These Feelings Can Kill You
Summary: "You spend a lifetime alone. What changed you?" Vesemir asks.
"Yennefer of Vengerberg," Geralt responds, thinking of blue eyes and shattered heartbreak laid bare.
Pairing: Geralt/Yen, implied Geralt/Jaskier
Warnings: Hurt, no comfort
THAT TRAILER CERTAINLY MADE SOME CHOICES, HUH???
Read on Ao3
"Have you heard that new song?" Eskel asks that winter, "the toss a coin one?" He's in his cups already and smiling warmly. Geralt stiffens.
Lambert, seated to his left, scoffs, and Cohen laughs. Geralt carefully doesn't react, just takes another sip from his tankard of ale.
"What?" Eskel's looking at him expectantly and Geralt refuses to react. He'd decided on his way up the mountain this year he wouldn't say anything about Jaskier. After all, it had only been a few months the bard had followed him before he'd wandered off to play in some court or other for the winter season. He doesn't expect to see him again.
"You don't know anything about the bard whose singing about you? He calls you White Wolf."
"Bards make shit up," Geralt bites out, and Eskel laughs, soft. It's clear he doesn't believe him, so Geralt makes a split-second decision, "I met a bard in Posada. He followed me on a contract that turned out to be nothing more than petty thievery. He was disappointed. I'm sure that's where it's from."
Eskel gives him a searching look and Geralt wills his face impassive. It's only a partial lie.
"Alright," Eskel shrugs, "I just thought it was funny is all. Some bard out here singing about you." His smile is easy, and it's clear he means it kindly.
Geralt only grunts in response, and a second later the conversation has shifted to a new topic.
No one needs to know about the bard, anyway. Not when he won't be seeing him again.
It's a surprise when he does run into Jaskier again, especially when the bard packs up from his cushy little court position to follow Geralt again. He follows him another few months, writes another few songs, and as the summer cools to fall, he's gone again.
Geralt's better prepared this time for Eskel's gentle teasing when he arrives in Kaer Morhen, and he's got another story for him, another partial truth, about this bard who seems obsessed with "The White Wolf."
Eskel buys it, if only because Geralt isn't known for lying, and Geralt's...relieved. The first time he'd convinced himself the relief had been connected to the fact his brothers would have no further expectations for him in regards to whether or not he saw Jaskier again. Now he can at least admit it's because he doesn't have to share.
The time he spent traveling with Jaskier feels somehow...private. As if telling the others would tarnish something about it.
He doesn't want to share him and he doesn't want to look at the impulse any closer than that.
It becomes a bit of a running joke, the fact that Geralt keeps getting songs written about him. Lambert says it was only a matter of time, what with how pretty Geralt is compared to the rest of them. Eskel laughs about that, but he doesn't refute it, and Geralt firmly keeps his mouth shut.
Jaskier's his and he doesn't intend to share him with any of them. Even just stories.
Especially the stories.
So Geralt jealously guards his friendship against his brothers’ notice and steadfastly keeps Jaskier to himself. It's...it's the only thing he's ever kept just for him, really. Everything else he shares--stories of his hunts, his coin, his resources. He can keep Jaskier just for himself. It's not...it's not selfish.
It is, but he can't bring himself to tell them anyway. Even after Yen, even after he tells them about her he can't bring himself to explain why he was there or why he needed her help. Jaskier is still his.
Why he can share Yen but not Jaskier, he doesn't think about.
It doesn't mean anything.
He continues to fool himself for years, relating his meetups with Yen to his brothers while continuing to jealously guard any and all information about Jaskier. The fact that there's a bard somewhere singing songs about him has lost its teasing shine for Eskel and Lambert and they no longer mention him, which is a kind of relief. No more scrounging up partial truths to explain away his songs, his stories.
In short, Jaskier remains just for him. He's just for him and it's good. Better than good.
Right up until he fucks up on the mountain and sends him away with sharp words and too much anger that isn't really about Jaskier at all.
He's sullen as he climbs the Blue Mountains that winter, carrying an awful ache in his chest that pulses painfully every time he thinks about it.
He thinks about it constantly, despite himself.
His brothers spot his foul mood immediately and give him space for the first few weeks, but they have little patience for his sulking, and Eskel shows up in his rooms within the first month.
"So what happened to put you in such a mood?" he asks, and Geralt growls. There's no easy way to explain the twisting, tormented thing in his chest, the thing that shrieks he's not allowed the comfort of those who care, that Yen and Jaskier were both right to leave, that he deserves Yen's scorn and the quietly heartbroken look that had flitted across Jaskier's face. Geralt had refused to acknowledge it as he'd turned away.
It's that look that haunts him, more than the angry, self-righteous pain in Yen's eyes.
Like everything else about Jaskier, he tries not to think too hard about it.
"Oh shut up. Was it your witch?" Eskel asks, and Geralt's chest burns. It is, but--
He talks about it, briefly, haltingly. Eskel listens because he's good, because he loves Geralt even though Geralt's been less than honest with them all. He tells Eskel about the dragon hunt, about the djinn wish, about how angry Yen had been to find out. He chokes when he tries to speak about after, about Jaskier though. He can't. Eskel doesn't know.
"You love her a lot, huh?" Eskel asks quietly while Geralt drowns under the grief of it all. It's no small part about Yen, but the bit that's captured his throat and stolen his tongue is all Jaskier. He's as unable to share this with his brother as he'd been to share Jaskier initially. The pain he's brought, just like his joy, is Geralt's to carry and Geralt's alone.
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