Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Versions from the movie.
Notes: Pre-movie.
Summary: An important lesson.


Just as Lancelot was beginning to think he’d never breathe again, a whoosh seized the back of his neck and pulled him to the surface. The gratefulness he felt was so overwhelming that he spit as soon as air flooded his nostrils. Then he opened his eyes and glared.

Arthur, expression mild, was wiping off his cheek with his other hand. “It isn’t that deep here. I can stand.”

“You’ve three inches on me. And—don’t you dare let go!” Only a little loosening of Arthur’s grip made the sucking of the water increase in strength very fast, threatening to drag Lancelot back down into that disgusting muck. He grabbed for Arthur’s wrist, but the other man simply relaxed his arm so Lancelot was still sinking.

Very well, Arthur wanted to drown him. In that case, Lancelot certainly wasn’t going to venture down into the halls of the dead alone; it was Arthur’s duty as leader to accompany his men into all dangers.


And if Arthur couldn’t keep upright with another man wound around his chest, then perhaps Arthur shouldn’t be so smug about his abilities. Then the water stung back into Lancelot’s nose, and he was abruptly regretting his leap.

Fortunately, Arthur managed to regain his footing and support the both of them. It made him grunt and strain a little, but he carried Lancelot back to shallower water, where the bottom could actually be seen. The ripples only came halfway up Arthur’s chest, which meant that Lancelot, who was mostly draped over Arthur’s shoulders, was almost entirely exposed to the bitch-biting wind. Cursing the chilly British spring, he scrabbled at Arthur’s back and burrowed his face into the warm damp of Arthur’s neck.

Fingers impatiently tapped on his shoulder. “Lancelot. It’s swimming. Learning this won’t kill you. In fact, it might save you someday.”

“Might, could, maybe—what happened to your certainty? How do I know now what will be useful later?” Lancelot muttered, twining himself tighter around Arthur. The other man was tugging at various bits of Lancelot, trying to pry off a finger there, a knee here, so Lancelot had to keep shifting his position in order to maintain it. “You know, a Christian once tried to tell me converting to that religion would save me from war later in life, but he died the next day in a Woad ambush. Can’t say as that was very convincing.”

“This is not religion.” The muscles beneath Lancelot went tense for a moment. Arthur’s voice had dipped into gravelly, but a moment later it swung back to wheedling. “Lancelot, please get off. Your bony little elbows are gouging chunks out of me.”

Outraged, Lancelot reared up. “I am not bony! Or little!”

Instead of answering, Arthur slipped his hands between them and expertly flipped Lancelot off. The splashing flare of droplets caught the weak sunlight and magnified it a thousand times into a blinding brilliance that distracted Lancelot long enough for the water to invade his mouth. It tasted like week-old stew mixed with horse-shit. So his next reaction of course was to try and cough it up underwater, but that only brought more of it into his nose. He slapped a hand over his face in an attempt to slow the water and looked around for the nearest escape.

What he found instead was a monstrously distorted face, all scummy eyes and huge white teeth. Lancelot was no coward, but he was sensible, and the sensible thing to do was to retreat to better ground. Therefore his heels slammed down—actually hit ground for once—and pushed so he shot out of the water and half onto the river bank.

A moment later, Arthur emerged, raking at his hair so it wasn’t funneling water down his face. He looked as if he were being frustrated by amusement. “You’ve got to be the most trouble of all of them.”

“All things good are difficult,” Lancelot grunted, still trying to squeeze all the water out of his nose. “And I’m better. So naturally I’m—”

Arthur shut him up by leaning forward and grabbing Lancelot’s nose. When Lancelot smacked at him, the other man casually intercepted the blow and adjusted his grip so he was only pressing one side of Lancelot’s nose shut. “Sneeze.”

Lancelot gave him a blank stare.

For a moment, Arthur seemed about to call down heaven’s wrath, but he eventually restrained himself to a simple eye-roll. “Sneeze, Lancelot. It’ll help clear out the water. And yes, you’ll be able to tell it’ll help you right away.”

As it turned out, he was right. It wasn’t the nice thing to do, but Lancelot couldn’t help laughing as he watched Arthur scrape off his hands. “You told me to.”

“I know. Would that you’d do everything I tell you to.” With a sigh, Arthur flicked the last of it off his fingers and held up his hand to the sky, checking for any remaining traces. The newest scar on him was a short pink curl over his left ribs, and it diverted the water runnels in fascinatingly random ways.

Distracting as that was, Lancelot wasn’t quite that simple-minded. He flopped down on the bank and squinted at Arthur, studying every changing shadow on the other man. “You mean that?”

First the side of Arthur’s mouth pulled up, and then the skin around his eyes crinkled. But even though he was chuckling under his breath, his eyes were still dark and solemn. “No. You’re fine how you are, Lancelot. Even if that threatens to drive me into insanity sometimes.”

“Teaching me to swim is that important to you?” Very carefully, Lancelot edged his lower half back into the water. It was a vaguely pleasant surprise to find that, after several dunkings, the river wasn’t quite so icy now.

“Someday I may be on that bank—” Arthur pointed over the water “—and you’ll be on this one.” He put his hand down, letting his fingertips stir up moody swirls. “And as much as I hope otherwise, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to cross in time.”

Now the bank was sloping away fast beneath Lancelot’s feet, so he had to stop crouching and slowly let himself swing into a standing position. Something shot past his leg, and then another thing scraped up against his hip, but they went away when he whacked the top of the water.

“It’s better to prevent than to…” Arthur glanced at whatever was bumping his fingers, then looked longer as Lancelot floated by on his back. Snorting, the other man caught Lancelot’s elbow and drew him back. “Not that bad, is it?”

“If it’ll keep you from worrying about me all the time,” Lancelot retorted, but less sharply than usual. The effort of staying relaxed enough to float was taking up quite a bit of his attention; his muscles kept wanting to twitch and go stiff, but then he would start to sink a little and he’d have to will himself limp again. “I can take care of myself, you know.”

The half-smile on Arthur’s face slowly grew into a whole one as he nodded. And then the sobriety in his eyes disappeared in favor of a rare mischievous glint, and he swiftly bent to blow on Lancelot’s belly.

“Damn—” Water in Lancelot’s nose again. That had been the pattern of the whole afternoon, and it wasn’t one he was particularly enjoying.

Under the water, he couldn’t snarl well, but he could certainly grab Arthur and claw his way back onto the other man. Once securely perched, he tightened his legs around the other man’s waist and bit at Arthur’s nose, which should suffer a little, if only to be fair. “Bastard.”

Arthur merely gave him a considering look. “No one knows everything. And I’d say you still have a few things to learn.”

“Oh, probably. But are they important thin—” Nails were lightly scratching down Lancelot’s spine, making it arch. But that altered his balance to precarious, so he squirmed a little higher on Arthur.

There were hands on his ass helping him, and then one of them dipped between his legs. Lancelot made an honest attempt not to hurt Arthur too much, but a mouth collided with the side of his neck. Chewed up its length to delicately flick his ear with a clever tongue. Not to be outdone, Lancelot let his head fall against Arthur’s back and began mouthing the dip between the shoulderblades. His hips were shifting by themselves now, threatening to drop him into the water, and so he was groping with increasing franticness for some handholds, but unfortunately, none were within reach. Though Arthur still seemed to enjoy that. And enjoy making Lancelot’s legs go alternately limp and stiff, dangling apart so he could tease at his leisure.

Somehow, the water was tasting better now. Or maybe that was Arthur’s skin and sweat, coming through stronger as Lancelot sucked away the river’s attempts to coat it. At any rate, he was content to curl and swirl his tongue around as much of it as he could reach, while Arthur took care of moving the rest of him. One last bit of sense prompted him to slide down and clap his knees around Arthur’s hips, and then they were pressed too closely to bother with reason.

A little later, Lancelot was lazily hanging off Arthur’s shoulder while the other man made some half-hearted attempts to wash them off. In Lancelot’s opinion, the currents were doing a fine job of that without any human effort; they’d only have to stay in the water a little longer. “Hmm. I suppose swimming does have its advantages.”

“This wasn’t swimming,” Arthur needlessly told him, mirth staining the man’s words. He finally gave up on dabbling water on Lancelot’s stomach and settled for licking at the spot behind Lancelot’s ear.

To make it easier for the other man, Lancelot tilted his head and rested his cheek on Arthur’s shoulder. “No, but I trust you to connect the two.”

“Do you, now.” A thread of heaviness was working its way into Arthur’s lightheartedness.

“Yes, I do. I’m in this damned river, aren’t I?” With a sigh, Lancelot twisted around and kissed Arthur hard enough to erase any doubts. It’d only be temporary, but he would take what he could get.

Arthur smiled against his mouth, and when Lancelot pulled away, Arthur let things go for a few lovely, quiet moments of simply folding around each other.

And then the bastard dropped him back into the water.