Tangible Schizophrenia


Future Imperfect

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere, Gawain/Tristan, Fulcinia/Dagonet, Bors/Vanora
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Modern-day AU. Idea from fatuorum. Fortune cookie saying from here.
Summary: Just a maybe.


Guin stopped, one hand frozen in the act of adjusting the strap of her heavy satchel where it cut into her shoulder. She regarded the slightly-ajar door before with an air of extreme annoyance, then waved Fulcinia back. “Watch out.”

“Hmm?” Arms clasped tightly around herself, Fulcinia nervously looked about the front of the apartment building. She’d never been anywhere near this district before—actually, she’d not been anywhere much since before she’d taken up with Marty—and moreover, she still wasn’t all that sure that Guin was being genuinely nice about the invitation to study with her. While the other woman had been very helpful in getting rid of Fulcinia’s ex-boyfriend, that had been for reasons of her own. It hadn’t been that long ago that Guin had cut Fulcinia dead every time they’d met, and Guin was famously good at holding even the slightest grudge.

At the moment, however, all of Guin’s volcanic temper appeared to be directed at whatever lay just beyond the door. Fulcinia’s curiosity slowly got the better of her, and she edged up beside the other woman. “What’s wrong?”

“Just one of those damn foreign students Arthur picked up,” Guin muttered. An instant later, she kicked in the door.

“Fuck!” cried a slightly-accented male voice from the other side. The door banged wide open to display a very nice entrance hall, complete with a shirtless, rather good-looking man sprawled on the floor. He rubbed furiously at his shoulder as he sat up and glared at Guin. “There’s a knocker on the door for a reason. And the doorbell works now, too.”

Hips insolently swinging, Guin marched in with barely a sniff in the man’s direction. She stopped a few steps later, then turned around and came back to drag in Fulcinia. “C’mon, Nia. I’m starving.”

“Difficult to tell, given that your manners are the same no matter the circumstances,” remarked another man’s voice, soft and accented just like the first man’s. Startled, Fulcinia leaped nearer to Guin and wildly stared about, but saw nothing except amusement on the first man’s face and irritation on Guin’s as the other woman looked…up.

The chandelier was heavy iron, sturdy as the menhirs, and could have been anywhere from a thousand to a few years’ old. Oddly enough, the man crawling on it looked perfectly at home.

“Don’t tell me you two were trying out—” Guin began, hands on hips.

The first man snorted and rolled onto his feet, then produced a handful of tools. Fulcinia suddenly noticed the ladder behind him. “No, we’re trying to fix the wiring. No thanks to you trying to break my neck.”

“Which is why you have bruises on said neck that weren’t there this morning.” Sly as a fox, Guin dodged the man’s lunge and deftly twisted herself and Fulcinia towards a nearby staircase. “The shirtless one’s Gawain, and the squirrelly one’s Tristan,” she said over her shoulder, grin bouncing as they tripped up the steps. “Weird names, I know, but their real ones are unpronounceable. So we all use those.”

“And they like the Arthurian cycle?” Fulcinia cautiously hazarded, grabbing at her bag with her free hand. It was old, and so its current weighty load of textbooks was in serious danger of breaking the seams. She nearly whirled into a wall because she was trying to pinch together one hole, and then she had to step quickly to avoid tripping over yet another man. “Oh, sorry!”

Apparently, life must be very different in Guin’s home, because he merely shrugged and snatched his jacket out of the way of Guin’s feet. As she stopped in front of one door and fumbled for the keys, he pulled himself upright to reveal he’d either been reading the sports pages, or been studying anthropology; both a newspaper and a tattered textbook laid at his feet.. His eyes flicked up and down Fulcinia, then shot speculative derision at Guin. “Finally get fed up with men?”

“Get bent, Galahad. Not my fault you can’t keep a girl.” Without missing a beat, Guin shoved in the right key and back-kicked the man, then spun herself inside.

“Um…I’m…nice to meet you.” Due to the world blurring as she dove after the other woman, Fulcinia couldn’t quite see his outraged face, but she could hear his swearing well enough. Once inside, she desperately grabbed for the nearest solid object and yanked till she came to a stop. “Guin…please…slow down…”

For a moment, the annoyance in the other woman’s face rose, but then her shoulders fell in a silent sigh and she let go of Fulcinia’s wrist. Her fingers twitched and plucked at the hem of her miniskirt, while her eyes kept wandering to the side. “Sorry, Nia. It’s just that Arthur’s been off doing his doctor thing for three months, and you wouldn’t believe how bad the phonelines are in…in…”

Guin pricked to attention and cocked her head. She grew so eerily still that Fulcinia began to be concerned, but then Fulcinia also heard the noises.

“Oh, for—I knew I should’ve made Bors drive Arthur from the airport. Vanora’s only six months along, and it’s not like she’s never been pregnant before…” Still muttering, Guin pivoted and stalked down a hallway.

After a moment, Fulcinia rushed after her. She caught up to Guinevere just as the other woman banged open the doors to what appeared to be the kitchen.

To be honest, Fulcinia wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen anything like it. The simile ‘going at it like starving animals’ had never made much sense to her before, simply because it seemed to imply a violence that didn’t accord with her experiences, but now she’d never have trouble understanding how that saying originated. At first, it was hard just to tell that they were men.

“Yet another foreign student Arthur picked up God-knows-where,” Guin drawled, arms loosely crossed over her chest.

Dark curls detached themselves from what Fulcinia only now realized was a neck, flashing mocking eyes and the kind of face that should have been sulking on a magazine cover. The leaner and shorter of the two men seemed perfectly unruffled by the interruption, though the other man had the makings of a blush on his face as he jumped back. “Considering I met him as a twelve-year-old, you’re walking some dangerous lines there.”

“Well, would you rather I call you his personal community service project?” One casual shrug sent Guin’s bag sliding to the floor, and then she was swerving around the island counter to exuberantly greet the other man. “Arthur! How was your flight?”

“Less turbulent than you two,” he muttered, leaning down to lightly kiss Guin. “Who’s your friend?”

Interestingly enough, the other man hadn’t let go of Arthur’s shoulder, though he remained perched on the countertop. In consequence, Arthur was thrown slightly askew by the other two, but despite the obvious awkwardness of his position, he didn’t seem to be in any hurry to relieve it. He did worm out a hand to take Fulcinia’s gingerly-extended one. “Fulcinia. I’m…ah…in Guin’s Poli Sci class. She’s told me a lot about you, so I’m glad to finally meet you.”

“Didn’t tell you anything about me, did she?” Without waiting for an answer, the second man threw a grin Fulcinia’s way and leaned back against Arthur, letting his unbuttoned shirt fall to either side of him. “Lancelot. Hi.”

“You know, I never know whether to call you a bastard or a bitch,” Guin muttered, smacking at his knee. “Nia, you remember how I told you Arthur lived in the Balkans for a while when he was younger? Well, his mother always wanted a large family but couldn’t have any more children after him, so she kept adopting arrogant little brats like—Arthur!”

Who had first winced at her explanation, then had shook himself and patiently pried her free. “Guin, I need to unpack.”

“I’ve been telling you for the past five minutes: bedroom.” Easy as breathing, Lancelot slipped off the counter and tucked himself into Arthur’s side, then ducked around him to sneer at Guinevere. She sneered back. “Long story short, we’re fu—mmmph!”

For the first few seconds, it looked as if Lancelot was going to squirm free, but Arthur managed to trap the other man in a headlock as well as keep a hand over Lancelot’s mouth, which seemed to settle things. Then Arthur glanced at Fulcinia, expression inexplicably concerned. “I apologize for all the…oddity. Anyway, if you’d like anything to drink or eat, feel free to help yourself. It’s a pleasure to meet a friend of Guin’s.”

“Oh…well, thank you.” Fulcinia was about to turn to Guin and ask where they were going to study, but then the door creaked behind her and she flinched. Her over-stressed satchel decided that that was the last straw, and to her horror, split open as if it was spring-loaded. She scrabbled for her books, but the largest skidded through her fingers and was inches from crashing to the floor when a huge hand caught it.

It was the man that had convinced Marty to leave town just by looking at him. His shaven head nearly grazed the ceiling, and his palm almost completely covered the front of the book as he deposited it in Fulcinia’s frozen hands. Then he stepped past and set down his armload of steaming paper bags on the counters.

“Szechuan…” Guin leaned over the bags and appreciatively sniffed. “Dagonet, I could kiss you sometimes.”

Lancelot was still wiggling, but he’d somehow gone from clawing at Arthur’s hands to rubbing up against the other man like a cat begging for petting. And Arthur was making the strangest face Fulcinia had ever seen, barring squalling children.

Rolling her eyes, Guin grudgingly detached herself from Arthur and dug into the bags, then retrieved some food. “He’s biting, isn’t he?”

Arthur ducked his head and scooted towards the far door while firmly tucking Lancelot under his arm. “Guin, half an hour…?”

“All right, all right. He did win the damn coin toss. But I get the shower. C’mon, Nia. I wanna get through chapter three at least before we all pig out.” Back to being the whirlwind, Guin hopped past and breezed down another hallway.

Blinking, Fulcinia turned back just in time to see Lancelot swing around and apparently inhale the entire lower half of Arthur’s face. A hummingbird couldn’t have beat its wing in the time before Arthur grabbed Lancelot’s ass and the back of Lancelot’s head, and kissed back. They tumbled through the door, which whacked shut and bounced half-open, then slowly closed.

“Are they…?” Then Fulcinia remembered it was Dagonet that was the only one left with her.

He shrugged and looked at her, eyes clear and calm as the cloudless sky outside. “Arthur works for the U. N. as a doctor. He’s just back from Africa.”

“And the names?” she ventured after another moment’s hesitation.

“His mother taught us English using a book of stories about King Arthur and his knights. We picked our favorites.” Dagonet was quietly taking out the rest of the Chinese carry-out as he spoke, and when he was done, he took a second to sort through the fortune cookies. She was half-expecting him to flip it at her, but instead, he walked around and handed it to her. “It’s a good one.”

With that, he continued on down the hall and out of the apartment.

Thoughtful, Fulcinia carefully cracked open the cookie and nibbled on its crunchy golden fragments as she traced Guin’s steps. She didn’t read the fortune quite yet, deciding that she needed to find somewhere to set down her books and ruined bag first. A chair just by the door presented itself and she finally rid her sore arms of their heavy, sharp-cornered load, but before she could do anything else, Guin popped up with a weatherbeaten duffel. “Here. And no need to say thanks; we’ve got tons of them that never get thrown away. Boys…oh, it’s clean, by the way. Promise.”

Fulcinia stuffed the proffered bag under her arm and sat down to watch Guin systematically arrange her study materials on the floor. “So…what is Lancelot?”

“Besides the one that snores and hogs the sheets?” Guin’s frenzied organizing slowed a bit. “Bloody premed, if you can believe that.” She sighed, flopping backward so papers fluttered up and cascaded all over the place, despite Fulcinia’s best attempts at a rescue. “Don’t ask, all right? He just…works. Annoying as fuck, but if it keeps Arthur…”

A moment later, Guin rolled over to dissect Fulcinia with a laser gaze, so Fulcinia was rather happy she’d elected not to question things. “You know, you’ve no idea how nice it is to talk to someone without having to worry about the prick-factor. Even the quiet ones are surprising.”

“Like Dagonet?” Fulcinia blurted. She blushed, tried not to, and consequently felt as if her cheeks were full of hot coals. “Oh, God…”

Guin reached out and patted her knee, then plucked out their textbooks. The other woman was grinning, but the edge of her smile was softened enough for Fulcinia to feel safe smiling back. “It’s all right; you’ll get used to it. Now, Hobbes and the social contract…”

Before Fulcinia answered, she peeked at the slip of paper crumpled up in her fist.

You are almost there.

She thought about that for a moment, and then she removed Marty, once and for all, from her mind and thought. He was gone, she wasn’t, and whatever Guin was up to, at least the woman thought Fulcinia was worth bothering with. “Yes…”


Fulcinia shook her head, and the world faded back into brilliant sunlight and quizzical eyes. “Right. Hobbes. I think what the professor meant was…”