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When It All Falls Down

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Jaskier was beginning to think he should’ve stayed back at camp like Geralt had told him. The fiend was many times bigger than he expected and there were few places he could hide. Currently he was half hidden behind a crumbling wall while Geralt fought the great beast, leaping out of the way of its charging attacks.

Geralt had been contracted by the alderman of a nearby village, describing how the monster had been stealing cattle. Geralt had tracked it through the forest, leading them to a clearing before ordering Jaskier to stay there with Roach. Jaskier had practically begged Geralt to let him go with him. He’d been running out of new material, after all, there were only so many ballads he could sing about nekkers. Reluctantly, Geralt had let him tag along, with the strict instructions that he was to stay far away. Of course, that advice went ignored and Jaskier was now in the thick of it.

The fiend’s trail had led them to a clearing where several buildings sat abandoned. It looked as though it used to be a small logging village, but it must have been several years since it was last used. Jaskier had been looking around when the fiend appeared. There was no way for him to safely make it back to the tree line so here he was, stuck inside one of the dilapidated buildings, peeking around the empty doorway to watch the fight.

Geralt seemed to know what he was doing. He didn’t attack the creature head on like he might for other beasts. Instead he would stand in front of something solid and goad the fiend into charging before leaping out of the way at the last second. He would then attack its flanks as it recovered from the impact before repeating.

The witcher was currently standing off to the side of where Jaskier was. The fiend shook its great, horned head, preparing for another charge. With a deafening roar it leapt at Geralt who rolled out of the way, coming to land just in front of where Jaskier was hiding. The fiend, however seemed to have picked up on Geralt’s tactics and switched direction, coming barrelling toward them.

“Geralt!” the bard cried. The witcher rolled out of the way again, narrowly missing the beast’s horns. Jaskier had no such luck, stuck as he was inside the building. He jumped to the side hoping to avoid the brunt of the force as the fiend smashed through the wall. The roof collapsed, sending rubble crashing down on top of him. He had little time to react, curling up as much as he could and throwing his arms over his head.

“Jaskier!” he heard Geralt shout. His voice was drowned out by the roar of the fiend somewhere above him. He tried to uncurl and figure out exactly where he was, but the timber had fallen on him in such a way as to completely trap him. His legs were pinned in place, making it near impossible to even twist around. He heard more yelling from the witcher, accompanied by a few pained sounds from the monster.

Eventually things became quiet and Jaskier couldn’t help but assume the worst. “Geralt?” he called out, straining his ears for a response.

“Jaskier? Keep talking so I can find you.” Came the response.

“Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine.” Jaskier heard some of the rubble being moved, dully thudding to the ground as it was shoved aside. “It ran off before I could kill it. It’ll come back soon.”

“Shit.”

Suddenly a shaft of light appeared above him. Geralt was standing above him, white hair a mess from where it had come free from it’s tie. “Come on,” he growled, urgency in his voice.

“My legs are trapped.”

“Fuck.” Geralt moved to his side, assessing the timber piled on top of the bard. He began lifting a beam when Jaskier felt a sudden spike of pain go through his right leg. He cried out, startled at the pain and Geralt lowered it back down immediately. “Are you alright?”

Jaskier only nodded, still reeling from the pain. “Fuck. I need to get you out before the fiend comes back.”

“Please…” Jaskier said. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was asking for Geralt to get him out or for him to leave him and avoid the pain.

“I’ll see if I can move something else. Just… sit tight.” Jaskier couldn’t see much of the witcher as he moved around behind him. He felt the rubble shift and the pressure on his legs increase, causing him to clench his fists and grit his teeth in an attempt to stifle his cries of pain.

They didn’t have long before a roar shattered any illusion of safety. Jaskier looked up to see the beast standing at the edge of the clearing, already preparing for its next attack.
“Fuck,” he heard Geralt hiss. He leapt from the rubble, grabbing his sword where he had left it and sprinted away from Jaskier, hoping to draw its attention away from Jaskier. His plan seemed to work as the fiend followed his movement before charging at him.

Jaskier could see from his position on the ground that the monster was already bleeding heavily from several long cuts in its sides, dripping black ichor on the grass beneath it. Surely it couldn’t last much longer. And yet it leapt at the witcher as it had done when it first entered the clearing.

Jaskier tried to twist around enough to be able try to clear some of the rubble keeping him in place. He couldn’t reach very far since he was pinned down lying on his front, but he managed to shove away a few of the smaller pieces. The fight seemed to be gradually moving away from him which was a small relief, although it meant it was harder to keep track of Geralt.

A roar tore through the air, followed by an earth-shaking thud and silence. The fiend had fallen to the ground, never to get back up. Geralt hurried back over to where Jaskier lay, covered in black ichor but seemingly unharmed. He sheathed his sword before kneeling by the rubble once more.

“Are you injured?” Jaskier asked.

“Do you ever worry about anything other than me?” he said as he resumed moving the heavy timbers keeping the bard in place.

“Only occasionally. It’s not like you ever look after yourself- ah!” he cried as the rubble shifted again.

“Sorry. This isn’t shifting without hurting you more I’m afraid.”

“Then do what you must.”

Geralt took hold of the beam and lifted. The rubble shifted, the pressure increasing on Jaskier’s legs and he couldn’t help but scream. Geralt kept going until it came free. He tossed it to the side and swiftly cleared away the larger pieces of debris that had taken the beam's place before hooking his hands under the bard's arms and pulling him free.

Once they were clear of the collapsed building, Jaskier had to take a moment to simply breath through the pain, blinking to chase away the dark spots that had appeared in his vision. When he came back to himself, Geralt was already gently easing off one of his boots. He looked down to see his right leg covered in blood, a splinter of wood sticking out of his calf.

“Oh shit,” he mumbled.

Geralt only hummed in response, easing off his other boot and sock. He examined both ankles, checking for breaks of sprains. His left leg felt fine. When the witcher examined his right however, a spike of pain shot up his leg at his touch, causing him to jolt away. “Try and stay still, I know it hurts.” Jaskier did his best to keep still as Geralt felt around the joint, biting his lip to keep himself from crying out.

“I’m afraid it’s broken,” Geralt said eventually.

“And that?” Jaskier said, gesturing at the debris sticking out of his leg.

“I can’t do anything about that until we get back to camp. All my supplies are with Roach. Where you should’ve been.”

“Sorry.”

“Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.”

“Unlikely, dear witcher,” he replied, forced cheer in voice.

Geralt crouched next to Jaskier, helping him to sit up so he could wrap an arm around his back before getting his other arm under his knees. Jaskier couldn’t contain the whimpers of pain that escaped him. He wanted to yell at Geralt, demand that he stop, but he knew they had to get back to their camp. Instead he bit his lip again, hard enough to draw blood. It was enough to distract from the pain in his leg long enough for them to get back to where Roach had been left, tied to a low hanging branch.

Geralt sat Jaskier down at the base of a tree before retrieving the necessary medical supplies from their packs. Much to Jaskier’s relief he started by giving him something for the pain. It was bitter but hopefully would work swiftly to dull the pain. The witcher then set about preparing what he would need to pull the shard of wood out of his leg. And Jaskier was not looking forward to that.

“Bite on this,” Geralt said, holding out one of his belts. When Jaskier made no move to take it, he added, “It’s this or your tongue.”

Reluctantly Jaskier took it and stuck it between his teeth. The painkillers were just starting to kick in, numbing the edges of his pain. “Ready?” Geralt asked, looking into his eyes. Jaskier wanted to shake his head. He would never be ready for the pain he knew was coming. But he also knew rationally the sooner the foreign object was removed, the better. So, with a shaky breath, he nodded.

“Okay.” Geralt clamped one hand down on his leg, just below his knee to hold him in place. In the other hand, he took hold of the wood and agonisingly slowly pulled it free. Jaskier was glad he had something to bite down on, sure he would have cracked his teeth otherwise. He couldn’t hold back the scream that tore through his throat, muffled only slightly by the belt in his mouth.

His vision greyed out for a moment, feeling himself floating for a moment before coming back to himself. Geralt was calling his name, a bloody cloth pressed to his leg. “Come back to me Jaskier.”

“Yeah I’m… I’m back,” he mumbled, feeling disoriented. His leg felt like it was on fire, made worse every time Geralt shifted the pressure on the wound.

“I still need to stitch it, but it’s no use trying when there’s this much blood.” He reached for another cloth from the pile beside him, adding it on top of the cloth already saturated with blood and pressing hard. Jaskier found he had little energy to cry out, his back arching and face contorting with the movement. “You’re doing well Jaskier. The wood went deep but seemed to have missed any major blood vessels. Or else you’d be dead by now.”

“If that was supposed to be encouraging, you’re doing a pretty shit job,” he murmured.

After what seemed like an eternity, Geralt decided the bleeding had slowed enough that Jaskier wouldn’t immediately bleed to death if he were to take the pressure off. Jaskier’s grip on consciousness was tenuous at best. The next hour or so seemed to pass in a series of snippets. Geralt stitching his leg. Geralt bandaging the wound. Geralt wrapping his ankle with a splint. Mostly it was just Geralt tending to his injuries.

He woke properly to find the sky beginning to darken. He propped himself up on his elbows, careful not to move his leg in doing so. Geralt sat nearby in front of a small fire. “How do you feel?” he asked, not turning to look at him.

“Like a house fell on me,” he deadpanned.

Geralt gave him a small smile and a huff of amusement. It was practically the equivalent of making the man roar with laughter and Jaskier felt a small smile work its way on his face.

“Do you need anything?”

“Probably just more rest for now.”

Geralt nodded. “I’ll wake you when it’s time to eat. Here,” he said, passing over a cup filled with what he assumed was some kind of tea.

Jaskier took it and sipped it tentatively, aware that many of Geralt's concoctions often tasted horrendous. He was correct in assuming this one was the same, although the bitterness was slightly tempered by something sweet, likely honey. It was warm and surprisingly pleasant. It didn't take long for whatever was in it to start taking effect as he soon felt his eyes slipping closed against his will. There were hands on his back which he belatedly realised belonged to Geralt as he helped lower him to lie back down. The last thing he saw before falling asleep were concerned golden irises glowing in the firelight.