Moving in your sleep is dangerous when you’re a Witcher. You might roll off a cliff, make a noise that draws your death to you. Geralt does not move in his sleep.
Jaskier has no such reservations.
The bed is small but it’s a rare and wonderful gift to have one at all.
He knows Jaskier moves in his sleep. He hums and snorts and snores. He steals blankets and spreads out wide in the bed.
It doesn’t mean anything when Jaskier’s hand finds his in the night.
It doesn’t mean anything but his heart is in his throat and he can barely breath.
There is a certain kind of touch he is used to feeling. It is painful or it is paid. Or it is unwanted. But that is it’s own kind of pain.
His heart is in his throat and Jaskier snorts and at last he can breath.
It’s Jaskier. Jaskier who he’s shared baths and brothels with now. He is intimately familiar with Jaskier’s attraction.
He is not attracted to Geralt. He is not attracted to men.
Neither is Geralt.
He is attracted to women. A fact that has made him outcast from Kaer Morhen. From the other Witchers.
But it is Jaskier’s hand in his. Jaskier, who is not afraid of him. Who treats him as a man first. The fool who insights bar fights, drinking and whoring. Who is not attracted to men. Jaskier who moves in his sleep. Geralt, who does not.
He holds Jaskiers hand in his. Just tight enough that he can’t pull away without intent.
Jaskier is safe to touch because he will never try to touch Geralt back in all the ways that are painful.
He falls asleep. Jaskier’s hand in his. Safe.
Their is a distance between them. He hadn’t realized it. But Jaskier keeps his distance.
He only realizes it how because they have stumbled on a fellow bard. A man who opened his arms and Jaskier ran into willingly. Embraced him with a squeeze to the back.
His heart is in his throat.
Men are not allowed to be affectionate. Not like this. Not in public. Shameful in private. Someone will call them names and they will be chastised and they will not touch again.
They pull apart. Smiling. The other man goes in for another hug.
No one comments on the interaction that lasted perhaps ten seconds but felt like an eon.
Jaskier is soft and short and little bit pudgy. He looks like he gives the best of hugs.
There are so few people in this world that do not make his skin itch when the touch him. So many folk that touch him and he must swallow rage before he breaks their nose and proves he is the monster they think him.
Jaskier does not make his skin itch. Jaskier is not a woman hoping to bed him. Jaskier is not a powerful man hoping to make him do terrible things. Jaskier is Jaskier. And Jaskier is safe.
The next time they reunite he opens his arms like that man did.
Jaskier’s eyes widen. His face bright as he jogs the distance to him.
He pulls Jaskier in for a hug. Jaskier stands on his tip toes and his cheek presses into his shoulder. This close he can smell the beer on his breath.
It’s everything. It’s warm and comforting and safe and he wishes he could stay here forever.
He pulls back. Pats his back. Jaskier beams at him.
He let’s himself have one more.
The bathhouse is nice.
There is a small bit of mold on the ceiling in corner they couldn’t quite reach to clean and they’d declared he had to rent a private pool rather than use the main baths with the rest of the men. But honestly its a relief. This way people won’t stare at him.
Jaskier certainly doesn’t.
He reaches for the comb and oil. Pauses.
When he’s been allowed in the main baths he’s seen men scrub each other’s backs while they chat. His hair is far less intimate than the scared skin of his back.
He offers them. “Would you?”
Jaskier blinks. Smiles. Takes them. He turns his back to Jaskier and lets him work.
He tries to think of the last time someone brushed his hair without payment. He can’t.
Perhaps Yennefer would. If he asked. But it would end with her kissing his neck and throat and heat would pool despite the fact Witchers were not meant to feel attraction. He’d think of Adele’s face. The repulsion. The Witchers who’d try to toss him from the cliffs for being half a Witcher. His skin would itch and his stomach protest even as Yennefer took her bliss.
Jaskier ran the comb through his hair one last time and leaned back against the walls of the back. Continuing his warbling about unimportant things.
Jaskier did not lean forward to kiss his neck. He never would. Because Jaskier was not attracted to men. There was a safety in that.
“And Damnit I love you too.”
“It’s none of your business. You wouldn’t understand.”
He lifts Ciri from Roach’s back when he hears him. “Geralt!”
He turns and opens his arms. “Jaskier.” He greets. Squeezes. He was right. He did find her. His little girl. He’d almost given up hope. But Jaskier always gave him more. Now he had his little girl. Here.
She looks at him and see a human. A man who can feel. He’s still not sure if she’s right. If Jaskier is right. But his chest aches with whatever it is that fills his chest.
“Love Geralt. You love her damnit.” He hears Jaskier say. Not now. He’s introducing himself now. But he hears it now.
“Geralt said you play the prettiest songs.” She yawns.
“Oh did he now?” He smirked. “Well I’d love to play for you.”
She nods. Eyes drooping. Leaning against his leg.
“Come on. Let me show you where we're staying.”
She lifts her arms out to him. To Jaskier. Who smiles so warmly like it almost pains him.
He picks her little form up. Carries her on his hip like he once carried Dudu from Novigrad.
“It’s not much.” He warns. “Needs a lot of work and I was out getting supplies most of the season so. There's quite a draft. One part of the roof leaks. And we’ll be sharing the house with Dudu and a halfling who arrived last week.”
“Is there a bed?” Because at this point that’s all he cares about.
“One. Woods half rotten but I think we’ll manage.”
Ciri is already asleep in his arms.
“I’m sure we will.”
They curl up on the straw stuffed mattress, Ciri between them. It’s not the most comfortable. One straw has escaped the lining and pokes at his side. The draft is terrible and the blankets can’t fully protect his back from the chill.
He has never felt more content.
He is here with two people who have only ever seen him as human.
“You saw?” He’d asked when Jaskier had found him after Blavikin.
“Yes. Well. It didn’t look good.”
And still he stayed. Still he played on.
“You are my best friend.” He whispered over Ciri’s quiet breaths. “I don’t want to lose you.”
“Why would you lose me?” He snuggled closer to Ciri. Keeping the chill from her.
“Because I can’t love you right.”
Jaskier opened his eyes. Even in the dark he could still make out the blue of his irises. His smile small and- pained.
“There is no right way to love someone Geralt. You care for me. That’s enough.”
He closed his eyes. Pained. Like he’d twisted his ankle again. “Yes.”
His heart was in his throat. “I will lose you like Yennefer. Because I cannot love.”
“You do love Geralt. Please stop believing those who say you can’t. They don’t know what they’re talking about. And they’re jerks. Do you deny a slug it’s right to feel only because you don’t know if it does?” He repeated. A line from years ago.
“Do you want to lay with me?” His skin itched and his stomach rolled. If it meant keeping Jaskier he would.
“You’re very handsome but I’m afraid I do not like men that way.”
Confusion covered the relief he felt. The relief Jaskier’s hands would never touch him like Adele or Renfri or Aurora or even Yennefer’s.
“I just want to lay like this Geralt. I just want to be near you.”
“Because I love you. You’re my best friend Geralt.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know. Go to sleep Geralt. You’ve a roof to try and fix in the morning.”
Jaskier’s hand was flopped over his belly.
He reached out for it.
Jaskier held it. Warm and soft. Safe. He was safe in those lute calloused hands.
He drifted off wondering if this was what love felt like.