With All The Continent A Stage (Geralt/Jaskier, mature, 4.5K)
(for @a-kind-of-merry-war who introduced me to the WORST/BEST thing ever: The Witcher Musical)
(i recommend watching the trailer even if u don’t read the fic!! i definitely took inspiration but i did NOT see the show at all, so most of this fic is my own silly interpretation ;____;)
“I have a surprise for you,” Jaskier said, which was possibly the most dangerous statement known to man.
“Fuck,” Geralt muttered immediately, then, “.... alright, what?”
“Well that’s a bit rude,” Jaskier said, pursing his lips as he dragged his finger through the ring of moisture his tankard had left on the table. “After I bought you drinks and everything, hosting you in my lush abode for the month ...”
His lush abode, of course, being the perfumed and cluttered Novigrad flat which Geralt was leery of entering half the time anyway as there was as faira chance of opening the door on a flock of half-naked women (”they’re dryads, Geralt! I’m drawing inspiration for my next project!”) as jabbering, bardic academics (”don’t listen to them, Geralt, don’t even look at them. They all want to sink their claws into you and there’s no telling the tricks they’re liable to pull!”) ... so rarely was there a reasonable space for Geralt to lay his head, and even rarer was there peace.
But Geralt supposed that did technically count as hosting.
Geralt drew in a breath and released it in a deep, long-suffering sigh. “Jaskier,” he said. “Do you remember the last time you had a surprise for me?”
“Yes, well.” Jaskier scowled. “I really wasn’t the father of that child, now, was I? And they were very apologetic when they released us from the stockade.”
“And the time before that?”
“Hey! Yennefer tricked me-”
“And,” Geralt pinched the bridge of his nose. “Last year.”
Jaskier grew silent. They didn’t talk about The Incident Last Year.
“Alright,” he said weakly. “Perhaps I’ve had a few missteps in my misspent youth. But this is different! I’ve worked very hard on it, and I think, well, I hope that you will love it.”
It was a little more tentative than Jaskier’s usual bravado, and that is what gave Geralt pause. It was true, after all, that Jaskier had been running off often the past month to spend time with this furtive “project” he refused to talk about (the one with the offensively inaccurate dryads). Geralt was surprised to find that he had been feeling a little ... lonely. He hadn’t come to Novigrad with the express purpose of spending time with Jaskier (a handful of contracts unwound in this direction, a happy coincidence when it happened), but he would be lying if he did not admit he was hoping to spend some time with the bard.
Since Jaskier’s newest songs had taken off (as well as the enduring hit of Toss a Coin), he had become a coveted darling across the Northern Kingdoms, particularly in Redania. Jaskier had had less time to follow Geralt about these days, and part of Geralt worried, perhaps, that the bard had little more use of him.
“Alright,” Geralt said, taking a long drink of his ale to brace himself. “Alright. As long as it’s not another fucking banquet … or a baby.”
Jaskier beamed, reaching across the table to squeeze Geralt’s hand. “You won’t regret it! I promise!”
The most fucking dangerous words known to man.
Geralt squinted at the instructions on the letter, then up at the Novigrad Amphitheater. He had attended a few plays in his day, usually performed upon wagons in the street or other large, outdoor spaces. The Amphitheater was the only one of its kind in Redania, and rather grand. Intimidating. There was a line of patrons winding from the entrance - nobles and merchants and common folk, all chattering excitedly about the upcoming performance.
“Hey! Over here!”
Geralt looked up to see one of Jaskier’s friends leaning out the back entrance, recognizing her as the fluffy-haired bard named Priscilla who shared altogether too many of Jaskier’s mannerisms for Geralt’s comfort. If he had not seen them, on multiple occasions, in the same room, he would believe her to be Jaskier in a yellow wig.
Speaking of wigs, Priscilla was wearing one tonight, a rather ill-fitting brunette piece which curled over her shoulders in dark waves. She was wrapped in a robe, but he could see over the collar of it a ruby choker in the shape of a spider’s web.
Geralt narrowed his eyes as he approached her. Something ... something seemed familiar about all this. He just could not put his finger on it.
He followed Priscilla through the narrow doorway, to a shadowy backstage area where actors were shuffling around in half-costume - the offensively inaccurate dryads, of course, in leafy ensembles which just barely covered their nether regions, a man with the headpiece of a crow and long, obsidian-black feathers strapped to his arms ... and a confusing number of nearly-naked people wearing jester hats.
What the fuck had Jaskier gotten him into?
There was a general hush and whispering wherever Geralt passed, which was to be expected. The common reaction to people encountering a Witcher.
“... he’s just down here,” Priscilla said. She had been chattering the entire time, and Geralt had retained none of it. “I don’t think he knows you’re here yet, but ah! Maybe you can wish him luck? Tell him break a leg and all that. He’s been just working so hard - writing and producing and acting and directing and ... well everything he could do without literally splitting himself in twain. I think he’d play my role if he could fit in the dress.”
“Hm,” Geralt said. He’d figured that Jaskier had had a large part in this creative endeavor, but he hadn’t realized the extent. No wonder Jaskier had stayed out late so many nights this month, only dragging himself into bed long after Geralt had already retired. Geralt just figured that he’d squirreled away with a new lover (and was not ... jealous or anything).
“Actually, he’s been such a pill. Everything has to be just so. He’s chased off the three set designers this month, three! Maybe finally seeing you will help calm his nerves.” Priscilla opened the door to a small room, “oh Jaskier! Your special guest has arrived!”
Geralt stepped inside to see. Well.
Jaskier was straddling a handsome, well-built, nearly naked man. And he was very nearly naked himself, his doublet opened to expose his entire front, the edges of his unbuttoned shirt brushing against the man’s well-defined stomach as Jaskier leaned over his chest.
Geralt drew in a quick breath and Jaskier whipped his head around. He had a paintbrush in one hand, Geralt noticed dimly, he was ... drawing something on the man’s face?
“Geralt!” Jaskier gasped, his eyes wide. Immediately, he grabbed a discarded shirt and threw it at Priscilla. “Get him out of here!”
“Oops!” Priscilla yanked shut the door, closing Geralt from the scene. As if it wasn’t already engraved in his memory. “Sorry,” she said.
Geralt shook his head. “I should,” he mumbled, “I should get to my seat.”
A new lover and a new project. They weren’t mutually exclusive, after all.
Geralt struggled to lift himself out of his dark mood as the curtain rose and the murmuring of the audience around him quieted.
It wasn’t Jaskier’s fault, after all. He was free to do as he wished, and what he wished was ... well.
Geralt rubbed his hand over his face. He was thinking on this too much. He would endure this performance, give Jaskier his congratulatory due, for whatever that was worth, and ride out of town tomorrow morning. He didn’t even know what he was hoping, coming here, so he should not have been surprised to walk away with nothing.
A brace of horns. Geralt looked up to see the darkened stage fill with swirling smoke. Shadowy figures draped in dirty linen stepped from the back.
Strings came into play with harsh, jarring sounds. The actors shrugged off their coverings to reveal peasant costumes, all save one.
One with long white hair and painted scars. He stood stiff in his grimy armor, surveying the others with a grim expression.
Geralt felt his heart stutter in his chest as one peasant raised his hand.
“Witcher!” he screamed.
“Murderer!” another shouted.
“Butcher!” the crowd roared.
“No!” The Witcher - the Geralt on the stage protested, in time with the queasy, sinking no that Geralt felt in his chest.
He glanced around, but no one seemed to be looking at him, all transfixed by what was on the stage.
What was this?
What did Jaskier think he was doing?
A slight woman with short, curled hair elbowed her way through the assembled mob. She wore a dark red cloak which pooled at her feet like blood.
“Come to me Witcher, fight at my side,” she sang, her voice a clear alto. “The people of Blaviken are nothing to me,” she sneered at the assembled crowd and they cowered before her gaze. “They’re vicious and stupid, tedious and small. I’ve come for the mage, and I’d slay them all!”
“I won’t allow this,” the stage Geralt gritted, beginning a fevered duet, their overlapping voices rising to a fever pitch as they unsheathed their blades.
Geralt swallowed hard as he watched the fight between him and Renfri replayed upon the stage. It was a twirling dance rather than a teeth-gritting battle to the death, but it affected him all the same. He didn’t ... he didn’t think that most knew this part of his history. He had told Jaskier once, while very, very drunk, but he had never thought-
The stage Geralt slew his Renfri and the strings cut abruptly, replaced with low drums.
“Why,” Renfri coughed, “why defend those .... who call you a monster?”
“Because then I would be what they say I am,” Geralt said, and the lights went out.
Geralt was still reeling when the next scene opened, an abrupt tonal change to a busy tavern, lit warmly, with all of the actors frozen in place. He sat up sharply in his seat when he saw Jaskier walk onto the stage. He carried a lute slung over his shoulder and was dressed in blue and white, his tunic unlaced widely at the throat, as was his customary fashion.
To Geralt’s surprise, Jaskier turned to the crowd and addressed them directly.
“Dramatic, no?” he said, in a confessional tone. “Well it’s going to get better, you just wait, because this,” Jaskier winked, “is where I come into the picture.”
Geralt might have been imagining it, but he thought that Jaskier looked directly at where he was sitting.
Jaskier walked upstage, and the lifeless actors began moving as if Jaskier’s very presence had animated them, by transitioning from the real world into the world of the play.
It was Posada. Of course it was. Jaskier singing that godawful abortion song. The rolls of bread. And the man in the corner, pulling off his hood was Geralt.
Geralt would have definitely remembered if Jaskier had sidled up to him like that. Why, Jaskier even sang a whispered, excited song about approaching “The Man in the Corner”, with lyrics like the danger of his stance, the sharpness of his gaze, I find myself intrigued, I find myself amazed and oh heartbreak oh horror, all wrapped up in this man, if you won’t take me with you, won’t you take me where I stand?
And he definitely, definitely would have remembered if Jaskier ended up half-in his lap before he even introduced himself.
No. Not ... his lap.
Geralt sharpened his gaze and recognized, suddenly, that the Geralt onstage was the same man that he had seen Jaskier straddling earlier. He was pretty, just as Geralt expected, the heavy stage makeup and clumsy wig doing little to hide his fine, unmarred features.
Surely he was the type to be more commonly cast as a knight or a prince. Geralt wondered moodily what he was doing, taking such a role as this.
Other than cuddling up to the director, of course.
Geralt was relieved when the plot with the sylvan and the elves began moving along, scrubbing a hand over his hot face as he thought, feverishly, that Jaskier was certainly acting true-to-form with his disrespect of history.
Only a teaser of “Toss a Coin” was played at the end of the second act. Nonetheless, the crowd went wild
Later, Geralt learned that the play was four hours long. Four hours long. It didn’t feel like it. Most of it passed by in a fever dream of ominous music, dance-fighting and dryads in gossamer leaves, swinging from hoops attached to the ceiling. Yennefer made an appearance, played by Priscilla in a glittering negligee. She sang a song to Geralt about putting him “Under Her Spell”, and they had a sensual dance number which was made a little strange by a sickened Jaskier (played by Jaskier) coughing loudly in the background.
Geralt did his best to forget that part as soon as he saw it. No doubt Yennefer would lift this from his mind the next they met and he didn’t want to be responsible for Jaskier’s bloody murder.
Periodically, the serious, abstract scenes were interrupted by Jaskier himself, addressing the audience as he narrated the events, provided context and added dry commentary where needed. His humorous quips were received well by the crowd, and Geralt found himself enjoying those parts the most, seeing Jaskier exhilarated and in his element, sharing his confidences warmly with the audience, like they were all the best of friends sifting through his memories together.
Once he got over the urge to laugh at the absurdity of it all, Geralt was surprised to find that he ... was enjoying himself. The costumes were a bit amateurish, perhaps, the acting at times over-the-top. The script was ... well, embellished was putting it lightly. But there was a certain earnestness to the production, an open-hearted adoration that elevated the tedious, painful muck of Geralt’s life into something ... fantastical. Something heroic and beautiful and tragic.
Something it was not.
Just like the actor onstage was not he. Geralt realized this most starkly when the stage Geralt and Jaskier had a duet together, at the end of the fifth act. It was after a fight with a flock of harpies, based on a hunt Geralt recognized from a few years go. The play depicted them tossed into the ocean (false, though it had been a close thing), and Geralt forced to grab Jaskier and swim him desperately to safety (not untrue, though based on a conglomeration of events).
It explained, then, their unclothed states. Stripped to the waist and panting, clinging to each other in the middle of the stage.
The light shone white on Jaskier as he began to sing.
“Before I met you, how could I have known?” Jaskier turned to the actor playing Geralt, gripping his face in both hands, “my dearest friend has become my very home.”
Geralt’s heart pounded in his chest. From his vantage, it almost seemed as if Jaskier was about to kiss him.
But instead, the Geralt onstage broke softly into song.
“The Path is long, and cold and deep, but through the years you’ve walked with me ...”
Geralt only dimly remembered the rest of the lyrics. They were ... very earnest, he was sure. About Jaskier’s appreciation of their friendship, in that embarrassingly over-the-top matter he was known for.
But all Geralt could see were the lingering looks, the gentle touches Jaskier was giving the man who was not him, who looked enough like him that it hurt.
It was a harsh realization when Geralt admitted to himself that he wished he were the man onstage. The knight in dirty armor who deserved to look at Jaskier with such adoration, and receive the same in return.
Jaskier was not that good of an actor, Geralt knew, so if he looked like a man in love, with stars in his eyes and a soft yearning in his smile, it must ... be truth. His feelings for his co-star spilling over to his performance.
The song ended with Jaskier and the actor playing Geralt pressing their foreheads together, breathing in tandem for a few beats, and Geralt felt it like a bitter twist in his gut.
“Come on,” Jaskier said, standing, “I’m tired of the coast.”
The rest of the play passed in a blur. The crowd erupted in applause as the curtain fell, but Geralt just sat in his seat, in the dark.
It was ... brilliant.
It was devastating.
Geralt tried to escape after the crowd had dispersed, but Priscilla found him, and dragged him away, chattering about an after-party. She looked enough like Yennefer, still, that he found it difficult to rebuff her.
There was a tavern near to the theater where all the actors, half in costume, were mingling with the audience. Geralt’s eyes found Jaskier immediately, as he was shining in the middle of the crowd, arms filled with flowers. Distressingly, the handsome actor who played Geralt was standing at his side, still in costume and full make-up, extremely disconcerting to look at with a wide smile on his face.
Fuck, Geralt thought, I should have brought flowers.
“... really rethink the wire work- oh! Geralt!” Jaskier shoved his armful of flowers onto someone close and waded through the crowd, stopping before Geralt and searching his expression with wide eyes. “I ... thank you for coming. I hope you liked it,” his smile faltered a little, “I know I should have told you about ... the subject matter and all, but it all really did happen so fast. One day we were just throwing ideas around, and the next we’d secured funding and from then on-”
“I did,” Geralt said, intensely aware of the eyes that were suddenly on them. He cleared his throat. “I liked it.”
Jaskier beamed, and Geralt's hands clenched into fists at his sides to keep from reaching for him.
“Sir Geralt ... Sir Witcher?” the lead actor clumsily broke into the conversation. Up close, Geralt could see that he really did look very young, not more than three-and-twenty, was Geralt’s guess.
“Hanns, he’s not a knight,” Jaskier hissed, embarrassed.
Hanns stuck out his hand eagerly. “Sorry ... um, I just have to say ... I’m a big fan. Very big fan. I hope I did you justice out there tonight.”
Geralt smiled thinly and took his hand, just managing not to squeeze hard enough to break bone. It wasn’t this kid’s fault that Geralt’s emotions were a roil right now.
He just needed time. And space. To cull them sharply and stuff the scraps back where they belonged.
Still, Hanns winced upon withdrawing his hand, cradling it to his chest with an awed expression. His shirt was opened to his navel, appropriate for the play’s end, and Geralt noticed for the first time the fine detailing which went into the scars on Hanns’ face did not stop there. In fact, the accuracy was uncanny - every one of the painted scars had its mirror match on Geralt’s own body.
Jaskier truly did put his all into this production, to have studied Geralt so extensively. Geralt felt a flutter of guilt at souring his night.
“Go to your adoring fans,” Geralt said to Jaskier gruffly, nodding to the wide-eyed, whispering crowd. “I’ll ... I’ll see you later.”
“But you’ve only just got here!” Jaskier said quizzically. He reached out and grabbed Geralt’s arm, his fingers wrapping warmly around his elbow. “I know, I know,” he said, misreading Geralt’s expression. “It’s a bit crowded for you here ... let’s go somewhere more private.”
And for the third time that day, Geralt found himself grabbed by the arm and marched to somewhere unknown. He shouldn’t make this a habit, he thought, but it was Jaskier himself this time and he was walking away from his circle of bright, beautiful friends, from his much superior false-Witcher, to be with Geralt.
Geralt was not immune. Not even a little bit.
Unfortunately, they only made it a few steps towards the back of the tavern before they were interrupted again.
“Julian,” a dark-haired man with a neatly trimmed goatee stepped out from behind a pillar. “Why if it isn’t the man of the hour ... and his Witcher muse.”
Geralt felt Jaskier stiffen beside him. “Why hello Valdo,” he said with brittle cheer. “Here for business, or pleasure?”
“Purely business, I assure you,” Valdo said dryly. “You’ve heard, I’m sure, of my new position at The Novigrad Times?”
“Valdo is their music and theater critic,” Jaskier said to Geralt thinly. “Well,” he said, turning back to Valdo. “Spit it out. I know you want to make commentary, just keep it to three words or less.”
Valdo laughed. “Oh Julian ... I suppose I should congratulate you, first and foremost, on even getting this off the ground. You’ve been pitching that journal of yours for years, and ... well, I admit we all thought it a bit mad. A play? About the exploits of a Witcher?”
Geralt looked askance at Jaskier, who was flushed to the curve of his ear. He’d seen Jaskier working on his notebook after many of their hunts together, even sketching in it upon occasion. It made sense, he supposed. The play had a lyrical, dreamlike quality to it, anchored by emotions and memories rather than an accurate accounting of facts.
“The topless dryads ... those were expected. The jesters in smallclothes, less so,” Valdo was clearly enjoying the torment that his words were causing Jaskier, who was biting his lip in an attempt to curb a sharp retort. “There were glimmers of potential, yes, perhaps even true brilliance. The music was fair, though I find it a bit gauche how you ... flaunted your relationship for the number at the end of act five.”
“Relationship?” Jaskier barked a laugh. “You mean friendship? Yeah, you should try it sometime.”
“Hmm, no?” Valdo said, turning to Geralt. He opened his mouth, and as he did, Jaskier’s expression suddenly changed from smug to horrified. “Are you not … lovers?”
Lovers? Geralt thought, is that what the audience thought of them? He scoured his memory for the lines of Jaskier’s duet, but ... well, it wasn’t anything that Jaskier hadn’t said to his face on prior occasions, usually when sauced or just after a hunt, when adrenaline was high.
It was his performance, surely. The way he looked at his co-star, the soft yearning in his gaze.
Jaskier had never looked at him like that. He would have known.
“Geralt-” Jaskier said, his tone frantic.
“I’m not bedding the bard,” Geralt forced out, stepping into Valdo’s space. The critic tried to maintain a smooth facade, but his eyes begin to dart from side to side. “Keep those lies out of whatever drivel you pen.”
And with that, Geralt did what he should have done from the start of this whole business, and walked away.
He thought that it would take Jaskier longer to catch up to him, back at his rented rooms. Geralt was just grabbing the few things he had left there - his swords hanging from the back of a chair, his spare tunic on the floor, half-washed potion bottles strewn across the countertop, mixing dangerously with Jaskier’s bathing oils and perfumes. Small signs of domesticity, of an entwined life they used to share. It now felt ... painful to untangle, though Geralt could not vocalize quite why.
“Geralt?” Jaskier was standing in the doorway.
“You shouldn’t have left your party,” Geralt said, tying up the rucksack with perhaps more force than necessary.
“Look, Geralt, it’s really not what you think,” Jaskier was babbling, walking towards Geralt with his palms up. “I mean, I know it looks bad, with the lyrics about following forever the path that you tread, and making my heart your home-” he stopped short suddenly. “I ... oh. Oh fuck.”
“I know,” Geralt said softly.
“You ... know?” Jaskier asked, his voice raising an octave.
“You don’t have to worry about my understanding,” Geralt smiled, tight and bitter as he stood and pulled the rucksack up with him, his swords clinking softly. “I know you could never feel that way about me.”
Jaskier’s eyes were wide, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. It should have been humorous. Perhaps it would be, one day, when Geralt could once again look at him in the candlelight without wanting to kiss him, without wanting to touch him so desperately that he shook with it.
“It was a good performance. You should be proud,” Geralt said quietly, as he walked past Jaskier, keeping his distance so their shoulders did not brush. “I just ... I should go. To curb the rumors.”
Jaskier turned suddenly and grabbed Geralt’s arm. “No! I ...” His eyes were so blue in the candlelight, wide, flickering with the flame, and he was looking up at Geralt with.
With soft yearning.
“I do,” Jaskier said quietly, as if the realization was just dawning on him as well. “I do feel that way about you! I ... I didn’t think I was being so obvious about it-” He paused and groaned loudly, burying his face in his hands. “But I was, wasn’t I? I wrote a fucking … a fucking four hour love letter to you and if Valdo could tell, then everyone-”
Geralt didn’t think, for the first time in his life, about the consequences. He pulled Jaskier into his arms and clasped his face in both hands. Kissed him until they were breathless and stumbling through the room, pulling down furniture and curtains, toppling candles with no consideration for fire safety.
Jaskier was still stuttering something as Geralt pushed him onto the velvet couch, protesting, perhaps, about his precious clutter even as his fingers plucked at the laces of Geralt’s braies. Now that Geralt saw it, the open longing on Jaskier’s face, he felt like a fool to have missed it for so long. With a groan, Geralt buried his face in the side of Jaskier’s neck, fevered with the truth that Jaskier was finally with him now, really and truly, in the flesh.
Jaskier panted with his legs splayed wide, skin slick with sweat as Geralt cleaned his softening cock with long, slow licks. “Wow, that was … well. Wow.”
“Not so eloquent now, are you?” Geralt smirked.
“Everyone’s a critic,” Jaskier groaned, and reached for him.
The “four hour love letter” received mixed reviews from the critics, but was a hit with the fans, some of whom paid for multiple tickets to see the limited run with, as he was referred, the original Jaskier. For eventually, of course, Jaskier had to recast himself in order to return to the Path with Geralt. For some reason, he chose a lanky blonde character with little resemblance to himself, other than that they both had the same mischievous look about them. Geralt could admit privately that stage Geralt and stage Jaskier looked good together, but mostly he was relieved that his Jaskier would no longer have to be shared.
While Jaskier at first bemoaned the lack of appreciation for his more literary flourishes (“No one,” he complained, “is asking about the raven!”), he was quick enough to throw over his artistic integrity in favor of fame and adoration.
Well, mostly adoration.
“What do they mean, that I’m being a tease?” Jaskier huffed, crumpling his latest fan letter and throwing it to the side of the road. “Just because we don’t kiss onstage? The nerve! Must everything be so explicit these days, is there no appreciation for subtext-”
“Didn’t you originally write us … platonically?” Geralt asked, his voice dry.
“Yes, but-” Jaskier crossed his arms over his chest and was silent for a single, sullen moment. “... you know what this means, right?”
“I’m sure you’re going to tell me,” Geralt said long-sufferingly. They were walking south to Wyzima, where Geralt was to meet up with Lambert. He still had some faint, desperate, hope that news of the play had not reached him yet.
“I have to give the people what they want,” Jaskier said firmly. “I shall have to write a sequel. An explicit sequel.”
“No, Jaskier,” Geralt said, pinching the bridge of his nose. It would be … embarrassing, of course. But almost equally, he thought that he did not want to see Jaskier rolling onstage with another be-wigged pretty boy any time soon.
“This is why I never tell you things before I do them,” Jaskier said petulantly, but his mood was easy enough to sweeten when Geralt pulled Roach off the side of the road, gathered Jaskier against the trunk of a sun-warm tree and proceeded to kiss him to submission.
(also on AO3!)
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