Tangible Schizophrenia


Vice Extra: Bystander

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere, Gawain/Tristan
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Versions from the movie.
Notes: Film noir AU. Makes little attempt to be really historically accurate, and much effort to both be true to genre tropes and to riff on them. Supernatural stuff.
Summary: Tristan plays things close to the chest.


Tristan finished pouring out the three tiny glasses, then slid them across the bar to Lancelot. As he stood back, his hands seemed to flip and swing the bottles back into their places all by themselves.

Show-off. But the man could do that with knives, too, so Lancelot didn’t roll his eyes until he was tilting his head back to drain the last drops of the first glass. He didn’t swallow right away, but instead rolled the slow-burn liqueur around his mouth as he put the glass back. “Huh. Cherry.”

“This one is almost like Falernian,” the other man quietly said, pushing the second glass forward.

“And my virgin aunt sucks off—wait, what’d you say?” That wine hadn’t existed in…and Tristan wasn’t a history buff, as far as Lancelot knew. Not that Lancelot had much of a clue about what the man did in his free time, aside from get screwed hard by Gawain, but in any case, there was still no reason for Tristan to throw out a comparison like that and expect Lancelot to get it.

Very deliberately, Lancelot put both palms on the counter and got off the stool. Then he leaned over the bar and gave Tristan his best dead-eyed stare.

It didn’t even make a dent in the other man’s composure. But just before Lancelot’s eyes dried out completely and thus made him sit back down, he did have the privilege of catching Tristan blinking. “Excuse me?” Lancelot rephrased in a nicer tone. In non-English.

Tristan shrugged. “I was wondering if you’d remembered. No one saw you fall and get back up except for a boy in the street, and he thought he was having a nightmare.”

“You…since when did you know?” Lancelot glanced about, but didn’t see anyone: he’d dropped by while Arthur took Guin shopping, and Gawain was off in the back of the warehouse, digging up a rare order.

“The day before I found Gawain. A car ran me over.” Cool as ice, Tristan picked up the third glass and drained it. He glided the two empty glasses into the sink so fast Lancelot almost didn’t see it. “He doesn’t, by the way. None of the rest do.”

So…Tristan had known for just about as long as Lancelot had known him. He’d sat in Lancelot’s office and watched Lancelot and Guin scuffle around him and known, and he’d tailed Arthur and could have made a guess at least. He really had been laughing at them, all this time.

A second later, Lancelot had wriggled his head free of Tristan’s arm just in time to see Gawain come in. The other man stopped, stared, blinked. Then he carefully set down the crate of wine he’d been holding. “Lancelot? Why are you strangling Tristan?”

“Because—” Something pinched Lancelot’s ribs hard. He glanced down to see Tristan…actually looking desperate, which startled him into being nice. And into letting go, then straightening up his suit. “Hell, do I need a reason?”

Gawain glared. Picked up the crate again and stalked off. “He’d better be all right when I come back.”

Tristan watched the other man go with naked relief on his face. “Thank you.”

“Sure. Though I’ve no idea what…” Lancelot grumbled, sinking back down on his seat. He poked a finger into the last glass and tasted it. Goddamn it, Tristan was right—almost like the old stuff.

“I’m not going to kill him just so he can remember, and he wouldn’t believe it if I only told him.” Wistfulness flickered over Tristan’s face, but was chased off by a kind of hopeless, quiet love a second before his expression smoothed out again. “I can wait.”

Lancelot gave the other man a sharp look. Then he drank half the wine and shoved the other half at Tristan. “Don’t let it go too long.”

“It won’t be.” Tristan drained the glass, a set expression on his face that discouraged Lancelot from asking what the hell the other man meant by that. So Lancelot let it pass, but he didn’t intend to forget about it.