Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: Implied Arthur/Lancelot, Gawain/Tristan, Gawain/Galahad
Feedback: What you liked, what you didn't, etc.
Disclaimer: These versions aren't mine.
Notes: Fic takes place soon after the knights first arrive in Britain, so I figure Arthur for 18 and the others a couple years younger.
Summary: Tristan and Gawain takes turns doctoring each other, while Lancelot's being a brat as usual.


Gawain's new scars were healing pink and incised, not quite like the raised whitish ridges that dotted the rest of him. Vaguely interested, Tristan took the opportunity to poke at them as he smeared grease over their edges, which were just beginning to crack.

"That stinks like those damned Woads." Face wrinkled up in disgust, Gawain restlessly shifted on his belly, crushing the grass so it watered his sides with greenish stains. He repillowed his head on his arms so he could look up at Tristan. "You swear that this helps."

"It does. My grandfather used this, and his grandfather before him." Tristan paused to examine the scars, then swiped up some more of the rancid stuff and dabbed it over a few of the deeper breaks in the skin. "It smells like the Woads because they use it, too."

One eye glared at him through a flopped-over mane of tangles. "You're turning me into one of them?"

"No." It could have been taken as a grave insult, if Tristan had been that kind of man. But he wasn't, and anyway, Gawain was apologetically grinning as he sat up.

Tristan handed him his clothes, but he simply dropped them in his lap, apparently wanting to let the grease soak in before he risked smearing it. Instead, he reached across and tapped at the fresh marks on Tristan's cheeks. "You're turning into a Woad-what?"

"They're still sore," Tristan muttered, trying to fight both flinch and shiver. His spine prickled and tensed, and he scanned the camp below for a distraction.

"Sorry." And Gawain genuinely was, worry stretching across the bluff, broad planes of his face. Even though he most likely had no idea exactly what he was apologizing for. At least, Tristan had seen no sign of it, and he knew Gawain wasn't the devious one of the knights.

Devious wasn't the right word-none of them were sly in that manner, but nevertheless, a good many of them didn't present their true feelings to the world. It was one way of dealing with the slow realization that home was fragmenting into scattered grains of memory.

Another was Gawain's way, somehow finding simple enjoyment in nearly everything they came across. After Arthur, he spent the most time with Tristan of all the knights, because for all his dislike of the Woads, he was keenly interested in any knowledge about them. And when he was asking about the weird bits of Woad food Tristan brought back, it didn't exactly seem as if he was doing so simply to find advantages over their enemies. He was simply curious. A traveler's mindset married to a soldier's sword.

"Why'd you do this, anyway?" Gawain had taken possession of the grease, and before Tristan could stop him, he was swiping it over Tristan's tattoos.

His fingers were on the short side, and rough as gravel, but the grease was cooling and soft. Tristan again diverted his eyes, and this time, he spotted Arthur and Lancelot riding along one of the paths below. "They're back early."

"Hopefully that doesn't mean Arthur's found something and is about to call us out." A trace of bitterness wove itself through Gawain's voice, but it wasn't nearly as strident as the one in Galahad's every move.

"No, they look relaxed," Tristan noted. He squinted, then raised an eyebrow. "Very relaxed."

Gawain shot him a questioning look, then crawled over to the hillock's edge to see for himself. Lancelot had just finished dumping water down the back of Arthur's collar-if it was freezing stream water, then Tristan could fully sympathize with Arthur's outraged roar and subsequent tackling of Lancelot from the horses.

"Ow. Bit of a fall." Though amusement far outweighed any other emotion in Gawain's voice. "So that's what they get up to when the rest of us aren't around."

"Arthur always wins, but lately-" Tristan stopped, intently watching the wrestling match come to an end.

A hand laid itself on his arm, and when he looked up, he was met by a piercing gaze. "Lately, you've been watching them. Any reason?"

"They keep showing up." Which was true, in a way. There weren't that many private spots inside the fort, and anyone looking for solitude would've been hard put to always find it. "I've seen Merlin, too." Tristan tapped his cheeks. "That's the reason for these. Because he isn't the only one who can fold himself into the forest."

For a long, long time, while below Lancelot scraped mud off his knees and Arthur broke into reluctant laughter, Gawain stared at Tristan. Then a nearby shout startled all four of them. Arthur's body reflexively straightened and stiffened, and his smile shrank to just an uptwitch of his lips. Lancelot looked about to yell some obscenity back, but restrained himself and swung up into the saddle with a sour face. For his part, Tristan didn't move.

"That's Galahad. Probably needs help sharpening his shield again," Gawain finally said. He slowly got to his feet and clapped Tristan on the shoulder. "Are you still going to be here in an hour? I haven't seen how the hawk is doing yet."

"I might." It took longer than an hour to properly sharpen the edges of Galahad's shield, but Tristan didn't mention a fact they both knew. "If not, see you at mealtime."

It seemed as if Gawain would give voice to the regret in his face, but another call from Galahad spun him round. "All right."

Instead of watching him go, Tristan swept his eyes over the distant woods, searching for any telltale smoke. At the base of the hillock, Lancelot rode up to Arthur's right side, so close that it looked as if not a knife-blade could fit between them.


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