Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: Preslash. Slight Gawain/Tristan, Gawain/Galahad.
Feedback: What you liked, what you didn't.
Disclaimer: These versions aren't mine.
Notes: Knights are around 16, and have recently arrived in Britain.
Summary: A great escape followed by a short talk on the merits of Britain's landscape.


Gawain found Tristan in possibly the last place he'd ever expected: just outside the kitchen, small sack of obviously-pilfered food bulging conspicuously from under one arm. Amateur. And he was supposed to be the best at sneaking about, too. "You stupid-"

"Shhh!" Tristan hissed, finger pressing to lip so hard the flesh beneath was turning white. And then Gawain could hear the cooks raging inside, every shout bringing them one step closer.

A quick glance revealed Tristan's difficulty-angry men coming up from behind, walls to both sides of the narrow alley, and before, a group of legionaries. As a rule, they weren't too partial to siding with the knights despite their common responsibilities, and it was best to avoid them whenever possible.

"Ah..." Gawain shuffled through the various ways of action, casting his gaze about for inspiration. It settled on the roof. "Toss that up first-"

Tristan was already doing so. A little irked at being out-thought, Gawain quietly scrambled up the nearest barrel and slithered his way onto the roof just a heartbeat ahead of Tristan. Climbing wasn't his specialty, but he could hardly be blamed for that. Sarmatia was a land of steppes: everything was either flattish or too vertical to scale.

Then again, the lack of experience didn't seem to inconvenience Tristan away. In fact, the other boy rivaled a squirrel for nimbleness.

Still, he patently didn't come this way very often. Grinning smugness, Gawain tugged Tristan toward the far side of the roof, showing him which tiles were loose and which sturdy. They snaked right past the storming cooks with nary a sound and eventually ended up by the stables, where they dropped into a pile of hay. Promptly flushed out one of the older knights. Along with a barmaid. "Oh, shit," Gawain muttered, instantly taking to his heels.

"This way!" Tristan seized his arm and dragged him through a dizzying path of twists and back-dodges. Good thing Gawain wasn't leading for this bit, because by the time they finally lost their pursuer, his head was nothing but spin.

He dropped to the ground and doubled over, trying to catch his breath. "Oh, fuck. Come dinner, we're in trouble."

"So volunteer for that shift and eat on post," replied Tristan, who wasn't panting nearly as much. He bent down next to Gawain, one hand on the wall of the building sheltering them, and rummaged through the thick, tall weeds that grew there. Very soon, he produced a box, which he opened so slowly that Gawain counted five breaths before the lid was all the way up. "Or hide behind Bors."

"And sit in his farts? I think not. I'll just point Lancelot toward the nearest girl and distract all of them that way-Tristan? Where did you get that?" One bright eye skewered Gawain, and then the beak over which it sat tried to stab his hand as he reached inside the box.

His fingers were suddenly slapped away. "don't!" Tristan snapped, uncharacteristically fierce.

Taken aback, Gawain hastily retreated and sank into hurt feelings. "Well, fine. And you're welcome."

He got up and started to leave, but the same sharp movement as before caught his wrist. "Wait...look...it's just...you can't move quickly around them," Tristan quietly said.

They watched each other for a few moments. Tristan's hair flopped into his face, dangling within reach of the baby hawk, which promptly began to pluck at it.

The smile started at the left side of Gawain's mouth and yanked up the other corner, fast as a lightning-strike. But he was careful to sit down at a sedate pace. "So that's what the food's for? I thought it was odd...you eat less than even the dead."

"The dead don't eat," snorted Tristan, who was slipping bits of bacon from the bag into the hawk's beak. He tossed Gawain a bit of the meat, and when he received a raised eyebrow in return, he shrugged. "I thought you liked bacon."

"I do." To prove the point, Gawain promptly ate his gift. "Just...didn't know you noticed. Not like I ever said anything. And speaking of, you still didn't say where you got that."

In answer, Tristan merely glanced at the forest. Looking at the dense, dark green that still managed to rear above the edge of Hadrian's wall, Gawain couldn't contain his shiver. "Damn it, Tristan...I don't understand how you can spend so much time in there. Without any...any...without any space. Air. It's amazing that an arrow can even get five feet there."

"We're retreating, but we're not out yet. It's good to know the land. You never know when it might rise up and swallow you." Tristan shrugged, calmly feeding his pet. "Besides, you can breathe there. You just have to do it differently. Let it swallow you for a while."

For a moment, Gawain just stared. "Sometimes I wonder if you're even Sarmatian."

"I can shoot from a horse better than you." And Tristan was back to how he always was: a little strayed into strangeness, a little distant, but still a knight like Gawain. "If you want to catch Galahad after drills, you should probably go now."

"Hmm?" Gawain did a quick check of the sun's angle, then cursed himself for old habits and instead looked at the length of the building's shadow. "Shit. I'm going to be late."

Gorged so full it looked like a feathered ball, the hawk abruptly slumped away from Tristan. "No, you won't. Just go right, then turn right again when you get to the storerooms. There's a little alley there by the water-barrels-short-cut."

"Really? Thanks!" Gawain leaped up and started off, but for the second time, Tristan stopped him.

"Gawain...thanks. For..." Tristan's hair was hiding his nose again.

With a quick flick of his fingers, Gawain fixed that. "You're very welcome," he called back as he raced away, Tristan's puzzled eyes following him.


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