Tangible Schizophrenia


Fruit of Knowledge

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Gawain/Tristan
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Versions from the movie.
Summary: A lazy autumn day and a bit of theological debating.


“So there are three of them. The father, the son, and the…ghost.” Brow furrowed, Gawain squinted at the apple in his hand as if he was divining a better answer in its gleam. He pulled up his sleeve and delicately polished off a speck of dirt, then crunched into the fruit so hard the juices squirted in Tristan’s eye. “Shit! Sorry!”

Tristan didn’t answer because he was busy resisting the urge to rub his burning eyeball out of its socket. Instead, he squeezed the lid shut and carefully dabbed at it till he’d mopped off most of the juices, then ran a finger along it to force any remaining apple juice to come out at the corner of his eye. His lashes tickled and scratched his finger, tempting him to push just a little harder, but he willed himself not to.


“That hurt. But I don’t think I’m blind.” He licked the heel of his hand until it was coated with spit, then pressed it against his eye. Cracked open the lid just enough for some of the spit to creep in and soothe away the itch. White lights momentarily appeared in the blackish spots of his vision, but soon disappeared.

A relieved sigh whuffed out beside him and was followed shortly by a thump as Gawain collapsed on the grass. “Oh, good. I didn’t mean to—”

“Apple?” When Tristan held out a hand, Gawain stared at it like he’d never seen one before. Then the other man looked up at Tristan, snorted himself into a small grin and passed Tristan his apple. The huge missing chunk that marred the fruit was still oozing sweet crisp droplets, so Tristan neatly licked those up before biting off a piece.

His eye had settled down enough for him to risk taking off his hand. As a result, his vision went abruptly brilliant and colorful and stinging, then slowly cooled as he re-accustomed himself to two eyes. He made himself stare through the fuzziness till they’d properly focused themselves on Gawain’s white teeth.

Grin grown a little softer, Gawain pushed himself up on his elbows and pushed the hair out of Tristan’s face. His fingers continued onwards over Tristan’s head to curve around the back, cradling it while he leaned in to steal some of his apple back from Tristan’s mouth. “You know, after five years of being around you, I don’t know if anything can shock or scare me any more.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Tristan muttered, chasing a stray dribble of juice into Gawain’s beard. His teeth caught and pulled out a hair, making Gawain wince, but he apologized by gently catching Gawain’s lower lip between his teeth and sucking. When the other man’s breath started to grow ragged, he backed off and casually munched on the apple. “Ghost?”

The expression on Gawain’s face was a study in indecision, not knowing whether to indulge in frustration or confusion first. In the end, he chose rolling against Tristan and nibbling along the edges of clothing. “I don’t know. Arthur calls it a holy ghost, but I didn’t understand his explanation for whose ghost it was. If it’s that of his god, then his god had to be mortal at some point, right? Otherwise how could a god die and have a spirit?”

“I thought his god had been mortal. He turned into a man—called Christ.” It’d been a while since Tristan had been unfortunate enough to be around when Arthur decided on a discourse on the Christian faith, so he couldn’t quite remember. But he was fairly certain that the name was right; details like that, he memorized by reflex now.

“No, that’s true. I’d forgotten about that. But the spirit was supposed to be there before Christ, I think.” Gawain stopped nibbling at Tristan to think, which was highly regrettable. And, if Lancelot was any measure of the wind, that kind of dampening effect on pleasant activities always went hand-in-hand with religion.

While Tristan could easily recall the fairytales and folklore of his homeland, some of which held valuable information even now, he had a harder time recalling the…feeling behind them. They were enjoyable, occasionally helpful, but they were also about as tangible as the mists, holding no real meaning for him in comparison to the earth and plants and wind he dealt with every day. He knew it was different for some of the knights—Dagonet, for instance, still privately worshipped the gods that held sway over the various Sarmatian lands. And Galahad always grew very quiet whenever the legends of the Narts were told, as if he were listening not to a fanciful story, but to history. But that wasn’t Tristan’s way, and so far, not following it hadn’t brought him to any harm.

In point of fact, following it seemed to harrow up more hurt than heal. For every moment of comfort Arthur received in prayer, he had to have two of grief from his failure to see many tangible rewards of his faithfulness. Lancelot’s fierce opposition to anything that wasn’t materially present couldn’t help, either.

“What makes least sense to me, though, is how they could all be the same thing. There’s three. If there’s three, then there’s three. If there’s one, then there’s one. You can’t mix that; it’s arithmetic.” Musing now, Gawain had his chin on Tristan’s shoulder and his arm resting easily around Tristan’s waist. The woods around them were relatively quiet, but not with that deathly silence that betokened danger, and Tristan’s hawk seemed to be still contentedly stretching her wings above them.

“Does it matter?” Tristan asked, finishing off the last of the apple. He turned to look Gawain in the eye, tossing the core over his shoulder. “If you did know how that could be so, would it change anything?”

The other man shook his head and dipped to draw his tongue around Tristan’s hand, cleaning them of the apple’s last traces. When he spoke again, his tongue flicked teasingly at the frail webbing between Tristan’s fingers. “No. All right, so maybe that puzzles me most. Why does it matter to men, then?”

“It’s another excuse for war. It’s a comfort that can’t die on you like a person, so it’s probably easier to pretend it can never leave you.” Tristan said that a little more harshly than he’d meant; Gawain briefly paused to give him a curious, concerned look. But the day was warm, the woods were clear, and Gawain was going to taste of the last lingering sweetness of summer. Before it turned cold, Tristan wanted to enjoy that as much as he could. “That would be the only reasons I’ve seen so far.”

“What about Arthur?” Gawain glanced at the vivid, multicolored blanket of leaves on which they were lying. He slid a finger beneath one intense scarlet leaf and flipped it into the air, then watched it flutter back down. “You sound like Lancelot.”

Which was what Tristan had been afraid of. He blew out his breath and recollected himself before he tried answering. “Men do what they have to do in order to get through life. I don’t need a God for that. For that matter, I think I agree with Lancelot in that Arthur doesn’t need one, either, but Arthur thinks he does.”

“He does have to do more than we do.” For a moment, Gawain’s face was pulled gaunt by his pensiveness. But then he turned to push his nose into Tristan’s cheek, smiling again, and Tristan reminded himself that the other man hadn’t stopped being beautiful at any moment in time. “Makes me happy to be where I am, not too high and not too low.”

Tristan gratefully took the change in subject and let himself be pushed backward till he could be nearly blinded by the sunlight dazzle through the leaves. Above him, Gawain was a bright white shadow, a nearly transparent outline that tingled where its solidity pressed against Tristan, easing under hems and stroking skin.

“Good apples,” Gawain murmured, bending down so he could kiss Tristan into closing his eyes and missing a few breaths of a rare calm time in their lives. But the rest of it made up for the lack of sight, and Tristan had no qualms about giving himself up to that. He knew what it was, after all, and had not the slightest uncertainty about any part.