spectacular thud.

(Later, a clip titled “WhiteWolf checks out his manager's OnlyFans [NOT CLICKBAIT]” makes it all the way to the Twitch front page. The thumbnail, of course, shows the exact moment Geralt’s head had hit his desk.)

“Geralt.”

Jaskier’s voice has Geralt looking up from the package Jaskier has brought him - the new webcam that Geralt had promised to buy, weeks ago when the entire fish incident had first started. Jaskier, as always, has gone out of his way to pick it up for him and bring it to his place. Which is why he’s now standing in Geralt’s living room and staring at the large aquarium that covers the entirety of one of the walls.

“Hm?”

“I thought you were going to get a pond made for them.” Jaskier nods towards the three roaches swimming inside the glass tank.

Right. Last time Jaskier was here, the fish had still been swimming around Geralt’s bathtub and Geralt had never really brought up the change of his fish-related plans.

“You complained that I don’t have a TV.”

“And this was your solution? Live roach TV?”

“Yes,” Geralt deadpans. The look that Jaskier is giving him, though, clearly says that he doesn’t quite believe that’s all there is to it. Geralt sighs. “I didn’t like the idea of them getting cold outside,” he admits, refusing to acknowledge the small smile on Jaskier’s face.

When Jaskier speaks, he sounds amused. “Geralt, they’re fresh water fish native to northern Europe. They wouldn’t have minded the cold.”

“I know. I read a book about fish.”

“...a book.” Jaskier properly laughs this time. “A single book?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, fish expert. So I take it they’ve grown on you.”

Geralt grumbles under his breath. He doesn’t exactly want to admit that they have, even though it is true. With the way Jaskier is looking at him, though, eyes all soft and fond, Geralt has a feeling he already knows. “Ciri likes watching them,” he mumbles instead, shrugging. Jaskier gives him another one of those knowing smiles, but he nods regardless, apparently letting it go.

“I’m sure she does, darling. Anyway, now that I’m here, I was thinking…”

Now that Jaskier’s attention has drifted away from the topic of the fish, Geralt allows his gaze to move over to the aquarium. Watching the roaches slowly swim in circles, not paying any attention to the two humans in the room, he relaxes.

Perhaps Jaskier’s ideas aren’t always so bad.