A/N: This thing should be about three chapters long, I think. Not quite short enough to make into a one-shot, but short enough that I could write it without feeling too bad about not writing my other stuff.

Haven't played Hearts of Stone or Blood and Wine yet, so this ignores them. (Don't tell me I should—I know. Ain't got time at this point, but plan to make it a priority.)

The Wolf in December


"Come on, up you get."

The voice which awoke her was deep, masculine, and raspy with age and long periods of disuse. Her eyes flickered open slowly as the metal-tipped toe of a boot gently nudged her side as she lay in the straw.

"I haven't got all day," said the voice, dryly.

She blinked and pushed herself up, looking up at her alarm. Sleep-hazed silver eyes met sharp catlike golden ones.

There was an instinctual tremor in her heart, a flicker of fear, of disgust, for the alien creature before her. Man's shape, cat's eyes, brutal scars, and an unkempt face greeted her as she looked up.

She saw him notice her reaction. She saw the golden eyes frost over slightly.

Then he blinked and knelt down, squatting beside her curled form on the balls of his feet. "What's your name?" he asked lowly.

"Summer," she told him truthfully. "Summer Rose."

He nodded. "Geralt of Rivia," he said. "Witcher. Any idea how you got here?"

She blinked and sat up, looking around. They were in some sort of hovel: rickety beams of poorly-sanded wood walled them in, and a faint coating of straw lined the floor, fallen from the thatch of the roof.

The entire room—indeed, the house, for it was a one-room affair—seemed basically bare. A single door broke the monotony of one wall, a single window another. A table sat under the window, a rickety, barely-upright thing. On it was one of two signs of any habitation: by the flickering light she could see from her vantage, a single candle flickered on it. The other sign was the old bed in the corner, with a wooden frame that rot had started to get to, and a mattress that looked little better.

"No," she answered at length. "The last thing I remember… I was headed for a village in Forever Fall. There was a Grimm incursion on a village, and I was supposed to deal with it… I think?" Her memory felt fuzzy somehow, and she was sure she was missing something.

"Where were you coming from?" Geralt asked.

This she knew. "Patch," she said with certainty. "I was coming from the house on Patch; I took a ferry to downtown Vale and then headed north."

"You got too far then," Geralt said. "Forever Fall's borders end a few miles south of here. You're in the Blackmarsh."

She stared at him blankly. "How did I get here?" she asked. Humans didn't go to the Blackmarsh, which covered the territory north of Vale between the Kingdom and the coast; there had, historically, almost never been any settlements between Vale proper and Port North on the coast, which served as an intermediate stop for trade between the Continent and Mistral or Atlas. None of those made had ever lasted long.

"Good question," said Geralt grimly. "You having any trouble remembering what happened, or is it clear, but it just doesn't add up?"

She shook her head slowly. "It gradually gets fuzzy after I get off the boat at Vale," she told him. "I remember going through the city, and then… snatches of road, and… someone? A man?"

Geralt nodded and stood. "Sounds about right," he said. "By the way… what's the date?"

She blinked. "October twenty-third was when I got off the boat," she said. "It shouldn't have taken me more than a few hours to reach the village.

Geralt watched her impassively. "The year?" he asked.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "71 Post-war," she said slowly. "1436 by the old calendar."

He sighed. "Yeah, you've been here a while," he said grimly. "Which means if he was strong enough to enthrall you before, I'd better be careful."

She stood. "What are you talking about?" she asked, her voice rising. "What's going on?"

"Summer, my love?" A new voice broke in from outside: warm, silken, and thick as flowing honey pouring over her mind and she sank into it inexorably, a soft fog settling over her until she knew no more.

Geralt sighed as the woman's silver eyes glazed over. Her turned to the door, already opening.

The incubus' green eyes widened as he saw the visitor. "Oh, we have a visitor! Summer, my dear, you did not tell me you were having a guest over!"

Summer Rose passed him, moving as if in a dream, and wrapped her arms around the

Geralt's face set as he studied the monster. "You know what I am?" he asked quietly.

"If by that you mean 'human' then yes, of course!" The incubus' voice was jovial. "Although those eyes are intriguing—almost as entrancing as my dear Summer's! Why, if I were a Succubus, or otherwise inclined to your sex, I might just gobble you up instead of her!"

"Incubi don't eat people," Geralt corrected the monster.

The incubus rolled his eyes. "I think I ought to know that, don't you?" he said chidingly. "It's a figure of speech, my dear intruder. But don't you think you've overstayed your welcome? Summer and I were just going to have dinner." He held up the two rabbits he held in one hand as evidence, one hoofed foot tapping the ground impatiently.

Geralt's eyes didn't waver from the incubus' face. "You're old," he deduced, "and experienced. You've managed to make one woman, slavishly devoted to you, last long enough to feed you for, what, eleven years?"

"Nearly twelve now," the creature sighed wistfully. It smiled down at Summer, then looked at him sharply. "But how do you know so much about my kind?" he asked, and he was no longer jovial. "We're barely myths to you; our sisters are better remembered, and even they scarcely get a mention."

Geralt cocked his head. "You really haven't seen one of us before," he said wonderingly.

"One of who?" the incubus was wary now.

Geralt fingered at his medallion, a wolf's head cast in silver. "You don't recognize this?" he asked.

"Not at all. Should I?"

"Hm." Geralt looked out the window. "Guess Ciri really did pull us a long way from home." He looked back at the incubus. "I'm a Witcher," he said darkly.

"A what?"

Geralt's right hand came up to his back and grasped at his silver sword. Its draw mechanism popped into a proper grip, and he pulled it down to a wolf-school ready stance. "She's a Huntress," he said, nodding at Summer. "it's her job to fight Grimm. It's my job to fight monsters."

The incubus' eyes widened. "A monster? Me?"

"It's a technical term," said Geralt, his left hand slipping to his grenade pouch. "For creatures allergic to silver."

The Dimeritium Bomb flew from his hands without warning, detonating on the ground beneath Summer and the incubus' feet. The green cloud, tinged with lightning, filled the entire hut immediately, and Geralt felt the familiar thrum of magic die in his fingertips.

Summer collapsed like a marionette with cut strings and the incubus howled in rage. "You'll pay for that, worm!" it screeched, and lunged.

Geralt was used to fighting monsters of two kinds. There were dumb necrophages and lower specters, the more beastly relicts, and other creatures too dumb to know one human from another but with a keen instinct for vicious combat, and then there were intelligent vampires, succubae, higher relicts, and the like, with the intellect to know they were fighting a trained monster hunter and the wisdom to be cautious and careful.

This incubus had never seen a Witcher, and practically impaled himself on Geralt's silver sword, thinking it was relatively harmless steel.

Geralt took no satisfaction in the man-like monster's screech of agony, instead taking the opportunity to finish his work efficiently, with a neat slash across the creature's torso, nearly bisecting it and quickly quieting its screams to a fait dying gurgle.

He blinked a few times at the corpse before kneeling, cleaning his sword on a cloth, sheathing it, and pulling out his knife. Extracting a mutagen was bloody work—indeed, the 'mutagen' was literally a treated extract from the creature's blood and a few organs—but it was central to the trade.

"Geralt?" Summer's voice broke into his meditation. A few hours had passed, which was good—being free of the incubus' magic for that long would likely have cleared her head more than the quick nullification he'd run before.

He'd moved her away from the pooling blood as soon as it began to spread—no need to make it harder on her when she awoke—and lay her on the bed while he continued his work. Once the mutagen had been extracted and all he could salvage from the body had been gleaned, he'd taken the corpse outside and tossed it deeper into the woods, sprinkled with silver to keep it from attracting Leshens or necrophages—not that he knew, for certain, that Leshens even existed on Remnant. (He could confirm the existence of some necrophage breeds, having seen unmistakable signs of Drowner passage on the coastline near Port North before he'd come south.)

He really needed to get a Remnan bestiary set up. This was getting ridiculous. He should probably be thankful that the monsters that were here were familiar… with the one obvious exception.

His golden eyes opened as he came out of his meditation. "Summer," he said aloud. He was kneeling outside the open door, facing out, and he didn't turn to her when he heard the bed creaking as she sat up.

"That's a lot of blood," she said dryly. "I assume Althern's dead?"

"Was that his name?" Geralt asked dryly. "I didn't ask. He's dead."

"Good," said Summer, satisfied. "Now, I remember things a little better. Do you even care at this point?"

Geralt shrugged. "Nice to have someone recognize I'm not their therapist," he said wryly. "But go ahead if you want to."

There was a pause.

"You probably already figured it all out," she said.

He nodded. "You met him right after you got off the ferry," he said. "He traveled north with you, ensorcelling you bit by bit, until he eventually got you off the path to the village and brought you here. And here you stayed, his life-force dairy cow."

"I think it's my aura he was feeding on," Summer said, and she sounded tired. "It's low, and it feels like it's been low for a long time. How… how long have I been here?"

"Almost twelve years," Geralt said, his head turning about to look at her. "He probably kept you from aging—a lot of monsters have ways to do that to the people they feed on, like vampires can when they keep their victims alive. I'm sorry."

She was looking down at the drying pool of blood, and her crimson-tipped hair was hiding her face. "I had two daughters when I left," she said quietly. "One was four, the other was six. I… I hope they've been okay."

"Look at it this way," Geralt said, standing and stretching slightly. "You're alive, and you can see them again. That's better than a lot of the alternatives."

She looked up at him and smiled. Her eyes were wet. "I suppose that's one way to look at it," she said steadily. "Will you come with me? help me explain? They'll never believe me without some kind of proof."

Geralt shrugged. "I'll help you if you can help me," he offered. "It shouldn't be too hard."

"I have a feeling I owe you quite a few favors," Summer said wryly. "Or possibly a lot of money."

Geralt grinned. "It's against the Witchers' code to do our job without pay," he admitted. "So I need to get something out of this. I'll be fine if you just put me in touch with a decent mage."

Her eyebrow cocked. "Most people would think you're crazy if you started talking about mages and magic," she said, standing up and daintily walking around the circle before stepping outside beside him. "I'm not most people."

She looked down at herself then, taking in her attire. She was wearing little more than rags—enough to cover her, which was more than could be said for most succubae Geralt had known, and thus surprised him, given that an incubus had been keeping her, but likely not the clothes she had arrived in.

"Wish a knew what happened to my cloak and battleskirt," she said dryly. "Oh well. Let's get moving. We're headed south to Vale. You'll want to talk to Ozpin."

"He a mage?" Geralt asked.

She glanced at him oddly. "He might be," she said slowly. "But either way, he knows more about magic and mages than anyone else I could put you in touch with. He's the best I can do, and I have a feeling he'll be enough."

Geralt nodded. "Thanks, then." He put his fingers to his mouth and whistled.

Roach—not the same mare that had carried him across Temeria and Nilfgaard for years, but a new creature he'd gotten in Remnant upon arrival—came cantering from the shadow of the woods where he'd been grazing. Summer blinked at him.

"Does it just come to you wherever you are?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Sort of," he said, mounting. "Hope you don't mind sharing the saddle."

She answered by pulling herself behind him. "You know the way?"

"I know the way to a hill," he said, "high enough that we can probably see lights from some village in Forever Fall, at least."

"That'll do," she agreed. "Let's go."

He nodded, clicked his tongue, and struck Roach gently with his heels. "Run, Roach!"

And run Roach did.

Roach was a fast horse, and they'd made good time, but it wasn't enough to get them into civilization that day, given that as they'd departed the sun had already been sinking low into the horizon.

Geralt had only one bedroll, but he lent it to Summer. He himself knelt in preparation for a night spent in that meditative position he had been in when she woke.

Summer watched him for a time as he grew still, before speaking in a whisper. "Geralt? Are you awake?"

"I'm not going to sleep," he replied immediately, lowly. "Just rest. It's a way to make time pass you by if you can't sleep, without burning any energy."

She nodded. "Keeping watch?" she asked.

He nodded, his eyes still shut.

She looked up at the stars. "Why are you here?" she asked eventually. The ride on horseback had been mostly silent save for navigation, as she concentrated on conserving and restoring aura and he steered the horse. "Where are you from? What's your story?"

Geralt gave a dry chuckle. "Take forever to explain," he said.

"We've got time," Summer said.

He cracked an eye open and glanced at her. "Shouldn't you be sleeping?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I'm curious," she said honestly. "You've got a skillset and equipment like no one I've seen before, and you dealt with Althern like it was nothing."

"Mm." Geralt's grunt was considering and noncommittal. "The Incubus would've been a lot more dangerous if he'd known what he was dealing with. Never encountered one of his kind that didn't, actually."

"And what was he dealing with?" she asked.

Geralt looked at her properly, his golden eyes flickering in the moonlight. "A Witcher," he said. "Professional monster hunter. It's my job to hunt down things like him."

"What was he, then?" she pressed. "An Incubus, you called him?"

"Male version of a Succubus," Geralt said with a nod. "Capable of bewitching people—heterosexual women and homosexual men—into serving or at least yielding to it. It feeds off their life-force—aura, you called it."

She closed her eyes for a moment and cast her mind around her body, trying to diagnose herself. "It uses its thralls for… other things, too, doesn't it?" she asked grimly.

Geralt looked away. "You said you had daughters," he said. "I assume that means it didn't take your virginity, at least."

"No," she said, fighting the bile that rose in her throat. "No, there's that."

"I'm sorry," Geralt said.

There was silence.

She shook her head. "Well, what brought a Witcher to the Blackmarsh, then?" she asked, to distract herself.

"To Remnant, more like," he said dryly. "I'm following someone—a girl, about twenty, with ashen hair and green eyes." He glanced at her. "Let me know if you see someone like that," he added.

She nodded. "Will do," she agreed. "Who is she?"

There was a pause.

"My daughter," said Geralt, and his voice was low and rich with feeling. "She brought me here, but we got separated."

"Here, as in to Remnant?"

"They call her the Lady of Space and Time," Geralt said, looking up at the stars. "She has… powers. She can travel from one world to another like you and I would walk to a house down the street. We were traveling together, but we got to Remnant in the middle of an attack by those Grimm. We were separated. I need to find her."

"I'm sorry," she said, echoing him.

He nodded, but was silent.

"Are you worried about her?" she asked then.

"Always," he said with a light chuckle. "But no more than usual. Ciri can take care of herself. Maybe better than I can."

She nodded and looked back up at the sky. "I hope you find her," she said.

"So do I," he answered, his eyes closing again. "Get some sleep. I'll wake you after the sun rises."

She rolled over and closed her eyes, trying to keep her mind from drifting back to what Althern must have been doing to her for twelve years, even if she couldn't remember it.

"Welcome to Vale," she said, slipping off of Roach. Geralt followed suit. They were on a grassy plain on the outskirts of the city, and two Atlesian soldiers were watching them from the edge of the buidlings.

"Those airships look Atlesian," Geralt said quietly. "Is that normal?"

She looked at him wryly. "I've been gone for a decade, Geralt," she said. "How should I know what's normal anymore?"

Geralt nodded, his face set. "Let me do the talking," he said, stepping forward toward the soldiers.

"Hey there, strangers," one said as they approached. "You, a faunus, with those eyes?"

Geralt grinned slightly, golden eyes flashing. "Long story," he said. "Short answer no. Been out of the kingdoms a while; what's Atlas doing in Vale?"

"Here for security," the soldier said promptly. "Vytal festival's on. We're here to make sure it goes smoothly."

Geralt cocked an eyebrow. "That your call or Vale's?"

The man shrugged. "I don't deal with the politics of it, man," he said evenly. "I just do what I'm ordered. There hasn't been any kind of hostile takeover, if that's what you're wondering. Vale and Atlas are still definitely allies."

Geralt watched him for a moment before nodding. "I'll take your word for it," he said. "Like I said, been missing for a while. Lot can change in that time."

The solder nodded. "I get it," he said. "Go on in, but don't cause any trouble. Vytal festival's exciting enough, what with the tournament. Don't need any brawls to add to it. There'll be stables where you can leave the horse; you probably don't want to bring it downtown."

Geralt snorted. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said, passing the man. Summer followed with a nod to the Atlesian.

"Seems like it's safe for us," Geralt said as they entered the streets of the suburb. "Where should we go?"

Summer pointed at the great, luminous spires of Beacon Academy. "There," she said. "Ozpin'll be there; that's Beacon, his school."

Geralt nodded. "Anyway to get there faster than horseback?" he asked.

She nodded as an idea hit her. "Follow me." She turned around and returned to the soldier who had let them in.

"Excuse me, sir?" she asked politely.

He turned around to face them. "Yes, Miss?" he asked.

"Missus," she corrected. "Could I borrow your scroll, please? I lost mine, and I need to make a call."

The man looked slightly abashed. "My scroll has military information on it," he said.

"Mine doesn't," said his comrade, pulling it out of his pocket. It was a tiny, thin thing, transparent and magnificently high-tech—a far cry from the blocky things Summer remembered. "Here you go, Ma'am."

She smiled at him. "Thank you," she said graciously, opening the scroll as best she could—it took some fiddling—and tapping the screen (the screen was touch-sensitive!) to put in Ozpin's number. She hoped it was the same as she remembered.

She held it to her ear, and it was soon answered.

"This is Ozpin," the familiar voice, not a day older than she remembered. "Who is this… and how do you have this number?"

"Ozpin," she murmured, a weight she hadn't even noticed lifting from her shoulders. "It's Summer. I'm alive."

There was silence on the line for a moment.

"I have locked on to your scroll's coordinates," said Ozpin, his voice perfectly steady, but she knew the man and could detect the undercurrent of wildness, of disbelief. "Stay there—a bullhead is coming to pick you up."

"I've got someone with me," she said. "What's a bullhead?"

"Airship," he said shortly. "There will be room for your friend. Stay there, Summer. I—" he seemed to choke on his words. "I'll see you soon," he promised.

"See you soon," she said, smiling, and fiddled with the scroll until she managed to hang up.

Both soldiers were staring at her. "Did you just call Professor Ozpin?" the first asked.

"By his first name?" the one whose scroll she had used asked.

She chuckled. "Yeah," she said sheepishly, returning the scroll. "I've been… MIA for a while. Ozpin's my boss."

"You're a huntress," the one who had let them in—the officer, she assumed—said. "Lost your equipment out there?"

She nodded. "And a few years of my life," she said dryly. "He told us to wait here for a… bullhead, I think he called it."

"You really have been gone a while," said the second soldier, putting his phone away with a chuckle. "It should be here soon. You're welcome to make yourselves comfortable. And who are you, mister?"

"Geralt of Rivia," Geralt said shortly. "Witcher. I'm the one who found her."

"Witcher?" the officer asked. "Never heard of a Witcher."

"That's a trend," Geralt agreed.

A few minutes of small talk later, a strange airship—smaller and sleeker than any Summer remembered—touched down near them. The door opened to a face she recognized.

"Major Ironwood!" she said with a smile. "Or… is it General now?"

"General," he said slowly, looking her up and down. "It… really is you, isn't it, Mrs. Rose?"

She laughed. "It is," she said. "I'm back. Take me home, General."

A genuine smile crossed the man's stonelike features. "Gladly, Mrs. Rose. Climb aboard."

Geralt followed her onto the ship with a nod to the General. She waved at the soldiers as the door closed. They waved back.

"And this must be your friend," said Ironwood even as the floor began to shake for liftoff. "Hold on to something, both of you."

Summer already was, and Geralt followed suit. "Geralt of Rivia," he introduced himself. "Witcher. Yes, yes, I know—you haven't heard of it."

Ironwood raised an eyebrow, but Summer smacked Geralt playfully on the chest. "Behave," she ordered. "I know you can."

The witcher rolled his eyes at her. "I've talked more these past two days than I do most weeks," he said dryly. "My throat hurts."

Ironwood snorted, but Summer looked concernedly at her friend. "You're very lonely, most of the time, aren't you?" she asked quietly.

Geralt sighed, and suddenly she saw the wrinkles on his face and the whiteness of his hair and beard took on new meaning. "Less so when I have Ciri," he said quietly. "But… the Path is walked alone, yes."

She laid a hand on his arm. "We'll find her," she promised.

"I know," he agreed.

Ozpin wasn't the only one at the landing pad to greet her. Glynda, Peter Port, and Barty Oobleck were there too, as well as…

"Summer." The man before her had aged much more than twelve years since she'd seen him last. No longer were his red eyes full of playful fire and brimming with life. They were tired, and old, and accustomed to sorrow, but now they were overflowing the joy. "It's really you."

"Qrow!" she exclaimed, embracing her teammate. "Oh, it's so good to see you! Oh, we have to catch up! How have you been? What have you been up to?"

"Easy there, Summer," Qrow said with a raspy chuckle—and goodness, he really had aged; he sounded more like a man of sixty than a man in his late thirties. That hurt a little.

"We'll have time," Qrow promised, meeting her eyes. "We'll all have time. But Ozpin needs to debrief you… and then we need to get everyone else here. Taiyang, Yang, Ruby… wouldn't be fair to keep them away any longer than we have to."

Summer nodded and turned to Ozpin, her grip on Qrow loosening. The white-haired headmaster was staring at her through his spectacles as though he couldn't believe his eyes. His hands were actually shaking slightly on his cane.

"Summer Rose," he said softly. "I had it on good authority you were dead, you know."

She smiled and curtseyed as best she could, given the rages she was wearing. "Sorry to disappoint, Professor," she giggled. "It'll take more than that to get rid of me."

"Don't," Ozpin said quietly, his eyes closing convulsively as if in pain. "Never say tha your return is a disappointment, Summer, even as a joke. You have no idea…" He swallowed visibly, and she was amazed at how totally shattered his composure was. Her return had affected him more than she would have believed. "I am so sorry, Summer," he said quietly. "For everything. For my expectations, for the burden I placed on you… all of it. Can you ever forgive me?"

She smiled at him. "There's nothing to forgive," she said, blinking silver eyes. "I want the Grimm defeated as much as you do, Ozpin. Stop thinking of this as your war—it's ours."

"I think there will be time for a more detailed discussion of this later," Glynda said, putting a hand on Ozpin's shoulder and giving Summer a rare smile. "For now… we should call your daughters an husband."

"And who might this be?" Oobleck asked, zooming up to Geralt with his usual caffeinated rapidity. Geralt leaned back, bemused.

"Geralt," said the Witcher shortly. "Full introduction after I've had water. Talked to too many people today already."

Summer giggled. "He saved me," she said. "Found me and got me out of the bind I was in. He needs your help, Ozpin."

"I will be glad to give it in any way I can," said Ozpin cordially. "We can discuss it after Summer has been reunited with her family.

Geralt nodded. "I'll hold you to that," he promised.

"M-Mom?" The word was whispered, as though the girl was afraid that she would disappear if startled.

Summer turned from the window, a smile coming to her face, but the sight of the fifteen-your-old teenager, with developing breasts, a long red cloak, liquid silver eyes, and a face pale with awe and wonder broke her heart and made the expression brittle.

"Ruby," she whispered.

"MOM!" The dam broke, and the girl rushed to Summer's waiting arms. The other girl followed her into the room—taller than Summer, with hair like spun gold—so like her father's—and a face that looked like it had stepped out of a twenty-year old photograph of Summer's partner (not to mention a form that put even that impressive woman to shame).

A strange dual expression of overwhelming joy and deep bitterness was written on this older child's face. She stood silently, watching Summer hug the daylights out of her little sister.

"Yang," murmured Summer, not content to give her eldest daughter that peace. "I'm so…"

"Could you have come back?" Yang interrupted sharply. "At any time before now?"

Summer shook her head mutely, not letting go of Ruby.

The look on Yang's face broke, even as tears filled her eyes. "Then don't you dare apologize," she said, running forward and joining her sister in the embrace. "I missed you, Mom."

Summer's eyes closed, her broken heart swelling with pride, even as she pressed her lips to on daughter's cheek, and then to another's, repeatedly.

She was home.

"Promise you won't die again?" whispered Ruby, and her voice was broken with pain and joy. "Promise you won't leave me again?"

Summer gripped her tightly. "Not any time soon," she said. "When I die, it'll be in bed, surrounded by grandchildren." She chuckled. "Well, that last bit's on you."

Ruby clutched her tighter, sobbing freely. Yang soon joined in, and Summer didn't hold out long after that.

When Taiyang finally arrived from his longer trip from Patch, it was to the sight of his wife and two daughters on the floor, sobbing into one another's arms.

"I'm afraid I've neither seen nor heard of someone of that description," Ozpin said apologetically.

Geralt nodded. "Can you help me any other way?" he asked. "Even coin will do something."

Ozpin snorted. "What you have given me—given us," he said, "is more valuable than any number of lien could measure, Geralt. I'll give you 'coin,' certainly, but I insist you allow me to help you further." Ozpin leaned forward over the desk, peering carefully at Geralt. "This Ciri is not your birth daughter, correct?"

"Witchers are sterile," Geralt said, "so no."

"Then let me be plain," Ozpin said quietly. "Tit for tat. I will help you find your daughter… because you have helped me find mine."

Geralt nodded. "Thank you," he said. It wasn't often a Witcher got this kind of respect or gratitude.

"Thank you," Ozpin replied. "I will ask Ironwood to put out a notice, and contact Vacuo and Mistral myself. Take a couple of days to rest, and if nothing has turned up by then, we will begin to work more directly. Does that sound fair to you?"

Geralt chuckled roughly. "This is more generous than anyone else has ever been rewarding me, Professor," he said honestly. "Really, thank you."

"Then you must not have been working for especially good people," Ozpin said simply. "It is no more than you did for me without assurance of any return."

"Yeah, well," Geralt said, scratching at his beard, "I have a feeling 'especially good people' don't usually live that long back home. I've met a fair few here, though."

"You're welcome to stay, you know," Ozpin offered. "Once you've found your daughter. Vale will have a place for you for as long as the kingdom stands."

Geralt started at him for a moment and then sighed. "Honestly, I'm tempted," he said. "I've followed the Path so long… too long. But I have other people back home besides Ciri, and it's up to her anyway."

"Well, we'll be able to ask her for her opinion soon enough," said Ozpin."

Geralt nodded. "Yeah."

A/N: Jesus, these characters are hard. Yang's always been a really fun character to write, but Ruby's hard AF—fortunately, she had only a little screen time. Summer's functionally similar to an OC with how little we know about her, so fleshing her out wasn't too bad.

And then, of course, there's Geralt, who's really fun but is hard enough to get right that I attribute the lack of Witcher fanfiction to him alone.

(Side note: It's really odd to have Geralt be the one with the unusually archaic vernacular for once. Normally, he's a couple of centuries ahead of his contemporaries.)

Let me know if anything was particularly stupid. I feel bad about the lack of excitement in the 'action' sequence (if it can be called that) but I really didn't want to devote a couple hundred words to a choreographed fight in a story like this. Didn't seem to serve the actual purpose.

As always, reviews and comments are appreciated but not mandated—I'll update, when I can, regardless of whether you do.