Actions

Work Header

out in the pouring rain (down on your knees)

Work Text:

Yennefer calls when Jaskier is on his way out of the studio; he only notices because he was about to text Geralt to see if he wanted coffee, and he only picks up because if Yennefer is calling, Geralt is probably dead.

"Hello?" he asks, ducking his way into an alley to avoid the crowd of people on the street.

"Hello, Julian," Yennefer says coolly. "Listen carefully. We are only having this conversation because it’d make Geralt happy and I'm the best wife in the fucking world. You and I should have sex."

Jaskier says, "I'm going to need you to elaborate."

"Look," Yennefer says testily. "You know that I love Geralt."

Jaskier makes deeply uncomfortable eye contact with a woman across the street who seems to recognize him. He glances away, schooling his face into something pleasantly camera-ready. "We've established this, yes."

"But he's painfully vanilla."

"It's kind of cute," Jaskier offers.

"It's pathetic, Julian." Yen's voice picks up in volume. "I say this with love. The man is scandalized by spanking."

Jaskier leans his head back against the brick building. "You did marry him."

"And after nine years of wedded fucking bliss, I finally got him to tell me a fantasy," Yen says. "Nine years! And the way he looked at me—do you know the things I've done?"

It is, in fact, literally the only topic they willingly discuss with each other.

Yen carries on, no input apparently required. "So the long and short of it is that Geralt has a cuckold fantasy, and if you even think about making fun of him about it I will disembowel you."

"It's a little early for foreplay, isn't it?"

"Julian."

Jaskier stares wearily at the sky, which is rather drab today. "Of course I won't make fun of him. If you seriously think I would—"

"You have a singular talent for putting your foot in your mouth," Yennefer snaps. "I can't trust you with anything after that birthday—"

"That was Lambert's—" Jaskier cuts off, pinching the bridge of his nose. "If you're so worried about it, why are you even asking me?"

Yennefer vacillates back to impatience. "Believe me, it wasn't my decision."

Jaskier's foolish heart skips a beat.

"Geralt… wants it to be me?" he asks.

"Or a sex worker," Yennefer says. "But he honestly didn't seem that into that either. He wants it to be someone he trusts or whatever. Ugh."

Jaskier affects a joking tone and ventures, "You mean, someone you won't leave him for?"

"Stop fishing for compliments," says Yennefer. "I've got shit to do today."

"Did Geralt ask you to talk to me?" Jaskier asks.

"As opposed to…?"

"I mean," Jaskier says tightly. "Is this some kind of secret heads up because he's planning on asking me himself and you don't, like, trust me to not laugh hysterically in his face?"

Yennefer says, "I told him I'd handle it. You know how he gets."

"Of course I do." Jaskier smiles fondly, watching a cloud morph into an equally grand and incomprehensible new shape overhead. "You'll tell him I'll do it?"

"Just like that?" Yennefer asks, surprised.

Jaskier becomes aware of the goosebumps rising under his thin jacket—the weather is changing without his permission, as it always does. He asks, "Were you hoping I'd say no?"

"You won't be able to touch him, you know." There's the sound of a door clicking shut. "He made it clear he only wants to watch."

"I don't see why that should matter," Jaskier returns breezily.

"The new album was something, Julian. Congrats on going Platinum."

It was just summer, wasn't it? Jaskier will have to pull his scarves from the second closet. A breeze kisses his bare neck, and he's nineteen, honking with laughter on a shitty dormitory balcony with the too-long sleeves of Geralt's jacket slipping down over his palms.

"I've still got that doohickey Geralt lent me," he says. "I can bring it round tonight, if you want to go over the details."

Yennefer says, "See you then," and the line goes dead.

Jaskier closes his eyes. He probably looks a sight, needs to get out of this alleyway—can see the headlines now if someone snaps a photo or two. At least he's outside the studio; ha ha, writer's block can strike the best of us, you know. 

This will be fine, won't it? He can absolutely cope with this. It'll probably be fun, actually. Friends fuck each other's wives sometimes!

 

~*~

 

"You're literally the stupidest person I know," says Essi. "Seriously, what the fuck were you thinking?"

Jaskier says, "Just help me pick out an outfit to die in."

 

~*~

 

Jaskier rings the buzzer to be let up to Geralt and Yennefer's flat, shifting his weight restlessly between his feet. He rubs his thumb over the ridges of the wrench he's supposed to be returning, the metal groundingly cold in the evening air. 

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" comes Yennefer's distorted voice through the speaker. "Just put the code in."

"What if I were the postman?" Jaskier asks.

"I can see you, Julian." Yennefer's sigh crackles the intercom. "Just—" the door clicks open. "Don't be fucking weird or Geralt'll be weird."

Jaskier rolls his eyes and comes in out of the cold. He walks past the mailboxes, then doubles back when he realizes there are letters in Geralt and Yennefer's—he pulls the spare key from his pocket and collects it for them.

Right. Just be normal. Don't be weird.

Ugh.

Jaskier leans his head against the side of the lift on his way up, feeling the familiar rattle of the carriage. Yennefer is waiting for him in the hallway, which is very creepy.

"You know that you're also being weird, right?" Jaskier tells her. "Like, this is weird. Does Geralt know you're stalking me? Is this part of the scene?"

"I'm going to kill you," Yennefer says evenly, snatches the mail from his hands, and then throws open the front door. "Geralt, Julian's here!"

Geralt emerges from his crafts room, where he must have been working on a miniature—his sleeves are rolled up to the elbows and there are streaks of vibrant paint on his knuckles.

"Hey," he says.

"Um," says Jaskier. "Hello! How are you?"

Yennefer's eyeroll is audible. "Just sit down."

Jaskier does as he's told. His favorite throw is on the couch—he quickly curls up underneath it, fiddling with the tassles.

"You, too, Geralt," Yennefer adds, a little softer.

Geralt is still standing near the doorway, staring at Jaskier like a very charming deer. "Uh. Do you want a beer?"

Jaskier smiles encouragingly. "I'm alright, thanks."

"Tea?" Geralt asks.

Jaskier furrows his eyebrows exasperatedly and asks, "Would it make you feel better to make tea?"

Geralt looks at Yen. "Do you want tea?"

"Decaf. Thanks, love," Yen tells him, then immediately shoots Jaskier a scathing look.

"I'll have the same!" Jaskier says brightly. "Thanks, Geralt!"

Geralt grunts and flees for the kitchen.

Yen rifles through the mail before tossing it onto the coffee table. She sighs and sinks down onto the loveseat, rolling out her neck.

"He's been a wreck all afternoon," she says lowly, not opening her eyes.

"That doesn't actually help me feel better, you know," Jaskier tells her.

She says nothing.

Jaskier observes the pinched line of her mouth. "Look, I know you said not to be weird, but… are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Yennefer snaps. She digs her nails into the muscle above her eyebrows, then sinks lower against the cushions. "I just—want this to go well, alright?"

"So do I," Jaskier promises. He purses his lips. "I just, erm—if you don't want to fuck me, it wouldn't exactly come as a shock. I'm sure Geralt would understand."

Yennefer cracks an eye open. "I've fucked worse for less noble reasons."

"Excellent for my self-esteem," Jaskier tells her cheerfully. "Thank you so much."

She snorts. "I wish we'd just rip the bandage off. All this hemming and hawing—"

"Yennefer," Jaskier scolds, keeping his voice low. "You didn't actually want tea?"

Yennefer scowls at him, but there's no heat behind it. "He could at least let me hurt you a little."

Jaskier grins sweetly and bats his eyelashes. "Where's Ciri off to, anyway?"

"Sleepover," says Yennefer. "With that little annoying one—what's her name?"

"April," says Geralt, kissing Yennefer's cheek as he hands her a tea cup. 

"Ugh, I hate April." Jaskier scrunches up his face. "Can you do the parent thing and—and ban her, or something?"

Yennefer rolls her eyes. "You know very well that doesn't work."

Geralt slips a cup into Jaskier's hands, fingertips brushing against the side of his wrist.

Milk and sugar are already added the way Jaskier likes. He looks up, his chest fluttering, and says, "Thank you."

Geralt smiles tentatively. He goes to get his own cup and then sits in his recliner, leaning back without kicking up the footrest.

There's a beat of silence.

"So!" Jaskier says brightly. "Where do you wanna do this?"

Geralt coughs into his tea.

"I mean, yours or mine?" Jaskier clarifies, charging boldly on. "Or we could get a hotel, I suppose, but I'd worry about the press."

"It'd be the most comfortable here," Yennefer says matter-of-factly. "I'd like to avoid a scandal, thanks."

There could be a bit of a thrill to that, Jaskier thinks, personally. Sneaking around, avoiding getting caught in an affair. But practically speaking, Yennefer is right—and Jaskier's reputation would hardly suffer the way hers would, so it's not his choice to make.

"I don't mind it being here," he agrees. "Geralt?"

Geralt glances at him. "Uh, yeah. In our bed?"

"Would you rather use the guest room?" Yennefer asks.

Geralt frowns at his tea thoughtfully. "I think it'd be better in our room."

Yen smiles, the faintest hint of sharpness to it. "Me, too."

(Jaskier shifts under the blanket. Geralt could let her hurt him.)

"Um, do you want any sort of build up?" Jaskier asks the two of them. "I mean, erm, more of a roleplay scenario, or just getting right to the—" he wets his bottom lip. "Main event?"

"Hmm." Yen takes a sip of her tea. "What do you think, Geralt?"

Geralt rubs at a spot of paint on his knuckle; it crumbles and flakes onto his trousers. "Uh. Something in between?"

"Sure," Jaskier says encouragingly. "Like what?"

"I don't… want us to be playing characters or anything," Geralt says slowly. A faint blush is creeping up his neck. "But I usually, uh—sorry. I usually think about it happening slowly, I guess."

A violent pride surges in Jaskier's chest. He knows how hard this is for Geralt—how long it takes for him to admit the things he wants. Helping him plan a proposal was such agony that Yennefer beat him to it, to the great relief of everyone involved.

(Mostly relief. Jaskier touches at a ring on his right hand.)

Jaskier looks over at Yennefer, who is watching Geralt with the kind of besotted expression she'd be furious at him for noticing.

"We could just hang out for a while," he offers. "Make it a normal night and then see if it feels right to take it further."

Geralt nods.

"We should cover a few more logistical things first," Yennefer says.

"Oh, yes! I didn't necessarily mean right now," Jaskier says, gesturing with his teacup. "Just, generally speaking. Erm, were you thinking of it being tonight?"

Yennefer glances at Geralt, who shrugs.

She points out, "It's hard to schedule around Ciri, not to mention our careers. And we're already here."

"I'm fine with that," Jaskier tells her. "I just don't want to rush anyone."

"Let's finish talking," she says.

Jaskier changes sitting positions again, drawing his knees up to his chest. "Of course. Condoms?"

"Non-negotiable," says Yennefer, wrinkling her nose. "Who knows where you've been."

"I take offense to that!" Jaskier puts a hand to his chest. "I remember almost everywhere I've been."

"Ugh."

"Do you have some here?" Jaskier asks. Then, when she nods, "Lube?"

Yennefer says, "Plenty of that too."

Jaskier smiles. It does feel much easier to talk about once he gets going—it's not like he hasn't done this kind of thing before. And besides, Geralt's one of his oldest friends. Nothing could ever be that awkward between them.

"Should we talk about some boundaries during the sex, then?" Jaskier asks.

Yennefer snorts. "Do you have those?"

"I respect them," Jaskier answers defensively.

"I'm teasing," she says. "Honestly, Julian—"

"Guys," Geralt says plaintively.

Yennefer clenches her jaw, glaring at Jaskier.

"I told Yen already," Geralt says, "but I only wanna watch."

Jaskier forces the annoyance to slide off his face before looking at Geralt. "That's fine with me. Do you—um, would you rather we didn't look at you or anything?"

"Yeah. Like I don't exist," says Geralt, and—

Oh. It wrenches Jaskier's heart.

You do to me, he thinks. There's nothing you could ever do to make me forget. I wrote you into every chord.

But it's not what Geralt wants. Jaskier is here to give, not to feed his greedy heart.

"Alright," he says, smiling faintly. "I can do that. What about you, Yennefer? Um, desires-wise."

"You know what I like," Yennefer says.

That's… true.

It's a strange thing to be reminded of twice in one day. Jaskier has an acute memory of a rather vicious drunken argument at 2 AM about superior bondage techniques. God, but they were young, weren't they? Thirty hadn't even begun to loom.

"I assume we should keep it on the, erm, tamer side, though," Jaskier says.

"Mm, for the best," Yennefer agrees. 

Jaskier suppresses his disappointment. He can't help but be a little curious—their tastes would actually be quite compatible, if she weren't… well. Yennefer.

"Well, in that case," he says, tapping restless fingers against his cup, "I think that about covers it for me?"

"I'm satisfied," says Yennefer.

Geralt agrees, "Uh, me too."

Jaskier looks down at his tea, which he's barely touched. He takes a sip, though it's gone lukewarm. 

"So, erm, how do we… transition this back to a normal night?" he asks, looking between them.

An uncomfortable silence.

Geralt asks, "Did you eat dinner?"

"Oh! No!" Jaskier says relief. "Did you?"

"Not yet," Yennefer says.

Thank God. They can work with this. Jaskier says, "Oh, well, that's perfect—how about I just pop out for a bit and get us some take-away and a bottle of wine, hm? A bit of a soft reset, if you will, and if there's anything the two of you wanted to discuss…"

"Sure," Geralt tells him. "I'll give you cash."

Jaskier waves him off, setting his cup down. "I think I still owe you for last week, and also the first half of our twenties."

Not to mention that he's becoming increasingly and alarmingly rich.

"Ugh," says Yennefer. "Our twenties."

Jaskier fiddles with the zipper on his jacket. "Chinese or pizza?"

"Chinese," Yennefer says.

"Perfect!" Jaskier pulls out his phone to have something to do. "The usual?"

Geralt asks, "Can you get extra dumplings?"

"Of course! I'll be back in thirty, probably?" Jaskier zips up his jacket and makes for the door. "Don't have too much fun without me! Oh, should we pick a movie? Let's watch a movie, like maybe something—"

"See you soon, Julian," Yennefer says pointedly.

Jaskier fumbles for the doorknob. "Right, yes, on my way!" 

He heads back downstairs and braves the chilly evening once again. In truth, the breeze is welcome against his cheeks—he hadn't realized how flushed his face was, in the moment. Ugh, that's embarrassing.

It's fine. Everyone was nervous, even Yennefer. Jaskier shoves his hands in his jacket, fiddling with a handful of pocket change he keeps in there. He tilts his face upwards as he walks, watching the darkening sky.

It'll be fine. Jaskier stops by the restaurant first and places their order; he gets himself a bubble tea, too—something sweet to settle him—and wanders down the street towards the little shop Yennefer favors for her wine.

What goes with their food? Jaskier likes his wine sweet, Yennefer hers dry, and Geralt will probably make a face and drink his beer.

"Hey, Julian," says Jakob, who's staffing the counter. "Need any help?"

Jaskier turns to face him, mid-slurp of bubble tea.

Jakob is a good person. He doesn't take weird photos of Jaskier squinting at wine bottles while wearing fuzzy slippers and doused by a rainstorm and post them on the internet, even though he's had ample opportunity. Jakob will help Jaskier make an informed purchase.

"Jakob, my good man! Do you have any recommendations for something that pairs well with either prawn lo mein and dumplings or an unusually high-stakes threesome?"

Jakob asks, "Do you want, like, two bottles, or?"

 

~*~

 

Jaskier juggles several bags of take-away, both wine bottles, and the evidence of his selfish bubble tea crimes he forgot to throw away before walking back to the flat as he tries to punch in the door code. Normal night means letting himself in unannounced. Although, normal night plus bringing take-away probably means calling Geralt and whinging for help with the bags.

Bollocks.

Jaskier drops the empty bubble tea cup onto the ground for some gooder-samaratin to deal with and fumbles for his phone.

"Hey," Geralt answers. "Do you need help?"

"Yes, please!" Jaskier says cheerfully, then eyes the plastic cup rolling around at his feet. Ugh, Geralt hates littering. Stupid, beautifully morally upstanding man who—

The doors open. Geralt looks between Jaskier's sheepish face and the cup.

Geralt raises an eyebrow.

"I was gonna pick it up!" Jaskier lies.

"Hm," says Geralt, but he takes all of the food and rescues the empty bubble tea.

Jaskier punches in the building code and follows Geralt inside. "My hero! Have I mentioned how dashing you look in that shirt? Just, absolutely stunning, the picture of—"

"Jask," Geralt complains, lips twitching as he hits the lift button with his elbow.

Jaskier smiles winningly, leaning against the wall.

Looking, while he can.

Jaskier gets the door for them, wine bottles tucked securely under his arm, and finds Yennefer setting up the tray tables in front of the telly.

Geralt takes the food into the kitchen, where he starts unpacking the containers onto plates and bowls. Jaskier reaches into the cabinets for the wine glasses.

"Want a glass?" he asks, gesturing with the first bottle. 

Geralt hums in the negative.

"Beer, then?" Jaskier offers, closing the cabinet. 

"Sure." Geralt splits the first container of dumplings between Yennefer and Jaskier's plates, then dumps all of the second one onto his own. "Thanks."

Jaskier opens up the refrigerator, perusing the selection. "Fancy or normal?"

"Normal," says Geralt.

Jaskier grabs Geralt's standard Guinness from the shelf and elbows the door back closed. He finds the combination corkscrew-bottle opener from the drawer and sets to work.

The beer isn't a problem, but the cork is putting up more of a fight.

"Cock it," Jaskier mutters, tugging on the damn thing ineffectually. 

Geralt smirks at him and starts carrying plates over to the TV. Jaskier hears him say, "J needs you," from the other room.

"Ugh," comes Yennefer's reply. She sweeps into the kitchen and snatches the wine bottle from Jaskier's hands. "How are you still useless at this?"

Jaskier hops up onto the countertop to watch her work. "Have you considered that you enable me?"

The cork comes free with a decisive pop. Yennefer hands the bottle back to him and stands on her tip-toes to add the cork to the collection on top of the fridge—apparently Ciri saw a project on Pinterest and wheedled Geralt into agreeing to it.

Jaskier pours them each a modest glass.

"That's cute," Yennefer says with a sniff.

He grins at her and tops them both off instead. 

She takes the glasses and gestures at him to bring the bottle; he follows, snagging Geralt's forgotten plate off the counter as well.

Geralt's in his recliner, having angled it to get a good view of the telly. He mutters a thank you when Jaskier sets his plate down.

Jaskier leaves the wine bottle on the coffee table for easy access and then takes his usual seat—

Next to Yennefer?

No, that's not right. Geralt always has his recliner, Yennefer claims domain over the loveseat, and Jaskier gets the couch. If Ciri's home—happening less and less these days, now that she has a bike and actual friends—she sits with either Yennefer or Jaskier. Sometimes, after they eat, Yennefer will share the recliner with Geralt if she's feeling affectionate.

Except, Jaskier doesn't think he's hallucinating, and Yennefer is very much sitting smack dab in the middle of the couch. She's even put their plates next to each other, the tray tables nearly touching.

Normal night my arse, Jaskier thinks, blinking stupidly.

"Oh, fuck's sake, just sit," Yennefer says impatiently. "Wait—get the remote while you're up."

Jaskier makes a petulant face, but he does like she says. He balances it primly on her thigh, then goes straight for his glass of wine.

"I'm not going to bite you," she murmurs. Her lips curve into a smirk. "Yet."

The wine is strong—bitter. Jaskier spears a dumpling with his fork and eats the entire thing in one desperate bite.

Yennefer casually switches on the TV. "Did we decide on a genre?"

"I don't care," says Geralt.

Jaskier looks at Yennefer. "Shitty Sci-fi?"

"Shitty Sci-fi," Yennefer agrees, and cues it up.

 

~*~

 

It's a good thing that 'watching carefully' is not a normal night activity, because Jaskier is failing spectacularly at that particular endeavor. Because, well, it's—

Yennefer.

Jaskier isn’t old, certainly, because he refuses to be, but he's not exactly a twenty year-old in over his head anymore, either. He's had multiple long-term relationships, and most of them even ended on good terms. Some would say that he's actually a competent adult.

But Yennefer is sitting close enough that he can smell her perfume—the same sharp and floral thing she's been wearing since they met—when she flips her hair.

And when she leans into Jaskier's space to steal a forkful of noodles, raising an eyebrow in challenge when he huffs at her.

And when she plucks the wine glass right out of his hand, hers empty, and watches him over the rim while she drains it too. He nearly knocks the table over in his rush to get the bottle, so he can pour her another glass.

It goes beyond the dominant undertones. Jaskier finds that sort of thing thrilling—he enjoys being playful, pushing back and suffering the consequences. But he loses all grace around her. This isn't how they are with each other.

Perhaps it's just a side effect of sitting next to her. It's not necessarily intentional.

Yennefer's plate is mostly empty. She gestures with her fork at a single remaining dumpling and says, "Eat this—I don't want it."

By the time Jaskier picks up his fork, Yennefer already has the dumpling speared on her own and is dipping it in her little bowl of soy sauce.

She cups her other hand underneath it, catching any stray drops, and holds the fork up to Jaskier's mouth.

Jaskier forgets how to eat food.

"Open," Yennefer suggests.

Jaskier does that. She feeds him a bite—his teeth sinking into the soft dumpling flesh, the salt from the soy sauce stinging the tip of his tongue. He chews, swallows, and she pulls the fork away.

Yennefer dips the remaining dumpling half and offers it up again.

He leans forward this time, something eager jumping into his throat, and locks eyes with her when his lips close around the fork.

Yennefer sets her fork down on the table, taking a moment to neatly nudge it parallel to her napkin. She glances over again, finding him still watching her, and tuts at the state of him.

Jaskier frowns, confused—but Yennefer leans into his space and thumbs at his bottom lip, which he realizes belatedly is a little wet.

His tongue presses longingly against the back of his teeth.

Yennefer sucks the trace of soy sauce off her thumb, raising her eyebrows at him.

Jaskier leans back against the couch, glances nervously over at Geralt—who looks away guiltily when he's caught watching, a sweet blush on his cheeks.

Well, that's—

Of course. Jaskier could've put the whole thing together sooner, if he'd thought about it, but it still sends an anticipatory shudder up his spine to realize it. Yennefer is seducing him. This is what it feels like to be wanted by her.

God, no wonder Geralt was so hopeless all the time at uni. How does one live?

They clear the plates and tray tables away after dinner and settle in to finish the movie. Yennefer grabs Jaskier's favorite blanket and throws it over them both, pressed firmly against his side. He takes a sharp breath, once again dizzied by her perfume.

She chuckles. Slowly, she slips her fingers onto his knee under the blanket, her nails scraping against his trousers as she gropes her way up his thigh.

"Um," he says dumbly. It's rather warm, suddenly, a horrible cocktail of wine and the central air kicking on and the intoxicating threat of her hand cupping him by the balls, but it's not like he can just throw the blanket off either. "Yennefer?"

"What?" Yennefer says dismissively, giving him a cheeky little squeeze that makes his throat hitch. "It's foreplay. Surely you've heard of it?"

"I thought we said—" Jaskier swallows, cursing softly when the heel of her hand presses down on his rapidly-chubbing cock. "The bed?"

Yennefer cups his cheek with her other hand and clucks her tongue. Her lips find his jaw, teasing mercilessly, "So impatient, Julian."

Fuck. When has he ever had the resolve? Jaskier turns his head and catches her mouth, stealing the burgundy color her lips are painted as his own. She hums and grinds harder with her palm when he moans.

"Guys," Geralt says—startling Jaskier, but Yennefer's nails prick against his cheek when he tries to look. "The movie."

Yennefer says, "Nothing's stopping you from finishing it, Geralt," and shoves Jaskier onto his back.

Jaskier blinks up at her, feeling stupid and lust-drunk and captivated by his view of her breasts, threatening to spill from her dress. She's braless, like she often is in a way he rarely thinks about.

He thinks about it now, with her nipples peeking through the fabric. Turning hard for him.

The thing she said to Geralt was a little mean. Jaskier registers it belatedly, pushing her tight skirt up her arse, calluses from decades of guitar against her perfect skin. Her mouth is doing something sinful to his throat—and nothing about this fantasy is particularly nice, is it?

Jaskier would be nice to Geralt. He'd brush the hair from his face, that silver indulgence, kiss the tip of his nose and ride his cock so sweetly that they both cried. 

Geralt doesn't want Jaskier to be nice. He doesn't really want Jaskier at all.

Yennefer speaks lowly in his ear, her hair falling against his mouth. "You've been slutting it up across Europe ever since you got famous. I thought you would've learned something."

"You're the one—" Jaskier gasps, twitches under her hand. "Rubbing me off on the couch like a teenager."

Yennefer's thumbnail digs into the soft underside of his jaw, and, fuck—it just makes him harder, the tight fit of his trousers barely leaving him room to think. Not that he needs to, not with—

"Do something more useful with your mouth," she suggests—tips his chin back to the point of pain, then releases him entirely. "You're boring me."

Jaskier pushes up against the cushions, keeping his grip on her thighs. He plants his feet and lifts her with him when he stands, taking a quarter-turn to steady himself when her legs wrap like a vice around his waist.

She blinks at him—surprised, for a sliver of a second, before the smirk resettles on her face.

"Less boring," she praises, her fingernails tickling at the ends of his hair. "Can you make it to the bedroom?"

Jaskier grins at her, taking a few cautious steps around the coffee table to move towards the back of the flat. His gaze briefly drifts over Geralt, who seems to be watching intently, before Jaskier remembers to look away.

Yennefer brings her lips back to his throat, apparently intent on sabotaging him as he walks. God, his face and neck are probably smeared bloody with lipstick; she's ruined his hair. He wants to see himself, to know what Geralt is staring at with the brightness of his eyes, but she won't tolerate the diversion.

Jaskier moans, angling his head to give her better access for the mark she's sucking into his neck—

(She didn't ask, but she knows. She knows him, too.)

And fumbles for the doorknob to his left, shoving the door open to—

Bollocks, that's Ciri's room.

Yennefer's laugh is a smug rumble in his ear; she bites at his earlobe and taunts, "Strike one."

Jaskier readjusts his grip on her thighs, one hand bunching her dress up over a bare hip, and digs his teeth into his bottom lip with delight. 

"Do you always go around with no knickers?" he asks, teasing his thumb over her hip bone as he turns the correct doorknob with his other hand. "Or did you take them off for me?"

They stumble into the bedroom; Jaskier almost knocks his shin on an armchair in the corner, which he swears used to be in the sitting room. Yennefer says, "Don't flatter yourself. I wasn't sure you'd know how to get them off."

He drops her onto the bed on his way to his knees.

She hums contentedly, a hand slipping against the crown of his head, and presents a freshly-shaven calf for him to kiss.

Jaskier obliges, mouthing his way up from a delicate ankle, the side of her shin. He reaches her kneecap, a small patch of hair that she missed with her razor that brings a smile to his face, and nuzzles against the tempting expanse of her thigh.

Yennefer closes her knees against his ears before he can work his way any higher.

Jaskier peers up at her, allowing his gaze to turn piercing. His knees creak against the floor with quivering anticipation.

"Undress me," she commands.

Oh, so gladly.

Yennefer releases him, and Jaskier clamors onto the bed to straddle her thighs. He kisses the side of her neck, gently brushing her hair out of the way, and finds the zipper high between her shoulder blades.

"He's watching," Yennefer says under her breath. His fingers stutter against the fabric. "Better make it good."

Jaskier breathes hot and open-mouthed against her skin. He drags the zipper down slowly, coaxing it free from where it snags in two places, until the black cloth flays open and the whole of her spine is bare.

There's a scar—medically precise, older than all the time he's known her. He's never asked and he doesn't touch it, just like the ones on her wrists.

He peels the dress off her instead—an arm through each loop, the plunging neckline falling away from her breasts. Jaskier mouths at her collar bone, down her sternum, noses hungrily at her tit before he sucks a nipple into his mouth.

They aren't very sensitive, he knows. She had them pierced when they were young—younger, with the barbells showing through her shirt when she tore like a whirlwind through their lives. Then the politics, the extra layers of veneer. 

It's strange, to only know her part of the way down. She sprawls herself against the pillows and takes him with her by the shirt collar.

Jaskier kisses down her ribs; she hisses when he mouths at a ticklish spot and pushes him down with a heel digging into his shoulder. He laughs into the crease of her thigh, the soft, neatly trimmed hair of her cunt.

God, Jaskier loves this part. Pressing an open-mouthed kiss to her clit where it peeks from between her folds, his tongue flicking out experimentally—dipping lower, licking inside her and tasting how wet he's already made her.

Yennefer clamps her thighs over his ears with a gasp, and his world goes pleasantly muffled. He has to work to breathe, a little—smells sweat and sex and closes his eyes like it'll make getting air easier. God, he wants it to be good, wants Geralt to see the aborted jerk of her hips and know it, know he could be—

"If you can make me come," Yennefer pants, above water, "I'll let you fuck me."

Fuck. Fuck, he wants—Jaskier moans against her, lifts a hand to slip a finger—

"No hands," Yennefer warns smugly, despite the quiver in her thighs. "Earn it."

Jaskier glares up at her, flattening his tongue against her slit. She hates coming without penetration—complains about it all the time, or, rather, brags about Geralt's cock at great length to their entire friend group.

He enjoys a great many things, but not being set up to fail.

And—neither does Yennefer enjoy being denied. He thinks doubly so with Geralt watching, when they're trying to put on a show. 

She raises an eyebrow at him in challenge.

Jaskier's eyes are drawn to the dresser next to the bed, which reminds him of another thing he knows about Yennefer.

Perfect.

Jaskier presses a final, teasing kiss to her clit before pulling away—she squeezes her thighs, first, and he has the brief, delirious thought that perhaps she'll suffocate him (and, oh, he's so hard it hurts) before her legs fall away.

"And what do you think you're doing?" Yennefer asks sharply, watching him crawl across the mattress to rummage through the dresser.

Jaskier blinks at a row of knickers—lovely, lacey things that spur a faint pang of envy—and tries another drawer. He finds what he wants in the very bottom one, bracing one hand on the dresser to keep from toppling right off the bed.

Rows of toys kept snugly in velvet, color-coded bags alongside several brands of lube and condoms—plus, of course, the harness. Jaskier wets his bottom lip and tugs open the first bag.

A dildo in the shape of a rather detailed tentacle—suckers and all. Jaskier's mouth goes dry, picturing Geralt on his hands and knees, Yennefer with her hands—

Something a little more classic, for the present moment. Jaskier searches until he finds a bright green, conservatively phallic vibrator the width of two of his fingers, smiling to himself in triumph.

"Clever," Yennefer drawls, watching him toss a bottle of lube onto the bed. "I'll allow it."

Jaskier grins at her. Then sways a little, realizing how thick his tongue is in his mouth; he might be further under than he thought. 

"Should I wrap it?" he asks on the second try. 

"Everything in there's sterile," Yennefer answers. 

Jaskier hums, resettling between her legs. He fiddles with the settings on the vibrator, making sure he has a basic understanding of how it works.

"It's not show and tell," Yennefer says testily.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Jaskier props a hand on his hip. "Do you want me to just put it up there and see what happens?"

A huff of laughter from behind them.

Jaskier makes eye contact with Yennefer, raising his eyebrows smugly. See, I made him laugh.

Yennefer rolls her eyes.

Jaskier turns the vibrator off and lays it within easy reach, then brings his mouth back to her cunt. He kisses at her clit, nose buried in her hair, humming in satisfaction when she starts to twitch and shift her hips again.

After she's worked back up, Jaskier shifts to slip his tongue inside her. Yennefer clamps her thighs down again (god, does she want him to pass out?) and moans, kicking at his shoulder with her heel. 

Fuck, fuck, he wants her to smother him, wants to be so good she kills him for it. He's never been good at self-preservation, too suited for indulgence. Wetter, wetter, the taste of her filling his mouth and smearing across his chin with a dribble of saliva. No one wants the whole of him unless it's like this.

Jaskier fumbles for the vibrator. He'll need to lubricate it, which means pulling away—with regret, but he wants to know how she sounds, what she looks like when she comes. 

She lets him go easier this time. He uncaps the lube and smears a generous helping around the thicker head of the vibrator, then switches it onto a gentler setting to start. 

"You'll have to do better than that," Yennefer taunts, but he can see the way her eyes roll back when he drags it over her clit.

"Just warming you up," Jaskier teases. He nudges the vibrator between her folds, careful not to force it—coaxes it inside in time with a hot pulse of his cock where it's still trapped in his trousers. "Oh, fuck, you're—"

He cuts off, breathing heavily. Watching her take the toy, her hips lifting off the bed as he teases her with shallow thrusts—imagines himself inside her, being welcomed by her heat. 

Yennefer's hands fist in the sheets. There's a thin sheen of sweat glistening on her body, pooling between her breasts, and, god—Jaskier wants to plaster himself to her, to slip against the writhing of her body.

His free hand adjusts his cock restlessly.

"Oh, fuck," she breathes, and Jaskier kicks up the vibration intensity. It's a strange joining—taking the shocks up his wrist and knowing she feels them too. 

"Is that good?" he asks, thumb lingering over the controls. "I can—"

Yennefer shushes him—violently. Demands, "Come here," and sinks vicious teeth into his shoulder to muffle a scream of pleasure. 

Jaskier gasps, his hand faltering. Fuck, it hurts, even through the shirt, and there's nothing to give his cock any relief. He drops his head, presses his temple to her sweat-damp hair, and shakes against the urge to come.

Even with her mouth full, Yennefer is loud. She writhes underneath him, fucking herself on the toy harder than he would've considered doing to her himself—too bossy, he thinks, to let him do the work—and yelps even louder when she starts to come.

Jaskier bites at her earlobe and teases, "This is why the neighbors don't like you."

"The neighbors are cunts." Yennefer's head lolls back with a back-arching moan. "Don't stop."

Jaskier sucks and nibbles at her neck while he works her through the orgasm—she won't appreciate a mark, but he can tease. Her skin is salty with sweat; he gets a brief taste of chemical, from the perfume. 

"Enough," she tells him, panting hard when she sinks into the pillows.

Jaskier kicks down the vibration before slipping the toy out of her, then turns it off completely. The polite thing would be to offer to clean it—at least wipe it down before they continue. 

He abandons it on top of the dresser and says nothing.

Yennefer says, "Go on, then."

Jaskier practically dives for the condoms—three different kinds, all already open. Interesting. He supposes—

Really not the priority, Julian. He grabs the box of ribbed ones and holds it up to Yennefer for approval. "Are these good?"

Yennefer rolls her eyes. "I bought them, didn't I?"

"Yeesh," says Jaskier, tossing a packet onto the bed. "So much for afterglow."

"Just take your clothes off. You look ridiculous."

Jaskier grins at her. "Ooh, should I put on a little show? Burlesque is experiencing a revival, you know, and Mum always said I could make it as a showgirl if I—"

"I will strangle you," says Yennefer—then holds up a finger. "Not in a sexy way."

Jaskier begins unbuttoning his shirt. "Sexy is in the eye of the beholder."

Yennefer's fingers drift between her legs, rubbing idly at her clit. She says, "I'm going to get you a gag next time."

Next time.

Jaskier fights the urge to look at Geralt—redirects his impulse into being very focused on undoing his belt. Next time. Surely just a turn of phrase. This was—will Geralt really want to do this again?

Have they made it good? Has Jaskier been good? It just seems—in the fantasy, the wife and her virile lover probably don't banter about sexy choking and brightly colored dildos. Jaskier has been so many things—the other man, frequently. But he hasn't done it to—

Well. He can't un-be himself.

But then Jaskier's trousers and pants are off and Yennefer is saying, "Christ, you're desperate for it," when she gets a look at how hard he is, and at least it'll be nice while he has it.

He rolls the condom on slowly, hyperfixated on pinching the tip properly. Jaskier's put on—alright, an undisclosed but substantial number of condoms, and he hasn't been this concerned with the process since he was fucking in the backseats of cars.

It's just… a moment for his nerves. He won't make this better by overthinking it. He knows that, and yet—

"Get on your back," Yennefer says, cutting through the haze.

Jaskier flops gratefully to the bed, resting his hands behind his head. He affects a cheeky grin and asks, "Looking for a ride?"

"Ugh." Yennefer grabs the lube and pours a little onto his cock, slicking the outside of the condom. He bites his lip at her touch—simple and sure, and yet a day ago beyond the scope of his imagination.

Well, he'd imagined a little. But not because it could be real. Not because he thought she'd mount him, her flawless hair frizzing and clinging to her chest and her eyes boring into him as he slips inside her. 

Jaskier gazes back, caught up in the intensity of it. God, it feels like—like she could want him. Like maybe she'd pick him, if it'd been her choice to make.

Yennefer's eyes slip shut; she digs her nails into his chest to steady herself, tugging at the hair, and works her hips.

It's not real. It's a moment and she's seizing it, like she takes everything that wanders across her path. 

Jaskier offers.

He tilts up his chin, throat bare, hands clinging to her thighs. Bucks into her when she moans, hair like a curtain.

She feels good enough to die by.

Yennefer bites at the meat of his shoulder with a laugh; it's sore where she tried to take a chunk out when she came.

"Pity it didn't break the skin," she teases. 

"You…" Jaskier gasps. "Could."

Yennefer nips him on the ear.  "It'd worry Ger."

Geralt. Oh, fuck—Jaskier glances, he has to. The pleasure ticking at his fingers, the ache.

And he sees—

Beautiful. The loveliest thing—Geralt's fully clothed, white-knuckling his own thighs. His pupils are blown wide and desperate, and he's—oh, he's hard, tenting his trousers and he's looking at—

Yennefer grips Jaskier's face in one hand, turning him back towards her.

"You're staring," she mutters, smirking, and there's something— "I'm not good enough for you?"

A little honest. Crooked, in the set of her jaw.

A trick of the sweat dripping in his eyes, maybe. Geralt is looking at her. What else could she want?

Jaskier shakes his head, hands sliding to her ribs. She has a tattoo, which he's seen—a swallow, for Ciri. It's different with so much bare skin; it's different under his hand.

"You're…" Words fail him. "Incredible."

She kisses him, satisfied. Teeth tugging on his bottom lip, her hips stealing his breath.

"Is that all?" she asks—almost pouting. "I want a song."

Oh, he would. Her nails are tickling at the column of his throat and he'd sing about thorns, about pinpricks of blood that still smear if you let them. About needles against ribs—small pain must be for small love; suffering must be in proportion.

Yennefer pats his cheek sharply. "You're still—distracted."

Jaskier blinks, yanked from reverie. He sits up a little, trying to smack away the half-formed bits of inspiration vying for his focus.

"Sorry," he says quietly. "It's not you."

Something flashes in Yennefer's expression. She frowns, pushing away from him, and says, "I know."

Do you? he thinks, but before he can ask she's climbing off him—his hand quickly moving to grip the base of the condom.

Yennefer sprawls on her back, hands behind her head in a clear mimic of his earlier posture, and drawls, "A little more incentive to contribute."

"Excuse you," Jaskier huffs, taking the opportunity to add fresh lube to the condom. "I contributed."

Yennefer smirks. "Pillow princess."

Jaskier grabs her leg and hitches it around his waist, lining himself up with his other hand, and inanely mutters, "I'll show you 'pillow princess.'"

Whatever she's about to say next cracks into a moan when he pushes back inside her—he gives it a little rougher, now that she's so warmed up, and her back arches into it.

"Fuck," she hisses. Her lipstick is worn down, a little smeared; Jaskier has seen her eat a formal five course dinner without so much as a smudge. He wonders if— "Harder."

If she wore this one on purpose. If she wanted to look debauched, screaming in pleasure for another man.

It's what Jaskier would do.

You love him, Jaskier thinks, dropping to brace both hands on the bed for leverage. He's pounding into her, sweat dripping from his hair, every muscle shaking. You're fucking me because you love him.

He knew that. Her nails find his back and rake, fuck, it feels like she's bloodied him after all, and he moans desperately against her neck.

"Can't," he pants. "Much longer, I—"

"I'm close," she answers. "I'll fucking—kill you. Fuck."

Jaskier shudders, his rhythm faltering. "Threats don't help."

"Just don't—" her nails down his back, the bracing of a heel against his thigh when she bucks her hips to meet him. "—stop."

"'Stop,' you said?" Jaskier teases, really pushing his luck, and she snarls when she fists a hand in his hair and— "Oh, fuck, Yennefer!"

He's coming with a sob, face to her neck, and he fucks her anyway—stupid, with the condom, so stupid, but she wants to come and she'll get it, he'll give her anything with those teeth at his throat. 

Yennefer throws her head back and keens, rutting up against him. He stays hard long enough to get her most of the way through it, the twisting aftershocks that punch out of her throat like something snarling in heat—then pulls out before he loses the condom and finds himself unceremoniously replaced with two of her fingers.

It's enough to make him woozy—her fingers glistening with slick, maroon nails that should be too long for the job vanishing into her cunt. 

That's just like Yennefer, isn't it? She's a study in herself.

God, she'd never let him live it down if he really wrote a song.

Jaskier twists the condom to keep it from leaking and stuffs it into a wad of tissues he sources from top of the dresser; Yennefer's finished herself off by then and grabs a tissue to clean the mess of wetness and lube between her legs.

They lock eyes. He blinks at her as if to say, What now?

Yennefer's gaze flicks to Geralt, then back. She says, "Leave us for a bit."

Jaskier nods, hopping off the bed to scoop up his clothes. He hesitates, wondering if he should put them back on, but now he's lingered for too long and it's awkward—he shuffles down the hall to the bathroom, where he rinses the tacky sweat from his body and dries off with a hand towel. 

Then clothes again, then his face in the mirror. His shirt back off when he realizes he should check for marks.

There are two dark hickeys on his neck and a literal love bite on his shoulder—the bruising is already settling. When he cranes his neck properly, he can see the clawmarks down his back.

Jaskier was right; a few of them are bloody. He blinks at himself, shrugs. There's disinfectant under the sink, and cotton balls behind the tampons. He dabs at the worst of the cuts, wincing at the sting, but he's not too worried about it.

No, there are more pressing concerns. 

Jaskier shrugs back into his shirt, only bothering to do up the buttons halfway, and wanders into the hallway. The door to the bedroom is still shut, so he takes himself to the living room and curls on the couch.

Fuck, he hates this. The silence is excruciating. He just—maybe he should go home; he could blast music in the car, maybe route to a club where he can melt into a crowd. 

Is he dropping?

No, it wasn't intense enough for that—but something close. The whiplash of being so close—to Yennefer of all people—and now left alone. They could find him lacking. They could remember there's too much of him.

Jaskier stands abruptly, running a hand through his hair. He doesn't want to put himself in a cab like this. 

The kitchen. There's a box of Curly Wurly bars hidden in an upper cabinet—probably a Ciri-stash. Jaskier steals two handfuls and tucks them into his pockets, then finds the chocolate milk in the fridge.

He pours himself a glass and— ah, yes—adds two generous squeezes of chocolate syrup, stirring his concoction vigorously. No better endorphin buffer in the world, if he does say so himself.

Yennefer finds him stuffing his cheeks like a hamster, his glass of milk down to a quarter full.

"Well," she says drily. "That's pathetic."

Jaskier rolls his eyes and chews pointedly.

Yennefer is wearing a fluffy robe, the texture of which makes a hilarious contrast to the jet black color. She sits next to him on the couch, leaving an eight centimetre margin.

A long silence. Jaskier swallows.

Yennefer says, "I hate apologizing," and then doesn't.

Jaskier side-eyes her as he drinks his milk. Then, finding elaboration not forthcoming, prompts, "How's Geralt?"

"Sleeping," she says. "Happy, I think. I didn't think it'd get so—" she gestures at Jaskier's general person. "Or I would've said something about aftercare up front."

Jaskier shrugs, finding himself genuinely unbothered. Now that she's back in front of him, he doesn't remember what he was so worried would happen. "I didn't think of it either."

"Do you need to, like—" Yennefer's nose wrinkles. "Cuddle?"

Jaskier bursts into laughter.

Yennefer crosses her arms defensively. "What? I can—shut up, Julian! Jesus Christ, you're such a bastard."

"Fuck, I'm sorry, I—" Jaskier gasps for air, wipes at hysterical tears leaking from the corner of his eyes. "Your face! Oh, dear, I could never torture you so!"

"Oi!" Yennefer smacks him on the ribs. "Keep it down."

Jaskier presses a hand to his mouth, muffling the dregs of his laughter as it subsides into hiccuped giggles. He glances over at her, eyes crinkled with a smile, and she rolls her eyes before looking down.

"I would," she says quietly, still an edge to it. "I'm a good Dom."

Jaskier stops laughing.

"I know," he says softly. "It's just… us."

Yennefer nods, the line of her mouth softening. She clears her throat and says, "Stay in the guest room—I'm sure Geralt'll want to talk in the morning."

"Geralt never wants to talk in the morning," Jaskier jokes.

She flicks him on the ear.

"I accept your gracious offer." Jaskier bows exaggeratedly. "Erm, are you going to bed now?"

"I should get back to him." Yennefer smiles. "In case he wakes up."

Jaskier's nods, heart panging at the thought of Geralt finding himself alone. "Alright."

Yennefer narrows her eyes at him. "You're sure you don't need anything."

He's quite certain she never asked. But, "No," he says. "I'm alright. See you in the morning, Yennefer."

She nods, then pats him companionably on the knee before standing. He watches her glide down the hallway and stop in the guest room first, maybe to make sure it's suitable—not that Jaskier much cares, with the frequency he sleeps there.

Jaskier returns to his previous endeavor of consuming an appalling quantity of sweets.

It's a short while later before he's feeling ready for sleep; he takes his glass to the sink first and buries the evidence of his stolen-chocolate crimes in the kitchen bin under a few napkins—Ciri's wrath is merciless.

Then it's to the bedroom, where he can curl up under the blankets and scroll through his phone for a while to finish winding down. 

He stops short in the doorway, taking in the room.

There's an extra blanket on the bed—his second favorite—and two painkillers with a glass of water on the nightstand. Most incomprehensibly, and possibly evidence that the last of his marbles have rolled off into the sunset, a sizable stuffed pink elephant is sitting on the pillows.

It's one he recognizes from Ciri's younger days, when Geralt and Yennefer had just adopted her and gifts poured in from all quarters. It certainly was not in this bedroom last weekend when Jaskier let himself get bullied into a second margarita and then couldn't be arsed to make his way home.

Statistically speaking, Yennefer's probably taking the piss. He's a thirty-five year-old man, after all.

Jaskier doesn't care. He smiles, strips down to his underwear, and curls up with his furry new friend held securely against his chest.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier only wakes halfway at first; he forgot to draw the curtains, so the sun is pouring in through the window and rousing him to a bleary semi-consciousness. He fumbles for the stuffed elephant, which tumbled to the ground at some point during the night, and nuzzles his face against the plush fur.

Drowsy mornings are the second best creative period—following delirium at one in the morning, of course. Jaskier enjoys sprawling in bed, letting his thoughts drift unladen by the day's anxiety as bits of lyrics or music patter by. 

But it's just not happening today.

Too much restless energy thrumming under his skin to settle into a daydream—he gets splinters of nightmares instead, horrible things people might say or do.

Also, something about a dead alien? But that seems less relevant.

Jaskier sighs, pushing up to a sitting position. The scratches on his back sting a little and his thighs and arms are pleasantly sore. He takes the painkillers Yennefer left for him and guzzles down half the glass of water.

Clothes. It's better to change, he thinks. There's a stash of things in the closet, which he's often rifled through before—he finds an old Oxenfurt t-shirt and a delightfully clashing pair of plaid pyjama bottoms that must have been given to Geralt for some holiday, because he never buys patterns for himself.

Jaskier gets himself dressed and then, possibly because he's having a stroke, goes through the trouble of making up the bed again. 

Don't be weird, echoes Yennefer's voice in his head, but she's the one who put a cute little elephant on the pillow like a sociopath.

There's nothing left to do now. 

The flat's too well-insulated for Jaskier to be able to hear if anyone else is out and about, but judging by the time on his phone, Geralt and Yennefer are probably awake. It's hard to out-sleep Jaskier. So there's nothing for it—into the fire he goes.

Jaskier pads into the hallway, waylaying in the bathroom, and then walks into the living area. As predicted, Yennefer and Geralt are both in the kitchen with something frying on the stove and the smell of coffee wafting.

Sweet, delicious coffee. Jaskier flits into the room and announces, "Good morning, dearest friends! Is Ciri in yet?"

"No," Yennefer says. "She's texted that she's on her way, though."

"Right, good." Jaskier shuffles over to the coffee maker. "And, just to verify, are you repulsed by the sight of me now?"

"No more than usual," Yennefer answers drily. 

Jaskier glances at her—she's as immaculate as ever in a matching silk pyjama set, hair tied in an artfully casual bun. Her hands are curled around a mug proudly declaring I survived another meeting that could have been an email —a purchase Jaskier was proud to have laundered for Ciri through his Etsy account.

It's only marginally more difficult to avoid staring at Yennefer's tits than usual. 

"Wonderful!" he says cheerfully. "Glad that's settled."

Geralt opens the cabinet next to the stove, revealing a row of half-empty PopTarts boxes.

"Ooh, Wildberry, please!" Jaskier tells him. "Thanks, Geralt."

Geralt hands a package over, then returns his attention to the eggs he's scrambling. In theory, Jaskier should check in with him too, in some form. Make sure that things are alright, that there's no lingering awkwardness.

If he asks, he has to live with the answer.

"You know," Jaskier muses, grabbing himself a mug from the caddy, "I've been wondering if it's time to add another flavor to the rotation. I mean, S'mores has been such a rousing success, and variety is the spice of life."

Yennefer snorts. "People who say that don't mean 'slightly different version of the same shite American food.'"

"Um, excuse you!" Jaskier pours himself a cup to the rim. "I am people and I mean it that way, and PopTarts are a cultural marvel, you hateful woman."

"I despise the fact that people stan you on Twitter," Yennefer tells him flatly. "They don't know what it's like to live with you. You're a fucking nightmare."

"Twitter!" Jaskier snaps his fingers, pulling out his phone. "That's a great idea, Yennefer, Twitter will tell me what PopTarts to buy!"

Yennefer says, "Ugh. Your manager should take that account away from you."

"Should I make a poll?" Jaskier opens up another tab. "What're some PopTart flavors? Apple cinnamon? Hmm, no fruit flavors, those are probably gross—do you think those are gross?"

"Wildberry is a fruit," Yennefer snaps.

Jaskier puts a hand to his chest. "Wildberry is a concept. It defies human law or classification. Go to the grocery store and show me a wildberry—I think not."

"I'm going to kill him, Geralt." Yennefer puts her mug down hard on the counter behind her. "This is the end. We're going to wrap his stupid body in a tarp and dump him in the Thames."

Geralt hums noncommittally.

"You're thinking too small, love," Jaskier says cheekily. "Make it a vacation—dump me in the Mediterranean."

She, worryingly, appears to consider this.

Before Jaskier can appeal the prospect of his murder to Geralt's kind heart, the front door swings open and Ciri slinks inside, wheeling her bike in with her.

She's wearing her favorite cap—black, with a sewn-on patch of the trans flag that Geralt carefully added for her himself—and is either still in the same makeup from the night before or has decided to go enthusiastically grunge. Perhaps both.

"Oh," she says, her voice a little wobbly. "Hi, Uncle J."

"Hello, dear," Jaskier says brightly. "How was your sleepover?"

Ciri says, "It was fine," and immediately bursts into tears.

Before anyone can say anything, she runs for her bedroom and slams the door closed behind her.

She didn't even take off her boots.

"Bloody hell," Yennefer mutters, frowning worriedly. She glances at Geralt. "I'll check on her."

Geralt's face is pinched with mirrored concern. He nods.

Yennefer abandons her coffee and walks down the hall; she knocks before being admitted, and closes the door again behind her.

The front door is still wide open. Jaskier gets up and closes it, turning the latch. The bike is sliding against the wall; he walks it over to the corner she keeps it in and nudges the kickstand into place.

By the time he gets all that settled, Geralt's sat down at the table with a plate of eggs.

Jaskier sits across from him, dragging over his coffee and PopTarts.

Geralt, of course, says nothing.

"I'm sure she'll be fine," Jaskier assuages. He fights the urge to reach out and pat Geralt's hand. "Teenagers really are the worst, though, aren't they? I mean, other teenagers, not—"

Geralt hums. He nudges at his eggs with his fork, shaping them into a little pyramid. There're little bits of mushrooms and garlic mixed in, the smell of which make Jaskier too nauseous to touch his pastry.

Jaskier is used to Geralt's silences, mornings or otherwise. He's got no problems filling them, usually, or wandering off into his own world of lyrics and album compositions. 

But today—

Bollocks, Jaskier has to say it, doesn't he?

"Are we…" he gestures between them with a rolled wrist. "Are we, you know, good?"

Geralt glances up, earnest like the point of a knife. "Yeah. Good, Jask."

"Oh." Jaskier purses his lips with relief. "Good."

Geralt wets his bottom lip.

Jaskier's throat wobbles. He admits, "I couldn't bear it, you know. Otherwise."

"I know," says Geralt. "Me, too."

Jaskier smiles tentatively, hiding behind a drink from his mug. His rib cage feels wider, the thrum of his heart less frantic. 

"That reminds me!" he says, affecting an upbeat cadence. "I saw the most remarkable pigeon the other day, Geralt, you wouldn't believe it!"

Geralt snorts.

"It's true!" Jaskier insists. "Oh, I wish I could've taken a picture but I'd forgotten my phone at the studio—oh, by the way, next time you stop by I really need to have you look at this light that won't stop making this—this buzzing noise? It's fucking intolerable, Geralt, and Essi says she doesn't even hear it—"

"Pigeon," Geralt says patiently.

"Oh, my pigeon! Thank you." Jaskier fiddles with his PopTart wrapper, ultimately dropping it to gesture animatedly. "It was pink, Geralt, and I don't mean like someone dyed it that way, it was this dusty color, and I swear it just had this demeanor— this pigeon had a soul, Geralt. This pigeon was an anime protagonist."

Geralt raises an eyebrow.

Jaskier huffs at him. "Oh, you know what I'm talking about. Some people—and pigeons—are born to be the hero. Like you don't walk around with your gorgeous silver hair and your—the muscles, and your sexy MI6 voice."

Geralt laughs bashfully. "Jask."

"Anime protagonist!" Jaskier declares, leaning across the table to boop Geralt on the nose. "You and my pigeon."

"Your pigeon," Geralt repeats drily.

"We bonded, Geralt," Jaskier insists. "I looked into its eyes and knew its soul."

"Oi, idiots," says Yennefer, standing with one hip cocked in the hallway, Ciri loitering behind her. "We're getting ice cream. Go get dressed."

They both scramble to comply.

 

~*~

 

And so they get ice cream and have a lovely afternoon, and nothing is ever awkward again.

Jaskier convinces himself of this for three days, at which juncture Yennefer calls him while he's attempting to order his second dirty chai of the afternoon.

"Hello?" he says, jamming the phone between his ear and shoulder while he sticks his card in the reader.

"He wants to do it again," says Yennefer.

"Movie night?" Jaskier asks innocently. "I think I'm free—"

"He's afraid you won't want to," Yennefer says. "Which is ridiculous."

Jaskier takes his card back with a smile. "You seem rather sure of yourself."

"Loathe as I am to admit it, it's not about me," she says. "You'll do it for him."

Jaskier makes his way to a cute little nook in the corner and sits with his back to the rest of the coffee shop. "He really liked it? I mean, I thought—you know, maybe it wasn't exactly how he pictured it."

Yennefer snorts. "How do you think he pictured it?"

"Someone not like me," Jaskier confesses to a container of Splenda packets. "Someone, I don't know—more traditionally masculine? A little more 'steal your woman' and less 'let your woman choke me.'"

"I don't understand half the sentences that leave your mouth," says Yennefer. "As if Geralt wants to watch some brute ravage me."

"I didn't say that," Jaskier protests—though, upon closer inspection, maybe he kind of did. "Erm, I just—you know?"

Yennefer sighs loudly. "Listen. I'm going to do this ego stroking exactly once, and then you're never going to expect it from me again."

Jaskier watches a barista set a coffee down on the counter. "Yes, ma'am."

"He liked that it was you," she says. "And I guess I'm fine with it. You're… trainable."

"Yennefer, stop," Jaskier teases, putting a dramatic back of hand to his forehead. "Such praise—my delicate constitution could not suffer an additional word."

"Ugh. You'll do it?"

Jaskier drops his hand to the table, his restless fingers drumming against the laquer. 

"Of course," he tells her. "It's like you said."

"Of course," she echoes, and hangs up the phone.

Jaskier leaves it face down while he retrieves his coffee, smiling indulgently at the barista who's clearly trying to place his face. He flips it up again when he sits, staring at the call ended screen until it times out.

 

~*~

 

[eyeroll emoji] (3:48 PM): It was a little about you

[eyeroll emoji] (3:48 PM): I don't want you to think I didn't enjoy it

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (3:51 PM): Gross.

 

~*~

 

"Sometimes I think you do stupid shit on purpose so you can write songs about it later," says Essi. "Oh my God."

 

~*~

 

Jaskier is kissing Yennefer on the couch; he's half-mast in his trousers and she hasn't let him touch himself at all—touch anything, with his wrists pinned in one of her hands. He's writhing in her bed, handcuffed to the headboard while she takes her pleasure (again). He's alone in the guest room, watching the ceiling fan spin.

In the morning Geralt's gone to work and Jaskier makes breakfast he won't eat, because she kicked her heels up on the table and said, Make yourself useful.

He sets the plate down in front of her and looks at her, once, like he could kiss her again.

Maybe when Geralt gets home.

"Plans for the day?" Yennefer asks idly, pouring syrup over her plate.

"Oh, you know," Jaskier answers with a mouthful of PopTart. "Eternal suffering, unbearable pain and torture, the usual."

"Getting ready for tour?"

Jaskier reaches for his coffee. "I leave after the holidays."

Yennefer's only response is a Geralt-esque hum into her pancakes.

 

~*~

 

It's the fourth time they've done this, when it happens. 

Jaskier is on his stomach, gasping for breath with Yennefer's hand pressing his face down into the mattress. She's fucking him slowly, the slick slide of it pulling him apart. He's tissue paper, plied thinner and thinner until there's nothing left. Can see through himself, can't think of being anything besides wet for her.

Yennefer's lips brush against his ear. Her hair is sticking to his cheek; he tastes her perfume.

"Don't leave," she coos sweetly, lower than Geralt can hear. "Who else will I play with?"

Tears are leaking from the corners of Jaskier's eyes. He pleads, "Yen—"

"Shh," she soothes. Kisses the salt away, rolls her hips until his tongue feels fat and useless again. "Don't ruin it."

Ruin… what? Jaskier mouths at her jaw, is placated by two fingers slipping onto his tongue. He suckles greedily, and drifts.

 

~*~

 

They drive him to the airport, in the end. Of course he had to go—of course she says nothing else of it. He's not even certain that it happened, until it's time to say goodbye.

He hugs Ciri first, a quick squeeze and a promise to bring her back weird souvenirs from the States. 

Geralt's embrace is longer—more sturdy. He rumbles, "Stay out of trouble," in Jaskier's ear.

Jaskier laughs, nuzzling against Geralt's cheek. "You know that I won't."

"Hm," Geralt agrees. He squeezes Jaskier a little tighter, fingers bunching in the back of his peacoat. "See you when you get back, Jask."

Jaskier nods and reluctantly pulls away. There's one goodbye left, her gloved hands wrapped stubbornly around a travel mug of coffee.

"Ugh, fine," says Yennefer, opening her arms. "Make it quick."

Jaskier grins delightedly and scoops her into a hug—she huffs into his ear, draping her wrists around his neck.

"You know," Jaskier murmurs into her hair. "I might actually miss you, just a tad."

Yennefer mutters, "Don't ruin it," and—

Oh. Jaskier opens his eyes, blinking stupidly at the pavement at her heels. Maybe—

Well. There's no use now, is there? There are planes to catch, songs to be sung to screaming crowds across the pond. And much terrorizing of political rivals on her part, surely.

Jaskier pulls away, fixing her with another broad smile. "I'll be back before you know it."

"Take your time," Yennefer says drily. 

He blows her a kiss, gathers up his bags, and heads inside with a final wave.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier does genuinely love touring, once it's happening. He even loved it back in the early days, when it meant being stuffed into an old van with the entire crew and calling Geralt in a panic when a tire blew halfway to the next gig. 

He was born to be a traveller, Mum always said—a polite way of judging him unsuitable for a respectable life, but no less true for it. It's the excitement, the constant stream of new faces and pubs and little shops with funny names. 

It's a swiftly met expectation, or at least a fleeting disappointment. And the crowds—

God, he loves being put in front of a crowd. 

Of course there are nerves—mostly dealt with, by now. Of course he misses—well, not home, exactly. When he was younger, he used to joke that if he could convince Geralt to pack up and go with him, he'd never come home to roost again.

But things are different now, obviously. Geralt has a family; Jaskier will never show him the world. 

Geralt will never want him to.

(There's a song for that. There's a song for everything.)

But touring this time is… different. Partly because this is only Jaskier's second time in the States, and partly because Yennefer keeps snapchatting him.

They've been friends on the app for years, is the thing. And Jaskier watches her story religiously, because he's an insufferable gossip and incredibly nosy, and sometimes she posts pictures of Geralt shirtless on the beach.

But Jaskier can genuinely not recall a single time she's sent him a picture. He'll send her something occasionally and she'll even more rarely reply in the chat, but that's it.

Except, well. Now. It starts with her copying him on the same snaps she posts to her story—like he's been added to some kind of secret club. I'm letting everyone see this, but really it's for you. 

That's how Jaskier uses it, anyway. He starts doing the same to her, which is perhaps more meaningful; she doesn't watch his stories, but she opens everything he sends her. And this is… fine. A nice, companionable acknowledgement of the fact that they see each other nude with semi-regularity and, in the deepest depths of her heart, she'd probably no longer murder him even if it wouldn't make Geralt sad.

One month into the first leg of the tour, Jaskier walks out of the shower and picks up his phone where he abandoned it on the bed.

He has a handful of Snapchats from a few people, including Yennefer. Opening the app, he sees that the first one is the same thing she just posted on her story.

yenven333: [A picture of Geralt in dim, romantic lighting. He's frowning thoughtfully at a menu that Jaskier recognizes as being from a particularly posh restaurant in the heart of the city, his hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail] Date night.

But the second picture—

It's not on her story at all, and Jaskier's heart seizes with such longing—

Yennefer and Geralt's hands are the focus of the shot, intertwined on the table. Their wedding rings are ethereal, catching in the candlelight between them, and Geralt seems to be rubbing his thumb over the edge of Yen's palm.

yenven333: I've had the best years of my life with you <3

And oh, it's… Jaskier has to blink tears away. Has to sit on the bed and squeeze his eyes shut entirely before the shame can overtake him, the hot green flames of spite that yearned for the day she'd vanish from their lives.

He was selfish, and horribly in love, and it bled over everything he touched. At least it made him famous.

And the thought that Yennefer would share this moment with him, specifically—once upon a time it could have been possessive, a sort of territorial marking. Jaskier realizes, with a particular kind of horror, that perhaps she simply wanted him to know she was happy.

Perhaps he's glad to know it.

He hasn't become a less selfish man. But now he wouldn't be rid of her either.

dandilionbard: (chat) [three sparkling heart emojis]

dandilionbard: (chat) You're contractually obligated to order the chocolate cake and tell me how it is

yenven333: [A picture of Yennefer mid-eyeroll. Her lips are a dark plum and her cheeks shimmer golden in the light] You're so fucking weird

Jaskier sends her the winking kissy face emoji and locks his phone. It's a curse that there's no show tonight—he'll have to get into some trouble if he wants to clear his head.

 

~*~

 

yenven333: [A picture of a half-eaten chocolate cake sitting on a dainty plate on Geralt's side of the table] "It's fine. It has that weird frosting he hates. Can we go home?"

 

~*~

 

yenven333: [The stubbled line of Geralt's jaw. A smear of purple on his throat.]

 

~*~

 

Jaskier is sprawled on the little sofa in his hotel suite, trying to kill the last half-hour of time he has before he needs to head down to the venue for tonight's concert. He could just go early, maybe window shop along the way, but it's bloody snowing outside and frankly he just doesn't feel like coping with that today.

A new snapchat from Yennefer promises at least temporary relief from his boredom.

yenven333: [A picture of her sex toy drawer, several of her vibrators pulled out of their bags] Sometimes you masturbate to come, sometimes you masturbate to spite crusty white men who think they get opinions about your quim

Jaskier snorts, enjoying the pleasant image of Yennefer verbally eviscerating whoever provoked this turn of events. Then sort of… swallows thickly, taking in the photo.

Wetting his bottom lip, Jaskier sits up a little and undoes an extra two buttons on his shirt before sending a return message.

dandilionbard: [Jaskier is pouting into the camera, his eyes a particularly pale blue in the light. His chest hair is on full display under his open shirt—a dramatic, shimmering silver for the show] I'm jealous :( I had to leave most of my toys at home

yenven333: [A selfie of Yennefer's face; she's raising a teasing eyebrow at the camera. Her bare shoulders peek into frame with a hint of collar bone] You poor thing. Can't find anyone to give you a hand? I didn't realize Americans had such discerning taste

Jaskier's breath hitches, his eyes drawn to the tease of her bare skin. Of course, she might be wearing something strapless, but—she'd been planning on having a wank, obviously, so maybe she's—

Not that he needs a picture to conjure the image, but.

dandilionbard: [A shot from his hips down, metallic shirt tucked tightly into his teal trousers; there's a slight bulge in his crotch] I am making new friends just fine, thank you very much! But sometimes one wants a... specific touch

He hits send, then exhales shakily. He's not sure what he's hoping for—or, rather, how realistic his greed will be.

The wait is short.

yenven333: [The frame starts with her lips, plush and painted a subtle nude. Then the delicate line of her throat melting into sternum, the suggestive swell of her breasts kept tauntingly out of view] And whose hand is that?

Jaskier closes his eyes with a shudder. He wants—oh, she'll let him, maybe, if he begs for it a little. Fuck, he adjusts himself in his trousers, taking a little pleasure in the rub of his palm, but the photo is of his face.

dandilionbard: [Jaskier's teeth are pulling at his bottom lip, turning it damp and flushed. His hair is a little disheveled, like she likes to leave it] Yours

Yennefer calls him.

Jaskier is very aware that this is about to go one of two ways. At least it'll kill the half-hour.

"Hello?" he asks, putting it on speaker.

"You're utterly useless without me, aren't you?" she says smugly.

Jaskier trails his fingertips across his stomach. "Mm, I've been inconsolable. That's what you want to hear?"

"What is it exactly you'd want me to do?" Yennefer asks, her voice going a little husky. "No one else knows how to handle you, do they?"

"No," Jaskier agrees. His hand drifts lower, tracing over the line of his cock. He should ask, but, well—if she hung up, he'd still be thinking about her, wouldn't he? "No, no one else brings me quite to heel like you—it takes a real talent to be so domineering, after all."

"You haven't seen anything," Yennefer drawls. There's a quiver to her voice—not insecurity. No, almost like… "There are so many things I'd do to you."

Jaskier unbuckles his belt and shoves his hand down his pants, working himself over slowly. "Such as?"

"I'd stuff your pretty mouth," Yennefer says. "And lock up your prick when I didn't need it."

"Fuck," Jaskier breathes. He squeezes the base of his cock. They should— "Is—where's Geralt?"

Yennefer's breath stutters. "Out, with Ciri. Shit."

"We should—" Jaskier cuts off, trying to conceal a moan.

"I know," she hisses. "I can— ah. I'll—"

Jaskier tilts his glassy-eyed gaze to the ceiling. "You're already touching yourself, aren't you?"

"Like you aren't."

He closes his eyes. "I don't want to hurt him."

"Neither do I," she says.

God help his selfish heart.

"How're you touching yourself?" he asks.

Yennefer's sigh crackles through the speaker. "I'm using your vibe—the one from the first time."

Fuck. Fuck, that's—

"I can't hear it," says Jaskier.

"Haven't turned it on," she tells him. "I'm… savoring."

Jaskier smears a drop of precome under his thumb. "I haven't even taken my trousers off."

"Don't," she says. "Come in them."

Jaskier moans softly, hips twitching. The pressure of the fabric trapping his hand is just the right side of uncomfortable as he twists against it. "It's—I'm dressed for the show, I can't—"

"Julian," Yennefer says sharply. "I gave you an order."

"Yes, yes—" Jaskier gasps woundedly and curls on his side, face buried into the corner of the couch. It's bright; he needs to picture her face. "I'm sorry, I'll do it—I'll—"

The vibrator starts to buzz. She moans, probably arches her back. He can see the way her chest rises and falls, her knuckles turning white against the toy.

"Was that so hard?" Yennefer teases, but she sounds pleased. 

Jaskier shakes his head, bucking into his fist. "Fuck, you'll kill me."

"Maybe. Oh." She moans again, louder, and the vibrator speeds up. "No one would even care."

Jaskier slips his other hand down the front of his shirt and pinches at a nipple. "Care… about what?"

"If you walked on that stage looking like you'd just had your brains fucked out."

It might even help.

And yet when someone deems her skirt too tight…

"I know," he says. Panting, right on the edge. "How can I make it up to you?"

"You can't," she says, and he comes into his fist with a muffled shout.

Yennefer follows after—so loud he has to fumble to lower the volume on his phone. 

Jaskier laughs breathlessly, feeling a warm trickle of come roll down his wrist. His nose wrinkles at the sensation, but he doesn't move to clean up.

The vibrator switches off. Yennefer says, "Well."

"Yes," Jaskier agrees. He pushes up to a sitting position carefully. "Yeah, I should—erm, I have a timeline."

"Whatever," she says lazily. "Maybe I'll have another when you're gone."

A lazy coil of lingering arousal smolders in Jaskier's stomach. He hopes she does.

"I suppose I'll…" he flounders. "Talk to you later?"

Yennefer says, "Do break a leg, Julian."

She ends the call without saying goodbye, of course.

Jaskier sighs, wriggling awkwardly to avoid staining his outfit when he frees his hand. His wrist protests the endeavor, a little sore from the bad angle—he's glad he only added one acoustic to the set.

After extricating himself, he goes to the mirror hanging on the bathroom door and looks at the state of himself.

His hair's an absolute wreck, tousled unevenly, and his once-crisp shirt is wrinkled. There's a stain on his pants, but the trousers have escaped unscathed.

He really could go out like this.

Jaskier considers the alternative—creating some kind of equity, fretting over his hair and compulsively adjusting the outfit. Maybe throwing the whole thing out and picking a new one to be safe.

Rather performative either way, isn't it? 

He washes his hands in the sink, retucks his shirt and closes a button, and is only three minutes late to sound check.

 

~*~

 

She calls him again the following morning, this time right before he's supposed to catch the tour bus for the next city.

"I asked Geralt, hypothetically," Yennefer says without preamble—before Jaskier even says hello, "how he'd feel if we wanted to have sex on our own."

Jaskier was packing his toiletries. He presses his thumb against the plastic strip guarding his razor. "Oh?"

"He's fine with it," she says. "'Just don't kill each other.'"

Jaskier asks, "Is he there right now?"

"No—work," says Yennefer.

Jaskier smiles for his reflection.

"No harm, no foul, then, hm?" he says brightly.

"Looks that way," Yennefer says. "Might as well get one in while we're here."

Jaskier says, "I've gotta check out from the hotel in five minutes."

"Better make it quick then," Yennefer says.

And they do.

 

~*~

 

"Thank you, thank you all! You've really been wonderful—extraordinary, even!" Jaskier lifts his arms, spreading out the pan flag draped over his shoulders to overwhelming cheers. This sea of people— his people, who love him without the demand of knowing him at all. "Alright, this next one—I like to go a little old school now and then, you know, because I'm insufferable like that, and if we can keep it a secret between you and me—"

His eyes alight on someone near the very front of the pit; he laughs with delight.

"Oh, no, that was a joke, dear heart! Look, they've actually gone and put their phone away, that's honestly—what's your name?" Jaskier leans forward, grinning encouragingly when the fan shouts their reply. "Clara! Everyone just give a round of—you can record, it's just a little joke, you know? She probably won't even hear about it, what do you think?"

Essi plays a rather grumpy drum beat, pestering him to move it along.

"Alright, alright, yeesh. Here we go!" Jaskier does a little twirl and swipes his water bottle for a quick drink while the band ramps up into the intro. "'Jessie is a friend—yeah, I know, he's been a good friend of mine.'"

 

~*~

 

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (5:38 AM): Cheeky little cunt.

 

~*~

 

The first leg of the tour is a wild success. Jaskier flies back to London for a two-week stretch before the second leg kicks off; he finds his little trio waiting for him near the baggage claim and grins from ear to ear.

"Hi, Uncle Julian!" Ciri greets, throwing her arms around his neck in an enthusiastic hug. "Did you have a good tour?"

Jaskier squeezes her tightly. "I did, thank you. You'll have to catch me up on all the latest gossip—I'm sure I'm horribly out of the loop."

He's not, really. Geralt and Yennefer have both been fretting over her constantly—but she'd be terribly embarrassed to know that.

"There's a new bubble tea place near our flat!" Ciri tells him, pulling away. The bottom half of her hair is dyed pastel purple, which is new. "It's way better than the other one. Do you wanna go tomorrow?"

Geralt chuckles. "Let's get the man out of the airport first, Ciri."

"Oh, I don't know," Jaskier teases, looking around the crowded terminal. His bandmates are scattered around, reuniting with their own loved ones. "I can think of worse places to be."

Geralt pulls him into a hug.

Jaskier presses them cheek to cheek, feeling the tightness in his chest constrict before it falls away. He opens his eyes, after a moment, and finds Yennefer watching them.

She looks good—hyperreal, after months of pictures. For a moment she smiles.

 

~*~

 

"You and Yen seem like you're getting along," Geralt remarks into his coffee cup, entirely apropos of nothing, as soon as Jaskier sits down across from him with the first iced coffee of the spring in his clutches. 

Jaskier blinks at him. "Oh? Yes, I suppose that's… true."

Geralt's smile is partially obscured by the rim of his mug. He glances out the window, watching strangers pass on the street. "Hm."

"Now, hold on a minute!" Jaskier says, wagging a suddenly accusatory finger. "That wasn't some kind of secret plan of yours from the beginning, was it? Like a—a nefarious plot to make your life easier?"

"No," Geralt says wryly. "But if I'd know it'd work, I would've suggested it years ago."

"Years ago?" Jaskier asks delightedly. "Geralt, how long have you been considering this?"

"Hm. I guess generally for a while." Geralt sets his mug on the table, though he keeps his hands wrapped snugly around it. "But remember that New Year's Eve party?"

Jaskier raises his eyebrows. "On the boat?"

"Thought you were gonna kiss," says Geralt.

Jaskier laughs. "I thought she was gonna throw me overboard!"

"That too," Geralt says drily. 

Jaskier, in truth, had one too many Manhattans to clearly remember that night—God, was that six or seven years ago? No, it was before the wedding—closer to ten. He remembers the countdown to midnight, the joking-turned-vicious fight over who would kiss Geralt when the ball dropped.

In the end, Lambert had intervened by giving Jaskier a wet, smacking kiss on the lips himself—which infuriated Lambert's then-girlfriend so much that she dumped him on the spot.

Ugh, Jaskier hears in Yen's voice. Our twenties.

And, oh. It's been so long, hasn't it? Jaskier looks at Geralt's hair catching in the cautious spring sunlight and wonders, with a foolish flicker of hope, just how specific this fantasy always was.

"I think a part of me's always gonna wanna disappear," Geralt says quietly, a little like he's read Jaskier's mind. His eyes are fixed somewhere over Jaskier's shoulder, glassy and tender. "You and Yen… make it okay to do that. I know you won't really let me."

Jaskier is reaching across the table before he can stop himself—hands over hands, the edge of a pinky drawing heat from the cooling ceramic.

"Never," he says fiercely. Swears it, in the little coffee shop that used to suffer his fumbling, boyish laments on acoustic guitar. That has dandelion root tea on the menu, a very private joke.

How has this city spun around them? Geralt and Jaskier, Geralt and Julian. Still Jaskier's hands, where he wants them to be but not why.

Then Geralt smiles, and it's enough.

(He's written that line before. Everyone's written that line before.)

Jaskier sits back in his chair, which wobbles perilously. He takes a sip of his coffee, which has gone a little watery, and says, "Well, in any case, better late than never, hm?"

"Hm," Geralt agrees. His phone chimes on the table, making him frown as he checks it. "Ah, fuck."

Jaskier leans over worriedly, trying to sneak a peek. "What's wrong?"

"Ciri needs me to call her," Geralt says, already putting his phone to his ear. "She wants me to pretend she needs to come home."

Ah, the oldest trick in the book. Jaskier frowns though—it's only early afternoon. Where was she that got her so upset?

"Hey, kid," Geralt says into the phone. "You okay?"

Jaskier can't hear her response. 

Geralt's eyebrows furrow. His voice is rather unconvincing; Jaskier hopes he's not on speaker phone. "Uh, yeah. I need you to come home. Are you still at the mall?"

Jaskier drinks his coffee a little faster.

"Okay. Do you feel okay about biking? I can get the car from Mum," Geralt tells her. There's a pause. "No, it's okay, see you soon. Love you."

He hangs up the phone after another few moments.

"Is she alright?" Jaskier asks.

"Dunno." Geralt stands, pocketing his cell. "Sounded like she was playing it up for her friends. Sorry, I know we were gonna hang out."

Jaskier smiles reassuringly. "I understand. I'm happy to be backup, if you want it."

Geralt thinks about it. "You don't mind?"

"Of course not!" Jaskier hops to his feet, snagging his coffee—which he's glad is already in a to-go cup. "Lead the way, mate."

Geralt smiles gratefully, and does.

 

~*~

 

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (2:12 PM): How do you feel about barebacking?

Jaskier chokes on his coffee. He looks up at the rest of the band and their manager, who are all staring unamused, and splutters, "Erm, I—sorry, just—"

He gestures vaguely with his phone and flees for the toilet—which is thankfully single-stall—and presses call. 

"This really could've been a text," Yennefer answers impatiently.

"You've got to stop saying these things to me without warning!" Jaskier complains, ignoring her. "I was in a meeting!"

Yennefer says, "Then stop texting me in meetings."

"I thought condoms were non-negotiable," says Jaskier.

"They were six months ago." Yennefer's voice is as professional as always. "We'll all need regular STI tests, and you have to be willing to use protection with all other partners. Geralt and I aren't having sex with anyone else, but the same would apply if we were."

Jaskier hops up onto the sink so he stops staring at his own whiplashed reflection. "That's fine. What's the birth control situation?"

"We're not worried about pregnancy," Yennefer dismisses.

"Right, yeah. While I'd normally agree your contraceptive choices aren't any of my business, if I'm risking—"

"I'm infertile," Yennefer says flatly.

"Oh." Apologizing seems uncouth, but so does… not. "Okay. Erm—"

Yennefer's voice is clipped. "Are you interested or not?"

"No, yeah, abso—yes?" Jaskier runs a hand through his hair. "It's—I'm just a little confused."

Yennefer sighs in a tone that sends a ripple up Jaskier's spine. "It was Geralt's idea."

His eyes widen. "It was?"

"He wants you to come in me," Yennefer says slowly, and Jaskier can imagine the sharp smile spreading across her lips, "so he can eat me out after."

Jaskier has to grip the edge of the counter to keep from sliding right off. Fuck, his mouth is so dry and his vision blurs a little, thinking about—

"You can picture it, can't you? Geralt cleaning up the mess you made," she purrs. "He won't even try to come first—he's much better behaved than you. And now he'll know how you taste."

"Fuck," Jaskier whimpers, fumbling to undo his belt. "Yen—"

"Anyway, I must be going," Yennefer says casually. "Enjoy your meeting, Julian."

The line goes dead.

Fuck. Jaskier thumps his head back against the mirrors, trembling all over. His face is flushed, he's sure, the heat behind his eyes dizzying. She can't just—

Of course she can.

Biting his lip, Jaskier slips a hand into his trousers anyway, suppressing a moan.

And he can picture it. God, he can hear it—Yennefer on her back, her hands weak and slipping against the sheets by the time Jaskier is done with her. And Geralt—

Oh, he'd be lovely. So earnest, on his knees at the foot of the bed. Better than Jaskier, always better—

And Jaskier will never get to see it.

That part isn't for him.

He comes anyway, his breathing going ragged and urgent as he spills all over himself. Staining the soft cotton of his boxer-briefs, wet against his softening cock.

It's suddenly very quiet.

Jaskier frees his hand and rinses it in the sink. Then takes a picture.

dandilionbard: [There's a tell-tale wet patch on the front of his pants, framed by his undone trousers. The line of his cock is partially visible where the fabric clings to it] Look at what you did >:(

yenven333: (chat) [painting nails emoji]

Jaskier does himself back up, careful to make sure the stain won't actually soak through to his trousers, and finally looks at himself in the mirror. His cheeks are still pink and his lips are a little darker where he must've bitten at them, but he's otherwise perfectly presentable.

He walks back out and finishes the meeting.

 

~*~

 

They won't be able to get their test results back before Jaskier leaves to go on tour again; it leaves him much like a child on Christmas Eve, unable to settle—though they find other ways to occupy themselves.

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (3:39 PM): Ciri is having her support group friends over. I'm commandeering your flat to finish working

Jaskier looks around the—to put it mildly—absolute clusterfuck that is his living space.

[eyeroll emoji] (3:41 PM): Why can't you go into the office?

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (3:42 PM): My lawyer advised me to stop threatening to stab Stregobor with a fountain pen and frankly the only way to accomplish that is removing myself from his presence

Jaskier huffs out a laugh, then kicks a discarded pair of trousers under the couch.

[eyeroll emoji] (3:42 PM): Want me to stab him? I'm very sexy and simply would not get arrested

[witch emoji, broomstick emoji] (3:43 PM): Just clear off the table.

 

~*~

 

Which is how, thirty minutes later, Jaskier finds himself on his knees under the table he did indeed clear off. His hands are box-tied behind his back with a lovely length of rope and the air is humid under Yennefer's skirt, and he mouths hungrily at her through her knickers.

Yennefer hums quietly, twitching a little when he sucks at her clit with the cotton sticking to his tongue. Her fingers barely stutter over the keys above him.

Jaskier is under strict instructions, of course. Keep busy and don't distract me, Julian. If you're good, I'll let you out later.

Jaskier's cock throbs against the cage she locked him in. Fuck, it hurts—he wants to get hard, wants to come—

Wants to look at himself, bound and leaking. Pathetic, she'd cooed. But if he moves too much, she'll get cross. Again.

Jaskier moves away from her clit and nuzzles at her inner thigh instead, suckling a little on a soft patch of skin. He can smell how hot she's getting for it, feel it soaking through her knickers when he noses at the sweet wrapping of her cunt.

It's excruciating, having nowhere to go. If he could eat her out, make her come—

But she said not to distract her. Maybe if he does it slowly—if he teases enough, she'll let him taste her. He's never made her come with just his mouth before.

Time drags on. Jaskier can't say how much of it; he's never had an internal sense of it, and his world is currently blissfully, unbearably small. At least she tied his hands in a comfortable position.

Eventually, Yennefer reaches down and drags her nails across Jaskier's cheek. She digs in a little, the pricking sensation making his poor cock twitch ineffectually again, and then—then shimmies out of her knickers and drops them to the ground.

Jaskier's breath stills in a reverent hush.

Yennefer goes back to typing.

Tentatively, Jaskier leans forward again and kisses a delicate line from knee upwards. She shifts a little—her bare feet shuffling against the floor, spreading her legs, and he tucks a little smile into the crease of her thigh.

Then he nuzzles at her lips, feeling the hair prickle at him in sharp counterpoint to the rest of her soft skin. 

Jaskier goes slowly; he has the time. Kisses chastely at her, the barest hint of shine smearing against his lips. He reaches her clit and presses his mouth there too—tasting her with a kitten lick that makes the chair creak when she shifts her weight.

Can't make too much noise—but Jaskier chuckles a little, unable to help it. She digs her toes into the side of his bare thigh.

Jaskier presses with the flat of his tongue instead—sets a languid rhythm like he paces his breathing before a show. Up, down, the puff of his own warm breath. Up, down, the throb of his cock trying to swell.

His knees ache.

He swirls his tongue, narrowing the contact and earning another warning against his thigh. The shift of her foot pulls at his leg hair, drawing his focus.

Yennefer stops typing for a moment, but he can hear her clicking the trackpad on her laptop.

Jaskier licks at her clit again, wondering how far he can push. Can he suck on it gently, drool escaping the corners of his mouth because he can't pull himself away? Can he slip his tongue down and lap greedily at the folds of her?

Yennefer's phone buzzes on the table.

She answers it.

"I'm looking at your email," she says. Jaskier moves to sit back on his haunches and she fists a hand in his hair to drag him forward again. "Well, did you go to his office?"

Jaskier's eyes flutter shut. He follows the guide of her hand and gets back to work.

"Then get me a line," Yennefer says impatiently.

Jaskier presses his tongue inside gently—just barely entering the heat of her. She tightens her fingers in his hair and doesn't pull him away.

It's quiet for a moment.

Then Yennefer's nails dig into Jaskier's scalp as she says, "Listen carefully, you caterpillar-eyebrowed piece of shit. No amount of performative arseholery at your granddaughter's birthday will compensate for your past thirty years of politically-sanctioned misogyny, so you're going to be at the fucking committee, and you're going to flip like a fucking pancake, because if you don't, so fucking help me, I am going to destroy you."

I'm in love with you, Jaskier thinks deliriously.

Jaskier shifts, working his tongue almost soothingly. Not enough to break her concentration, but—to take the edge off, maybe, every part of her tight with fury.

"That's a cute word for it," Yennefer snarks. She pauses. "Because otherwise I'll rip out the entire bloody clause and get the votes from someone else."

Jaskier curls his tongue; her foot slides up his thigh.

"Try me," Yennefer says coolly, and her phone clacks against the table.

Jaskier slumps a little, resting the burn in his abdominals from staying upright, but he keeps his mouth against her cunt.

Yennefer's fingers loosen in his hair, petting thoughtfully for half a moment, and then she releases him entirely and goes back to typing.

Jaskier briefly considers the possibility of a nap. He probably couldn't fully sleep, but her thigh is soft and steady against his cheek and he can feel himself growing sore.

He nuzzles half-heartedly against her cunt, gauging the reaction. 

The side of her foot tickles up his ribs.

Jaskier twitches reflexively and renews his efforts with measured enthusiasm; he settles back into the process of it, content to let his mind drift through the moments. The sound of Yennefer's typing is a pleasant backdrop, and every now and then he'll be rewarded with a little hitch of breath or the nudge of her foot.

It becomes easier to ignore his own discomfort—his cock, the bruises forming on his knees. He listens for her fingers faltering over the keys when he drags his tongue up to her clit, feels her thighs begin to shake and close around his ears. These are the things that matter.

An immeasurable stretch later, she takes another phone call. He can barely follow the conversation—doesn't try very hard—but it goes the way she wants it to. Nearly everything does, after all.

Jaskier pleasures her through it, keeps going after she's hung up and sent off a flurry of correspondence. He struggles to breathe quietly, going restless with the instinct to pull away—it's dizzying, he's so close—

Yennefer hisses, "Fuck." There's a thud—her laptop closing? "Finish it, if you're going to."

Jaskier sobs eagerly. His tongue is already aching, his mouth and chin drenched in her, and he sways drunkenly in his rush to ruin himself further.

She saves him with a sharp hand in his hair, hauling him back where he belongs. He whines gratefully and fucks his tongue into her in earnest, offering up all he has left.

Yennefer gasps; her hips slip forward, smothering him in her cunt. She's so quiet, comparatively. Little gasps and half-formed words like she's the one who can't breathe, like he's unravelling her.

She slumps forward, bracing herself against the table. He makes a needy sound, his chest heaving. A leg wraps around his waist—heel to the small of his back below his bound hands, locking him in place.

Yennefer keens when she comes—a sharp, aborted sound that borders on pained. A further shifting of her weight sends the chair scraping backwards, suddenly freeing Jaskier from beneath her skirt and casting him unwillingly into the light.

Jaskier blinks. His dazed expression is met by her bewildered, panting gaze.

The silence stretches between them. Jaskier's cock strains against its cage; her hair is half-loose from its braid. 

Unbearably, Jaskier wants to thank her.

Yennefer asks, "What do you want for dinner?"

Jaskier smiles blithely, at last resting on his haunches, and suggests, "Pizza?"

 

~*~

 

"Cock it," Jaskier mutters around a mouthful of cheese, smearing grease onto the edge of a proposal he's rifling through. He's dressed again, still caged but not particularly focused on it at the moment.

"What're you on about now?" Yennefer gripes. She's claimed his entire couch, having finished her dinner, and is still fielding emails on her laptop. 

Jaskier groans dramatically and thumps his head back against her thigh.

Yennefer sighs. She sets her laptop aside and sides cross-legged next to him on the floor, their knees brushing together, and peers at his documents. "You haven't finalized the third leg yet?"

"We did," Jaskier explains. "But an issue came up with one of the venues and one thing leads to another and everyone's fretting about consistency now and— ugh." He gestures defeatedly at his stack of paperwork. "They sent this out to the whole band—we're just supposed to sign off, but now I'm, I don't know?"

Yennefer frowns thoughtfully. "That's because this bit right here is shit."

She taps on the paper Jaskier was reading. He squints at it. "Erm, it is?"

Yennefer snatches the whole stack of papers from him and begins rifling through them all. "So's this. And that's just idiotic, I mean, honestly, Julian, if you're going to be insufferable enough to use pyrotechnics—get me my bag."

"I…?" Jaskier scrambles to his feet and fetches her purse, which is hanging on the coat rack he never uses. "Here you go."

Yennefer fishes out a pen and highlighter and begins marking up the plans, whichever implement she's not currently using clamped in her teeth as she works her way through the entire stack of papers.

Jaskier watches her raptly—the assuredness of her hands, the cleverness of her dark brown eyes. 

"There," she announces primly, setting the task aside. "Give that back to whoever's supposed to be in charge of you."

Jaskier blinks at her. 

Yennefer rolls her eyes and snipes, "You're welcome."

Jaskier snorts, snarking back, "Thanks, Daddy," and—

Yennefer's eyes flash, her lips parting to betray a trilled breath and a sliver of teeth that sends a shudder down Jaskier's spine.

He swallows and asks, "Is that—"

 

~*~

 

"Daddy," Jaskier pleads, his head bowed with the sweat dripping off him onto the sheets. "Fuck, please."

Yen digs her nails into his thigh and rolls her hips again, asking idly, "Please what?"

Jaskier whimpers. "Please—let me come, I need it, I can't—"

"What's stopping you?" Yennefer asks innocently.

The cage. Fuck, his cock drooling against the metal, twitching and jerking and hurting and the pain only makes him want it harder.

He begs, "Yen."

She spanks him hard enough to make him yelp.

"Daddy," he corrects, the word so ragged and perfect and wrong in his mouth. It's been so long. "I can't."

Yennefer's hand snakes around to toy with his bollocks. She trails a finger up, caressing his cock through the metal bars of the cage, and purrs, "Because of this?"

Jaskier gasps, slipping against the duvet. Fuck, the dildo she picked has deep ridges, rubbing across his prostate and spreading the unbearable heat through his belly—like magma seeping into him, and the soft pads of her fingers teasing his hypersensitive cock—

"I want you to," she murmurs. Bites at his shoulder—not too hard; she knows where his pain limit is. "Won't you be good for Daddy, Julian?"

Fuck, he wants to. He never wants to. Her hair sticks to the sweat on his back, caresses his cheek. He's come untouched but never in a cage like this—never soft. 

"Please," he mutters. Hot shame crawling up his neck, the blood rushing his ears from being bent over. 

Yennefer reaches up to pinch a nipple and sneers, "You've always been a disappointment," and, fuck, of course that's what does it, has the come dribbling out of him like he's wetting himself, tears smearing down his cheeks.

It's humiliating. It's the best thing he's ever felt. Jaskier sobs and writhes against her and she keeps going, fucking him with deep, slow thrusts that milk more and more from him until he thinks—until he—

"Shh," she shushes. "Shh."

There won't be any left. He'll never come again. Has he ever come before, when it's never felt like his bones were melting into the marrow?

Yennefer pulls out and fuck, he's empty, his cock still leaking, and that sound must be his own breathing.

The clicking of buckles as she undoes the strap. Her voice from somewhere above him, maybe the pillows.

"How do we thank Daddy, Julian?" she asks, and, oh, he knows. He knows he has to—

Jaskier tries to push up onto his forearms. It makes everything go gray for a second—the world a blur of dying color—and it still hurts to gasp for air.

"Fuck. Yellow." His head falls. "I'm sorry. I—"

"What do you need?" she asks, firm but not unkind.

"A minute." Jaskier draws in a breath. "I'm…"

Yennefer puts a hand in his hair. "You look like you need more than a minute. I'll get you a drink."

"No!" Jaskier says quickly. He doesn't—it's not fair— "Don't want—to disappoint—" 

"Red," says Yennefer.

Jaskier droops into the mattress, a wounded sound lodging in his throat. What did he do? Why—

"We can play again later," Yen tells him. "But right now we're done."

He nods miserably.

"Let me get you a drink," she repeats.

Another nod.

"Here," she coaxes—a gentleness that's almost jarring. "On your side, then up."

Jaskier allows her hands to guide him back against the pillows. He leans his head back and focuses on his breathing.

Not a minute later, Yennefer returns with a Gatorade that she's already uncapped. She shoves it into his hand and says, "Drink."

Jaskier smirks faintly, bringing the bottle to his lips. "Bossy."

"You look like shit," she retorts. Her hands nudge his thighs apart. "Let me take this off."

"Aw," Jaskier teases, but he spreads his legs willingly. "I've grown rather attached to the little bloke, if I'm being honest."

Yennefer snorts. She undoes the ring first, freeing his balls, then gently slips his cock from the cage. The poor thing jerks in her hand, but he's certainly not getting hard now.

Her nose wrinkles when she sets the cage aside—she wipes her hands on the edge of his duvet.

Jaskier is watching her with a weary caution; he's still disappointed, slipping out of the headspace, and he worries with a tightness in his chest that she'll be cross with him.

Yennefer asks, "Do you still have that pan of brownies Eskel and Triss brought round?"

"Some of them," he tells her. "In the fridge."

She nods. "I'll be back again."

Jaskier focuses on drinking his Gatorade. He can hear her puttering around the flat, which is oddly unnerving—maybe he's just on edge.

She comes back bearing further gifts—a generously portioned brownie, warmed by the microwave, and a glass of chocolate milk. Jaskier abandons his Gatorade without hesitation, making grabby hands for the plate.

"Oi," Yennefer scolds teasingly. "That's to share."

Jaskier shrugs without repent, helping himself to a sizeable forkful.

She settles onto the bed next to him, reclined comfortably in his space. They trade the fork back and forth, eating in a meditative silence. It helps; he can feel his fingers again.

"I could've kept going, you know," he says eventually, shifting anxiously against the pillows.

"I wasn't sure," Yennefer answers. She glances over at the pile of clothes spilling out of his closet. "But that's not what did it."

Her hair is still, nominally, in a braid. Jaskier suppresses the urge to brush the myriad of loose strands from her face and asks, "How do you mean?"

"You'd been going all afternoon," she tells him. Still not looking, which is unlike her. "And I didn't care. I wanted to push you anyway."

Jaskier frowns. "It's your job to push me."

"I'm responsible for us both," Yennefer snaps, whipping around to face him. "And, Christ, sometimes I look at you and I see a man and I just—" she curls her fingers like claws, growling in frustration. Then presses them to her temples. "I don't get to just hurt you in a way you haven't agreed to."

Jaskier sets the plate on the nightstand, wincing when it clinks against the glass of milk. He thinks it would be reasonable—maybe even preferable—to feel a little concerned.

"But you didn't," he says.

Yennefer narrows her eyes at him.

"I'm the one who called yellow instead of red," Jaskier reasons, rolling out a lingering tightness in his shoulders. "Which may or may not have been overly optimistic of me, I guess. But I still trust you, if that's what you're worried about."

Yennefer scoffs, folding her hands in her bare lap, but the lines of her scowl are fleeting.

Jaskier frowns nonetheless, something tugging at the edge of his tongue. He traces little nonsense shapes into the hair on his thighs, watching it gleam in the light.

"I like that you're a woman," he says, then frowns deeper when she laughs at him. "Ugh, erm, I'm not sure that that expresses—"

"Some writer," Yen teases smugly, which steadies him with its normalcy.

Jaskier flicks his eyes up at her. 

"It's… I like being an outlet for you," he tries. Thinks, Oh, God, Julian, what are you about to do? when it's already too late to stop it. "I've never really said this, I think, but I don't always like being a man—and I don't know if it's because I feel ashamed of the things men do, or—" he gestures vaguely. Lifts his head to meet her head-on. "But I'd rather be under that table than on the other end of the phone."

Yennefer holds his gaze for an unbearably long time—searching him, maybe.

"Plenty of men are both," she says.

Jaskier says, "I'm trying not to be."

She doesn't absolve him, nor does he expect her to—even if part of him still longs for it, still wants to be told, you're so good, you don't have to try so hard.

But he does, and they know it, and she lets him soak in it until his eyes begin to burn.

"Regardless," says Yennefer, a full stop. "I didn't mean to ruin the night."

Jaskier blinks. "I was a little worried I did that. Especially when you cut it, I thought—it was the headspace I was in, I guess, but I thought maybe you were… disappointed?"

"Maybe," she allows, quirking her lips. "But that's not a reason to break your own limits. You should know that."

Jaskier looks down—tries to not let that sting. If she wanted to be cruel to him she would've done it better.

After a moment, he says, "I do still wanna make you come, if you're in the mood for it. Maybe just… not in a scene?"

"Mmm." Yennefer stretches luxuriously, her body pressing against his while her joints pop in relief. "Alright."

Jaskier wets his bottom lip eagerly, angling his body towards her. "What do you want?"

Yennefer tilts her head appraisingly, her eyes flicking downwards, and decides, "Your hand'll do."

"Ooh, a classic." Jaskier leans in for a kiss. "I approve."

Yennefer snorts, but obliges him. She sucks his bottom lip into her mouth and cups his hip, her nails automatically digging in a little. 

He doesn't mind. They fold into each other, hands slowly roaming like they have clothes to take off—modesty to divest. Jaskier ends up on top, kissing his way from jaw to shoulder. 

"Get the lube," Yen murmurs.

He kisses her once more first, then does as she asks. "Do you want me to…?"

"Mm, take your time." She reels him back in, guiding his mouth to her neck. "I just want it handy."

Jaskier drops the bottle to the bed and then palms one of her breasts instead, squeezing softly. His other hand cups the side of her face, a thumb stroking across her cheekbone. 

It's a decently slow thing—the way he warms her back up, eventually slicks a finger and patiently teases it inside her. She's not keyed up for it the way she usually is when they fuck, but he can feel her getting wetter, can tell she likes it from the encouragement she mutters in his ear.

It's just… simple. Jaskier half-expects her to start insulting him, or egging him on, or—or something, even though he asked her not to. And then to be bored, when she doesn't. Not that he hasn't enjoyed plenty of sex that goes just like this, just that—

Well, it's Yennefer. It's them.

Jaskier fingers her slowly, lets her rock her hips up to rub against his palm, kisses the corner of her mouth and asks, "Do you want two?"

"No," she tells him, nails scratching lightly down his back. "Stay like that."

He hums, trying to keep a steady pace. She moans, arching her back into him, and he takes the invitation to suck a nipple into his mouth.

"Fuck," she breathes. "There. Can I—?"

Her hand slips into his hair, fingers tightening in a question.

"Mmph." Jaskier looks up eagerly, still swirling his tongue greedily. He nods.

Yennefer drops her head onto the pillows. The hand becomes a fist. Jaskier moans appreciatively, his eyes fluttering shut, and goes willingly when she drags him to the other breast.

It's not much longer before she comes, gasping and writhing against his hand. He's certainly given her better ones—but he knows she wouldn't fake it, either.

Still, though, he thinks as they clean themselves off and she's fixing the state of her hair, it's been a strange night. Maybe because it's never been at his flat before—always her and Geralt's place, or whatever city he's touring with her voice distorted by the phone speakers. 

"Do you—" Yennefer starts, then cuts off. She tugs on the tie in her hair once more. "Ugh. Should I stay or something?"

It's definitely the flat, isn't it? 

Jaskier feels a strange… tug, on his ribs. Desire? Panic?

Fuck him if it isn't both, which makes the facetious, "Yennefer, what will your husband think?" that pours out of his mouth on impulse a little like deepthroating his own foot.

"Oh, fuck off," she snaps defensively, crossing her arms over her still-bare tits. "We've already talked about it, but if you're going to be a twat I'll be more than happy to go."

Jaskier winces. His eyes flick over to her dress, still crumpled on the floor—she's made no move to put it on. 

Maybe he hasn't cocked it up entirely.

"... Pain in the arse to catch a cab this time of night," Jaskier says, which is a lie. "Might as well stay."

Yennefer seems to hesitate, though he doesn't turn to look at her again. Then says, "Might as well."

She stands, walking over to his closet and grabbing a dirty shirt from the pile. 

Jaskier watches her pull it over her head, standing on her toes like she always does when she gets dressed, and, God—if you'd told him he'd know that about her six months ago—

"You'd better not snore," she says.

Jaskier grins and shoots back, "How do I know you don't snore?"

Yennefer rolls her eyes. "Just get in bed if you're going to."

"Or what, you'll spank me?"

"Ugh."

 

~*~

 

She's gone by the time he wakes up; her side of the bed's gone cold and the empty plate and glass are still on the nightstand.

He finds her knickers where she left them under the kitchen table.

 

~*~

 

dandilionbard: [A picture of Yennefer's knickers hanging from the back of a chair] Needed an excuse to see me again, did you?

yenven333: [A close up of her middle finger]

 

~*~

 

"Fuck," Jaskier pants. "'M so close, are you close?"

"Be closer if you'd shut up," Yennefer snipes, then sinks her teeth into his shoulder.

Jaskier yelps in pleasure, burying his face in her neck. His thrusts go fast and sloppy, sharp snaps of his hips, and he can feel her body arcing before the orgasm hits.

He tips over the edge with her, sobbing with relief. The aftershocks sap the last of his energy and he slumps on top of her, forearms shaking from the effort.

"Get out of me," she mutters, kicking impatiently at his thigh.

"Yeesh," Jaskier jokes half-heartedly, gripping the base of the condom when he pulls out. "I think the bossy's officially impossible to fuck out of you. I've tried everything, I'm so sorry, it's terminal."

Condom taken care of, he flops on top of her once more.

"Brat." Yennefer squeezes his arse, digging in with her nails. "You're almost as heavy as Geralt."

"Mm," Jaskier agrees. His afterglow is lovely tonight—really hit the sweet spot, pain- and pleasure-wise. Fuck, doesn't want to get up for the guest room. "Geralt's working overnight?"

She hums.

"Let me stay," Jaskier tells her. He kisses a messy line up the side of her neck. "Promise I'll be good, Daddy."

"Ugh, fine." She smacks him on the flank. "Let me up, though."

Jaskier flops triumphantly onto his back, grinning lopsidedly up at her. She scoffs and pads out of the room, likely to the bathroom. 

Jaskier burrows under the covers, curling up onto his side. He only has to wait a few minutes for her to come back; she switches off the lights and crawls into bed with him, laying on her back with their shoulders nearly touching.

"Just go to sleep," she says. "Don't flop around like you did last time—it's fucking insufferable."

Jaskier huffs out a laugh and wheedles, "I'd flop less with someone cuddling me."

Yennefer says, "I don't even believe that's true," and slings an arm around his waist.

Jaskier wriggles his arse triumphantly and grins when she nips a warning into the back of his neck.

 

~*~

 

Kissing. A warmth spreading up from his toes and—

"Jask."

The fond rumble of a familiar voice. The best voice.

"Jask, get up." Someone shakes his shoulder gently, and, oh, is he— "Ciri's gonna be home soon."

—dreaming?

Jaskier blinks his eyes open reluctantly. Geralt is standing over him, smiling wryly, and he's very much wrapped up in a tangle of sheets in Geralt and Yennefer's bed.

"Cock," mutters Jaskier, wiping the sleep from his eyes. "Time's it?"

"Ten 'til noon," Geralt answers. He ruffles Jaskier's hair. "Fun night?"

"Ten 'til—" Jaskier sits up a little, the duvet slipping from his bare chest and pooling over his hips. "Did you sleep?"

Geralt's eyes are a little puffy like they get after an overnight, but they crinkle contentedly. "Yeah, in the guest room."

"Oh." Jaskier frowns with guilt; his hands scrunch up the duvet. "I didn't mean for—you could've woken me!"

Geralt shrugs. "Bed's just as good."

"That's not the point," Jaskier insists. He can feel a flush creeping up the back of his neck. "I—you should get to sleep in your own bed, Geralt! I don't want to—to—oh, fine, what is it?"

Geralt is making his 'I have a good joke' face. He says, "They're both my beds. It's my flat."

Jaskier glares half-heartedly—deflating before he can really make it stick. He looks down at lap, wringing his hands together and peering up at his dearest friend from under his lashes.

"I just hate the thought of making you sleep alone," he confesses. "Especially after…"

Geralt frowns too. "We make you do it."

Jaskier huffs out a laugh and says, "Dear, what do you think I do when I'm not here?"

"Hm." Geralt tilts his head, quirking his lips. "Go home with one or more of your adoring fans?"

Jaskier snorts and allows, "Sometimes."

Less, lately. But that's not the issue at hand.

"I just think," Jaskier continues, "there ought to be some other solution."

Geralt opens up the dresser and tosses a bundle of clothes at him. "Like what?"

Jaskier blinks at the clothes—which are his own, and which he has no memory of leaving here. "I'm sorry, where did these come from?"

Geralt shrugs.

Eh, whatever. Jaskier finally commits to getting out of bed, taking the hint to get dressed.

"What other solutions?" Geralt prompts. He is, as always, unbothered by Jaskier's nudity.

(Sometimes Jaskier wishes it would bother him a little. Some sign that he's worth a reaction at all.)

"Oh, I don't know," Jaskier says. Part of him wants— "We could always share."

Well, he hadn't been particularly committed to saying that out loud, but there it is.

"Hm, I dunno," says Geralt, raising an eyebrow that drags Jaskier's heart into his throat. "Yen says you still snore."

Jaskier gasps dramatically, putting a hand to his still-bare chest. "Slander is what that is! I'll have you know that—how do you know that she's not the one who snores, hm? She's just trying to cast suspicion onto me!"

Geralt's eyebrow creeps further towards his hairline.

"Your lack of faith wounds me," Jaskier says with a dramatic sniff. He does up the buttons on his shirt and brushes past Geralt playfully, heading for the kitchen. 

Geralt laughs quietly and follows.

Yen is in the kitchen, already dressed for the day and on what Jaskier assumes is her second cup of coffee. She looks away when he walks in, her gaze fixed firmly out the window.

"Lunch?" Geralt asks.

"God, yes," says Jaskier. "Can we get curry? I could really go for a good curry. Or a mediocre curry, if I'm being honest."

Geralt pulls out his phone.

"Feed your daughter," Yennefer reminds him idly.

Geralt says, "I'm texting her."

Jaskier goes for the coffee pot—there's half a cup left, which he pours into a mug and chugs cold. He reaches into a cabinet to grab the coffee grounds to brew a fresh one.

"Oi," says Yennefer. "Just pop down to Starbucks, unless you're drinking the whole pot yourself."

Jaskier rounds on her accusingly. "You just want me to get you Starbucks!"

Yennefer takes a sip from her mug and says, "Venti iced golden ginger."

Geralt frowns. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Being around Julian gives me indigestion," she answers mildly. 

"Oh my God," Jaskier says. "If you're sick and I catch it two days before—"

Yennefer scowls at him.

"Right, Starbucks it is!" Jaskier says cheerfully. "Anything for you, Geralt?"

Geralt is staring at Yen. "Do you have a fever? I can get the thermometer."

Yen rolls her eyes. "If I had a fever I would tell you I had a fever, Geralt, it's honestly—"

"Why're you going to the fundraiser if you're not feeling well?"

"Oh, says the paramedic who worked a double driving after—"

"I'll just get your usual!" Jaskier says, and promptly flees. 

The line at the coffee shop is long, which suits him just fine—if he's learned anything over the past decade and a half, it's to stay far clear of Geralt and Yennefer's tiffs. Hopefully they'll have worked it out by the time he gets back.

Jaskier is waiting for his order, scrolling absent-mindedly through his Twitter, when he glances up in time to catch a familiar face walk into the shop.

Ciri smiles when she sees him, forgoing the line to come say hello. Her hair is tucked under a ballcap and there's a flannel tied around her waist.

"Hey, Uncle J," she says. "Are you hanging out with us today?"

Jaskier smiles. "Just popped down for some coffee. I got you a pink drink, if you want it."

"Chill." Ciri lifts her cap and smooths out her hair. "I'll wait with you, if that's okay."

"Of course," he tells her. "What've you been up to? Loaded question at your age, I know."

Ciri laughs obligingly. "I slept over at April's and then went to group. You know, scandalous teen sh—stuff."

Ugh, April. Jaskier asks, "How was group?"

"Pretty good." Ciri fiddles with the sleeves of her flannel. "We got someone new. They seem pretty cool."

Jaskier smiles. "That's great. I'm sure you'll make them feel welcome."

The barista calls out, "Order for Julian!"

"Meet you out front," Ciri says, pushing away from the wall.

Jaskier grabs the drink caddy and catches up with Ciri, who's retrieving her bike from the rack outside.

"Yikes," she says, glancing Yen's ginger drink. "Is Mum okay?"

Jaskier follows her back towards their building. "I think she's just a tad under the weather, love, not to worry."

Ciri sighs skeptically. They head up to the flat; Jaskier adamantly hopes Geralt and Yennefer aren't still bickering by the time they get there—and his wish is granted, it seems.

Geralt is on the phone ordering their lunch; he smiles gratefully when Ciri hands him his coffee. 

Yen is on the couch, typing away at her laptop. Jaskier brings her drink to her, setting it down on the end table beside her, and—God help him—reaches over to squeeze her shoulder.

She glances over at him, her eyes a little wide—then rolls them.

Jaskier smiles lopsidedly, pulling away. He rescues his own coffee from the kitchen table, taking a grateful sip.

"Hey," says Geralt, now off the phone. "Wanna see the new miniature?"

Jaskier brightens immediately. "Of course! Right now?"

"Ooh, can I come?" Ciri asks.

"No," Geralt tells her sternly. "It's for the party."

Ciri crosses her arms. "Then why does Uncle Jaskier get to cheat?"

"'Cause he's not playing," Geralt says patiently, though his mouth twitches in a teasing lilt.

Ciri sighs dramatically; Jaskier sticks his tongue out at her and she scrunches up her face in response.

"Fine," Ciri relents in a huff. "I'll be in my room when you're done being boring."

Teenagers. Jaskier shares a fond look with Geralt once her back is turned.

Walking through the sitting room, Jaskier asks, "Will you have a look, Yennefer?"

"I saw it yesterday," she says warmly, her eyes twinkling at Geralt. "It's a good one."

Geralt smiles back.

They bring their drinks into the crafts room, which Geralt keeps nearly organized and almost always smells of paint. There are a few unpainted miniatures lined up on the desk, and rows of Geralt's completed collection on shelves around the room.

Jaskier hops up onto the edge of the desk, swinging his legs and slurping on his iced chai while Geralt procures his latest project—apparently he's stashed it somewhere secretive, mindful of Ciri's snooping.

Every year for Geralt's birthday, he and his friends—and now Ciri, as well—get together for an all-weekend Pathfinder campaign. It's the only celebration Geralt's ever permitted himself, and he takes it dreadfully seriously. 

Jaskier purses his lips around a burst of affection.

Geralt sets the miniature on the desk near Jaskier's thigh, then quickly folds his hands in his lap.

Jaskier gasps. It's—well, does it even count as a miniature, anymore? It's a nearly thirty-centimetre tall skeletal dragon, its jaws agape in a silent roar. The skeleton itself is painted a sickly yellowed bone color, shades of discoloration on the ribs and claws, but its tattered wings are an emerald green with creeping rot licking at the edges.

"Oh, wow!" Jaskier grins from ear to ear, drumming his hands excitedly on his knees. "Geralt, it's fucking stunning! You've really outdone yourself."

Geralt shifts his weight. "Not really."

Jaskier ignores him, continuing, "I mean, look at this detail! You can see where some of the bones cracked! I never would've thought of doing that, and—oh, it's gonna tower over everything, isn't it?"

"Yeah," says Geralt. 

"I know I've said this before," Jaskier tells him, glancing up eagerly, "but you should post these online. I mean, they're really good. You could do custom orders or something, like on Etsy."

"Stop," Geralt mutters, ducking his head. "They're not that good."

"Never!" Jaskier declares gleefully. He turns back to the miniature, plucking it off the desk and pointing at the wings. "This bit right here is genius—it really adds flavor to it, like the whole thing really feels like it's decaying still."

Geralt says, "Jask."

Jaskier looks up at him earnestly, meets the vulnerability of his gaze and feels a horrible wrench in his heart.

"I mean it," he says softly.

Geralt hazards a smile. "I know."

Jaskier sets the dragon back down, not even looking to make sure it sits squarely on the table, and, God. He gave up on the idea he could ever fall out of love years ago—not that he tried very hard. He knows every aching breath of this will follow him to the grave, will outlive them both in a bubblegum swirl of records that've turned the color of Geralt's hair.

But sometimes he thinks he can bear it gracefully. Sometimes he remembers he can't.

"You're still the only one who calls me that, you know," he tells him. "Jask."

Geralt's eyes are fixed over Jaskier's shoulder. "I can stop."

"I like it," says Jaskier. "It's your name too."

They were nineteen, maybe twenty, and Julian needed to become something. His teeth were always hurting, his throat always sore. He said, Practice with me. I need to hear how it sounds.

Maybe it was to make up for it—that Jaskier was taking and taking without permission. He took the name, too, but at least he asked.

Geralt clears his throat, staring through the wall. He says, "There's a couple more I did while you were gone. Can I show you?"

Jaskier blinks, then has to rub discreetly at his eyes. He smiles encouragingly, folds his hands together in a shambling parody of dignity. 

"Of course," he says brightly. "Which one's your favourite?"

Geralt smiles, and reaches into the same hiding place.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier is in New York when he gets the email. He takes a screenshot of the test results, entire body vibrating with excitement, and sends it to their group chat.

Yennefer (12:09 PM): Literally what the fuck is wrong with you? Delete that immediately.

Geralt (12:18 PM): Ours are clear too :-)

Jaskier tilts his head back against the headboard.

It's going to be a long wait until May.

 

~*~

 

The second leg of the tour is the shortest of the three—for entirely selfish reasons. Jaskier flies back to London for almost the entire month of May, neatly capturing both his and Geralt's birthdays in the same window, like he does every year.

Ciri's social life doesn't bless them with a night to themselves before Geralt's party, leaving Jaskier pent up and fidgeting something awful the entire weekend. They certainly won't get any time for it with the flat packed to the gills the way it is.

Jaskier comes back from the bathroom and rejoins the non-players in the sitting room, who have just collectively finished their second pitcher of margaritas. 

The world is pleasantly fuzzy and warm; a breeze is ruffling the curtains through the open window. He plops down between Triss and Aiden on the floor and reaches for his glass, which is—

Not where he left it.

Jaskier blinks stupidly, looking between Triss and Aiden, and then huffs when he locks eyes with Yennefer—who's sprawled on the couch, smirking at him from behind the rim of his glass.

"Yen," he whines, flopping over to prop his cheek on Aiden's shoulder. "I wanted that!"

Yen shrugs. "Come get it."

Jaskier makes another disgruntled noise, stumbling back to his feet.

Bollocks, he's definitely tipsy—possibly even drunk. Getting up and down twice is not easy. 

He laughs, swaying a little as he flits around the coffee table to rescue his drink.

Yennefer holds it just out of reach, sticking out her bottom lip and batting her eyelashes. "Aren't you gonna get me a new one? Since you're up."

Triss laughs from behind him.

"I'm up because you made me!" Jaskier complains, putting a hand on his hip.

Yennefer pouts harder.

"I'll have to make a whole new pitcher!" Jaskier tries.

Yennefer, the absolute arsehole, drains the rest of his glass. Her nose scrunches up with brain freeze, which serves her right in his opinion and isn't adorable in the slightest, obviously.

"Fine," Jaskier huffs. He snatches the pitcher off the coffee table and faces the others. "Do we want them frozen again?"

Triss smiles brightly. "Ooh, yes, please. Actually, can you remind Esk to get the oven on soon?"

Jaskier rolls his eyes fondly. "Any other messages or requests?"

"Tell Lam I hope he loses," Aiden says sweetly.

Jaskier is decently certain that no one can 'lose,' per se, but he admires Aiden's commitment to the jib. He sticks his tongue out at Yen before setting off for the kitchen, where the rest of the group is set up for the campaign.

It is, to put it mildly, bloody chaos.

Ciri and Eskel are arguing in-character, both of them gesturing emphatically at the board where their characters' miniatures are surrounded by monsters. Renfri is in the process of chugging a beer and belching in Lambert's face.

Geralt is watching in resignation.

Jaskier smiles fondly, taking in the scene. He sets the pitcher down on the counter and comes around to squeeze Geralt's shoulders.

"Having fun?" he asks brightly.

"So much," Geralt deadpans, but he smiles at the scene. It looks like they're only a quarter of the way through, judging by how many miniatures are still hidden behind Geralt's trifold. "How's it going out there?"

"Your wife is bullying me again," Jaskier tells him. "So pretty good!"

Geralt hums.

Jaskier tugs on Geralt's hair. "Can I use the blender in the quest for more alcohol, or will I be interrupting?"

Geralt rolls his neck and says, "Should probably take a break anyway. Ciri, no peeking."

"Papa," Ciri says with a gasp, affecting an exaggeratedly posh accent. "Perish the very thought!"

"Hm," says Geralt skeptically. 

Jaskier returns to the counter, where he grabs what's left of the tequila and pours it into the blender. "Oh, Eskel, Triss says—"

"I'm already pre-heating it," Eskel answers.

"Oh, good!" says Jaskier. He unscrews the margarita mix. "Lambert, loving news for you as well. Aiden—"

Lambert cups his hands to his mouth and shouts, "Get fucked, babe!"

"One of these days he's gonna say something nice," Geralt tells Lambert. "And you're gonna look like even more of a dick than normal."

Jaskier turns towards the refrigerator, but Eskel is already holding out a fresh tray of ice cubes.

"Oh! Thank you," Jaskier says, smiling warmly.

Eskel shrugs. "How hungry are you guys?"

Jaskier tilts his head to consider this, a motion which makes the room spin a little. Some food is probably a good idea.

"I could definitely put a thing in my mouth," he decides.

Renfri snorts and quips, "What's new?"

Jaskier glares at her, then spins back around to focus on the margaritas. Right, ice cubes. Ice cubes in the blender.

Eskel nudges him out of the way and takes the job over himself, to Jaskier's immense relief. He's much better at the drinking bit.

The blender switches on with a horrible shrieking sound. Jaskier winces, covering his ears.

Geralt does the same, leaving the room entirely. Ciri cranes her neck to make sure he's gone and then immediately sneaks over to his trifold.

Eskel is the only one who would normally care enough to stop her, and he's otherwise occupied. Jaskier sighs and steps in—literally, blocking her view of Geralt's notes.

"This is beneath both of us," he tells her, trying very hard to sound stern instead of drunk and ridiculous. "I'm supposed to be the fun uncle."

"Okay, but think about it," Ciri says, tapping her head. "If I know what Dad wants to do, I can make sure we find all the fun shite he's got planned."

She's got a point. Jaskier looks to Renfri for support, who shrugs.

The blender switches off. Eskel says, "Buddy, seriously?"

Ciri scrunches up her face in a huff, but she moves away from Geralt's chair and pulls out her phone instead.

Well, that's enough being a responsible adult for the week, or possibly even the month. Jaskier gleefully retrieves his margarita pitcher, patting Eskel on the arm, and flees the kitchen.

In the sitting room, Geralt is leaned over the back of the couch, kissing Yennefer sweetly. She has a hand draped over the back of his neck, playing with the wisps of his hair, and he touches their foreheads together when they break away.

Geralt nods to Jaskier, smiling, as he heads back to the kitchen.

"I come bearing gifts!" Jaskier announces, gesturing triumphantly with his spoils.

His return—or, realistically, the return of booze, is met with significant cheers. Since he's already holding the pitcher, he pours a round for everyone—starting with Triss and Aiden, who are closest. 

Yennefer holds out her glass expectantly.

Jaskier sighs, but pours for her with a flourish. He moves to grab the remaining glass and retake his previous seat—but she grabs him by the wrist.

"Sit with me," Yennefer demands, exaggeratedly coquettish. "I'm lonely."

Aiden snorts.

A hot flush rises to Jaskier's face. They're in decidedly mixed company, and the face she's making—

"You're drunk, is what you are," he tells her, even as he gives up on his own drink and flops down beside her.

She presses her glass to his lips with a hum.

Jaskier, God help him, drinks.

The frozen concoction does precious little to ease the heat constricting his bobbing throat. He can feel Aiden and Triss watching them in amusement—though none of this is beyond the scope of Yennefer's usual whims.

No, only the target is peculiar. 

Jaskier swallows, then coughs lightly. He looks at the rest of the group, who all seem unwilling to comment, and then brightens his voice to ask, "Anyway! Where were we?"

"You saw a weird pigeon last year," Triss reminds him mildly.

"Ugh," says Yennefer.

"I did? I did!" Jaskier leans forward a little, elbows propped on his knees. "Right, no, I remember now, because we were talking about—anyway, this pigeon had a soul, and also it was a weird color."

Triss huffs, taking a sip of her margarita. "All pigeons have souls."

"This pigeon had a soulful soul!" Jaskier argues. "This pigeon was an anime protagonist."

Yennefer cuffs him on the ear. "Oi, what're you on about?"

"Psh, no one would make an anime 'bout a pigeon though, would they?" asks Aiden.

Jaskier and Triss make eye contact in the way that only two deeply haunted people can.

Triss says, "Hatoful Boyfriend," at the same time Jaskier gleefully exclaims, "Bloody hell!"

"No," says Yennefer. "No, we're not doing this again. I've suffered enough."

"I have to," Jaskier says. "Narrative force demands it."

Aiden asks, "What is happening?"

"Hatoful Boyfriend's the second best dating sim in existence," Triss explains. "Behind Dream Daddy, of course."

"What's that got to do with Julian's pigeon?" Aiden asks.

Jaskier grins horribly.

"Oh," says Aiden. "I hate this fecking family."

"I've still got it on my laptop," Jaskier says. "I'll show you. It's unironically—"

Yennefer grabs him around the waist when he tries to stand.

"—really good, actually? Some strong meta—Yennefer, unhand me at once! Some strong meta themes." Jaskier tries to wriggle free without smacking her in the face or the drink out of her other hand. "You horrible woman! This is oppression at its finest! If Aiden wants to date a pigeon—"

"I really don't."

"—who are we to stand in the way?"

Yennefer lets Jaskier go—he stumbles forward and bangs his shins into the coffee table, which he hears more than feels. The numerous benefits of being tossed.

Jaskier makes a face at her; she inspects her nails.

"Right! Wait right there," he tells Aiden, then goes to get his computer from his bag, which is stashed in the guest room. 

When he returns, Aiden is bickering with Triss over who should actually play.

"I've seen all the endings!" Triss argues. "Half the fun is seeing what choices you'd make when you don't know anything about the game."

Aiden complains, "Yennefer, help me out here."

Yennefer smirks at him. "Misery loves company, Aiden. Enjoy your stay."

Aiden sighs. "Okay, fine. Just don't get all offended when I'm not into it."

 

~*~

 

Twenty minutes later, the four of them are crowded around the computer while Aiden raptly navigates life at the world's greatest pigeon high school.

Triss is on the floor next to him, up close and personal with his romantic exploits; it's obvious she's waiting for him to get invested enough that she can reveal the twist—she's practically vibrating with excitement. 

Yennefer and Jaskier are perched behind them on the couch, each watching with a significantly different level of investment.

Jaskier is interested in who Aiden goes for first, obviously, and he absolutely has to be there when Triss springs Hurtful Boyfriend on him, so he keeps up a running commentary about the different birds and how Shuu, the school doctor, is obviously superior.

Triss shoots him a dirty look.

Yennefer, for her part, has mostly been playing on her phone. That is, until she sighs dramatically and grabs the nearest blanket to throw over them both.

"Erm," says Jaskier, side-eyeing her suspiciously.

Yen hooks her chin over his shoulder and tickles her nails up the side of his ribs, muttering, "I'm bored."

Their thighs are pressed together, Jaskier's leg hair catching against her textured tights. He swallows, shifting to slip his fingers under the hem of her shorts—more than happy to indulge her.

Yennefer isn't interested in teasing. She shifts, tenting the blanket against her knee, and undoes the button on his trousers. 

Jaskier's breath stutters—fuck, they shouldn't do this. He knows they shouldn't.

Yennefer smiles when she gets a hand around him. Feels how hard he is just thinking about it. He can tell in the way she toys with him—that she knows he's only so hot for it because it's wrong.

It'd be so easy to get caught.

Jaskier tries to focus on the game; going too quiet would be suspicious. But it's hard to moderate his voice when she's touching him like this—tight and rough, like she wants to punish him.

Fuck, maybe she does. Maybe it's to get back at him for pulling this game out.

"Are you feeling well, Julian?" Yennefer asks innocently, loud enough that both Triss and Aiden turn to look. "You look a little piqued."

Jaskier digs his fingertips into her thigh, smiling disarmingly. He feels a little woozy, has to press a canine into the flat of his tongue before he can say, "Just a tad warm, thanks," in something approximating a normal voice.

Aiden glances pointedly at the blanket. "Alright, then?"

"It's, ah—" Jaskier draws his knees up when Yennefer smears a drop of precome over his head. "Sensory?"

"Drink'll cool you down," Yennefer suggests, and leans over to grab her margarita with the hand not currently stroking his cock.

Fuck, she looks so—so composed. Jaskier's sure he looks a mess. It must be so obvious—that he's sitting here squirming on the couch because he's let her turn him into her plaything. 

Aiden and Triss go back to the game.

Yennefer pushes the glass into his grip and commands, "Drink," under her breath.

Jaskier obeys, sipping slowly and breathing through his nose. The half-melted ice trickles down his throat; he laps at the rim to catch a stray drop and murmurs, "Getting me drunk so you can take advantage?"

"Why bother?" Yen asks lowly, two fingers slipping down to press behind his bollocks. "You give it to me for free."

Jaskier's eyes flutter shut with a shiver. He forces them open again, just in case. She's smirking at him with heat flickering in her eyes—gorgeous, smoldering things that track the movement when bites his bottom lip.

He really is drunk. It just makes it better—this flustered, fumbling edge to it. She's drunk too, he knows; he's been watching her drink all evening. In another life they're giddy co-eds on some tosser's couch in some tosser's flat, ignoring the party going on around them to get a little handsy instead.

God, he wants to kiss her. Her mouth is so pretty when she's playing.

He's close—squeezes Yennefer's thigh in warning, holding his breath—

And comes just in time for Eskel to walk in the room and announce, "Dinner's ready!"

Fuck. Jaskier tastes blood in his mouth, jerking against Yennefer's hand and coughing desperately to cover a moan.

"Woah," says Eskel. "You good there, mate?"

Yennefer wipes her hand clean on Jaskier's boxers, then pats the side of his face with the other one. "Bit too in the cups, are we?"

Jaskier glares at her, swiping the lingering blood off his lip with his tongue. "I am not—" she raises an eyebrow; he cows. "—drinking any more for a while, yes."

"Anyway, come help yourselves," Eskel says, then heads back into the kitchen as Lambert and Renfri wander in with their food—apparently planning on eating in front of the telly.

Fuck, what's Jaskier supposed to do?

Triss and Aiden pause the game and follow Eskel, and Yennefer stands up too.

Jaskier blinks up at her with pleading, indignant eyes. She can't honestly leave him like this, can she? He's not sure what state he or his clothes are in—if he can take the blanket off without—

Yennefer rolls her eyes, leaning over to brush the hair away from his face in a… strangely tender motion.

"I'll get you a plate," she tells him, a quick prick of nails at his temple that's more in character, and turns on her heels with only the slightest stumble betraying her.

Jaskier is too shocked to respond. He draws his knees up, burrowing more fully under the blanket, and manages to stuff himself back into his trousers without—he hopes—looking overly suspicious.

It's not long before Yen comes back, a plate in each hand. They're sharing a tray table—space being at a premium with so many people—and she tucks herself back under the blanket next to him when she sits down.

Jaskier glances over at her, blinking earnestly. He shouldn't be so touched. She's just preventing a situation that would be terribly awkward for them both.

"Thanks," he says anyway.

Yennefer smiles.

 

~*~

 

The rest of the weekend is, as Aiden would say, class. Their ventures into the world of dating sims prove endlessly entertaining, and Jaskier can hear the gasps of delight and shock when Geralt unveils the skeletal dragon on the final night from the next room. 

Jaskier rushes in to see it, dragging Yennefer with him. Eskel, Renfri, Ciri, and Lambert's miniatures are woefully dwarfed by the massive thing—they look genuinely worried, glancing down at their character sheets. 

"Geralt!" Jaskier says. "It looks even better all set up."

Ciri looks up from fiddling with her dice, smiling brightly. "Yeah, Dad, it's super cool!"

Lambert reaches over and punches Geralt on the shoulder, snarking, "I'd like it better if it wasn't about to kick our arses."

Geralt hums unsympathetically. He's smiling, though, and something… conspiratorial flashes in his eyes when he looks over at Jaskier.

"Gonna watch?" he asks, which isn't exactly a controversial—

Oh. Geralt glances lower, which prompts Jaskier to do the same. 

Jaskier had pulled a lazing Yen off the couch to convince her to look; his fingers are still wrapped steadily around her wrist. She's clearly made no move to pull away.

Yennefer glides across the room, taking Jaskier with her when he's too dumbstruck to let go, and settles herself in Geralt's lap. She kisses him on the cheek and says, "Sure, love."

Jaskier stares dumbly at their hands—where Geralt's thumb is rubbing absentmindedly along the edge of her forearm, above Jaskier's grip—

And lets go.

He retreats to the safety of the counter instead, hopping up onto it and kicking his legs merrily when Yen glances over at him with pursed lips.

Jaskier smiles reassuringly back at her; he won't get carried away again.

Yennefer turns her attention to the game.

 

~*~

 

"Actually, I Instagram-stalked Yennefer the other day," Essi tells him while he braids her hair. "And I honestly forgot how hot she is? Like, I think because it should be physically impossible for someone to be that hot."

Jaskier slips another daisy into the braid crown. "What's your point?"

"I would also make terrible life choices if it meant I got to touch her boobs."

 

~*~

 

Ciri twirls a forkful of spaghetti around and says, "I'm gonna go hang with 'Rilka after dinner."

"Oh?" Yennefer asks casually, setting her fork down primly; it clinks against her wine glass. "Will you be staying the night?"

"Probs," Ciri answers with her mouthful. "Is that cool?"

Jaskier glances at Geralt, who is very focused on cutting up a meatball.

"Just text when you're on your way home," Yen says.

"Thanks, Mum!" Ciri pulls out her phone and starts texting away. "Love you."

While Ciri's head is down, Yennefer makes eye contact with Jaskier, her gaze piercing. He holds it, wetting his bottom lip.

Fuck, this is it, isn't it? They've been waiting for so long, wanting it so badly, and yet—

All Jaskier can think about is how it'll end. How badly he wants to see the two of them together, watch Geralt's face when he tastes Jaskier for the first—

(The only.)

—time. But that isn't part of their arrangement. Jaskier should learn to be content with what he has, for just once in his life.

They finish dinner with their usual idle chatter and half-hearted television watching. Ciri packs herself a bag and leaves for her friend's with a kiss on the cheek for Geralt and Yen and a side-hug for Jaskier, the door clicking shut behind her.

Silence looms.

Geralt jokes, "Wanna put on a movie?"

"Get in the fucking bedroom," says Yen.

Jaskier twirls a ring around on his right hand, watching the two of them rise to their feet, and, God, he's always had a greedy heart. Like fattening it for slaughter, blood on the page.

"Can I watch you?" he asks, voice thick. "After."

Geralt's eyes widen. He looks to Yennefer, who glances between the two of them. She says nothing—just a subtle shrug of her shoulders that seems to knock the ball into Geralt's court.

As it should be, of course.

Jaskier still resents her, a little. She could give him this, if she wanted to—could bat her eyelashes and Geralt would bend without thinking.

Geralt turns back to Jaskier, looking a bit like he wants the floor to swallow him up. 

"It's alright," Jaskier tells him, because Geralt doesn't even need to blink. "You don't—"

"No, you should," Geralt cuts in roughly. "It—you should."

Jaskier's breath catches. "Geralt—"

"It'd be good, I mean." Geralt wets his bottom lip. "If you did."

Yennefer sighs loudly, already halfway down the hall. "Are we going, then?"

Jaskier trips over his own feet getting up—he stumbles forward and Geralt catches him by the bicep, a teasing smile on his face.

Jaskier quirks his lips gratefully and follows Yen into the bedroom, where she's sitting on the edge of the bed.

She's wearing trousers today—sleek, pinstriped things in a men's cut, the matching blazer long-discarded elsewhere in the flat. Her undershirt is still tucked in, the fabric pulling invitingly where it's cinched by a belt.

Jaskier kneels between her legs, looking up at her with the word pressing against his teeth. Daddy. If ever there were a time for it. He keeps it to himself—noses up her calf with the fabric caressing his cheek.

Yennefer slips a hand into his hair, ruffling it. She undoes her belt with the other, tossing that aside.

Jaskier kisses the side of her knee and bites playfully at her trouser leg while she strips out of her shirt. She's wearing a bra—a nude that matches her skin tone, shimmering a little in the light—that she unhooks with a practiced motion, freeing her breasts.

He watches raptly as she sets the bra aside too, then helps her shimmy out of the trousers—presses a kiss to her belly when he leans forward, his fingers hooking in the waistband.

Jaskier leaves the knickers, so he can look at them. She's wearing red ones with little hearts, which is so incongruous with both the rest of her outfit and her general demeanor that—

Oh, something warm and forbidden bubbles in his chest. Dangerous. She's watching him, the raw edges of his mouth—he wants to fill it with something to protect it.

"Looked your fill yet?" Yen asks hotly. Her hair is falling loose around her face; she brushes it away with one hand.

Jaskier shakes his head distantly, but reaches for her anyway. She shifts a little closer—an offering. He bunches the fabric in his hands, rolls it down over her thighs.

There are scars here too, drawn in secret lines. He'll never know from how long ago, but he's counted how many there are. Just in case. 

And here, catching against the backs of her knees. Little nicks and discolorations, a recent cut from shaving. He kisses it—has the good sense to hope she doesn't remember it was there—and follows the trail of her calf down to ankle. 

Her toes are adorned with dark red polish, and someone—Ciri or Triss being the suspects—convinced her to get little daisies painted on top. She curls them impatiently, kicking at him with a demanding heel.

Jaskier huffs. He noses back up the other leg, letting his breath tickle against her skin, and culminates with a kiss pressed to her cunt.

She's already a little wet. He smiles before sucking her clit into his mouth, gently flicking with his tongue.

Yennefer hums—rewards him with a hand in his hair, pulling tight. He tugs against her hold, drawing out the sting.

Fuck, he's so hard. 

Jaskier slips his tongue inside her, burying his face against the growing heat. It's building between them, the stutter of her hips and the want in the pit of his stomach and the way his spit mixes with her arousal—her taste in his mouth, the dribble of it down his chin.

Messy, desperate creature that he is.

Yennefer curses before he can make her come, hauls him up onto the bed by the hair. "Fuck, just—"

"Greedy," Jaskier teases, falling back with her against the pillows. Her hair fans out around her, raven-black against stark white sheets. "There's no romance in it these days."

"Write an insufferable little song about it later," she snipes. "Take off your clothes."

Jaskier is giddy with it, somehow. Maybe knowing that he can stay—that Geralt will let him see. God, he can already imagine it, and first he's going to be inside her. 

"Take them off for me," Jaskier answers petulantly, sticking out his bottom lip. "You never do it."

"Ugh," says Yen, and beyond all expectation reaches. "So needy."

Jaskier's breath catches in his throat. Her fingers are quick and clever, unbuttoning his shirt—that same maroon nail polish clashing with his ironically tacky Hawaiian print. And, oh, she pets the hair on his chest, pinches cruelly at an exposed nipple, pops open the button on his trousers.

Jaskier tosses his shirt to the side and wriggles around to help get his trousers and pants off, and then he's braced above her with the fringes of his hair falling in his face.

The one nipple still throbs. Yennefer's eyes drag up his body laid bare and come to fixate on his mouth.

Jaskier licks his lips. 

Yennefer jams a knee into his thigh and flips them, and Jaskier tumbles onto his back with a startled laugh.

"Fuck," he breathes, dopey to his own ears, his wrists captured in her hands. "If I were younger, that'd be all it took."

She smirks, relinquishing a wrist so she can trail a single finger down his chest. "I know. Slut."

Hers, though. Not so filthy that she won't touch him—won't take him inside her bare, and, oh, it's all he thinks about.

(It's not his first time, though all of the others were far more reckless than this. Drunken, impulsive things that slipped through his fingers— oh, fuck, can you find a condom anywhere? Treks to the pharmacy, 2 AM cups of coffee with the come leaking out of him while he sobered up.)

Yennefer strokes his cock slowly—even though it's not like he needs to get harder—and he shifts up the bed to prop against the pillows, changing the angle so she's straddling his lap. Her skin is cooler than his hands, her thighs flexing under his touch.

"Lube?" he asks, stroking a thumb over her hip bone.

"We'll see," Yen says. She lifts onto her knees to position herself and, oh, he can feel himself nudging against her entrance and how wet she is, how warm. 

It's wonderful. Jaskier bites his lip, holding himself still for her.

Yen shifts and wiggles, delightfully human as she works him inside—the way her nose scrunches, then flares with pleasure, the way her chin tilts up when she gets the first real slide of a few inches.

They groan, his hand replacing hers on the base of his cock so she can fall forward to brace against his shoulders. She works her hips in shallow movements, each time taking him deeper, and Jaskier muffles a desperate sound into the crook of her neck.

Fuck. She's so wet, so welcoming around him. He's enveloped. Her hair falls like a curtain around them—there's nothing else to see.

"Yen," he murmurs, finally bucking his hips. "God."

"I know." She kisses hungrily up his jaw and sucks his earlobe into her mouth. Whispers, "I was hoping it'd ruin you."

It does. It will. He feels a sick twist of resentment that drives him to her breast, mouthing greedily at her nipple—the place he can put his teeth.

It's not for being ruined. No, he wants—

But he can't do the same. He can't smear himself over her, can't lock her in the selfish chest of his heart where nothing else reaches.

Not without hurting Geralt.

She'll never really be his. She's riding him hard with the slick glistening on his cock, drawing blood with her nails dug into his shoulder because she loves someone else so much she'll even touch Jaskier.

And, God, isn't that why he's underneath her?

It's supposed to be.

Jaskier slides a hand up her spine, stopping between her shoulder blades and using it to pull her closer. Their bodies pressed together, his arms wrapped around her as he plants his feet to thrust into her.

He's here now; his tongue is slipping into her mouth. She's panting for him, her skin turning slippery with sweat, and her eyes are closed. It's all too sensitized—too good. 

"Fuck," Jaskier tells her, the heat coiling through his body. He swallows thickly, trying to— "I need a minute, fuck, I'm too close."

Yennefer slows, the roll of her hips turning languid and easy. She mouths at his jaw with a chuckle, petting his sweat-damp hair. "You're so easy for it."

"Yeah," he agrees, and—fuck, she's still going, torturing him, his toes curling in the sheets— "Fuck, Yen, I can't."

"It's okay," she soothes. Nips at his bottom lip. "Come with me."

Jaskier chokes on his relief. He shifts them again, gripping her hips to hold them both steady—her hand tightens in his hair in anticipation—and fucks her properly.

"Fuck," Yen moans. She laughs, clawing her nails up his back. He feels her teeth scouring his throat, looking for the right spot. "Oh, God."

Jaskier sobs when she finds it. He's desperate to get her there, to earn the bruises she's leaving behind. God, he never marks her. She washes clean of him. He has to make it good, build a shrine from something she can't raze flat.

She comes before he does—keening and fucking herself on his cock, and the way she clenches around him sends him tumbling right after. 

Jaskier's face is buried in her hair, breathing in the final dregs of her perfume. He spills inside her with a sound akin to weeping, the breath pulled from him up the trail of scratch marks on his back. It's perfect. It hurts.

Yennefer is still coming. She ruts greedily against his softening cock as it slips from her cunt, wringing aftershocks from them both until Jaskier whimpers from the overstimulation.

On another night, he'd let her torture him with it.

But Geralt is waiting, and Jaskier wants it to be good for him too. He stills Yennefer by the hips, locking eyes with her and licking his lips meaningfully.

She rolls her eyes and flops off of him with a quiet huff.

Jaskier grabs a tissue from the nightstand and cleans himself off the best he can. He looks over at Geralt, who's watching with a smoldering expression.

God, no matter how many times they do this, Jaskier will never get used to it—Geralt staring so intently, the restless movements of his hands, his cock hard for—

Not for Jaskier, really. But close enough. Closer than Jaskier ever thought he'd get and so far from the aching fantasies he indulged in anyway.

Geralt's eyes flick to meet Jaskier's. He shifts a little, inhaling sharply, and wets his bottom lip.

Jaskier, beyond salvation, does a little wave.

"Geralt," Yen drawls, gesturing with an indulgent roll of her wrist, "do hurry."

Jaskier snags his pants off the floor and hops out of the way as he puts them on. Geralt's lips quirk in Jaskier's direction before he looks away, rising from the chair and stripping out of his shirt.

Yen is rubbing lazily at her clit, watching appreciatively as Geralt undresses.

"Look at the mess Julian made," she tells him. "Are you going to do something about it?"

Jaskier sways, suddenly light-headed. He stumbles over to Geralt's armchair and sinks heavily into it, breathing hard. 

And, oh, what a mess it is. His fingers feel numb, curling in the hem of his boxer-briefs, taking it in.

His come is leaking back out of her, glistening against the dusty rose of her folds. God, he was just inside her, she was just wrapped around him.

A trickle of something—blood, or maybe sweat—rolls down his back.

Geralt seems just as captivated, staring at her. His back is to Jaskier now and he's completely bare—the power of his back, littered with scars, and his gorgeous arse. Strong thighs Jaskier wants to bury himself between.

Fuck, he's allowed to look, isn't he?

Geralt climbs up onto the bed and kneels between Yennefer's legs. He runs his hands up and down her thighs, gazing at her with something so earnest and small—in such contrast with the shape his body takes.

"Well?" Yen prompts. Kinder in tone than she would be to Jaskier. 

Geralt folds in on himself and licks into her with one fluid motion. She gasps, pressing a heel against his shoulder and reaching for his hair.

Jaskier watches with an ache bubbling in his chest. The way they move together is so practiced—so tender, even when she's pulling and kicking at him. So different from the pain Jaskier asks for, from the disdain she showers him with.

Is this how Geralt feels every time? Watching her with someone else, someone who gives her something he can't?

Jaskier doesn't want to bleed on the furniture. He leans forward despite the growing soreness in his muscles, bracing his elbows on his knees. There's a restlessness in his throat; he wants to swallow his own fist.

Geralt is so beautiful. So good and gentle.

Yennefer is telling him.

"That's good, Ger," she breathes, arching her back. "Oh, fuck, love."

Geralt whines.

"Look at you," Yen rasps. "Fuck, that's it. Oh, fuck me."

Her head lolls to the side. She locks eyes with Jaskier, pupils blown hungrily with pleasure, and her hair is splayed around her and the tattooed wings of her swallow seem to flap with the heaving of her ribs, and Jaskier witnesses her the way people speak to God.

"He's watching you," Yen tells Geralt, her gaze unwavering, her hand a benediction in his hair. "He sees how good you— ah, are."

Geralt sobs. Jaskier's ribs collapse. She's clawing at him from across the room, bloody and selfish all the way down, sick with it.

There's no way to hurt him that he wouldn't let her.

Geralt pleasures her until she's clean—until there's no trace except for the blood under her fingernails. What a legacy.

Yennefer says, "Give me your hand," and he does. She fucks herself on two of his fingers—

(Jaskier trembles, thinking of being in her place)

—and comes keening. Geralt crawls up her body and kisses her, and—

Can she taste Jaskier? Is he still lingering in Geralt's mouth, or is that, too, gone? 

"So good, love," Yen murmurs, barely loud enough for Jaskier to hear. "Do you wanna come tonight?"

Geralt shakes his head, moving to nuzzle at the underside of her jaw. She cards her fingers through his hair and another tangled pang of jealousy lances Jaskier's heart.

He blinks and, humiliatingly, finds tears running down his cheeks.

Geralt hasn't glanced over once. Yen isn't watching him either right now, too focused on Geralt.

Jaskier scrubs at his face before either of them can see and rises to his feet.

They both turn when he starts gathering up his clothes.

"Jask?" Geralt asks.

"Oh! Don't mind me." Jaskier smiles disarmingly. "I'm just heading for the guest room."

Yennefer stares at him like he's grown a second head. "It can't be past nine. You're not going to bed."

Jaskier blinks. He fishes his phone out of his trouser pocket and stares blankly—that's really the time. 

"Oh, erm, right," Jaskier says with a forced laugh. He hops theatrically into his jeans, hoping to cut the tension. "Shouldn't be a problem to get a cab, then."

Yennefer and Geralt share a look.

"Thought we'd watch a movie," says Geralt.

Jaskier steps on his own trouser-leg and stumbles into the dresser. He curses, rubbing his arm and then looking up at them again. Do they really want him to stay?

"Oh, um—of course, if you want?" Jaskier reaches for his shirt. "Sorry, I guess we just don't… you know, after."

"Don't put your shirt on," Yen says. "I need to look at your back."

Jaskier waves her off. "Psh, it's fine, don't worry."

"I wasn't asking," Yen snaps.

Geralt warns, "Yen," but Jaskier is already folding his shirt over his arm instead.

"Alright," he says. "Lead the way."

She slips out of bed and wraps herself in her robe, which is hanging from the closet door, and walks across the hall into the bathroom.

Jaskier looks to Geralt, who is still sprawled on the bed and rather naked.

"... Gonna pick a movie," Geralt says gruffly, snatches a pair of joggers off the floor, and flees.

Well, Jaskier does always say he likes being at Yennefer's mercy. He slinks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind himself.

Yennefer is pulling disinfectant, cotton balls, and bruise cream out from under the sink. She sets each item down forcefully and does not look up.

"What's wrong with you?" she asks matter-of-factly.

"Whew," Jaskier jokes, hopping up on the vanity, "how long do you have?"

She smacks him on the ribs and motions for him to offer his back.

"It's nothing," he says breezily, twisting to comply. "Just a little disoriented. That was quite sexy, you know, with the—"

"Maybe we shouldn't do this anymore," Yen says sharply, her nostrils flaring. "If you can't trust me to deal with it when it goes wrong."

She still isn't looking at him, but he can see her face in the mirror. She blinks rapidly when she plucks a cotton ball from the bag, her lips pursed together so tightly they quiver.

Jaskier faces the door.

"It's not anything you did," he says. Forces a breath through his lungs. "Either of you. It's just me, being—being…"

God, he can't say it. She dabs at a deeper cut on his shoulder; it stings.

"I don't think I make a good voyeur," he confesses, as honest as he can stand it. Laughs disarmingly. "You know me—always got to be the center of attention."

Yennefer hums disapprovingly.

"I know I'm the one who wanted to watch," Jaskier tells her. He spins a ring on his hand. "And I know I'm not… I'm not a part of…"

Yennefer finishes with the scratches. He hears her unscrewing the little tub of cream, her fingers touching at the bite mark on his neck, and—

"Don't," he blurts.

She stills, fingers curling like she wants to dig her nails in.

Jaskier's eyes are fixed on the doorknob. "I want it."

Yennefer packs everything back under the sink. She moves away, her hand coming into his field of vision when she hesitates to open the door, slender fingers wringing the neck of the metal knob.

"It'd hurt him if you left," she says, and leaves.

His shoulder still stings.

Jaskier leans his head back until the cool mirror presses against the back of his skull. He closes his eyes and breathes through the ache until it scampers away into a quieter corner of his heart—safe there, manageable.

Then he hops to his feet, splashes some water on his face, and waltzes back into the sitting room with a smile stretched across his face.

Geralt is, as always, reclined in his armchair. Yennefer is curled up on the couch under Jaskier's favorite blanket in a bafflingly clear invitation.

It makes something prickle under Jaskier's skin—something childish and a little like shame. Yennefer doesn't want to have to coddle him like this. And the way he's been behaving is—well. It's embarrassing. That she thinks he can't handle himself, that he's turned this into so much work.

"Right, then!" Jaskier says cheerfully, looking between them. "What're we watching?"

Geralt clears his throat and answers, "Uh, Baking Show?"

Jaskier teases, "Not a movie, but I'll accept it!" and tosses himself dramatically onto the love seat. 

Yennefer stares directly at the television. 

 

~*~

 

They watch half a season before collectively agreeing to drag themselves to bed. Jaskier heads to the guest room, where he changes into sleep clothes, a borrowed cotton shirt soft against his aching back, and crawls under the duvet.

Jaskier sets his phone face-down on the nightstand and puts his head between his knees.

Fuck, he's really cocked it up, hasn't he? Everyone else had a great, sexy time with it and he was so ungainly, so obviously incapable of managing his stupid—

The stuffed elephant hits him in the face.

Jaskier has taken to calling her Miriam. He stares dumbly at her, running his fingers through the soft fur of her ears, and then finally looks up.

Yennefer is holding a glass of water; she puts it down next to his phone and pulls out a bottle of painkillers from one of the big, fluffy pockets in her robe. Her eyes are wide and there's a stubborn set to her jaw that doesn't waver while she stares him down.

It's so unnecessary—so ridiculous. 

(It's neither of those things, to Jaskier, but she should think them.)

Yennefer puts the bottle down, too. Her hair is loose, spilling over her shoulders and somehow blacker than the robe, soaking up all the light, and of course it hurts to look at her. Of course he can't do anything else.

With the strange clarity of exhaustion—or perhaps the softness he's buried his fingertips into, Jaskier is stricken with a thought.

He's misjudged her.

Or, rather, forgotten her.

Yennefer doesn't do things out of obligation. She doesn't coddle, or baby, or offer empty comforts. If she's taking care of him, it's because she wants to.

Jaskier scoots down the bed to make room, dragging Miriam with him. He looks up at Yen and asks, "Stay 'til I fall asleep?"

Yen rolls her eyes, but she sheds the robe and crawls in with him. He sighs happily, wrapping around her and nuzzling platonically against her breast.

"Fucking idiot," Yen mutters. Her fingers card through his hair. "You think we don't know you?"

Jaskier murmurs, "No idea what you're on about. I'm trying to sleep."

"This isn't even the most insufferable you've been this week," Yen tells him. "If that Christmas party from—"

"Renfri's fault."

"Shut up." Yen digs her knee into his thigh; he snorts. "If that didn't make him get rid of you, I don't know what will."

But you're the one here, Jaskier thinks. He kisses her collar bone and hates himself for the way it hurts his teeth.

Yen pulls on his hair.

Jaskier closes his eyes and says, "Keeping something isn't the same as wanting it."

"No," says Yennefer. "It isn't."

She tucks his face into the crook of her neck, resting her chin on the crown of his head.

He still wakes up alone.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier's flat is a modest thing, a short drive or long walk to Geralt and Yennefer's family-sized abode. He bought a house outside the city when he got famous, of course, with a sprawling garden he had someone plant to help save the bees or what have you and empty bedrooms waiting to welcome drunken acquaintances home, but he kept the flat. 

He doesn't have a talent for letting go.

The house is better for parties, though. More space, less prying eyes and cross neighbors—which is good, because Jaskier's birthday promises to become a bit of an event.

Essi, Priscilla, Geralt, and Ciri are all already here, having volunteered to help set up ahead of time. They've rearranged the entire main room and laid out snacks and drinks in the kitchen, and Geralt graced the room with a fantastic view of his arse when he strung up fairy lights all around the first floor and leading up the stairwell. 

The party's due to start soon, so Jaskier flits into his bedroom to get changed. He picked out an outfit for the occasion ahead of time, but he's rifling through his extensive (read: alarming) collection of rings for the right pieces when Geralt knocks on the door.

"Oh!" Jaskier is in his shirt and pants, trousers forgotten on the bed. He smiles unbothered, and tells Geralt to, "Come in!"

Geralt shuts the door behind him. His hands are folded politely behind his back, which would be suspicious if it weren't obvious what he was hiding.

"Uh, wanted to give you your present before the party starts," he says predictably. "It's a little weird."

It's always a little weird, which is why Jaskier loves him. 

Jaskier claps his hands excitedly and says, "Ooh, yes please!"

Geralt huffs out a nervous laugh, then reveals what's in his hands—a tiny painted wooden bird, no doubt made by hand, approximately the diameter of a clementine. The eyes are a beady amber and the plumage is detailed in shades of dusty pink, white, and grey.

Jaskier laughs. "It's—"

"Your pigeon," says Geralt. "Did I get it right?"

Jaskier hugs him. He hums happily, squeezing Jaskier tightly and nosing at the shell of his ear.

"It's adorable," Jaskier enthuses. "Thank you so much! Oh, I have to figure out where to put him. Maybe on the nightstand? Oh, no, or in the writing room! What do you think? Maybe he'll have some good ideas."

Geralt laughs. "Jask."

"Maybe I'll bring him on tour with me," Jaskier says, quieter. 

Geralt's fingers tighten in the back of Jaskier's shirt. He pulls away a little, looking Jaskier in the eye with a lopsided smile, and says, "Okay."

Jaskier wets his bottom lip. Moments like this are the hardest. Moments when it almost feels like—

"Uncle J?" Ciri calls through the door. "People are here!"

Jaskier closes his eyes, pursing his lips. Geralt takes a step back with a light cough.

"Be right there!" Jaskier tells her brightly. He turns back to his jewelry and starts sorting through his options again.

Geralt places a warm, fleeting hand on his back and says, "See you out there."

He leaves the pigeon on Jaskier's dresser.

Jaskier waits until Geralt closes the door behind him again—then takes the little carving into his hand, running a finger across the ridges on the tail feathers. Affection fluttering in his throat, he kisses the bird on the top of the head and sets it back down.

 

~*~

 

Not twenty minutes later, music is playing through the sound system that spans the first floor and spills out into the yard as people start to arrive in earnest. Jaskier's face is painted with glitter that he sheds onto everyone who crosses the threshold—

Eskel and Triss, bearing a casserole that will undoubtedly be the most fantastic thing he's eaten since the last time Eskel and Triss made a casserole.

Aiden and Lambert, who grace him with a bottle of tequila and a rowdy spank on the arse and have brought Renfri with them.

And Yennefer, with wine too nice for this crowd or this party, and a prim kiss on the cheek when he freezes at the sight of her.

"Lovely host as always, Julian," she teases, pulling away.

Jaskier glances between the wine bottle and her face. "I thought maybe you weren't coming? I mean, when Geralt and Ciri came alone."

Yen rolls her eyes and shuts the door behind herself, apparently tired of waiting for Jaskier to finish gawking and do it himself. "I got held up at work. Geralt didn't tell you?"

Jaskier follows her through his own house, watching her slip out of a light raincoat and free her hair from its frizzing braid.

"I thought he was doing that thing married people do," he confesses, bare toes curling at the pleasant waft of her perfume. "You know, where you politely lie for each other?"

Yen raises an eyebrow. "Geralt's a shit liar."

Jaskier smiles fondly and agrees, "That he is."

Yen hangs her bag on the coat rack and, after a brief consideration, slips out of her heels.

The front door opens and a group of Jaskier's friends from professional circles spill inside—already tipsy, by the sound and look of them, and not needing his help to find the party. They shower him with hugs and wave around bottles of liquor that he directs them to leave in the kitchen, and when the flurry dies out, Yennefer is still standing there waiting.

Not that she needs any direction either—the noise would be easy enough to follow, even if she hadn't been here before—but he likes that he'll get to walk her in.

"Shall we?" he asks, bowing exaggeratedly like a Victorian nobleman.

Yen shoves him forward with a snort.

 

~*~

 

The party is going well—they've devoured a veritable mountain of pizzas, and Geralt surprised him with an ice cream cake like he does every year. Jaskier is drawn from conversation to conversation, having smacking kisses pressed to his cheeks and dodging Lambert, who keeps threatening to finish the birthday spanking he started.

"Save it for the bedroom, darling!" Jaskier shouts, wriggling free when Renfri grabs him and tries to hand him over. "There are children present!"

"Get him, Uncle Lambert!" Ciri yells.

Jaskier scrambles over the back of the couch and spots a hopefully-friendly face emerging from the kitchen.

"Yen!" Jaskier begs, diving behind her with his hands clutching the back of her blouse. "Save me!"

She turns to raise an eyebrow at him. "Why should I care?"

Lambert grins wolfishly.

"You won't let him hurt me, will you?" Jaskier asks in her ear, voice low over the laughter of the crowd. "That's your job."

Yen's gaze darkens a little. She turns to Lambert and fixes him with a territorial glare that makes heat rush to Jaskier's belly.

Lambert puts his hands up in surrender and says, "Yeesh, sorry, Mum."

"Not quite," Jaskier mutters.

Yen squishes his face in her hand and pries him off of her—she ends up with glitter on her fingertips, which she frowns at in mild distaste.

"Ugh, take this back," she says, wiping it off on the bridge of his nose.

Jaskier smiles brightly at her.

"Julian!" Priscilla calls from near his piano. "Come play with us!"

Someone else cuts off the music.

Jaskier laughs, exaggeratedly put-upon, and waves his hand. "No, no—even I'm not that self-indulgent, that's—"

"Booooo!" Aiden shouts.

"Well," says Jaskier. "If you insist."

Essi, probably the one responsible for the music, emerges from down the hall with Jaskier's guitar—which she hands to Priscilla.

Jaskier looks to Yen, who is watching him with that same judgemental eyebrow raised as before, and asks her, "Join me?"

"Absolutely not," she says.

"Oh, Yen, please?" Jaskier bats his eyelashes imploringly. "You've got such a lovely voice!"

"No, I don't," Yen says hotly. She takes a sip of her wine. "Not compared to these people."

Jaskier pouts harder. "It's my birthday! You didn't even get me a present."

"That's not true," says Yen.

Lambert, seeing a prime opportunity for revenge, starts chanting, "Yen! Yen! Yen!"

The rest of the party catches on quickly, and soon the pair of them are being shepherded straight for the piano.

Yennefer jams an elbow into Jaskier's ribs and hisses, "I hate you."

Jaskier cheerfully informs her, "You can punish me later."

"You'd like it too much," Yen tells him, though she's glaring at Geralt, who is smirking at them in a rather smug fashion from the corner. "It's such a chore to make you genuinely suffer."

"Could've put that on the cake," Jaskier quips, settling on the piano bench and stretching his fingers over the keys. "'Happy birthday, you inconvenient slut.'"

"Maybe next year," says Yen. "You're not really going to make me sing."

Jaskier runs through a quick warm-up while Priss does the same on the guitar, and teases, "Need to safeword?"

Yen says, "Julian."

He glances at her—sees a little more white of her eye than he's accustomed to and drops the act.

"Of course not," he says quietly. "But we'll sing with you, if you want."

Yen's shoulders relax marginally. "We'll see. But I'm not doing anything of yours."

Jaskier grins. "Deal."

 

~*~

 

Soon enough, the party develops into some sort of homebrew karaoke event—the musicians in house take turns playing accompaniments while everyone sings along. Even Ciri, woefully self-conscious about her voice that she is, clutches at Geralt and Yen's hands and makes them sing with her while Jaskier plays the piano.

It's been a long time since his heart has felt this full.

The alcohol keeps flowing, of course—which is what gets Jaskier into trouble.

"Heyyy," Essi slurs, prodding at Jaskier's side, "you should do our new one!"

Jaskier stiffens, then affects a broad smile and reminds her, "It's not ready."

"Noo, it's perfect!" Essi insists. She shoves him a little harder. "It's so good!"

Jaskier glances pointedly at Yennefer, who is chatting with Renfri and Triss a short distance away, and tells Essi, "I don't think this is the right audience."

"Bullshit," Essi says, and, God help him, Jaskier is going to have to kill her. He's going to smother her with a pillow and widow Priscilla and beg Yennefer, of all ironic people, to help hide the body. "'S the perfect audience, you bloody coward."

Ciri, who was texting on her phone but apparently eavesdropping, glances up excitedly. "Uncle J, you've got a new song?"

"Oh, hey, let's hear it, mate!" Eskel says encouragingly.

Half the room is staring expectantly now.

Jaskier resigns himself to his fate.

The accompaniment will be different, of course—more complex when it's fully composed. But the tempo is there—a little frantic, a little forced, and he lets his voice rasp and crack with emotion.

What's a love story? he asks. Is it roses in a vase, shedding petals on the floor? I want you to take me in the garden, I want the thorns to notch my ribs. I don't think that's love. I don't care what it is.

Essi drums the beat on her thighs; Priscilla sings an echo. The guitar and piano intertwine with manic grace and Jaskier is stumbling over a tripwire on cadence.

If we made love it'd still draw blood. If you left a scar I'd want you more.

When it's over, the whole room applauds.

Jaskier's heart is in his throat. He's afraid to look anywhere besides his hands—gaudy jewelry, artist's fingers. His selfishness makes him sick with pride. He already knew they'd love it; he wrote it to make the feeling pay rent.

Out of the corner of his eye, Yennefer drains her wine glass and glides into the kitchen.

 

~*~

 

"You," Yennefer drawls, and blows a puff of smoke into his face, "have never liked me."

Jaskier giggles. He plucks the joint from her hands and takes a drag; the smoke is bad for his voice, but he can't be arsed to care.

They're the last two awake, he thinks. Geralt and Ciri begged off hours ago, as did the rest of the polite crowd. The other half of the party is snoring on his floor, or snogging in one of his beds, and that leaves him this.

"Why d'you—" he frowns, belatedly. "Think that?"

The rain is pattering on the patio around them, rolling in fat drops off the big awning that offers shelter. Yennefer shifts in the chair, which digs her elbow into his stomach, and says, "I know it."

Jaskier's head is fuzzy. Her mouth is very close and very pretty, but that's not the point of what she said. He tells her mouth, "You don't like me more."

"You're wasting it," she says, which doesn't make sense until she takes the joint back. Her lips close around it and Jaskier thinks, You've never blown me. He doesn't really care. He's met plenty of people who've sucked his cock.

He wonders if she sucks Geralt's.

"Anyway," says Jaskier aloud. "It's because you—oh, what's the word. Assaulted. You assaulted me when we met."

"Baby." Yen lays her head on his shoulder. "You deserved it."

He did, reportedly, vomit all over her best pair of shoes and then pass out hunched over her toilet when she rolled him into the bathroom. But of course he doesn't remember that bit.

And then he came to with the worst hangover of his life and found her fucking his best friend and secret love of his life on the couch, so frankly it should be obvious why this was not a favorable first-and-a-half impression.

Yennefer presses the joint to his lips.

"You could've had anyone," he says instead, which is worse for his voice than the weed would've been.

"You'll never forgive me," she says.

Jaskier believes her. He turns his head, nosing against her cold temple. 

"It's fine," Yen tells him. She breathes out slowly, even though there's no more smoke in her lungs. "I'll never forgive you either."

Jaskier asks, "What for?"

Yennefer says, "Having him first."

Jaskier closes his eyes. He's floating above himself, watching the moment happen. He says, "I do like you."

"Not enough," she says. "You'll never love anyone like you love him."

"You never love anyone the same way twice," says Jaskier. "How boring would that be?"

Yennefer snorts derisively. 

"Do you…" Jaskier holds his breath, fingertips skimming up under her blouse. "Want me to like you?"

Yennefer leans to the side—Jaskier opens his eyes to find her snuffing out the joint. She tells him, "It's because Geralt's good. People like us need to love good people."

Jaskier frowns down at her. "You're good."

"Not like Ger," Yennefer says. "I'm good 'cause I wanna be important. He's good even when it hurts."

Sometimes especially when, Jaskier thinks.

He says, "You're refar—reforming a country. I don't really care why, I think it counts. I'm the selfish one."

Yen snorts. "Says the man who donates half his income to charity."

"Can I tell you a secret?" Jaskier whispers, then giggles when she pulls him down to brush his lips against her ear. "It's because I want everyone to like me."

Yennefer laughs.

"I'm serious!" Jaskier insists, and he laughs too—so hard it hurts, because it stops being funny and she's cold, folded up half in his lap and shivering a little and he won't go get them a blanket because he'd have to stop touching her. "I need everyone to like me all the time! It's terrifying! I'm so—"

He stops.

Yennefer drags her index finger down his mouth, pulling at his bottom lip until it pops free.

"I'm terrified," Jaskier says quietly. "Like a child. I'll never outgrow it."

Yennefer cups his jaw, turning his head towards her. It's two or three AM and he can barely see her even backlit by his jackolantern house, full of eyes and gaping teeth, and she blinks at him owlishly.

"I like you," Yennefer says, and kisses him.

He got the song wrong; it's gentle.

Yen wraps one arm around his waist, squeezing lightly at his hip, and slips the other into his hair. He exhales shakily through his nose, hugging her closer. She bites his bottom lip and he whines appreciatively.

The moments swirl around them. Yen pulls back enough to murmur, "I don't want to have sex."

Jaskier kisses the corner of her mouth. "Me neither. Pretty sure I couldn't get it up anyway."

She laughs softly.

Jaskier squishes her cheeks gently with his palms and says, "I like kissing your face, though. Your pretty face."

"Idiot," Yen mutters, and leans in again.

He nudges the barest hint of tongue into her mouth, smiling when she parts her lips for him. His hands are restless, playing with her clothes and petting the curve of her spine.

She shivers again.

"Are you cold?" Jaskier murmurs.

"Let's go in," she says.

Jaskier complies, of course. He lets her up first and grabs the remainder of the joint, which he tucks into a pocket and hopes he doesn't accidentally put through the wash.

Yen takes him by the wrist and pulls him quickly along—until a fancy strikes and he stops in the middle of the deck.

"Julian," Yen says irritably, no doubt miffed by the rain falling on them both. "What—"

Jaskier reels her in for a kiss.

She grumbles audibly, but winds her arms around his neck and indulges him.

The rain is fairly light—not the deluge of passionate movies, though he can feel it slowly soaking his hair. He tastes it in her mouth, feels the water pooling against the places they touch. It leaves him both giddy and subdued, the swirl of thoughts in his brain dulled by the weed and the cold rain.

Yen asks, "Had your fill of the big moment yet?"

Jaskier chuckles. They both head inside for real, tip-toeing around his sleeping friends and dripping water onto the floors. He suggests a shower to warm up, which she obliges.

The steam rises around them. She tips her head back into the spray and moans softly, rinsing his shampoo from her hair. Jaskier kisses her while the conditioner sets, dizzy with the heat and so many other things. Just with her, even.

"I'm tired," she tells him, pruning fingers snagging in his chest hair. "Let's find a bed."

They wrap themselves up in the fluffiest towels they can find and he leads her through the house, giggling and being shushed every time they try a door and find someone already inside. 

The entire rest of the band is in a cuddle pile on his bed—a sleepy tangle of limbs that tempts him, but not more than the nails that prick at his wrist when Yen steals a jumper from his closet and then drags him away. 

Aiden and Lambert are exceedingly naked and snoring in a guest bedroom. Lambert's the little spoon. If Jaskier had any idea where his phone was, he'd have an excellent blackmail opportunity on his hands.

As it is, they retreat into the hallway.

"Looks like Hotel Lettenhove has no vacancies," Jaskier whispers, watching with a flutter in his stomach when she sheds her towel and slips into his jumper. "Sorry about that."

Yen shrugs. Her pupils are still dilated, dark and pretty while she stares at him. "Put on a pot of coffee?"

Jaskier grins.

 

~*~

 

They find an unoccupied armchair in Jaskier's music room, which has a big bay window overlooking the rear yard. Not much of a view at first, but the rain peters out to a drizzle and soon a faint hint of light will start to peek through the trees at the edge of Jaskier's property.

They're curled up together, hands leeching warmth from ceramic mugs and a plush blanket—a gift from Ciri one year, he thinks—wrapped around them both. Jaskier's jumper is a cardinal red and the sleeves slip down over Yennefer's palms, and she's laughing genuinely at something he's said.

Jaskier can't even remember what—doesn't think it matters much at all. He's bone tired, even with the caffeine that has his blood singing, and he's never noticed the scar on the edge of her jaw before.

His fingers trace the length of it, edges of calluses tingling when they hit smooth skin. Yennefer's laughter dries up like a starving creek.

"I understand why Geralt never figured out the songs were about him," she says. He flattens his palm, cupping the side of her face. "It's like walking past yourself on the street."

Oh.

"That's a brilliant metaphor," Jaskier teases, and succumbs to the impulse to boop the tip of her nose. "I'm gonna steal it. Oh! Or, even better, I'll tell everyone you wrote it!"

Yennefer scrunches up her face in outrage and threatens, "No, you won't, Julian, and if you try I swear to God I'll never touch your cock again," and—

Bollocks, thinks Jaskier. I'm in love with Geralt's wife.

 

~*~

 

[eyeroll emoji] (12:32 PM): Sooooo…………. About last night

Yen (12:37 PM): Don't ruin it.

Yen (12:54 PM): Your present is hidden in your bedroom, by the way. The flat, not the house.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier finds the box hidden with his sex toys, which is an excellent first sign. It's made of shiny cardboard and there's a premade bow made out of ribbon stuck to the top.

He sits down on the bed, sets the box on his thigh, and plucks the lid right off without further ado.

It's a new cock cage—made of silicon, a pretty cornflower blue in color—resting lightly in a bed of tissue paper. Jaskier cups both hands over his mouth with glee as a million thoughts race through his head at once.

Oh, he's like a child on Christmas morning. The silicon means he can take it through the airport without awkward alarms being raised at security. It'll be more comfortable, too, which means he can wear it for longer. He can probably even perform with it on, if he practices.

Yennefer actively thought about this. She chose it for him.

[eyeroll emoji] (8:21 PM): I LOVE IT?!?!???!?!!

[eyeroll emoji] (8:21 PM): Thank you Daddy!! [winking kissy face emoji]

Yen (8:23 PM): You're welcome. We can put it on you before you leave.

 

~*~

 

The final leg of Jaskier's tour lasts until the end of July, so he has to get creative for a very important holiday. Thank goodness for online florists.

Yennefer calls him that afternoon, amusement coloring her voice. "'Happy Father's Day?' Really? What if Ciri had found these?"

Jaskier laughs, lounging in a wicker armchair on the little outdoor patio of a local coffee shop his followers told him about on Twitter. His expression is partially obscured by the hot pink sunglasses, but nothing's stopping anyone from snapping a photo of his shameless grin.

"Those could be from anyone," he says innocently.

"You addressed them to 'Daddy.'" Yen snorts. "Please tell me you at least used a fake name on the website."

"I used a fake name on the website," Jaskier lies. His fingers slip against the condensation on his iced coffee. "Do you like them?"

Yennefer says, "If this is you trying to get the cage off early, it's not happening. A week and a half is generous already, Julian."

"Yennefer," Jaskier gasps indignantly. "I would never."

She makes a derisive sound.

Jaskier slurps merrily on his drink.

"I'll have to get rid of the card," Yen says. "They're going on the kitchen table."

"Can we do video on Sunday?" Jaskier asks, his voice dropping a little lower. "I wanna see you this time."

Yennefer sighs in that exaggerated way of hers. "Alright, fine. I guess you've earned that much."

Jaskier bites his lip triumphantly, teeth slipping against the dampness lingering from his drink. He's suddenly acutely aware of the weight in his trousers, the soft cradle against his cock. 

Fuck, he could take it off early himself; he's got both of the keys with him while he's abroad. He should clean it anyway and she'd never know if he just… delayed putting it back on. 

"Of course, that means I'll know if you've been bad," Yennefer threatens lightly, like she's read his mind. "You come so much harder when you've done what Daddy says, don't you, Julian?"

Jaskier swallows thickly, his discomfort growing steadily the fatter his cock gets, pressing against the ribbed walls.

"Yen," he says quietly. "Please."

"Oh, are you out somewhere?" she asks teasingly.

"Yeah," says Jaskier.

"Mm, then it's a good thing I have you locked up," Yen drawls. "You wouldn't want all these nice people to see getting hard from just a phone call like a little slut, would you?"

Jaskier inhales sharply through his nose. "No."

"No, I do think you'd like that, actually." Yen's voice is smug, confident. "Little attention whore. Isn't that why you peacock around on stage? At least they pay you when you sell yourself that way."

"You're trying to—" Jaskier clears his throat. He crosses his legs, squeezing his thighs together to sharpen the pain. "Make me fail, aren't you?"

"Such baseless accusations. I'm just making an observation or two." He can hear the sharpness of her smile through the phone. "But if you did misbehave, I'd get to punish you—so really I can only win, here."

Jaskier curses under his breath. He digs his fingers into his coffee cup until the plastic crunches, the ice rattling at a jarring volume.

"Thanks again for the flowers, Julian," Yennefer says, though he's certain she never thanked him before. "Break a leg tonight."

She hangs up, the arsehole. 

Jaskier sinks even lower in his chair and gnashes his teeth against his straw like an under-enriched zoo animal.

 

~*~

 

(When she finally lets him come, it's with her eyes hot on him through the camera, his release coating his own chest in thick spurts that leave him shaking and floaty. 

She's on her third orgasm, fingers tightened ruthlessly in Geralt's hair as he fucks her just out of frame.)

 

~*~

 

Jaskier plays three nights in San Francisco near the end of the tour. The exhaustion is starting to catch up to him, but he still meets up with an artist friend when their schedules align.

Jaskier has known Valdo since they were both opening acts on the same tour in their mid-twenties. There was a period of hostility and posturing marked by some excellent hate sex, but now they've each settled into their own—mostly. Jaskier is perceptive enough to know there's some lingering jealousy over his rocket to stardom—the old accusations of selling out still carrying some weight in wake of the stadiums Jaskier's fans pack to the brim.

So, no—maybe not friends. But the way Valdo sticks his tongue down Jaskier's throat is less spiteful than it used to be, at least.

They're snogging in Jaskier's hotel room bed, and Valdo raises an eyebrow when he goes to palm Jaskier's cock and finds—well.

"I can take it off," Jaskier murmurs. "Just let me text my—" 

Girlfriend?

Oh, fuck. Does Jaskier have a girlfriend?

"Dom," he says instead, reaching for his phone. He watches Valdo's face for a reaction, feeling the sickly-sweet heat of embarrassment creep up his neck. Hopefully the good kind.

Valdo flops back against the pillows, hands behind his head. "Someone finally tied you down? Better not let Twitter get ahold of that—your reputation'll never recover."

Jaskier laughs despite himself, sending Yen a quick message on Snapchat.

"Clearly not that well," he says, gesturing between them.

"Anyone you've gotta text before you can use your prick has you tied down," says Valdo, a little condescendingly in that way that makes Jaskier's eye twitch. 

yenven333: (chat) That's fine. Add three days to your time when you put it back on

Jaskier sends her a medley of heart emojis and locks his phone.

Best not mention that detail to Valdo, who's already smirking at him like he's seen something on Jaskier's face.

"Oh, bugger off," Jaskier gripes. "The key's next to that bird, there."

Valdo's expression doesn't change.

 

~*~

 

So, yes, they did get crossfaded on Jaskier's birthday and confess some sort of emotional attachment, and they did stay up watching the sunrise together at which point in time Jaskier realized he was in love with her, and Jaskier's stomach does flutter even time he sees her name in his notifications, even when he isn't horny.

But it's fine! It's completely normal and fine and he's completely normal and fine about things the way they are.

 

~*~

 

“It’s not fine,” Essi tells him. “I’m gonna drop kick you into the sun.”

 

~*~

 

It's early August. Jaskier is halfway through his second energy drink, hunched over his guitar on the couch while he scribbles notes in the margins of the tab he's writing. Midnight is long come and gone, he thinks, though he's stopped caring about things like time and the laws of physics and the universe, because he's written two and a half songs tonight and if he stops he will die.

This all makes it particularly concerning when his phone lights up with a call from Ciri.

"Hello?" Jaskier answers worriedly. "Is everything alright, love?"

"Can you come pick me up?" comes the watery voice on the other end of the line.

Jaskier's stomach drops. He switches to speakerphone and says, "Of course. Where are you?"

"April's house."

"Okay. Can you text me the address while we talk?" Jaskier coaxes gently, already pulling up Uber. "Are you safe?"

"Yeah." Jaskier hears the rumble of her fingers against the keys. "People are—everyone's being really mean and I wanna come home and I'm scared to take an Uber and so I'm—I'm—out on the lawn I'm really sorry."

Jaskier copies and pastes the address. He fights against panicked bile rising in his throat— she's okay, you're going to get her. She's okay.

"Don't be sorry, Ciri. I'm taking a cab, I should be there in half an hour, okay?" Jaskier closes his eyes and breathes. "Did you call Mum and Dad?"

"Yeah." Ciri sniffs. "I think they're sleeping."

Jaskier walks as he types, going into the bedroom to grab a bag. He gets a change of clothes that should fit her, just in case, and sends a message to his group chat with Geralt and Yen.

Jaskier (1:27 AM): If you see this before the am im going to get her

"Okay, well, it's a good thing I don't sleep," Jaskier answers jokingly. He winces when she doesn't laugh. "Erm, the car's almost here. Do you want me to talk to you while we wait?"

He grabs a bottle of water and Gatorade each from the fridge and, after consideration, some PopTarts. 

"No, um, my ph-phone's dying, so I should—" she sniffs again. "I should hang up in case—um…"

"That's a good idea," Jaskier says gently. "If you need to you can call me back. Are there any parents home?"

Ciri says, "No, um, I'm at a party."

"Okay, that's good to know." Jaskier zips up his bag and grabs his keys from under the coffee table. "I'll try to call you when I get there, but if your phone dies, can you wait for me at the end of the driveway?"

He'd really like to avoid walking into a crowded house full of teenagers, half of whom will want his autograph.

"Yeah," Ciri agrees. "Um, should I—should I hang up?"

Jaskier's Uber turns onto his street. He pulls the door shut without locking it and takes two flights of stairs instead of waiting for the lift.

"Yeah, let's do that, okay?" He runs a hand through his hair. "I'm getting in the car, okay? I'll be there soon, love."

Ciri says, "Thanks," and—like mother, like daughter—hangs up without saying goodbye.

Or her phone is dead.

Jaskier really hopes her phone isn't dead.

The driver doesn't seem to recognize him, thank God. He hops in the back seat and greets cheerfully, "G'evening! Or, is it morning, technically? Greetings to you!"

"Hey," says the driver. "Long night?"

Jaskier leans his head back against the seat as they pull out onto the road. "You could say that. If I put in a return trip, will you be able to wait a few minutes when we get there? I'm just picking up my niece and I promise I'll tip, like, really well."

"Uh, sure," the driver says skeptically. "Back here?"

That's a good question.

Uncle J (1:32 AM): Do you want me to take you back to Mum and Dad's? You can stay at my place if you're not ready to go home

Favoritest Niece [silly tongue face] (1:32 AM): home Plz I'm rrlly sorry

"A different address," Jaskier answers belatedly. "Sorry. It's actually closer—I'll put it in the app."

"Alright," says the driver.

Jaskier fidgets restlessly, twirling his rings around on his fingers. He's been the one who needed a panicked rescue from a party on more than one occasion—hell, that's how they met Yen. Is this how Geralt felt all those times? This is horrible. All the caffeine probably isn't helping the anxiety. 

The lights of the city blur past them; the house party is out in a suburb, filled with modest houses that largely have the lights off.

It's easy to find April's, lit up like a Christmas tree. Jaskier thanks the driver profusely and clambers out of the car, quickly tapping to add a new stop to the route as he does.

Ciri is sitting in the grass—he can hardly see her, except for the glow from a streetlamp nearby. She hops to her feet at the sound of the car door slamming and stumbles clumsily into his arms.

"Uncle Jask!" she sobs, clutching at his neck, and Jaskier's heart sinks.

She hasn't called him that since she was a scared pre-teen, finding out her new parents' best friend was famous. She's shorter than Yennefer; she feels so small tucked against his chest.

"I'm here, love," he tells her, petting uselessly at her hair. "It's alright. We can go home now, do you have your things?"

She shakes her head. "It's all inside but please don't make me go in there, please, I'm sorry—"

"It's okay," Jaskier soothes. "We don't have to get any of it, alright? We'll figure it out in the morning."

Ciri sniffles and wipes the snot off on his shirt. He tilts his eyes skyward to steady himself.

"Let's get in the car, okay?" he coaxes, resting a hand high on her back. "We'll get you home."

She walks with him to the car, swaying ungainly even with him steadying her by the arm—bollocks, she really is drunk. They climb inside and Jaskier gives her the window seat in case she needs to throw up. He's glad he brought a change of clothes.

"Thanks so much for waiting," he tells the driver. "We can go now."

The driver makes a u-turn and goes back the way they came.

There's music playing softly, quiet enough that Jaskier can hear the ticking of an indicator when they roll to a stop at a light.

"Do you want to tell me about it?" Jaskier asks Ciri gently.

Ciri is still crying silently, a stream of tears dripping down her chin and smearing the thick eyeliner she was wearing. She mutters, "Not really."

"That's alri—"

"Everyone hates me!" Ciri blurts, turning to look at him. "April's supposed to be my friend, but she's always saying mean stuff and—and—"

Jaskier purses his lips. "And what?"

"She's jealous 'cause I'm dating 'Rilka," Ciri mutters. She draws her legs up onto the seat and tucks her head between her legs—a gesture so viscerally familiar in its misery that Jaskier has to press a fist against his mouth. "And she keeps trying to break us up and 'Rilka doesn't get it. Like they keep saying April doesn't mean it, like we're just all friends, but…"

Jaskier asks, "Has this been going on all year?"

Ciri nods.

"Do your parents know that?" Jaskier asks, already knowing the answer.

"No," Ciri mumbles. She takes a big, shuddering breath. "I… don't wanna worry them."

Jaskier says, "I think they'd be more upset to hear you've been hurting so much, love. They both love you so much."

"They just—" Ciri peeks out over her knee, blinking away more tears. "I'm so lucky and Mum—she saved me. She got me into this woke school or whatever and it's so much money and it's—all this shite is so fucking stupid compared to—like, they don’t misgender me and I get to go to all their girls' nights and I can hold hands with 'Rilka but I just—that doesn't mean everyone's nice to me and I should just be happy, but—but…”

Jaskier's chest aches. "You're allowed to want better friends, love."

Ciri sobs quietly, ducking her head.

"I don't want better friends," she says sullenly. "I want them to like me. Why doesn't she like me?"

"I don't know," Jaskier tells her helplessly. "Sometimes… people just won't. And that doesn't mean there's anyone wrong with you."

Ciri says, "Everyone likes you."

Jaskier laughs. He digs his thumb into the sharp point of a gemstone and says, "I promise you they don't, love."

This doesn't appear comforting. Ciri digs her fingers into her shins and hiccups.

They ride in silence for a while. Jaskier puts an update in the group chat, which still has no response from either Geralt or Yen; he expects that Ciri was right about them being asleep, though it's odd that Yen didn't have her ringer on if she knew Ciri was out for the night.

It's possible Ciri snuck out. Jaskier hopes everything's alright at home.

"Thanks for picking me up," Ciri says, sniffling and wiping her nose on her shirt. 

"Of course," Jaskier answers firmly. "I'm really glad you called me. You can always call me if you need help."

"I know." Ciri leans her temple against the window, staring at the blurring scenery. "... Are you, like, dating my parents?"

Jaskier coughs with alarm, glancing at the driver's expression in the rearview—the man looks as bored as ever, so apparently he's heard worse.

"What—" Jaskier clears his throat. "What makes you say that?"

Ciri shrugs with one shoulder. "Promise you won't tell?"

Jaskier weighs his options.

"Promise," he says.

"I've… been taking Mum's condoms," Ciri says. "She never used to use them but now she does. It makes sense that it'd be you."

Jaskier asks, "... It does?"

Ciri shrugs again. "I dunno. You're always around. I don't think Dad likes you like he likes other people."

"How…" Jaskier bites his lip. "How would you feel, if that were true?"

"Ugh, that means it is." Ciri squishes her cheek further against the window and mutters, "Don't baby me."

Jaskier chuckles nervously. "Sorry, you got me. It is true."

Ciri's reflection smiles tentatively. She asks, "Are they happy?"

"I hope so," says Jaskier.

"Are you?" she asks.

I hope so. 

Jaskier says, "I really am."

"That's good." Ciri's voice goes small again. "I guess if April wanted to date 'Rilka too it wouldn't be so bad, but I don't think she wants that. I think she just… doesn't want me around at all."

"That's not fair to you," Jaskier tells her. "You don't have to be best friends with everyone involved, but they should respect you."

Ciri sits up a little and wipes at her eyes—black mascara and eyeliner smear against her palms. "I know."

Jaskier expects it doesn't help much at sixteen. He glances at his phone, checking how far they are from home.

"What's in the bag?" Ciri asks.

Jaskier smiles. "Some snacks and drinks. Want something?"

"Maybe just water," Ciri says.

Jaskier hands her the water bottle. She takes tiny sips, going quiet again as she stares out the window.

They finally make it back to the flat; Jaskier tips profusely, as promised, and wishes the driver a good night. He really hopes that discourages any internet documentation of this encounter.

Ciri tries to punch in the code herself—it takes three tries before Jaskier gently nudges her aside and does it for her. He can tell she's embarrassed; he sympathizes.

He's also more than a little worried. How much did she drink?

God, he's getting old.

Taking the lift turns out to be a mistake. Ciri sways dangerously, then cups a hand over her mouth and stares at Jaskier with wide eyes.

Fuck. Jaskier keeps his voice gentle and asks, "Do you feel sick?"

Ciri nods.

"We're almost home," Jaskier encourages, eyes flicking to the climbing numbers. "Just try your best to hang in there. I've been sick plenty of times, you know. It's practically a rite of passage, I've always said, though your dad would disagree with me. Have I ever told you—you don't wanna hear a drunk story right now, do you?"

Ciri shakes her head.

The lift opens.

Jaskier already has his keys out. He unlocks the door and steps out of the way as quick as he can.

Not quickly enough—Ciri takes two steps into the apartment and vomits all over Jaskier's shoes, which is frankly a level of cosmic justice that he finds insulting.

"Fuck." Ciri makes a miserable noise; Jaskier holds his breath and carefully pulls her hair back from her face as she continues to wretch. "Oh, fuck, I'm—sorry—"

"It's alright." Jaskier is trying not to gag. "It's okay, love. Phew, remind me to tell you this story, you'll really think it's funny in the morning. Can you make it to the bathroom?"

Ciri nods, reaching up to clutch at his forearm. "I'm sorry."

Jaskier carefully toes out of his shoes and peels off his socks, too—both to be dealt with later. He helps Ciri to the bathroom, where he wets a cloth to let her wipe her face and finds a hair tie so she can pull back her hair.

"Let's wait it out here for a little bit, okay?" he tells her. "I'll go clean up in the foyer. Want me to wake up Mum and Dad?"

"Please don't," Ciri begs. Her eyes are watering as she slumps over the toilet. "Fuck, this is the worst."

"Okay, just you and me it is." Jaskier hesitates in the doorway. "Just give a shout if you need anything, alright?"

"Kill me," Ciri groans.

Jaskier brightly answers, "You know, I would, but I'm too scared of your Mum, so I guess you'll have to stick it out!"

The little brat flashes her middle finger at him.

Yeah, Jaskier thinks with relief. She'll be okay.

And with that, he sets about the unpleasant business of cleaning up the mess. Not that being drunk and miserable and throwing up is a pleasurable experience, but he does kind of prefer it to being the sober one.

By the time that's done, he figures Ciri is probably a little more sorted. He fills up a big glass of water for her and knocks on the doorframe before walking back in.

Ciri looks up at him, blinking blearily.

"Hey, love," he says. "Did you throw up again?"

She nods.

"Do you feel like you still need to?"

Ciri shakes her head.

"Alright," Jaskier says with relief. "How about bed, then?"

"Okay," she mumbles. He helps her to her feet and into her bedroom, where she flops onto the bed with a groan.

"Erm, I'll go get you a rubbish bin, just in case," Jaskier tells her, placing the glass on her nightstand. "Did you wanna change into sleep clothes?"

Ciri muffles, "Will you get me some?" into the pillows.

Jaskier isn't thrilled by the prospect of going through her clothes. He fetches a bin and some of Yen's old pyjamas from the guest room, bringing those back instead.

"Here you go," he says. "I'll just, erm, do some more tidying. Do you want me to check on you again? Oh! Sleep on your side, please, in case you get sick again."

Ciri runs her thumb over the hemline of her pyjama bottoms. "Will you, like, sit with me?"

Jaskier smiles, heart aching. "Of course. I'll come back in a few minutes, okay?"

Ciri nods.

Jaskier goes and grabs his phone, which he forgot in the kitchen at some point. He texts a final update to Geralt and Yen—then realizes with a sudden pang that he's starving. 

He inhales a packet of PopTarts, then pours his own glass of water and brings it back with him to Ciri's room.

Ciri says, "Come in," when he knocks on the door.

Jaskier pads inside, leaving the door open behind him. He finds Ciri bundled up under the covers, only half of her face visible above the duvet; she blinks miserably at him and doesn't speak.

The lights are still on. Jaskier shuts off the overhead ones and leaves the faint glow of a nightlight on the far side of the bed—apparently something she hasn't grown out of. He certainly won't begrudge her.

Jaskier settles on the floor, near the foot of the bed, and leans back against it with a sigh. He turns down the brightness on his phone and settles in for a bit of waiting—he'll stay until she falls asleep, at least.

"Uncle Jask?" Ciri asks quietly.

Jaskier turns his head, though he finds her eyes are closed. "Yes?"

Ciri burrows even further under the duvet and says, "Thanks."

"Always," Jaskier promises. 

She must believe him, because there's nothing left to say.

 

~*~

 

"Wake up."

Jaskier grumbles, blinking reluctantly as Yen comes into fuzzy view from where he's still slumped on Ciri's floor.

"Wha's 'at?" he mutters, rubbing at his eyes. "Time's it?"

"Not you," says Yen. "Go sleep in the guest room or something. You look like shit." She shakes Ciri gently by the arm. "Wake up."

Ciri groans and smacks Yen's hand away.

"Cirilla."

Jaskier yawns. He has a massive sinus headache, or perhaps a caffeine hangover—he presses his fingers against her temples. "Maybe y'should let 'er sleep?"

"It's two in the fucking afternoon," Yen says, unwavering. "If she can't wake up we're going to the doctor, unless you dunked her in a tub of beer on the way home and that explains the smell."

"I'm up," Ciri whines. "God."

Jaskier decides not to point out the number of hungover days he's spent in bed well past four. Nothing will stop Yennefer on a warpath, least of all a tired man who plays guitar for a living.

He scrambles out of the bedroom and leaves the door cracked behind him.

Rather than dragging himself back to bed, though, he follows the sounds of fretful puttering in the kitchen.

Geralt is making Ciri's favorite breakfast—American pancakes, loaded with chocolate chips, and cooked in twice as much butter as necessary. The smell is mouthwatering.

"It's that Yen-sanctioned?" Jaskier jokes. "She didn't sound like she's in much of a 'feed the child comfort food' mood to me."

Geralt drops the spatula and crushes Jaskier in an embrace.

"Oh," says Jaskier.

"Thanks," Geralt rasps. "For being there."

She's probably the closest thing to a daughter Jaskier will ever have.

He's not sure why he realizes this—why he thinks it must be true. He's only thirty-six; there should be time.

Jaskier clings to Geralt, this steadiest pillar of his life, and tells him, "She's my family too."

"I know," Geralt answers roughly.

The butter starts to burn in the pan; Jaskier releases him so he can rescue it.

Geralt has dark circles under his eyes—maybe Ciri was wrong, and he'd been at work. Or he woke up in the early morning and realized what had happened, and could neither wake them nor let himself rest.

He flips the pancake with a careful turn of his wrist.

"Think your shoes are probably fucked," Geralt says. "Sorry."

Jaskier can't even remember what he was wearing. He quirks his lips and asks, "Does Yen know that yet? I keep saying this'll be a really funny story one day—I mean, the irony is just too good, isn't it? If we can't find the humor in—"

"You're not listening!" Ciri shouts, her voice ringing out clearly through the entire flat. "You're not even trying!"

Yen snaps something back Jaskier can't parse.

"You don't get it!" Ciri shrieks, somehow even louder. "You'll never fucking get it and you don't even care."

The door slam is pretty audible, as Yen's half of the conversation.

She storms down the hallway and stops in the kitchen doorway, all spitting fury and clenched fists and wild, heaving breaths.

"Six years, Geralt," she says, voice cracking. "Six years and she has the fucking nerve—I can't talk to her like this. I can't do it. You go in there and do something about it because I can't fucking do it."

Geralt kills the burner on the stove. His brow is creased in a protective line and he pulls Yen against his chest, holding her there for two agonizing breaths. Her nostrils flare and her eyes squeeze shut so tightly that it looks painful.

Geralt kisses her on the top of the head and heads down the hallway.

There's no more screaming, so Ciri must let him in.

"Fuck." Yen presses the heels of her hands against her eyes. "Fucking hell."

Jaskier's head throbs. He asks, "Are you alright?"

"Obviously not," Yen snaps. She drops her hands, tilting her gaze up to the ceiling, and blinks rapidly. "Don't patronize me."

"I'm not trying to. I just—" Jaskier purses his lips. "Erm, do you want to—we could sit, maybe? I'm sorry, I just—I wanna be helpful, how can I be helpful?"

Yennefer just stares at him. Her bottom lip is quivering and her eyes are turning wet and glassy and she brings a hand up to her mouth and begins to sob.

The only time Jaskier has ever seen her cry is when they found out the adoption went through.

It makes it a little hard to breathe.

Jaskier takes a step forward, his hand outstretched. "Yen…"

"I'm failing her," she sobs. Takes a ragged breath and scrubs angrily at her face, nails dragging against her cheeks. "She's hurting and she needs me and I'm failing."

"That's not…" Jaskier brushes tentative fingers against her wrist; she digs her hands into both of his upper-arms—vicious, bruising displacement because he's there and he'll let her, of course he'll let her—and buries her face in his neck. "Yen, you could never. You love her so much—more than I've ever thought possible. If my parents had loved me half as much—"

"I can't fix it!" Yen snaps. She digs her nails in harder. "What fucking good am I if I can't make it better for her?"

Tentatively, Jaskier wraps his arms around her back. "I don't think—"

"I tried everything—I said I'd talk to the parents, I'd talk to the school. We can send her somewhere else." The tears are still spilling down her cheeks, staining his shirt. "She thinks I don't care? I'd do anything for that girl, I'd-I'd—nothing even matters if it isn't Ciri. You know that, don't you?"

"I know," says Jaskier. "God, I know."

"Why doesn't she?" Yen asks wetly. "Julian, why doesn't she—"

"She knows, Yen," Jaskier promises, and, fuck, he's crying too. He hopes she can't tell. "She didn't mean it that way."

Yen slides her hands down to wrap around his middle; it hurts more now that she's let go. "You don't know that."

Jaskier cups the back of her head, cradling her there. The kitchen smells like burnt butter and her hair smells like nothing, and he thinks that maybe she'll never let him look at her again, after this.

"You are the best fixer I know," he tells her firmly. "I would trust my entire life to you—seriously, every decision."

Yen snorts derisively.

"But Ciri doesn't need someone to fix it all for her right now," Jaskier continues. He closes his eyes, chest tightening. "She just… needs you to hold her and let her be miserable for a little bit. She needs to be a normal kid who complains about how life is absolute shit and unfair and cry about her shitty friends."

"I didn't have the luxury," Yen snaps. "I had to survive. That was the only solution."

You almost didn't, Jaskier thinks. The scars burn through his shirt.

"And what a beautiful life you've given her," he says gently. Has to swallow, to go on. "That it won't kill her."

Yen sobs again, harder. The feeling behind it changes each time it wracks through her and he absorbs the shock in his ribs—transformation.

They've all created themselves, haven't they? One way or another—scalpels and needles and the gentle violence of a name. His mother's gardener used to pinch the little buds off the bushes when there were too many and he'd sniffle and bury them in the dirt.

They rotted, of course, and died—were already dead. But the bushes lived.

"You were there for her," Yen tells him. "I won't forget that."

Jaskier ducks his head, brushing his nose through her hair. He lets the tears roll down his cheeks and asks, "Can you keep a secret?"

"What is it?"

Jaskier smiles faintly. "You didn't hear it from me, but Ciri's been borrowing from the condom stash."

Yen snorts. "I knew that. Does she honestly think I can't count?"

Jaskier laughs despite himself, pulling away to look her in the eye. "Then why haven't you said something? You could buy the poor girl her own!"

Yen shrugs delicately. She slides her hands back up to grip his biceps, thumbing idly at one of the crescent marks she left behind.

"She's had all the sex talks any of us can stand," Yen says. "We always made it clear she could come to us, so I thought… maybe she'd tell me when she's ready. That's normal, isn't it? Keeping a secret or two from your parents."

She glances away, eyes fixed on the pancake mix left out on the counter.

Jaskier grins. "Sounds suspiciously like my advice, actually—or, the spirit of it."

"Ugh." She pushes lightly at his chest. "Don't get full of yourself."

"Too late," Jaskier says cheerfully. "Oh, also—she knows we're having sex. Turns out she can also count? What year do they learn that in?"

Yen scowls mildly, though she allows, "I guess that makes some things simpler."

Jaskier pouts, batting his eyelashes. "But I liked being your dirty little secret."

"If it makes you feel better," Yen says, winding her arms around his neck, "I'll castrate you before I even think about letting this go public."

Jaskier says, "That's the most romantic thing you've ever said to me," and leans in for a kiss.

She obliges him, softly. Brushing her fingers through the wispy hair at the base of his neck—he needs to cut it; he's looking a little shaggy, but he likes when she cards through it like this and even better when she pulls.

Geralt's had the same hair since Jaskier met him, but he understands the extra incentive to keep it that way now.

Yen breaks their kiss to tuck her head under his chin. He closes his eyes, waiting for the moment she withdraws again—when she realizes she's gone soft and oh, God, he loves her even like this and they need to get back to the order of things.

It never comes. He just… holds her.

Two sets of footsteps approach; Yen's fingers tighten in Jaskier's hair when he tries to give her space to move away.

"Mum?" Ciri asks. "Can you—um, are you okay?"

Yen turns around, expression immutable. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?"

Ciri's eyes are puffy. Her shoulders are hunched and she's got one arm wrapped around her middle. "Were you… crying?"

Yen's face softens. She takes a step forward, a hand outstretched that she uses to tuck a strand of hair behind Ciri's ear; Ciri leans into the touch, blinking wetly.

"I was worried about you, love," Yen tells her. "I hate seeing you hurting."

Ciri mutters to her feet, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," says Yen firmly. She tilts her chin up a little. "You're allowed to be sad and I'm supposed to handle that. I'm sorry I wasn't listening to you—I wanted to make it better for you and I didn't ask what you wanted."

Ciri nods, her gaze still fixed on the floor. "I forgive you. I love you."

Yen's voice cracks. "I love you too. I hope you know how—"

Ciri hugs her. 

Yen cuts off, holding Ciri closer and sighing with relief instead. 

Jaskier purses his lips around a smile, locking eyes with Geralt—who smiles back, dark eyebags shrinking into crescent moons. Jaskier is tired too, somewhere in his heart. He wants to hide them all away from here, somewhere with a piano and a favorite blanket and a tree taller than the buildings. 

Ciri asks, "Will you help me get my stuff back from April's house? I don't wanna talk to her."

"Of course," Yen answers. "Do you wanna go now?"

Ciri smiles tentatively. "After breakfast?"

"Sure," says Yen.

"Guess I should finish that," says Geralt.

He touches lightly at Ciri's back, then brushes his fingers across Jaskier's arm on his way back to the stove. 

Ciri pulls away from Yen and looks at Jaskier; her expression falls again as she says, "Um, sorry about, like, you know."

"Psh." Jaskier waves her off. "Karmic justice. Did you tell your mum what happened? Yen, you'll get a kick out of this."

"Somehow I highly doubt it," Yen says drily, but she only digs her nails in a little when she squeezes his wrist, leading him to the kitchen table.

Jaskier follows obediently, taking a seat next to her and still addressing Ciri as he gestures animatedly. "Actually, have you ever heard the story of how your parents met? It's a real one for the Hallmark channel, I've always said."

"Jask," Geralt says plaintively.

Ciri sits eagerly down across from him. "No, how'd they meet?"

Jaskier grins. "Well, you see, it was a dark and stormy night—"

"Weather was pretty good," Geralt interjects.

"—and I was slightly in my cups—"

"Blackout drunk," Yen deadpans.

"—when I got home from a fantastic party and got off on the wrong floor of the building and accidentally walked into Yennefer's lovely abode."

"Mum!" Ciri scolds. "Why was your door unlocked?"

Yen presses her fingertips against her temples. "That's irrelevant."

There may or may not have been a kink party going on. Jaskier's memory is a little fuzzy.

"And anyway!" he says brightly. "Yennefer graciously agreed to help me get home—"

"I phoned the most recent number in his phone and threatened to call the police if no one came to get him."

"—even after I threw up on her shoes!"

"Ohh,” says Ciri. "Brilliant.”

Yen narrows her eyes suspiciously, but Jaskier plods on.

"So anyway, naturally the most recent person in my phone was Geralt, who swiftly came to my rescue—"

"Thought about leaving you there."

"—and the rest is history!" Jaskier finishes cheerfully.

Yen rolls her eyes—though she looks suspiciously fond about it, especially when she glances over at Geralt and shares a smile with him.

"Wait, then," Ciri says, propping her chin up in her hands. "How did you and Dad meet?"

"No," says Geralt.

Ciri lights up, looking between the three of them. "Ooh, now you've gotta tell me! What happened? It can't be worse than meeting Mum, can it?"

"Ciri," Jaskier says solemnly, looking her in the eye. "What you need to understand is that—and I cannot emphasize this enough—literally none of this was my fault."

"All of it was," Geralt says irritably, flipping a pancake with slightly more force than necessary. "Literally all of it."

Ciri bats her eyelashes expectantly.

"Right, so—" Jaskier steeples his fingers on the table, grinning through the pain of Yen kicking him swiftly on the ankle. "I need to impress upon you that, legally, this was not a kidnapping."

 

~*~

 

A fine morning, something like two weeks later, Jaskier wakes languidly; listens in a distant way to the sounds of Geralt getting home—door shutting, boots clunking, the shower sputtering to life. He hums contentedly and fumbles for Yen beside him without opening his eyes, rolling over to spoon her with a sleepy kiss to the back of her neck.

Now that Ciri knows, things are simpler. Less frantic. Jaskier can lay here as long as he'd like—as long as Yen and Geralt will have him. 

The hairdryer cuts on shrilly. Yen elbows him until he rolls onto his back again, then tucks herself against his side. Jaskier breathes slowly; there's time for it.

Geralt pads into the bedroom. 

Jaskier cracks his eyes open, blinking until his vision settles, and smiles at the sight of him.

Geralt smiles back, shedding the towel from around his hips and grabbing a pair of joggers that he steps into instead. His hair is falling loose and silky past his shoulders and there's a slight glistening to his skin where he didn't finish fully drying off.

Jaskier wriggles to the side, intending to get up or at least leave more room for Geralt to lay on Yen's other side, but before he can take full dominion over his limbs, Geralt is crawling under the duvet and flopping down onto Jaskier's chest.

Jaskier's breath catches. He purses his lips, looking at the shirtless sprawl, the soft halo of silver ticking Jaskier's chest hair.

Geralt's eyes are closed.

Jaskier hates the feeling of drying hair—when it's frizzing and re-tangling, neither wet and sleek nor soft and brushed. He hates even dealing with his own.

Geralt knows that. Is that why…?

Jaskier's fingers are carding through Geralt's hair. His heart is in his throat. Yen presses her mouth to it, can surely feel where it beats scant centimeters from her teeth.

Rip it out, Jaskier thinks.

She doesn't. Geralt purrs, pushes up into the temptation of Jaskier's fingertips, and Jaskier—God help him—exhales.

 

~*~

 

Later—when they've brunched and been coerced by Ciri into ice cream and are wandering the shopping centre—when Jaskier has busied himself with shop windows and two new pairs of sunglasses and the dirty chai occupying the hand not holding his half-eaten waffle cone—

Yen falls in step with him. She's wearing the aviators he bought, which look better on her, and a burgundy smile that Geralt and Ciri can't see from where they've rushed up ahead for the game shop.

Jaskier slurps on his drink—holds it out to offer her some.

Yen says, "I've never understood the way you two love each other."

Geralt is visible through the window, frowning thoughtfully at the little display of dice sets that always draws his attention even though it hardly ever changes. He glances up briefly, when Yen and Jaskier walk into view, and smiles.

"Neither does he," says Jaskier.

Yen plucks the cup from his hand and brushes past him through the open door.

 

~*~

 

Favoritest Niece [silly tongue face] (9:19 AM): [a link to a gossip magazine article] [surprised blushing emoji]

Jaskier follows the link.

Jaskier's Latest Single 'Blood in the Garden' Hints at Darker Love Story: Does the UK Pop Star Have a New Muse?

 

~*~

 

"It's about Yen, right?" Geralt asks. "The one you played at the party."

Jaskier looks up from his guitar where it's propped against his thighs. He's sitting on the floor of Geralt's crafts room, tinkering with a new song while Geralt paints a rather striking owlbear, and quite possibly this is the last time they'll ever do this.

"Yes," he says faintly. "I suppose it is."

Geralt's eyebrows are gently furrowed. He adds a precise smear of russet to the beak. "Are you in love with her?"

Jaskier lays down the guitar. Picks it back up, clutching it against his middle as he plucks anxiously at the strings—says, "I've never wanted to get in between—I mean to, um, to make problems, for the two of you, or…"

It's a lie. He wants very badly that it were true, though. He hopes that counts for something.

"I know," Geralt says. He smiles softly, but still not at Jaskier. "It doesn't bother me. I know what loving her's like."

Jaskier is left without words.

Geralt says, "I always wondered if they were about me—the other ones."

Words do not find him.

"I'm not an idiot," Geralt continues. He rinses his paintbrush in the little cup of water, dabs it on a towel. "I just thought… they were stories. I wouldn't blame you, if you liked the idea of me better than… me."

Jaskier says, "It was you. It was you so badly that I had to make it something else."

Geralt stares at his half-painted miniature, something soft and aching in the angles of his body. "You never said anything. You're always saying it to someone."

"I can't lose you," Jaskier tells him desperately, and, oh, he wants to rise to his knees, wants to clasp his hands in line with his breastbone and tilt his chin, but the guitar cages him. "What we have is enough. I'll never ask for more, I'd never want to make you—"

"Uncomfortable?" Geralt asks. His eyes flick to the side, finally towards Jaskier to take in the state of him, and they're glistening with tears.

Jaskier nods.

Geralt clears his throat. "Can I show you something?"

"Of course," says Jaskier.

Geralt opens a drawer on his desk and then… doesn't move.

Jaskier scrambles to his feet, leaning his guitar against the wall, and comes to stand at Geralt's side while he peers into the drawer.

There are two rows of miniatures, clearly painted over a number of years, based on the steady improvement in quality as they go along. The ones on the right all have long, raven black hair and appear to be some kind of magic-using class. The ones on the left all hold some kind of musical instrument and are painted in bright, foppish colors.

Jaskier swallows, reaching out with a shaking hand. "Are these…?"

"You and Yen," Geralt says roughly.

Jaskier's fingers brush against Geralt's bicep in his unsteady rush to grab one of the tiny Jaskiers—it's one of the newer ones, holding what looks like a harp and dressed in red and teal.

"Geralt," he says. "I…"

"That one’s from your last album drop," Geralt says. He's watching Jaskier's face, now that Jaskier isn't looking. "Everytime something happened in our lives, or I… felt something, I painted one. I guess I was…"

"Making it something else?" Jaskier finishes breathlessly.

"You're right," Geralt tells him. "It's easier when it's a story."

Jaskier cups a hand over his mouth.

"Fuck," says Geralt. "Sorry."

"Don't." Jaskier blinks the tears down his cheeks, his voice a little muffled. "Don't be sorry, I'm—oh, fuck, can you take this? Please take it back, I can't—" Geralt gently pries the miniature from his grip and sets it in the drawer, and Jaskier brushes his quivering fingers along Geralt's jaw and says, "Am I reading this right? Can I…?"

"Yeah," Geralt rasps.

Jaskier shudders through a breath. He cups Geralt's jaw, thumbing at his cheek, and the thought of doing anything further is so incomprehensibly, beautifully impossible that Geralt kisses him first.

Jaskier giggles.

Geralt pulls away, raising a teasing eyebrow.

"Sorry," Jaskier says, suddenly a little giddy, a smile spreading wide. "I just—always thought I'd be the one to do that, if it ever happened."

"Hm," says Geralt, and he's smiling too. "Wanna try again?"

Jaskier says, "Yes, actually, thank—" and Geralt slips a hand into Jaskier's hair and reels him in once more. 

Bastard.

Jaskier surrenders, of course. He melts into Geralt's touch, clinging to him, pouring the years of pining into his mouth. 

It isn't frantic, or desperate. They're not making up for lost time; they've arrived exactly when they should. Jaskier wouldn't redo the last twenty-odd years—wouldn't admit to anything sooner, or be braver or drunker or press his lips to the corner of Geralt's mouth any number of times he'd longed to. They were meant to exist where they are.

What a beautiful thing. What a perfect place to leave his hands.

Geralt nuzzles against Jaskier's cheek, rumbling contentedly from low in his throat. Jaskier laughs softly and brushes his lips against the crease of Geralt's eyelid.

"Oh," Jaskier whispers wondrously, the ache surging in his chest. "How I've loved you."

"It was good," Geralt murmurs. "Thank you."

Jaskier nods, pulling them a little closer together. Geralt's chair creaks under the shift in weight. "For me, too."

Geralt tightens his hands in Jaskier's shirt. "I love you. I should say it more."

"You do," Jaskier promises. Kisses him again, because he can. "I've never doubted that, love. It's in everything. I just didn't know it could—that you'd want it like this."

"Took me a long time," Geralt says.

Jaskier smiles against his temple. "We've got plenty left."

Geralt shudders underneath him. He's seen so much death—so much blood. Jaskier will make this soft; he'll believe for the both of them.

As long as it takes.

 

~*~

 

"Julian," Yen asks lazily, carding her fingers through his hair, "will you be here for Halloween?"

Jaskier hums, back muscles shifting slowly. He's sprawled on his belly, cheek propped up on her thigh, and Geralt is reclined against the corner their bodies make, flipping idly through a book.

"I've got an underground event that evening," Yen tells him. "I thought I'd bring you."

Jaskier perks up, shifting to look at her expression. "As your sub?"

"Mhm." Yen traces a nail along the curve of his ear. "It's been years since I've gotten to do any real Kinbaku."

"Oh, fuck yes," Jaskier says eagerly, licking his lips. "I'd love to model. Do you have a position in mind? I've always wanted to try a full suspension. Oh, but maybe we should start with—"

Geralt chuckles fondly.

Jaskier glances over at him, shifting to gently bonk their heads together. "You don't want to come?"

"Too many people," Geralt says. He nuzzles Jaskier's temple. "You guys have fun."

Jaskier kisses the bridge of his nose.

"We'll have to practice," Yen warns. "I'm gonna be rusty."

"Oh, what a hardship!" Jaskier sighs dramatically, placing the back of a hand to his forehead. "How will I ever survive?"

Yen tweaks his ear. "Oi, take this seriously—especially if you wanna do suspension. Semi is probably more realistic."

Jaskier pouts ferociously. "But Daddy, I want to! It's been years for me too, you know."

"Ugh." Yen rolls her eyes, scratching her nails placatingly against his scalp. "Not for this time. If you're good, we can find another event in the spring."

Jaskier grins triumphantly and resettles against her thigh, his eyes fluttering shut. Geralt leans back against them, books pages rustling, and reaches over to skim a warm hand down the curve of Jaskier's spine.

It's going to be a lovely few months.

 

~*~

 

Jaskier is, like is often the case, the last to wake up. He stretches luxuriously and flops over in the bed, confirming its emptiness. He feels drowsy and content—can smell something cooking in the kitchen that entices even his delicate stomach.

The dresser is partially open, a few drawers ajar. Jaskier leans half out of the bed—intending to grab some clothes from the drawer Geralt and Yen cleared for him back in July—when something else catches his attention.

Yen's knicker drawer is open, rows of delicate fabrics left on display. Jaskier feels a familiar tug at his chest, an embarrassed flush rising to his cheeks even though no one's here to see.

There's lots of pairs he's never even seen her wear. Surely she wouldn't mind if—if—

Jaskier closes his eyes. He can feel his heart beating and the rush of it in his ears, and for some godforsaken reason decides to be brave.

The pair he picks is midnight blue, a thick hem of lace forming the waistband above soft cotton for the rest of the material. He hears a few seams pop when he pulls them over his thighs, but it's too late to prevent that. 

It's not that nerve-wracking, once they're on—a strange sense of peace washing over him, despite the thumping of his heart. He would've been terrified, when he was younger. 

Might still be, if he were in someone else's home.

But the pair of Geralt's joggers that he borrows sit perfectly low on his hips, revealing a tell-tale sliver of lace, and he bites his lip giddily. He wants them to see. He wants to let them love him.

The shirt he slips into is his own, fitting more snugly across his shoulders. He wiggles his feet and, finding them chilly, puts on a pair of socks too.

Jaskier wanders into the kitchen with restless hands—shifting from fidgeting with his rings to drumming along the table as he beelines for the coffee pot. Geralt is finishing cooking while Yen leans against the counter and watches him work.

"Good morning!" he greets cheerfully.

"Not for much longer," Yen drawls. She smirks. "Long night?"

Jaskier is waylaid by the prospect of kissing her cheek. "Mm, some horrible woman tortured me for hours. Barely escaped with my life."

"Pity," she says drily, then winds an arm around his waist when he tries to move away. Her fingers nudge under the hem of his shirt to reel him in—her eyebrows go up when she brushes against the lace; the amusement spreads further across her lips.

She says nothing, but kisses him firmly on the mouth.

Jaskier taps his fingers against her ribs before pulling away. 

"Jask," Geralt asks, "potatoes?"

"Yes , as a matter of fact!" Jaskier brushes a hand along the small of Geralt's back and reaches up to grab one of the seldom-used coffee mug from the top cabinets, stretching so that his shirt pulls up over his stomach. "You're a wizard, love. A potato wizard."

Geralt huffs out a laugh. "Sure."

Jaskier pours himself a cup of coffee, then hops up onto the counter next to Yen. "Where's Ciri?"

"Home," says Yen. "I'm sure she'll emerge at the promise of magic potatoes."

"Who wouldn't?" Jaskier agrees sagely.

He takes a sip of his coffee, wincing when the bitter heat bites at his tongue. Then looks pointedly over at Yen, searching her face.

Yen slips her hand back onto Jaskier's hip, tucking under the waistband of his joggers and rubbing her thumb in idle circles over the lace hemline. She tilts her chin up at him and he leans down, a hand braced on the counter to meet her in a kiss.

She bites his bottom lip and murmurs, "Are we playing?"

Jaskier brushes his nose against his cheek and answers, "We can be."

He trusts her.

Yen says, "Bedroom—now."

Jaskier slides down to his feet.

Yen's hand reaches lower, cupping a palm over his arse and giving a cheeky squeeze, and tells Geralt, "We'll be back for breakfast, love."

Geralt hums indulgently.

Jaskier follows Yen into the bedroom, shutting and locking the door behind them. She sits down on the edge of the bed and says, "Take off your shirt."

Jaskier tosses it to the side. He keeps his eyes fixed on her, practically vibrating with anticipation.

"Are those mine?" she asks.

He nods.

"Let's see them," Yen says, beckoning him closer.

Jaskier steps out of his joggers and then comes to stand between her legs, swallowing thickly when she traces a finger down the straining seam over his thigh. He looks at himself, the tight line of fabric cutting into his crotch, the distinctive bulge of his cock and balls through the cotton.

It's a little obscene, he supposes. He likes it.

Yennefer's gaze is thoughtful—appreciative. She looks at him with sparking eyes and says, "Only good children are allowed to wear Daddy's knickers. Have you been good, Julian?"

Jaskier swallows thickly. God, she could crush him. A torn-out sheet of paper in her hand, threatening to crumple up around all the words.

"Yes," he says. "I think so."

Yennefer tuts. "You took something without asking. Do good children take things?"

"I—" Jaskier blinks pleadingly. "I just wanted…"

"They are pretty on you, though," Yen muses, almost like she's not listening. She pats the empty space next to her and he sits, folding his hands in his lap. "Do you like them?"

Jaskier breathes out shakingly. "Yes."

Yen's hand is cool against his thigh. She kisses the corner of his mouth and murmurs, "Good."

Jaskier pitches to the side, burying his face in her neck. He's shaky, off-balance, needy hands grabbing at her blouse.

"Naughty, pretty little thing," she scolds warmly. Her nails scratch at him through the fabric. "What am I going to do with you?"

Jaskier shakes his head.

"We could get your own," Yen tells him, nose brushing through his hair. "Would you like that?"

A warm thrill goes up his spine. He says, "Please, Daddy."

Yen kisses the top of his head. "Do you want Geralt to help pick them out, too?"

Jaskier smiles and says, "Yes, please."

"Alright. Let's look later—and you can keep these." Yen pulls at the elastic-y waistband, snapping it back against his hip. "You've stretched them out, anyway."

"How generous." Jaskier nips playfully at her neck. "Thank you."

He must imagine the way her shoulders untense a little—the way she holds him a little tighter and a slow, warm puff of air grazes his ear. But he snuggles himself closer anyway, reassuring her with the curve of his mouth against her throat. 

You had me, he promises. I knew you would.

 

~*~

 

"Stop smiling at people," Yen grumbles, steering him along with a hand at the small of his back. "Someone will recognize you."

Jaskier gasps at her, affronted. "How dare you! No one will see past my most clever disguise."

While his tone is facetious, Jaskier really is decently certain that no one will look at him like this—dressed head to toe in black, including a lace mask framing him from brow to cheekbone—and recognize him after sundown.

Yen, on the other hand, is rather herself in black leather and a matching mask, her hair artfully pulled away from her face and lips painted blood red. But her fame is a little different than his, and the streets are crowded with revellers.

They're almost to the venue, anyway. Jaskier is carrying her kit for her, a comforting weight in his off hand.

"Brat," Yen tells him mildly. "Maybe I've changed my mind about tonight. Take that tone again and I'll whip you instead."

Jaskier leans into her space to pout up at her. "If I'm good, will you do both?"

Her nostrils flare with barely-contained amusement, but she warns, "Don't overdo it."

"I know." Jaskier butts his nose against her temple, then quickly withdraws. "Don't worry, Daddy, I'll behave."

Yen curls her lips smugly.

They slip into the venue—taking a delightfully creepy set of rickety stairs down into the basement—and leave their coats in a discreet corner. 

A rush hits Jaskier as soon as they enter the main room. He grins, spinning in a slow circle to take in the energy around them—the excitement, the sensuality. 

Yen grabs him by the belt loop and tugs him closer. "Oi, don't wander off. I should've brought a leash."

The threat of being collared just makes Jaskier more determined to misbehave. He stumbles purposefully into her side, murmuring a lilting, "Promise?" into her ear.

Yen rolls her eyes—then flicks them down to his throat. "We'll see."

Jaskier does follow, though. He tends to recognize people at events like this, which doesn't bother him—code of secrecy and all—but it's been a while since he's made it out to one, and the masquerade theme doesn't help.

Yen finds a few acquaintances—maybe people she'd planned to meet ahead of time. She doesn't introduce him by name; the possessive hand she keeps on the small of his back says everything it needs to. 

Jaskier does join the conversations, though. He loves talking shop, so to speak, and he and Yen are both refreshingly in their element. It feels nice—acting like a couple, sharing stories (even if they're mostly naked ones). One couple is looking for a new cock cage and Jaskier gives a rave review of the one Yen bought for him.

Eventually, Yen checks her watch and leads him to the stage. He sets her kit down for her and watches her unpack it, bouncing on the balls of his feet in anticipation.

"Get undressed," Yen tells him, uncoiling the first length of rope.

It's a striking teal color—one of Jaskier's favorites. Geralt said it brought out his eyes. Jaskier tugs his shirt over his head and drops it on the edge of the stage, shivering a little in the cool underground air. He kicks off his shoes, then unbuttons his trousers and shimmies out of those too, adding them to the pile.

Jaskier hesitates when he's down to his knickers, looking down at himself. Full nudity is allowed at the event, and he certainly wouldn't be the only one stripping naked. But it's just—

Yen turns to him and gives his body an appreciative once-over, so unlike how she used to look at him. She hooks her fingers into the waistband and draws him into her orbit.

"Do you wanna leave them on?" she asks.

Jaskier purses his lips. The knickers are full lace, partially translucent but a rich cranberry in color a few shades darker than Yen's lipstick. They fit him perfectly; Yen and Geralt made sure of that.

"I'm not sure," he says, eyes flicking up to meet her gaze. "What do you think?"

Yen hums in consideration. She scratches her nails against the textured fabric, then digs them into a bare sliver of hip. 

Jaskier sucks in a breath.

"Leave them," she decides. "We're already prettying you up."

Jaskier flushes, licking his lips restlessly, and allows himself to be shepherded onto the stage. 

Yen skims her hands up and down his sides, leaning in to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah," Jaskier answers, smiling softly. He wiggles his fingers and toes preemptively, reminding himself of the feeling, and then swallows shakily when she retrieves the first rope and comes to stand behind him.

"Arms first," Yen tells him, teasing one end of the rope along his bicep.

Jaskier crosses his arms behind his back in the position he likes, then huffs when she adjusts him anyway. A few people have come to watch; he looks out over the room, avoiding eye contact with anyone in particular but preening under the attention.

"You're so bossy," he mutters, shifting his weight restlessly. "Why'd we practice so much if you're just gonna make me do it your way?"

"Brat," Yen answers mildly. She winds the rope across his chest next, nestling it under his collar bones and looping it around. "You like it my way."

He really does.

Yen runs two fingers underneath the rope, testing the amount of tension. Jaskier shifts his hands and tests his fingers, anticipating her question.

"Alright?" she asks.

"Perfect," Jaskier confirms, flashing her a smile.

Yen adjusts the column in back, tugging in a decisive motion to center it with his spine, then moves on to securing the first set of bands from slipping. 

Jaskier hums to himself while she works, which makes her dig her nails into his ribs in warning.

"So bloody annoying," she mutters. "I can't wait to shut you up. It's a shame it'll only last a few minutes."

Jaskier flashes his teeth. "You'd miss my voice eventually. You like me."

Yen becomes very focused on her rigging.

Jaskier wiggles restlessly; the first section is always the hardest for him to sit through, before he feels truly and properly tied and the pleasant haze settles in. He's still too aware of himself, too present. 

Yen tsks at him.

It is, paradoxically, why he loves this so much. There's so little that can actually quiet his messy brain; he ricochets through daily life, resisting every bid for peace—needs something like this, Yen's firm hand wringing the fight out of him.

Just for a little while. Just to rest.

The growing number of eyes on him helps. Jaskier is a performer at his core—even like this. He can feel prickling heat, professional curiosity. Conversations are still murmuring around him in a way that reminds him, with no small amount of nostalgia, of his pub and coffee shop days. 

The idea that he's here, that his presence improves their experience but doesn't consume it.

Except for Yen.

She's as encouraged by an audience as he is, he knows—but she's not here for them, not really. Her focus is on him, his body, the ropes that turn his skin to canvas. She touches him, sees him. 

He blinks, and he's floating.

One leg is suspended in the air, held aloft by a series of ropes. The other is his sole anchor, a pleasant ache through the muscle. There's nothing else. The quiet pain, the threatened vertigo.

Yen tilts his chin up with two fingers and kisses his temple and murmurs, "Be good."

Jaskier's eyes flutter shut.

She won't leave him. He knows she's nearby, admiring what he's become. It hurts, a little. It hurts a lot. He makes a sound, he thinks, and her fingers are soothing through his hair. Nothing else touches him.

"One minute," Yen whispers.

Jaskier sways. His tongue peeks through his lips on the verge of something that never comes. There are tears, maybe, dampening his eyelashes. A fizzing yearning in his throat that coalesces and pops against his teeth again and again. 

No words for it, but it's shaped like her mouth.

"Alright, Julian," Yen murmurs. "I'm getting you down."

Jaskier lifts his head a little, dimly aware that he should be helpful. She's unhooking some of the rigging; he lowers his leg to the floor slowly, following the guide of her hand. Mostly he moves where she puts him, and whines high in his throat when the ropes unfurl.

This pain is the worst—his blood remembering how to flow normally. It'd be pleasurable, maybe, if it didn't mean this was ending.

Yen leads him somewhere—the edge of the stage?—and sits him down. She was wearing a jacket before but she's not now, and her bare arms are wrapped above him where the ropes went. 

"Alright?" she asks quietly, and Jaskier curls into her side and mouths needily at the crook of her neck.

She pulls him half into her lap and slips a hand into his hair.

Jaskier mumbles, "'S good."

"I know," she says smugly. Presses a kiss to the top of his head. Makes a rustling noise and says, "Here, drink."

Jaskier's arms are hugged around her middle. He leaves them there and turns his head, and she brings a water bottle to his lips.

"Needy," Yen teases.

Jaskier curls his fingers in her shirt and retorts, "I know you are, but what am I?"

"Ugh." Yen tugs on his hair. "I'll leave you here."

"Nah," says Jaskier. He blinks up at her, smiling dopily. "You wouldn't get to kiss me anymore."

Yen rolls her eyes, but he knows. It's so much better that he knows.

"You were good," Yen tells him, brushing away the hair falling in his face. "What do you need?"

Jaskier tucks his face into her neck again, planting a line of kisses there and suckling gently. She indulges him, petting his hair and up and down his back until he's grounded enough to sit up and sip more water on his own.

Yen starts packing up her kit, sitting close enough for their thighs to touch and chatting idly with other attendees as she winds the ropes around her forearm.

By the time that's done, Jaskier is feeling solid enough—a little giddy and over-tired, clutching at Yen's hand and probably being thoroughly embarrassing, even though she doesn't push him away.

"Alright, alright," she says, smushing his cheeks with one hand. "What is it? Do you wanna go home?"

"What time's it?" Jaskier asks, hooking his chin over her shoulder.

"Late," Yen says without checking her watch. "Let's get you home."

She really means that she's tired, too; Jaskier allows her this, after all she's given, and follows her to the door.

 

~*~

 

They take a cab back home, still in their masks under the pleasant cover of Halloween.

Jaskier stares out the window and watches the city go by him—bright lights and drunken Londoners with capes and bloodied fake teeth, this place that was and wasn't home in beautiful fits and starts.

Yennefer's reflection glints in the corner of his eye, when the car turns a corner.

"I'm in love with you," he tells it.

A hand finds his thigh in the dark and squeezes just above the knee.

 

~*~

 

"I'm in love with you too," she says in the lift. Leans her head back against the carriage with an unkind laugh. "I never thought I'd say that."

Jaskier's wrist is in her hand. He says, "Never thought I'd want to hear it."

She thumbs at his pulsepoint and watches the floor numbers tick upwards.

"I'm glad that I met you, though," Jaskier admits as the carriage shudders to a stop, as the doors slide open with a late-night groan. "I'm still sorry about the shoes."

He's never apologized for them before.

Yen leads him down the hall, fishes the keys out of his jacket pocket and unlocks the door. They step inside and bump into one another in the threshold, taking in the delicate scene before them.

The telly is still playing old Queer Eye episodes with the volume turned low. Ciri and Geralt are asleep on the couch, a blanket thrown over each of them. Ciri is drooling on Geralt's shirt, her cheek propped up against his bicep.

There's nothing more beautiful Jaskier will ever get to see.

"It was worth it," says Yennefer, and turns off the light.