Tangible Schizophrenia

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Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG
Pairing: Some Arthur/Lancelot
Feedback: Good lines, spelling errors, etc.
Disclaimer: These versions donít belong to me.
Notes: I canít remember when Arthur cupped Lancelotís cheek, so if it wasnít during this scene, call this fic slightly AU.
Summary: Whatís going on thoughtwise when Arthur tells them about their last mission.

***

Arthur

And as he walks toward them, he is still trying to convince himself that this is necessary, that they are doing a right thing by saving innocents. But then he hears the singing, unlike and yet like the half-faded memories of his motherís voice, and he stops. Listens.

He watches his men standing there, rapt with a kind of innocence that persists even through the storms of blood and arrows, and he then thinks that he cannot do this. Not to them.

But Arthurís been a soldier too long, and he has been given his orders. So when they call to him, he comes. And he tells them, hating every word that rolls off his tongue with a passion he normally saves for battle and for equality.

* * *

Tristan

He never minds the looks askance that he gets, because he can always take comfort in what the others do not remember, what their rosy memories turn pretty and harmless.

Itís always red blood and black death, everywhere. Even in Sarmatia, he remembers men killed and women weeping. And he remembers the spray of blood as they defended their homesteads from raiders, the sticky hot wonder of it that was from the other man, the downed man that was not himself. If he wants to remember home, remember life, all he has to do is face his enemy and take it.

That is his pleasure, however, and not Romeís. Even he knows the difference between the wolf in the woods and the snarling dog heeling to its masterís command.

* * *

Bors

Fifteen years? Damn all gods, no. Been much, much longer than that. Good as he is, good as his vixen is, even he canít whelp that many in only fifteen years.

Britainís not a bad land, really. Itís got its good points. Ďcourse, its bad points tend to come out of the trees like a lightning bolt and take a man through a limb or gut, and the doctors around here are just themselves. Fumble-fingered bastards, but he loves Ďem all anyway. Wants to see them free, wants to see them happy as he sometimes thinks he is, with a babe bouncing one knee and wife bouncing the other.

A family, Arthur says. If it were he and hisÖbut Bors isnít given to selfless sympathy. He doesnít know these Romans.

He knows Arthur. And he grumbles and worries, but thatís always been and will always be enough.

* * *

Dagonet

Something is dying on the wind. He can smell its ashes, flying from the pyre, but he does not know what might rise in their place.

Arthur is tired, and time is wearing on him, though he bears it and the complaining of his knights bravely enough. Heís a better man than he knows, and a better one than he has shown so far, bound as he is by the far-off empire that rules his head.

Dagonet wishes he were riding south, away from this place, but he knows that in the morning, he will go whither Arthur does. Because the manís heart is there, and solid, and no matter what, it will stand. That is good enough.

* * *

Galahad

Sometimes when he dreams he thinks he can taste the grass.

Itís an odd memory to hold to: him getting thrashed in a wrestling match with some of the other village boys. But itís what he has. Plants and dirt, and yes, the smell of horse shit nearby. But even the dung in Samartia was different than the stuff here; the grazing is marshy and rotting, peat-stink all over this land, and the horses only shit out more bog to join whatís already there.

The wind is fresher in Sarmatia, and though he is awake now and listening in disbelief, he can still feel its retreat. Back home, where he cannot join it.

* * *

Gawain

Land is land, wherever it is, and fighting is fighting. He isnít the smartest man, or the bestóthose titles he will gladly and graciously leave to Arthur and Lancelotóbut he is practical, and he knows where he is content.

Not under the yoke of Rome, not defending a city thousands of miles away that slaughtered his forefathers and enslaved sons like himself. Not shedding blood where he does not care, where he does not want to.

Arthur thinks they fight for Rome, and hopes that they will keep doing so. Well, Gawain will, but not for that fair city. Not ever. Itís always been for Arthur, though the man will not see it.

Gawain gives his assent, and speaks for Galahad as well, since the hothead doesnít have enough sense to. But he doesnít for Lancelot, whom this is killing the most. And he doesnít stay to watch, because this is not his fight.

* * *

Lancelot

Heís the last to leave because he always is. Out of all the striplings half-raised by Arthur, heís the one that knows best what lies inside Arthurís cage of taciturn honor, what care and good time and time again beats against those bars.

But he cannot hear the words that are being said, cannot respond in the calm, reasonable way that he knows will reach Arthurís mind, if not the manís will. He cannot, because the heat of his anger is nothing against the heat of Arthurís hand against his cheek.

Itís so little, and yet its passing tells him so much. It tells him that Arthur is going. It tells him that even if his friend doesnít yet realize it, he is moving beyond Lancelot, and that stabs deeper than any dagger. Because now Lancelot is old enough, free enough, and still, Arthur has grown past him.

***

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