Tangible Schizophrenia


Theory Epilogue: Closing Comments

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Sex and violence.
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere, Gawain/Tristan.
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Belongeth not to me.
Notes: Modern-day AU. Avalon College is completely made-up and based on an amalgamation of universities; any similarity to existing colleges is coincidental.
Summary: It’s like reverse adoption.


“Look at them. They’re all so hopeful.” With one sweep of the hand, Galahad jumbled together men and women, freshmen and seniors, ethnicities from all corners of the earth and reduced them to one common denominator. He shot a teasing look at Gawain. “Think we should mention Professor Pendragon is now off the lists?”

Unfortunately, in this case Gawain couldn’t argue with Galahad’s simplification. But he could slap the man upside the head. “Do that and we’ll probably be lynched.”

“And I thought you getting a new boyfriend was going to improve your temper.” Galahad hit Gawain on the arm and then took up his characteristic slouch. He flopped up a dog-eared pad of paper covered with doodles and the occasional actual note, as if he really meant to be prepared for his discussion section this time. A more likely scenario was him sneaking Gawain’s notes and then improvising the rest.

Luckily for his students, Galahad had enough of an intuitive grasp on philosophy that he could fake his way through a lot. But once in a while he tripped up, and then all hell broke loose.

“Contrary to popular belief, sex is not a universal cure.” Though Gawain couldn’t help grinning. He got out his own pad of paper and scribbled a quick reminder to check the rattraps in the basement of their apartment building before he went to see Tristan. The hawk seemed to like those pretty well. “Someday you’re going to realize that, and you’re going to want more than that pair of D-cups you’re staring at.”

“Maybe, but they’re damn perky.” Galahad didn’t change the direction of his gaze. “So that’s what happens to you—you go all philosophical on me. It’s our major, not our life.”

Gawain tried not to be embarrassed; after all, he wasn’t the one being a dick. It really was a shame women never seemed to see Galahad’s good qualities, other than the one between his legs. “I’m staying at Tristan’s tonight, so use the damned bed, all right? I don’t want to accidentally step in another wet spot.”

“Sure, sure—hey, you put away the rifle, right? The last one picked up one of our clips and freaked out. I had to tell her it was just a really weird-looking ink cartridge for the printer.” At least Galahad had stopped leaning way over to get a better view. He finally had his fill of the redhead and…started eying a brunette instead.

“Yes, I put it away. And I think now I’d just be happy if you upgraded the kind of girls you date,” Gawain muttered, covering his face with his hand. Then Arthur walked in and he had to sit up, else be swamped in the waves of lust suddenly vibrating from the audience.

* * *

Lancelot sat down and pressed his glass of ice-water to the side of his head. Backlogs were such a bitch. Sometimes he wished humanity had never invented paper, or had just skipped from it straight to the electronic-communications stage, where he could skim forms and bug Arthur via email at the same time. It was fun to guess how long the next lag-time would be, since those were directly proportional to the degree of Arthur’s embarrassment. And when he got home, Arthur was usually hacked off and that always led to good sex right on the floor.

He and Guin had never gotten around to finding another apartment, though they were technically still looking. Apparently the leasing agents had a network just like casinos did, and they’d blacklisted Lancelot and Guinevere. It was still possible to get an apartment, but either they had to downgrade their location or they had to pay through the nose for it. Which wasn’t to their tastes.

Anyway, if they moved out of Arthur’s house, he’d suddenly have a skeleton for a home again. Half the furniture would be gone, nearly all the food in the fridge…and two-thirds of the warmth in the bed.

“Stop it. Work.” Before memories of last night could come flooding in, Lancelot chopped down a barrier and resolutely attacked the pile of forms.

He got through three before he had to stick the glass against his temple again. By then, all the ice had melted and it didn’t do much good. He tried getting through more by sheer force of will, but it was very clear very soon that he didn’t have Arthur’s tolerance for paper-drudgery. Somehow the other man had trained himself to actually like it. Or maybe it was just an extension of his belief that out there was a golden ideal that made all the bad grammar, gushy style and incomprehensible arguments worth reading a thousand papers a year.

Either way, it wasn’t a trick Lancelot could copy. So he got up, dumped out his glass in the office plant, and refilled it with nothing but ice cubes. Then he reseated himself at his desk and glared at the forms.

They didn’t disappear.

Lancelot looked across at Guin’s office, which had the lights off and the door shut. It was only mid-afternoon. “God, how the hell does she do that?”

And he’d just prolonged his torture by another two seconds. With a sigh, he turned back to his desk and picked up his pen. What he did so he could go home and get Arthur sprawling on the floor…

* * *

“Nice,” Bors said, staring up at the top of the aviary. Above him and Tristan, the peregrine falcon gracefully swooped from one end to the other, then back again. Itching to go out again. “Looks like you did a good job putting her back together.”

“Thanks.” Tristan shaded his eyes and critically examined the way the falcon was maneuvering—yes, the broken wing almost back to normal. Time to get her ready for re-release.

There were real trees growing in the aviary and they needed pruning every couple of months, which was what Bors had been doing with Tristan. Now he shouldered the cut branches and clapped Tristan on the shoulder, heading past him for the door. “Gotta go mulch these; my girl’s growing pea plants for her science fair and she’ll be needing it. See you ‘round.”

Raising a hand in acknowledgment, Tristan continued to watch the falcon for a few more minutes. Then he also left to visit his lady for the day.

She swooped down to his arm the moment he walked in and made pointed inquiring sounds; he ran a finger over the top of her head in apology. “I’m late. But Gawain’s coming over and I needed to get the dead birds out of the freezer. And find a chair with legs that don’t have squirrel teeth-marks.”

When he mentioned Gawain’s name, she perked up. Tristan grinned. “He’ll probably bring you something tasty that’s a better apology.”

* * *

“Thank you so much, Dag,” floated Kitty’s voice. Then she and Vanora were hustling themselves to catch Arthur right at the door, faces flushed and smiles sparkling-wide.

Arthur firmly reminded himself that there was no reason yet to be suspicious, and therefore he wasn’t justified in backing right back out. He re-hefted his briefcase and continued walking down the hall. “Hello, ladies. You’re both looking quite wonderful.”

“Brilliant lecture as usual, Arthur.” Kitty seized light but unbreakable hold of his arm and gave him her most charming smile. “So, I hear your household has expanded.”

On his other side, Vanora refrained from actually hooking onto him, but her gaze did the job just as well. It didn’t qualify as reasonable grounds for suspicion, but it certainly was inclining Arthur towards it. He kept his expression as bland as possible and surreptitiously judged the remaining distance to his office. Too far. And Kitty’s skirt was getting tangled in her feet at their current pace, so rushing wasn’t an option. Damn. “Really?”

“Oh, don’t play coy.” Vanora gave him a playful smack on the arm. “You and Mr. DuLac and Ms. DeGrance. I’ve seen them dropping you off in the mornings. And you’ve got hickeys.”

Damn. Cheeks burning, Arthur grabbed at his throat. Then he yanked at his collar, and kept doing so till Kitty pulled down his hand.

“You’ve done a commendable job of hiding them. If we weren’t looking, we wouldn’t have seen them,” she scolded. Then she smiled again, and this time the steel came out. “Now, do tell, Arthur.”

At the same time, Vanora swerved in front of him and barred the door to his office. She even braced her feet and elbows in the corners, and, having met her children, Arthur was sure she had more experience than he did on being an immovable object. He stopped and considered his options.

“You’re more relaxed. I bet they’re absolutely wonderful in bed.” For a professor with tenure, Kitty did a remarkable impression of a cat with cream in its mouth. It was a test of will for Arthur to keep from choking, and then to not flinch as she leaned in. Her voice theatrically dropped in volume. “Come on, Pendragon. Give us the goods. We’re friends; we want to know you’re all right. How are they?”

“Well…” He debated a little longer, then just decided to say what had first sprung to mind. He’d known Kitty and Vanora since he’d arrived at Avalon, and they deserved honesty from him, if anyone did. Besides, he was a little bit irked with having to constantly readjust his collar all day. “It’s like having a pair of obnoxious, human-size cats. They come and go when they please, squabble like mad with each other over everything, maul my clothes, and whine incessantly whenever I shut them out to get some work done.”

Vanora broke into a knowing grin, while Kitty snorted and looked down. She took the hand Arthur was using to carry his briefcase and tugged it up so she could pick out a little slip of paper that hadn’t quite made it in when he’d shut it. A quick glance, and then she was also smiling. “Which is why you’ve just bought an espresso machine, even though you’re a devout tea fanatic?”

Arthur reluctantly surrendered to the urge to smile as well, though he suspected his was more than a bit foolish-looking. He took the receipt back from Kitty and opened his briefcase just enough to drop it in. “Satisfied?”

“Oh, very.” When she beamed like that, Kitty not only looked years younger, but she almost passed for innocent as well. “My five-dollar-bill is safe and sound. But don’t worry, we won’t say anything other than that you’re off the market.”

Then she and Vanora went off, giggling and whispering to each other while Arthur belatedly had an attack of panic. That pair, however, was too fast and were gone before he could call back to them. Burying himself in work sounded like heaven at the moment, so he opened the door and went into his office.

He had just put down his briefcase when someone shut the door. There was an emerald blur and then he was pinned against the desk with Guinevere wrapping his tie around her hand. “Kitty is very, very insulted,” she purred. “Though she might forgive you if you make her scream before Lancelot manages to get out of work.”

Arthur shouldn’t have bothered trying to answer, since he knew it’d just be swallowed by her mouth. He did anyway—it was the principle of the thing. And principle fulfilled, he let her drag him to the floor.