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A Wild Thing

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"He's a wild thing, your bard," a barmaid once said to Geralt. Geralt doesn't remember what town they were in, doesn't remember the barmaid's face, but he does remember she had smiled, curious and puzzled, as she'd said it.

The words stuck with Geralt.

A wild thing. His bard.

He is both of those things, though Geralt was only willing to admit to one of them at the time. A wild thing, unbound by rules and expectations and the constraints of human society. Jaskier does what he wants, when he wants, chases his dreams and desires with a single-minded determination and a joyous smile on his face that leaves Geralt stunned. He's beautiful, his bard, whether he's sitting in a field of flowers, braiding a flower crown while humming a sweet song, or throwing himself at someone with a drawn dagger for saying something particularly insulting about witchers.

It used to frustrate him endlessly that Jaskier wasn't like other people, that he never did what Geralt expected or wanted him to do. But frustration has given way to fondness, appreciation.

Geralt takes another sip of his ale and watches Jaskier sing. He struts and dances and skips around the tavern like he owns the place, smile easy and genuine, never once missing a beat. He stops now and then to chat and flirt, accept drinks and praise. His coin purse is steadily filling, most of it given freely, though Geralt sees quick, clever fingers steal a broach from the woman who made a disparaging comment about witchers when they entered the tavern, notices Jaskier's hand slip into the purse of the traveling merchant who has been generous with his touches but not his coin.

Geralt stays alert just in case anyone else notices and he has to grab Jaskier and make their escape. Always finding trouble, his bard. And if there is none to find, he will do his damndest to create it himself.

But everyone tonight seems too distracted by their drinks and the music and Jaskier's sheer presence.

By the time Jaskier wraps up his performance to the cheers and calls from the tavern, his smile has gone a little sloppy from all the drinks he's had. He saunters over to Geralt, almost stumbling over his own feet at one point, lute clutched in his hand. Geralt watches, never takes his eyes off Jaskier.

Jaskier gives a little laugh as he reaches Geralt's table, looking happy and flushed, and then drops down onto Geralt's lap without ceremony.

"Hello, gorgeous," he all but purrs, clearly tipsy. "Did you enjoy my show?"

"Hmm," Geralt says and shrugs, sliding one hand around Jaskier's hip and curling the other around his thigh to keep him from tumbling onto the floor. Jaskier is a nice, warm weight on top of him, familiar even though he doesn't make a habit out of sitting on Geralt's lap. Geralt is surprised to find how much he doesn't mind it. Jaskier gets flirty—even more so than usual, that is—when he's drunk, with everyone but especially with Geralt. Lately, Geralt stopped trying to dissuade him. Has, maybe, been encouraging Jaskier instead.

"Hmm," Jaskier echoes and heaves a sigh. He puts his lute down next to Geralt and then wraps his arms around Geralt's neck. "Why is it that there's a tavern full of people praising my talent and yet I'm sitting on the lap of the one person who can't even spare me one little compliment?"

"Why are you sitting on my lap?"

"Because it's a very nice lap and you deserve to have a pretty, young thing perched on it, darling," Jaskier says.

"Young?"

Jaskier leans back, but doesn't unwrap his arms from Geralt's neck, his eyes wide and mouth agape in clear outrage. "Geralt of Rivia, if you're calling me old, I will scream bloody murder at the top my lungs and make everyone in this tavern rush over to save me from the brutish, terrible witcher that is clearly mistreating me."

Geralt snorts. "I would never," he says and bounces his legs a little, jostling Jaskier. "But I do believe it's time to get you to bed, bard."

"Night's still young."

"And you've had enough to drink," Geralt replies. "We both know how you get when you drink too much."

"How do I get?" Jaskier challenges, pursing his lips and lifting his chin.

"You're even more trouble than when you're sober," Geralt says. "Sticky fingers."

Jaskier ducks his head down and laughs. "Oh, you saw that?"

"Hmm."

"They deserved it," Jaskier states and then slumps forward, sinking against Geralt's body. "But fine. Take me to bed, my darling witcher."

Geralt easily lifts Jaskier off his lap, keeps his hands on him when Jaskier sways a little on his feet.

"You should carry me," Jaskier suggests, lips turned up in a hopeful grin.

"No," Geralt grunts and picks up Jaskier's lute, pushing it into his hands. "You already made enough of a spectacle out of us, sitting on my lap."

Jaskier frowns at him, lower lip sticking out.

Geralt doesn't carry him, but he does wrap his arm around Jaskier's waist, keeping him close against his side all the way to their room.


*

Jaskier's hangover delays their departure the next morning. It's not the worst Geralt has ever seen him—far from it. But he steadfastly refuses to even wake up the first time Geralt shakes him, only grumbling under his breath and burying his face deeper in the pillow.

Geralt lets him sleep a little longer. He eats breakfast downstairs and then visits Roach before he returns to their room. Jaskier is sprawled out in bed exactly the way Geralt left him, blanket drawn up high.

"Jaskier. Time to get up."

Jaskier groans and shifts, but his eyes stay shut.

"Bard, I'm leaving without you if you don't get up," Geralt threatens even though they both know he won't.

Jaskier blinks his eyes open, looking at him bearily. His hair sticks up every which way and his eyes are a little bloodshot.

"Can't we stay another day?" he asks, voice sleepy and raspy.

"No. Come on, the fresh air will do you good."

"Geralt. Please? Think about it. An entire day spent in bed, taking a break from the Path," Jaskier wheedles. "Doesn't that sound wonderful, darling?"

"If I spent the day in bed fucking, yes. Not nursing you through a hangover."

"Ah, but why not do both?" Jaskier teases and flops over onto his stomach. "Come back to bed and you can take what you want from me."

Geralt knows Jaskier is joking, but he probably doesn't realize how tempted Geralt is to do just that. Jaskier looks disheveled and smells a little ripe even from across the room, but Geralt still wants.

"I've seen rotten corpses that look more lively than you do right now," he shoots back with a snort instead. He goes to the corner of the room where their things are to start packing.

Jaskier makes an offended noise. "Take that back! I always look lovely," he argues. "I once was puking over the side of the bed after a little bit too much wine and my bed partner still copped a feel mid-puke."

Geralt throws a disgusted look over his shoulder.

"We did end up fucking again. I drew the line at kissing though, despite the fact that he said he wouldn't mind. That's how appealing I am."

"I think maybe your choice of bed partners just needs rethinking," Geralt says.

"He was a perfectly fine, handsome young gentleman, Geralt."

Geralt grabs clothes for Jaskier out of their packs, tossing them on the bed. "If a man vomiting makes you hard, you either have some strange inclinations or must be really desperate."

"Don't shame people for what turns them on," Jaskier mutters and looks at the clothes. "I want to wear my blue doublet and trousers. I'm not feeling red today."

Geralt huffs.

Jaskier looks at him, lips pursed in a pout, the blankets pooled around his lap. Geralt, briefly, considers finally giving in and joining Jaskier in bed after all.

Geralt shakes his head at himself and gets Jaskier his blue doublet.


*

Color returns to Jaskier's cheeks once they're back on the road and it doesn't take all too long before the hangover seems forgotten and Jaskier is chattering and humming and singing.

The sun is high in the sky when they take their first break, settling down on a meadow, splitting bread and cheese between them.

When the food is gone, Jaskier leans back on his elbows and tips his face towards the sky, sighing as his eyes slide shut. "Ah, this is the life," he says.

"Hmm."

Jaskier squints at him. "Wouldn't you agree? The open road, a full belly, the sun shining on our faces. And I'm with my favorite witcher."

"No other witcher would have you," Geralt points out.

"Oh, poppycock," Jaskier says with a dismissive noise. "Eskel adores me. Lambert too, but he has a harder time showing it."

"They'd make it a day or two on the road with you before they'd leave you somewhere," Geralt replies. "You're annoying."

"And yet, you've kept me around for over two decades. Small disagreements aside," Jaskier says.

Geralt's stomach twists sharply, just once, thinking about the mountain and the months that followed.

"None of that, Geralt," Jaskier chides quietly and pokes his thigh. "The past is the past. I forgave you. We're good now."

"Hmm."

"And you're not getting rid of me ever again."

"I'm not trying," Geralt says and looks down at Jaskier. He really is lovely, he thinks absently. His pretty bard. He still looks almost exactly the way he did when they first met, and the sharp wash of attraction Geralt felt then—and pushed down, as far as he could—has become a constant, sweet hum. No less intense, but finally welcome.

Jaskier smiles. "What? Do I have something on my face?" he asks.

"No," Geralt says. "Jask."

"What?" Jaskier asks, tone soft and sweet.

Geralt reaches for him, takes his chin between his thumb and forefinger, and looks at him. Still as boisterous, as youthful as he was more than two decades ago, still as painfully pretty. "You're not aging," he murmurs.

For a moment, Jaskier's expression freezes before he relaxes with a snort. "Ah. I suppose we're finally talking about that, huh?"

"I suppose," Geralt agrees. He draws his hand away again and Jaskier sits up with a sigh.

"I don't have an explanation, if that's what you're asking for," Jaskier admits, looking down at his hands. "As excellent as my skincare routine is, I know it can't possibly be that good. I thought, maybe, you would have answers for me. Seeing as monsters and beasts are your area of expertise, not mine."

"You're not a monster," Geralt says.

"What am I?" Jaskier asks. "Because I never was aware of being anything but human."

"I don't know," Geralt says honestly. "Your parents…"

"Human, as far as I know. I don't remember either of them ever looking particularly youthful. But then again, the bitterness and disapproval they always looked at me with might have made it hard to tell," Jaskier jokes and shrugs. "But you've been to enough banquets and manors, you know what nobles and their many dalliances are like. Who knows if I'm really my father's son. He certainly always wished I wasn't."

Geralt lays his hand on the back of Jaskier's neck and squeezes. "He was a fool."

"Yes," Jaskier agrees. He picks at the grass, ripping out a couple of blades. "I've made a better life for myself without him anyway. I shudder at the mere thought of spending my life stuck in Lettenhove, leading the dull life of a noble."

"Hmm."

Jaskier smoothes one of the blades of grass out and tucks it between the sides of his thumbs. He brings his hands up to his lips and blows, a sharp, horrible sounding whistle escaping.

Jaskier laughs. "I haven't done that since I was a kid, I believe," he says and looks at Geralt, his eyes sparkling with mirth. "Have you ever tried this?"

"No," Geralt says with a small snort.

"Well, that's something we need to remedy, darling," Jaskier says. He hums and looks around, plucking up a blade of grass. He comes to kneel in front of Geralt. "Okay. This is how you have to hold your hands, the grass between your thumbs, see?"

He shows Geralt how to do it and Geralt, only a little reluctantly, takes the grass from Jaskier and mirrors what he did.

"Yes, like that," Jaskier says and nods, fingers on Geralt's hand, adjusting them just a little. "Now bring it up to your mouth and just blow air through the little space between your thumbs."

Geralt brings his hands up and does. The whistle he produces is not quite as loud as Jaskier's, but Jaskier's smile is dazzling.

"You did it! Geralt of Rivia, musician extraordinaire," he declares and curls his hands around Geralt's wrists, cupping them almost gently. "Look at you, my darling witcher, doing something childish and fun for no reason."

Geralt huffs out a little laugh. "I've saved your life and killed countless beasts, and I think this might be the proudest you've ever been of me," he teases.

"Ah. I'm quite special, I suppose," Jaskier says and his smile dims a little. "It doesn't really matter, does it? That I am… different."

"Jaskier."

Jaskier looks at him sadly. "I mean, I'm just me. Everything else about me appears to be human. I just seem to age very slowly. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, does it?"

"No, it doesn't."

"So, if we never know. That would be quite alright," Jaskier continues, sounding unsure. "I can just be without a label."

Geralt extracts his hands from Jaskier's gentle grip, the blade of grass fluttering to the ground, and cups Jaskier's face. "Wild thing," he murmurs.

Jaskier cocks his head to the side, nestling his cheek in Geralt's palm, and looks confused. "What?"

"That's what you are. A wild thing. My wild thing," Geralt says, and wonders if it sounds stupid. If Jaskier will think it's stupid.

He feels a spark of concern when Jaskier's lower lip trembles a little, his eyes starting to look wet.

"Geralt," he murmurs. He leans in, stops halfway to Geralt's face, and Geralt gives him a little tug and closes the rest of the distance between them. Jaskier's lips are soft and warm and Geralt kisses him slowly, rubs his thumbs over Jaskier's cheeks, coaxes Jaskier's lips apart with a quiet sigh and wonders why they have waited so long to do this.


*

Jaskier palms the handle of Geralt's dagger and then flips it, changing his grip on it before lifting it up. Geralt watches, sitting leaned against another tree, as he throws the dagger and hits the tree right in the middle of the thick trunk, the blade burying deep in the wood.

Jaskier turns to him with a grin. "That was a good throw, right?"

"Hmm. Not bad," Geralt agrees.

Jaskier looks damn pleased with himself. He goes to retrieve the dagger.

"I think this winter you should train me with a sword," he says as he walks back. "I'm good with a dagger, but it can't hurt for me to improve my sword fighting. I mean, I had some lessons as a boy and I was tragically bad, but I also wasn't trying very hard to be good. So I might just surprise us both."

"You might," Geralt agrees. Jaskier tends to do that. And when he wants something, he tends to succeed.

Jaskier hums, smiling.

"I have something for you," Geralt says, pulling his pack closer to retrieve the little pouch he stored away in there a few weeks ago.

"A present?" Jaskier asks, sounding delighted. "Darling, is it your cock?"

Geralt huffs out a short laugh. "No."

"That's a shame," Jaskier replies cheekily.

"Come here," Geralt says, holding the pouch up.

Jaskier saunters over with an excited grin on his face. He perches on Geralt's outstretched legs, situating himself on his thighs, and exchanges the dagger for his gift. Geralt watches his face closely as he prises the little bag open and looks inside, eyes going wide. Jaskier plucks the ring up, holding it between two fingers as he looks at it. It's a solid, thick silver signet ring with a wolf head that's the mirror of Geralt's medallion.

"Geralt," Jaskier murmurs and looks up at him and then back down at the ring. "One kiss and you're already proposing? Darling, if this is what one kiss gets me, what am I to expect after we fuck for the first time? Which, for your information, is happening sometime between right now and tomorrow morning."

"Is it?"

"Yes," Jaskier says, smiling at him before slipping the ring on his finger. He holds his hand out and admires it. "Yes. Several times until we're both utterly exhausted and sated."

Arousal coils in Geralt's gut and he shifts a little, adjusting as his cock starts to harden in the confines of his trousers. Jaskier gives him a knowing little grin.

"I'm not proposing," Geralt says and rests his hands on Jaskier's thighs, squeezing. "There are spells placed on it. For protection. It doesn't make you invincible, so don't think you can start looking for trouble now, but it'll keep you safer."

"Hmm. You could have used any old ring for that," Jaskier points out. "But you picked one with a wolf."

"Had it made for you," Geralt admits.

Jaskier grins widely and cups Geralt's face, leaning in to kiss him. "Thank you," he says. "And yes, I will marry you."

"Jaskier," Geralt grumbles, and Jaskier laughs, kisses him again.

"I'm teasing, darling," he says and leans their foreheads together. "I already committed myself and my life to you a long time ago anyway."


*

Jaskier lets out a strangled moan as Geralt's teeth graze his nipple. Geralt tongues over it, feels the stiff little nub and the pebbled skin around it, before he lifts his head. He noses the underside of Jaskier's jaw, places small kisses to his neck. His hands smooth down Jaskier's sides, his skin warm and soft.

In the glow of the campfire, Jaskier's skin looks golden and Geralt wants to touch his mouth to every single part of him, until there's nothing left unexplored, but he doubts either of them have the patience for that right now. Jaskier is already leaking precome between their bellies, squirming and writhing under him, his cheeks beautifully blushed and eyes dark.

Geralt sighs and rolls his hips down, their cocks sliding together, and Jaskier shudders.

"Geralt," he gasps and digs his fingers into Geralt's shoulders, nails biting into skin.

Geralt groans quietly and buries his face in the crook of Jaskier's neck, biting at the soft curve as he grinds down again. He wants to leave his mark all over Jaskier, wants to wake up tomorrow and see the sweet proof of what they did. He thrusts down against Jaskier a little harder, drawing another moan from him, Jaskier's legs tangled around his hips, squeezing Geralt to him.

And then Jaskier lets out a cry, body shuddering and hot come splashing between them. Gerant groans again, lifts himself up to look down at Jaskier in surprise. Jaskier looks surprised, too, and then lets out a breathless, startled laugh. He looks so flushed and dishevelled and Geralt wants to drown in him. He ducks down, presses his lips to Jaskier's, feels the damp puff of his laughter against his mouth.

He breaks the kiss, presses another to the corner of Jaskier's mouth, to his cheek, small, little feverish pecks as he tries to hold himself still, tries to not overwhelm Jaskier in case he's too sensitive, but he wants. Gods, he wants.

"Jaskier," he says, his voice low and broken.

"I want you in me," Jaskier says, sounding beautifully wrecked. He buries one hand in Geralt's hair, tugs at it. "We need oil, dear."

"Are you sure?" Geralt asks, but he's already lifting himself off Jaskier, reaching for his pack.

Jaskier gives a little snort. He doesn't unwrap his legs from around Geralt, just hitches them higher. "I'm not even close to being done with you yet," he says.

Geralt finds the vial with sweet almond oil that Jaskier likes to keep in stock. He holds it up and Jaskier nods.

"How do you want me?" Jaskier asks, both sultry and sweet.

Geralt considers it for a brief moment, all the answers he could give and he wants all of them, wants Jaskier in every way he can have him. But when he takes himself in hand, when he brings himself off thinking about Jaskier, he more often than not has imagined watching his cock sink into Jaskier's body, having him splayed out under him on his belly, arching back into him and moaning for him.

"On your stomach," he says.

Jaskier's eyes flutter shut for a moment, and he bites his bottom lip as he untangles himself and flips over. He splays his legs apart, so Geralt is kneeling between his thighs, and turns his head to the side.

"Good view?"

"You don't need me to stroke your ego," Geralt replies, giving Jaskier's ass a light slap.

Jaskier lets out a noise between a laugh and a moan, pushing his ass back.

Geralt leans over him, kisses the side of his neck. "But yes. Good view," he confirms in a low voice. He presses another kiss to Jaskier's jaw and then sits up. He settles his hands on Jaskier's asscheeks, thumbing them apart.

"Best view," he says and leans down. He kisses the small of Jaskier's back, just at the swell of his ass, and then bites the top of his left cheek teasingly. Jaskier groans.

"Fuck. Do that again."

Geralt laughs and bites down on the firm flesh once more, then the other cheek, hard enough to leave imprints behind.

Jaskier squirms and Geralt nuzzles the bite marks before licking between Jaskier's cheeks.

"Oh, fuck. Yes. Yes."

Geralt hums and runs his tongue over Jaskier's hole, teasing around the rim, feels the muscles twitch. He adds more pressure, presses the tip in and Jaskier lets out a needy, wanton gasp. Geralt fucks his tongue into Jaskier, small shallow thrusts, groans at the way Jaskier tastes and feels, and fumbles for the vial he blindly dropped onto the bedroll. He leans back when his fingers find it, pulls the stopper out and pours a small trickle down Jaskier's crack. He follows the path with a finger, gets the tip slick with oil and then presses it into Jaskier. He's hot and tight around Geralt, but he takes the finger easily, pushing back onto it.

Geralt cups the left side of Jaskier's ass with his free hand, spreads his cheeks apart so he can get a better view. He adds more oil and more fingers, gets Jaskier slick and open around him. He watches his fingers thrust in and out, listens to the way Jaskier's breath hitches, the way he lets out a muffled wail whenever Geralt crooks his fingers just so, watches the way he rocks back.

He pulls his fingers out and fumbles for the vial again, slicking himself up. He's aching with it, with how much he wants Jaskier. Pressing the tip of his cock against Jaskier's hole, he leans over and kisses Jaskier's cheekbone, stained pink. He smells like sweat and arousal.

"Ready?" Geralt murmurs, and when Jaskier nods, Geralt curls one hand around Jaskier's thigh, nudges his leg further up and out and shifts his hips forward. They both groan when the tip of his cock slides in.

Jaskier is so tight around him, but Geralt sinks in easily, Jaskier's body all warm and wet with oil. He works himself in with small rolls of his hips, keeps a careful eye on Jaskier to make sure it's not too much, not too fast, until his hips are pressed flush against the swell of Jaskier's ass, his cock sheathed deep.

"Jaskier," Geralt rasps.

"Oh sweet gods, move. Fuck me, darling," Jaskier pleads.

Geralt takes a deep breath, trying to regain the control that he feels slipping through his fingers, to tamper down the arousal. He draws out and drives back in with a deep, slow thrust, groaning at how good it feels. Jaskier fists his fingers in the bedroll, mouth parted and eyes screwed shut, and Geralt thrusts into him again, a little faster this time, making Jaskier moan and arch up under him.

He picks a steady rhythm, fucks Jaskier with deep, smooth strokes, leaning over him to press his mouth to his neck, bite at his jaw. "Fuck, you're so good for me, Jask," he whispers. "So tight and hot."

Jaskier, who never shuts up, is reduced to moans and gasps, to Geralt's name and pleas for more, for harder, and Geralt revels in it, that he can do this to Jaskier. Pleasure coils deep in his belly, burns through his veins, over twenty years of wanting Jaskier and denying himself and finally having him now making his head spin.

"Jaskier," he says, his voice so unlike himself, so wanting, so awed. He kisses Jaskier's jaw, breathes in the heady scent of sweat and sex and his bard, buries his cock deep in the tight heat, over and over. "Jask. My wild thing."

Jaskier cries out, pushing back with so much force Geralt almost loses his rhythm, and then goes almost painfully tight around Geralt as he comes. Gerant groans, bites at Jaskier's neck, his shoulder, ruts down into him harder, faster, until he too spills with a desperate moan.

Later, when the sweat has cooled and their spend has dried, itchy and uncomfortable, Jaskier kisses a path down his body, crawls down between his legs and sucks Geralt off, and Geralt thinks Jaskier's mouth is going to be the death of him.

Later still, when the fire has almost died down completely and the air has gone chilly, Jaskier settles himself astride Geralt and rides him, head tossed back and eyes shut as he takes his pleasure from Geralt, gets them both off fast and hard.

After, in the pitch black of the night, they finally curl up together on top of the bedroll, a blanket covering them. Jaskier settles down with his head pillowed on Geralt's chest and one hand resting over the slow thump of Geralt's heart, and Geralt holds him close with one arm and covers Jaskier's hand with his, presses his thumb down onto the ring, feeling the shape of the snarling wolf head under the pad of his finger.


*

"There's something incredibly romantic about rain when you're somewhere inside where it's dry and warm, isn't there?" Jaskier asks a few weeks later. Summer had come to an abrupt end this year, and autumn had been harsh and cold, bringing with it the promise of an early winter. For once, Geralt hadn't needed to ask where Jaskier was headed for winter, if he wanted to join him at Kaer Morhen, and Geralt had never looked forward to the colder season more.

They're buried under several layers of blankets and furs and Geralt feels hot enough that it's not quite comfortable anymore, but Jaskier looks warm and soft and sleepy, and if he were to ask for more furs, Geralt would pile on more without a single complaint uttered.

"How so?" Geralt asks, nuzzling the slope of Jaskier's neck, hand trailing down Jaskier's back to palm the swell of his ass. It's early enough that the rest of the keep is still asleep and they can probably get at least one round of fucking in before they're expected to show their faces for breakfast.

"The steady splatter of the rain against the windows," Jaskier says with a small yawn, pushing back into the touch of Geralt's hand almost languidly. "The way everything outside is so gloomy and it makes things inside seem even softer and cozier. Knowing you're safe and sheltered, cuddled up in a big bed with your witcher."

"Hmm. I don't think many people can relate to the last part."

"They don't know what they're missing out on," Jaskier says.

"You might be biased," Geralt murmurs, kissing Jaskier's neck and stroking his ass.

"No, I was just smart enough to snatch myself a witcher before the rest of the Continent catches up," Jaskier says, as if that's something to boast about when the rest of the Continent would baulk at the idea of bedding someone like Geralt. "If only they knew. How spoiled I am, how well you treat me, my dear. How incredible you are."

Geralt nuzzles Jaskier's neck and feels something soft and warm settle in his chest. Maybe, he thinks, they can miss breakfast altogether today. He isn't sure they're going to make it out of bed anytime soon, isn't sure he's going to want to let go and share Jaskier with anyone else today.


*

They do, eventually, get up, much to Geralt's regret. Breakfast is over by then and Vesemir, Eskel and Yennefer all roll their eyes when Geralt and Jaskier make it downstairs, looking a little rumpled and flushed still.

The weather outside rules out training, and the walls and parts of the roof that need fixing will have to wait for another day, too. Instead, everyone putters around, cleans and sorts and reads.

"Lambert is coming," Vesemir announces in the late afternoon.

Jaskier spends the next hour flitting from window to window, trying to spy Lambert and track his progress. They have a weird relationship, ribbing and insulting each other and then spending hours huddled up together, scheming.

"He's bringing someone. Who is Lambert bringing?" Jaskier asks when he joins Eskel and Geralt in the great hall.

"Probably Aiden," Geralt says, not looking up from his deck as he's deeply involved in a game of Gwent with Eskel.

"Who?" Jaskier asks and then slaps Geralt's arm. "You didn't tell me Lambert has an Aiden."

"They're friends. A cat witcher," Geralt explains.

"Friends," Eskel repeats and coughs pointedly.

"Aren't cat witchers the psycho ones?" Jaskier asks.

"Yes," Geralt says at the same time that Eskel says, "He's not too bad."

Jaskier drums his fingers against the table and steals a sip from Geralt's ale. Geralt offered to get him his own, twice, but Jaskier seems happier to drink Geralt's. He leans into Geralt's side, rests his hand on Geralt's thigh and watches him and Eskel play for a few moments. When his hand starts inching up, Geralt shifts.

"Not now, Jask," he says.

Jaskier heaves a put-out sigh and Eskel snickers.

"Loser has to cook breakfast for a week," Geralt says. "I'd have to get up early every day."

Jaskier behaves after that, not trying to drive Geralt crazy anymore for the sake of their lazy mornings in bed together. Geralt and Eskel get lost in the game and Jaskier seems happy to watch and make conversation and steal more of Geralt's ale.

They all look up when the doors to the keep open with a bang and moments later Lambert and Aiden trudge in, dripping wet and muddy. Jaskier shoots up and all but throws himself at Lambert with a thrilled, "Lambert, my dear!" Geralt knows he mostly does it to annoy Lambert and he grins when Lambert grumbles and tries to dislodge himself, which only seems to make Jaskier cling harder and laugh.

Aiden looks on, confused. "Who is that?"

Jaskier finally lets go and takes a step back. "Ah, sorry for not introducing myself first. How terribly rude," he says. "I'm Jaskier. Geralt's bard."

"Geralt's bard," Lambert repeats mockingly. "Oh fuck, he wouldn't let you call yourself that unless you two finally started fucking."

"Worse," Eskel chimes in. "They're in love."

"Fuck you," Geralt says and stands up. He claps Lambert on the shoulder hard enough to make him stumble forward a little and wraps his other arm around Jaskier, drawing him close against his side.


*

"So. Geralt's bard. You wrote the coin song, right?" Aiden asks over dinner, glancing at Jaskier with a curious, suspicious look that has Geralt slightly on edge. He understands that Aiden is a little wary of a human being in a witcher's keep—he worried about how everyone would react the first time he brought Jaskier with him for the winter. But Aiden isn't a wolf and he's as much of a guest as Jaskier is here.

"I did," Jaskier confirms.

"Been a few years since," Aiden notes. "How old were you, when you wrote it? A toddler?"

"Aiden," Lambert mutters.

"I want to know what he is," Aiden replies and there's an edge to his voice.

Next to Geralt, Yennefer bristles and across the table Eskel stiffens. The mood around the room sours visibly. Geralt holds himself perfectly still. Ready for anything.

"He's human," Ciri says, sounding confused.

"Clearly not," Aiden says and looks at Lambert. "Please tell me you know."

Lambert shrugs.

Aiden snorts and looks around the table. "Do any of you know? He could be dangerous."

"I think that's enough," Vesemir says, his voice even but firm.

Under the table, Geralt reaches for Jaskier's hand, threads their fingers together. Jaskier sits quietly.

Aiden shakes his head. "What about you, Geralt? The great White Wolf. Have you been traveling with a creature all these years without bothering to find out what he is? Bringing him to Kaer Morhen, into your bed."

"Cat," Geralt grunts. "Shut up."

There's a tense moment of silence. And then Jaskier snorts, laughs.

"Of course Geralt knows what I am," he says and when Geralt looks at him, he's grinning. Challengingly, dangerously, the way he does when he's about to pull out his dagger and throw himself into trouble. For once, Geralt isn't worried about him. He feels nothing but a rush of fondness, knowing Jaskier is stronger than people give him credit for, that nothing will stand in the way of what Jaskier wants. And what he wants is this—a pack of witchers, a life on the Path. Geralt.

"I'm his wild thing," Jaskier says proudly.