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A Good Song Never Dies

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Jaskier is actually already having a pretty shit day when the zombie apocalypse starts. Of course, he doesn’t automatically know that’s what’s happening, because zombie apocalypses are the stuff of average TV shows and above-average movies, and really good video games. They’re not supposed to be real, lunging for the bank-teller’s neck on the day Jaskier is here to do the perfectly normal chore of fighting to the death with a teller over his most recent credit card bill.

The loud thump that resounds through the lobby is pretty funny, though. He bets that the bank-teller is grateful for it, now. He kinda wishes he was behind it, too, because he’d been here to try and debate his credit card bill, because while he was one for crazy-looking purchases, he had not actually purchased 31 live flamingos from Madagascar. This means, of course, that he is right in the open with not but his guitar case to use as a weapon or shield of any kind.

He may have also let out a high-pitched screech when the zombie- he’s guessing that’s what it is, anyway- turned around to look for more accessible prey. Nothing yells pray like, well, screaming like a little girl at the very top of your lungs, which impressed even him because he’d always had trouble hitting notes that high when he tried.

Leave it to him to effortlessly hit Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You high note when he is in mortal peril.

The zombie lunges for him, but thankfully it doesn’t seem to have a very good sense of balance, because when he swings his guitar case around until it hits the thing in the side, it goes flying into the counter they have in the middle of the lobby for writing out checks and such. He’s always found them to be strangely placed.

He stares down at the crumpled form in front of him for a second, watching without really seeing as blood begins to pool around the man. He’s not moving. He’s- Jaskier taps him with his foot in disbelief, and the body slumps over to the floor- he’s just killed a man, it seems.

“That was Mr. Anderson!” The bank teller screams after a moment, the only sound other than his heavy breathing.

“He was trying to kill me!” Jaskier screamed back, which, okay, maybe not the best way to respond to someone accusing you of murder, so he’ll blame that on the Red Bull/black coffee with two shots of espresso mixture swirling in his veins.

This is how he ends up in jail, without his precious, beloved guitar, and with handcuffs secured firmly around his wrists. Not how he pictured his day going, but maybe he would’ve ended up here anyway, considering he was trying to dispute the sale of 31 live flamingos to his home address (which had never shown up, by the way- if they had, he might have even just let it happen!) and that probably would’ve led to ceremonial mortal combat, and, as the pinnacle example of a man in his youth, with Red Bull and black coffee injected with even more caffeine, he would have won.

He would have! He really would have.

The officers haven’t really talked to him since they read him his rights, which, yeah, that’s fair, they think he’s crazy and/or a murderer, and he wouldn’t want to talk to someone like that, either. He was scared at first, considering his delicate constitution and all, but he’s just been staring at the wall for a couple of hours humming along to the songs that are stuck in his head.

Right now, it’s Baby Shark, which is… not great, but at least he’s not stuck in here with just his own thoughts! He’s stuck in here with his own thoughts to a backing track of Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.

“Shut the fuck up!” The officer at the front of the holding area yells, “You’re worse than my five-year-old, God!”

He had not realized he’d begun singing it aloud. He continues, because if he's on his fourtieth run-through of the song, he may as well share it: “Mommy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo."

The officer groans, very, very loudly. He stops, because he is nothing if not, merciful. Except to uh, one Mr. Anderson from the bank earlier this morning, he supposes.

In his defence, the man had looked and acted much like a zombie. He also may not have gotten much sleep last night.

By the time Baby Shark leaves his mind in peace, he’s starting to panic over the fact that he may have actually just straight up murdered a man. With his guitar case. Him! A known avoider of all things active and under the category of exercise.

That’s about when the banging starts from a different cell, which sounds like it’s closer to the entrance and therefore, closer to the guard. He ignores it at first, because his breakdown takes precedence at the moment, thank you very much. He’s still mostly ignoring it in favor of trying to keep his breathing calm when the officer at the front stands and walks over to the cell the banging is coming from.

“You don’t look too good,” the officer observes, and gets a low moaning sound in response. “Let me get you some water.” There’s a sound like he’s turning to leave to get the water when there’s another loud bang, much louder than the ones before it. This is the one that gets Jaskier’s attention.

It’s also when the yelling starts; “Hey, get- get off me- what- what are you- no, stop- get-,” The officer cuts himself off with an absolutely terrifying scream that has Jaskier pushing away from the bars where he’d been standing to hear what was going on.

The screaming stops abruptly, and that’s when Jaskier hears the drip-dripping sound of something thick hitting the floor, which is almost immediately accompanied by a loud squelch and a thump that Jaskier is almost certain means the officer is dead.

His back hits the back of his cell with a loud thump. In response, he gets a loud groaning sound from the same place he’d heard the banging earlier.

He gulps, and hopes fervently that whatever just happened, whoever- whatever just killed the officer has no means of getting to him.

The banging resumes, as if whatever it is has resorted to throwing itself against its cell door as it tries to get out. Hopefully, the cell is well-built enough that it won’t actually be able to open it-

His thoughts trail off as the thumping stops. There’s a weak, metallic creaking noise, and it sounds like- it sounds like-

He hears the footsteps first. He’s tucked away in a back corner that doesn’t have a direct line of sight to the entrance, so for a minute, all he has is that noise, the dragging, slow footsteps as whoever it is gets closer… closer… he opens his eyes, and dead eyes stare back.

There are smeared tear tracks in blood down the woman’s face, and there’s a bite mark on her arm that looks awfully nasty, and her mouth is covered in blood.

At the sight of him, she growls, a low, rough sound, and moves forward, thumping against his cell door, over and over. He gulps, hoping above all hopes that his cell door will actually hold. Even as he lets the prayer float towards the heavens, he can see how the screws holding his cell door shake and jump with each thump, thump, thump.

“Good zombie,” Jaskier mutters, bcause it's not actively killing him at the moment. He steps into the place behind where the door will open, but making sure to keep far enough away that the grabbing arms can’t reach for him to pull him closer. This is also when he hears the wet swirsh sound like something wet is being dragged across the floor. He hopes it’s not the officer.

It’s the officer, also looking around at him with dead eyes, dragging himself forward on bitten arms that leave a river of red leaking behind him.

“Good zombies,” Jaskier amends, dancing out of the way of grabby hands on the floor before he stomps on one of the hands. The zombie moans, but does not withdraw his hands. The cell door gives, swinging open. He catches it in one hand, prays to whatever might be listening, even if it is the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and waits as the zombie shuffles forward one- two steps. He slams it as hard as he can, continuing to push even after he heard the bubbling groan, the squelch of flesh, even after the blood oozes onto his hand. He opens the cell door, and the corpse drops.

He glances down at the zombie dragging itself forward on its hands, and then looks away as he stamps his foot straight down, straight through its skull. It stops moving.

“What’s two more counts of manslaughter, Jaskier?” He mutters to himself as he exits the cell. “Kill the zombies, Jaskier. It’ll be fun, I said. Yeah, lot of fun I’ll have in prison.”

“You’re not going to go to prison,” a voice huffs, exasperated from behind him. He turns, met with not one person, but two people who are just looking at him. The woman glances from the zombies back to his face, as if she’s appraising him.

“And who would you be?” Jaskier asks, rubbing his hands on his shirt in hopes to get rid of some of the blood. “My lawyer and her…,” Jaskier trails off as he passes his glance over to the frankly intimidating hunk of a man standing just behind her, “bodyguard?” He guesses. The woman snorts, throwing her head back, getting the man behind her with her long hair as she does so.

“He thinks you’re a bodyguard!” The woman exclaims, truly laughing now as if what he just said was the funniest thing she's heard all week.

“He’s not wrong,” the man grunts, looking over him in much the same way the woman had earlier, before dropping his gaze to the two bodies by Jaskier’s feet.

“Oh, don’t mind those,” Jaskier says, sniffs, “I’d a bit of a zombie problem.”

“We can see that,” the woman agrees, and then snaps her fingers.

He looks down, only to find the two bodies gone, blood and all.

“Um-,” Jaskier starts, very intelligently.

“I don’t use my magic for just anyone, you should be grateful!” The woman announces, a triumphant smirk on her face. The man huffs a laugh as he steps forward, mostly ignoring her.

Up closer, and without the problem of the dead bodies around his feet, Jaskier can see that the man’s eyes are a molten gold, slitted like… a cat’s maybe? He’s not too sure, but they don’t exactly look human. His long silver hair is up in a half ponytail, and there’s a large silver wolf medallion hanging around his neck, which his open leather jacket showcases. Over his shoulder, Jaskier can see the hilts of two swords.

“Are you, by chance, cosplayers of some sort?” He asks, because the woman is wearing a floor-length purple-black dress that shimmers ever so slightly as she moves. She grins when she catches him looking but doesn’t say anything, which has him looking back to the man who- “Did you just sniff me?” He asks, his voice going up an octave.

“Mn,” the man confirms, and then does not clarify as he steps back. “He’s clean,” he announces to the woman.

“Obviously, we’re still talking to him,” she returns, and then they’re both looking at him. “Tell me,” she says, looking at him, “Do you have any personal belongings stashed somewhere in here?

“My, uh, my guitar. It’s in its case. I may have used it to kill one of these-,” at that, he looks down, “- things,” he finishes, weak even for him.

“And they booked you for manslaughter?” She questions, as if it wasn’t a crime. “They were already dead. You were just doing Melitele’s work.”

“What?” Jaskier asks, flat. He has no idea what she’s talking about, because while Jaskier may have been calling them zombies in his head, that didn’t mean they were actually zombies.

“Maybe explain the situation a bit, Yenn,” the man pipes up, for the first time in a while. He is still standing very close to Jaskier, between him and the woman, Yenn, like he thinks Jaskier could be capable of hurting her- which, he doubts, considering she vanished two bodies and the blood that came out of them with just a snap of her fingers.

Great! Thinking about it now, he’s actually scared of her. And the man. With his very large chest… and shoulders… and wow, thighs. Focus! Jaskier! He barely refrains from slapping himself like the clown he is. Maybe if those flamingos had arrived he could have been a professional clown with his own circus and his own backing-track.

They have not answered his question about being cosplayers, he realizes, but then, Yenn also did just use magic, so… maybe the silver one is the cosplayer of the two.

“Well, let’s get out of here first,” Yenn answers, and then snaps her fingers again. His guitar case appears at his feet, bloodstain from Mr. Anderson at the bank this morning and all.

“How do we-,” Jaskier begins asking, only for Yenn to make a few motions with her hands, opening a huge, swirling blue circle right there in the middle of the cramped hallway. “Will I die if I go through that?”

“No,” the sword-man says, and then steps into it and vanishes. He looks over to Yenn.

She rolls her eyes, reaches over, and pushes him in.

He wants to scream, really, he does, but he’s overcome with such nausea for a moment that he clamps his mouth shut for fear of vomiting all over her shoes. If this doesn't kill him, he has no doubt that if he vomited on her, the sorceress would kill him.

“Is he dead?” Yenn asks drily, and then nudges him where he lays on weirdly stiff, musty-smelling carpet to check.

“No!” Jaskier insists, and then, “Did you just kidnap me?” He does not get up

“No,” the man disagrees, and he almost sounds amused. “You’re not a child.”

And, because Jaskier has had a very difficult 24 hours, he whines, dramatically, “You kidnapped me! You did! I can’t believe this! First, the live flamingos, then the near-mortal combat, and then I murdered someone, and I was in jail-” he pauses to take a breath, “and then I killed two more people!”

“Zombies,” the man corrects, and when Jaskier opens his eyes, the man is leaning over him. “You did the world a favor.”

“Flamingos?” Yenn asks from the corner. She does not get an answer.

Jaskier eyes the man dubiously. He smells like those fresh laundry candles that have him standing in the candle aisle sniffing them for a minute straight like a weirdo. That is a weird thing to notice about the man who’s kidnapped you, but Jaskier is not about to deny that this man is probably the hottest thing he’s ever seen in his life.

Hot-kidnapper proceeds to pick him up- against his will, mind you, he definitely doesn’t enjoy being manhandled, his blush is from exertion, thank you- and plant him on the bed.

Now that Jaskier is not in a ball around his guitar case on the floor, he has successfully figured out they are in a motel room.

“What’s your name?” Yenn asks from where she's seated at the room’s two-seater table. The man goes to sit in the other chair. They all stare at each other before Jaskier remembers she asked him a question.

“Do you want the pompous name on my driver’s license or the one I use for myself?” Jaskier asks, because overshares when he’s stressed.

“The one you use for yourself,” the man says. “Mine is Geralt.”

“Like the White Wolf?” Jaskier can’t stop himself from asking. The corner of Geralt’s mouth twitches, like his question amused him but he wishes it didn’t.

“Something like that,” the woman says, also highly amused.

“My name is Jaskier,” he tells them, and because he doesn't want another drawn-out silence, asks “And is Yenn a nickname, or…?”

“You may call me Yennefer.”

“Got it,” Jaskier agrees, nodding along. He busies himself with brushing a bit of non-existent dust off his guitar case.

They all stare at each other after that, and it lasts so long Jaskier almost asks what else he was supposed to say. So much for his previous efforts.

“Right, the zombies,” Geralt says, as if he didn't just kidnap Jaskier from the scene where he killed two of them.

“Yes, the zombies,” Yennefer agrees, glancing at her companion mirthfully.

Geralt looks down, like he’s trying to figure out what he has to say. Yennefer huffs, throws her hands up like she's given up, and looks Jaskier directly in the eye.

“An ex-coworker of mine is attempting to start the zombie apocalypse,” Yennefer announces, as if she is remarking about a problem she's encountered with her taxes.

“Your what is trying to do what now?” Jaskier asks, bewildered as his brain struggles to unpack all of that. Yennefer sighs, as if she has been given a truly monumental task in having to explain this situation any further.

“I am a sorceress,” Yennefer explains, “We used to have this… council of sorts. I was apart of it at the same time Stregebor-,” this name she spits, as if she loathes even having to say it, “held a seat. He disappeared for… a while… and now he’s resurfaced in areas where zombies have started to spring up.”

“Why?” Jaskier asks, genuinely confounded, “Why is he doing this?”

Yennefer and Geralt share a sharp look.

“He’s an asshole,” Geralt says. “Beyond that, we have no clue why he would want to kickstart a zombie apocalypse.”

"Yet," Yennefer adds, sufficiently ominous.

“And how do I fit in all this?” Jaskier asks, venturing. Yennefer snorts.

“You don’t.”

“Pardon?”

“You don’t, really. You were just the one person who seemed to realize the danger you were in,” Geralt explained for him, which was actually really nice of him.

“So, what, everyone else can’t see the whole zombie thing?” Jaskier asks. Yennefer nods.

“I’m thinking he’s attached a camouflaging spell onto the virus. Makes it seem like nothing is wrong. What is weird is why it didn’t work on you,” Yennefer tells him. “So, in that way, I guess, we found you interesting.”

Geralt clears his throat, throwing a sharp glance at his sorceress companion,“You dealt with those zombies efficiently.”

“Was that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Yes?”

“... I’ll take it.”