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On Mortality

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He isn't sure what wakes him. Outside, all is dark, the room silent. Beside him, Regis has rolled onto his side, his palm pressed lightly against the centre of Geralt's chest.

"Regis?" he murmurs, still half asleep.

"Your heartbeat," Regis sounds soft and thoughtful. "Remarkably slow for a human."

"I'm not all human." It's automatic to point this out, though Regis doesn't need the reminder. Geralt's not awake enough to guess what he might be getting at, if Regis means anything at all. "Still faster than yours."

"But I do," Regis muses, voice light, "contrary to widespread belief, still have one."

Geralt knows that—knows from his early lessons at Kaer Morhen, knows from the rhythm of arterial spray he'd seen pulsing from the wound when Dettlaff had put a hand through Regis' chest—knows from pulling Regis close, pressing his lips to the pulse point on his neck. Probably knows it better than any other non-vampire on this sphere. "With your senses, I'd have thought you could track my heartbeat from across the room."

"True," Regis agrees, smiling, "but then I wouldn't have the excuse to touch you, would I?"

Geralt grins. "Like you need the excuse." He rolls into Regis' space, putting himself on top, and finds that pulse point with his lips. Seeing if he can't convince Regis' glacially-slow heartbeat to pick up a notch.

"Mmm," Regis hums, pleased, as Geralt's lips find his, still sleepy and slow. It's an interesting exercise, kissing the vampire—not because Geralt really minds the risk of nicking his lips or tongue on those pointed fangs—but because Regis won't kiss him if Geralt has any blood in his mouth, and Geralt respects his reasons far too much to push. No matter how much he sometimes wants to.

Below, on Geralt's chest, Regis traces the ridge of an old sword wound, then slides his fingers into a depression of scar tissue on his left breast: a souvenir of the pitchfork which had killed him in Rivia some three or four years ago. A handspan away, near the centre of his chest, Regis finds the indent left by the second prong of the weapon. He doesn't move onto the third, though they both know where it is.

"Do they bother you?" Geralt asks. "The scars, I mean." Past bed partners have been variously fascinated, repelled or simply indifferent—Geralt's had enough of them over the years that there's probably no reaction that could surprise him. But he's never been with anyone like Regis before.

Regis looks up at him, hands stilling. "Should they?"

Geralt shrugs. "You don't have any. I've seen you run through the chest, I've seen you melted down to slag, but nothing scars. I've got souvenirs of every bastard who nearly killed me."

"And you wonder if they serve as an unwelcome reminder of your mortality?" Regis surmises. "No, Geralt, quite the opposite. As you say, they are souvenirs of each time something has failed to kill you. Testament to how much you've survived, endured, and doubtless could endure again, should the universe ask it of you. And there I feel myself a very lucky man."

Geralt considers this quietly for a moment before admitting what he's thinking. "You're still going to outlive me." It's easier to say out loud than it might have been, in the dark and the quiet. There's no point resenting the inevitable.

"More than likely, I suppose," Regis allows. "But for my sake, if not your own, I hope you can find it in yourself to survive a few more years yet." He smiles, teasing. "I would like to think you've got at least a decent century or two left in you."

This startles a laugh out of Geralt. "Another century? Regis, I haven't even made my first century yet. And we've been doing this, what, a month?" It's at least two, but Geralt doesn't feel like acknowledging that just now. Besides which, he's known Regis only a handful of years and spent too many of them thinking him dead—or not thinking of him at all, before his memory returned. It's strange how it feels like Regis has known him forever.

"Oh, be quiet, Geralt," Regis scoffs. "If you hadn't noticed, I am presently in bed with a much younger man—a younger man who has, furthermore, somehow convinced himself he's madly in love with me..."

"'Madly'?" This is not a word Geralt has any recollection of using vis-à-vis his own feelings, but Regis ignores him.

" am I with him. I am within my rights to indulge in a little romantic sentiment. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Won't argue," says Geralt, who's beginning to feel they've talked enough for one night. "But once you've had your fill of sentiment... wanna fuck me?"

Regis shakes his head. "Really, Geralt? After all your years in the company of poets, you can't think of any more elegant way to make that request?" But he says it while rolling them both over to put Geralt beneath him, so Geralt doesn't see any pressing need to take it to heart.