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Mayflies on the Water

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The Pacific Ocean gave up its dead on 21 March, the day after the equinox; the day after Waver Velvet came back from his holiday, the apparition turned up at his office doorstep. He didn't even recognize it. Oh, the man standing on his welcome mat, he recognized, though he wasn't immediately sure from where: a young face he had trouble putting to a name. For a moment Waver even wondered if he was an undergraduate.

The mismatch was inevitable: he remembered the King of Heroes as a sort of radiance only. Seared into Waver's memory was the unnatural glow of Gilgamesh's armor as he towered--so it seemed, then--over Waver, bloodied sword in hand. The glint off his folded, vambraced arms. The glitter of his goblet unspinning itself into the air over his shoulder. The shine of a thousand weapons, the pure red color of the wine he poured out for Iskandar one last time. Of course a man had to inhabit all of that too. It just hadn't occurred to Waver to consider him.

He regarded Waver half-lidded up through painted eyelashes. "Oh," he said. "You've grown. I suppose that happens." He made a peevish face.

Waver blinked at the apparition.

Gilgamesh tilted his head to one side. He had on chain earrings, at that, two threaded through each ear. "These are your posted office hours," he said.

"Yes," said Waver, for lack of any other response; "-- They are."

The two of them regarded one another in a short silence that bookended a very long one. But eventually someone had to remember his manners. It was never going to be Waver Velvet. Gilgamesh heaved a sigh, rolled a shoulder, and said, "Am I speaking to Lord El-Melloi the Second?"

"You are," said Waver.

"Retainer to Alexander the Third of Macedonia?"

Waver opened his mouth to answer, then had to close it again on account of the dryness. "Yes," he said at last.

Gilgamesh drew himself up to full height, which was middling, less than Waver's; he fixed Waver with the full bore of his disquieting stare. "Then," he said, "I require the hospitality of Iskandar the King of Conquerors."

Waver's fingernails were digging painfully into his palm. He was the one doing that, he realized.

Gilgamesh crossed his arms, familiarly. "Does he accept?"

Waver opened his mouth again, this time just for a shuddering breath. Gilgamesh's mouth pursed in irritation, but before he could repeat himself again Waver said: "Yes. On behalf of my lord Iskandar the King of Conquerors, I offer you his hospitality." He answered Gilgamesh with a look of his own, to the best of his ability. "Consider yourself welcome here."

Perhaps only Waver exhaled, but it felt like they both did. Gilgamesh glanced about the office; it occurred to Waver very belatedly that the man was wearing not only fur, but opera gloves. "Very well. Where do you live?"

Waver blinked: in all the absurd ancient-world courtesy of extending a dead king's hospitality, he hadn't considered what that actually meant. "S-South Kensington," he said.

Gilgamesh raised his eyebrows in incomprehension; Waver glanced away and scratched the side of his head. "We could take the tube," he tried.

"Why?" Gilgamesh's nostrils flared. "So I can admire your city's rat population?"

"We could also not take the tube," said Waver in a voice ironed into absolute evenness by years of dealing with students. "I don't suppose the King of Heroes would condescend to step into a taxi?"

They didn't talk at all in the taxicab all the way to Waver's front door, and even for a while inside. If the driver thought twice of how either of them dressed, he didn't make it known--much to Waver's relief. The last thing he wanted on his hands was a murdered man, courtesy of the King of Uruk. --The second-to-last thing he wanted on his hands was the King of Uruk, at all. But, for the time being, no way out of that one was presenting itself.

Waver paid the fare in silence and let the taxi go without incident from Gilgamesh, much to his own relief. Gilgamesh was already wrinkling his nose up at Waver's building; he kept his judgment to himself this time, however. For now, anyway. So they walked up together to the first storey and Waver fumbled with his keys--(Gilgamesh heaved an impatient sigh)--and considered the staggering impossibility.

Once inside, the dead hero looked around Waver's messy flat with wide dark pupils. "Don't you have anything to drink?"

"Nothing that would suit you," said Waver--then, grudgingly, "my lord."

"Do not," said Gilgamesh with a snort. "I loathe pretenses." He deposited himself sideways on Waver's sofa before Waver could even turn on the light, kicked out his feet on one arm; he was wearing boots with a heel, too. Waver went back to trying to make sense of the presence of this sort of antediluvian Cruella de Vil in his sitting room. "One thing I remember liking about you was that you didn't have any. I wouldn't like that to have changed."

In spite of the circumstances, Waver rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, my lord."

Gilgamesh opened one eye again and glared at him, with such a fury Waver wondered if he was about to open Babylon's Gate; then he closed it again, scrunched up his nose, and made a hff sound. "Impertinent child," he said.


"Get me a drink," said Gilgamesh.

Waver poured him a cup of coffee with cream and sugar in the kitchen--his best blend in his best mug. He offered this to Gilgamesh, who accepted it with a dismissive nod and immediately wrapped both his hands around the mug like he was chilly. Once he'd warmed his hands, or cooled the mug, he stuck his nose into the steam to test the temperature and then tipped a little coffee into his mouth. He then made a very unpleasant face and reached for the sugar. So Waver Velvet watched the King of Uruk doctor his French roast with a frankly disgusting amount of cream and sugar and, now that they were at an official truce, set about ascertaining what Gilgamesh was doing here at all.

"Here" had a multitude of potential definitions. Waver's flat. The United Kingdom. The mortal coil. Waver decided to tackle the first one.

"Why me?" he asked after Gilgamesh had downed about a third of his drink.

Gilgamesh dumped another sugar cube into his drink. "Do you have another key?" he asked. "I'll be coming and going as I please. You may as well give me a key."

"Yes, I have another key." Though Waver had trouble imagining Gilgamesh successfully navigating the block on his own, much less the neighborhood. "Why me?"

Gilgamesh poked at the dissolving cube in his drink with the tip of his finger and looked as if he was going to ignore Waver again. But he did answer, without looking at Waver: "Are we going to play a riddle-game about what I'm doing here? Is that what's going to happen?"

Playing a riddle-game with Gilgamesh the King of Uruk was not Waver's idea of a good time, even if everything about Gilgamesh so far indicated that it wouldn't be a very difficult one. "I'd rather not," he said, sitting back in his armchair with a gesture that was a little haughtier than intended. "Begging your pardon, my lord, I've very little patience for games with my friends. I have no reason to consider you one."

The sugar dissolved; Gilgamesh raised the rim to his lips again and glanced at Waver over it, with half-lidded red eyes. "Because I've slain your king?"

But Waver had already spent nearly a decade in this particular exile. "No. I thought we'd settled that particular account," he said without a change in tone. "Because we barely know one another. I'll ask you again: why me?"

"I don't know anyone else in London," said Gilgamesh, "and I require a place to stay."

The straightforwardness of the answer was, well, disappointing. But Waver could tell it was all he was going to get right now. Pressing the issue further would just be risking--well--no, not death at his hands, though Waver couldn't claim to be at ease in a Servant's company all the same. It would just risk Gilgamesh getting up and deciding to take his royal personage elsewhere, and turning his back on Waver Velvet's life. This time probably for good. And then he would never know.

That bound Waver more tightly than fear. Maybe, under the harshest scrutiny, even more tightly than his obligations to Iskandar. He was afraid. And he owed Gilgamesh the hospitality that Iskandar would've offered him. But, more than either of those things, he was curious.

"All right," said Waver haltingly; "I'll get you the other key." But Gilgamesh didn't react to his awkwardness; Gilgamesh didn't even seem to notice, if he was listening at all. He had his feet stretched out on the arm of the sofa and was staring at the wall: or the door, perhaps.

For starters, there was a lot of logistical bullshit involved.

There shouldn't have been. Gilgamesh wasn't even alive, technically. Or real, entirely. For once there was a scholarly consensus. Some even conjectured that the Servants weren't the people they thought they were, but rather made wholecloth from legend, but Waver'd always dismissed them with a kind of brief terror.

So he conceded that this was Gilgamesh of the Epic of Gilgamesh, in every meaningful respect; what he was not willing to concede was that the man needed to sleep so much. When Waver left for class in the morning, Gilgamesh was napping. When he came back before his late-afternoon meeting, Gilgamesh was still napping. This was all well and good, but coming back at night with groceries found Gilgamesh still asleep: that was, until he yawned and unrolled himself and said with a wrinkle of his nose, "--My head aches. I'm hungry."

Waver was halfway to saying a requisite nicety when he realized that Gilgamesh expected him to do something about that. "Probably from sleeping so much," he said, giving Gilgamesh a pointed look of his own. "You could've gone out."

"Certainly not," said Gilgamesh with some irritation. "I'm exhausted. It's--" He furrowed his ageless brow. Already Waver was getting frown lines of his own--but not this obnoxious creature, oh no. "It's some defect of your dreary little country. No wonder no one's heard of it."

"Well, you're in luck," said Waver, ignoring the parts of the sentence he didn't feel like addressing. "I've got food." And unable to abandon pedantry when in such a cross mood, he said, "There's nothing especially tiring about Great Britain, Gilgamesh. You can acquire food outside anytime you like--though God knows how you're going to pay for it."

"I have a card."

"Ah. Of course." That wasn't more bizarre than anything else, Waver supposed. While they were dealing in impossibilities. "Then wake up earlier tomorrow."

"I can't. Not in this hideous country."

There was a note of anger--and genuine confusion--in Gilgamesh's voice that gave Waver pause to consider. Then it struck him, as he put away the milk: "Are you jet-lagged?"

The look Gilgamesh gave him only reflected more confusion. "Jet-lagged--okay," Waver tried, "did you get on an aeroplane to get here? From somewhere else far away? ... Were you on an aeroplane?"

Gilgamesh looked suspicious and then, after a pause, nodded; Waver ran his hand back through his hair and considered how to explain the concept of time zones to a prehistoric Sumerian, but was distracted by the spark of interest he felt: he knew something now. Maybe it brought up more questions than it answered, but--for whatever reason, Gilgamesh had been alive long enough to take an aeroplane to London. One way or another, he hadn't been summoned here. He'd come. But that didn't make any sense.

In the interim, there was more logistical bullshit to distract himself with. "Do you have a television?" said Gilgamesh.

Waver pointed to the television.

"That's a television?"

"The very same."

"It's so small," said Gilgamesh with a moue.

"Yes, well, I am what is referred to as an 'adjunct.' You're free to get your own."

(To Waver's horror, Gilgamesh did go out the following afternoon and returned with a very large television in his arms. "You'd better not have stolen that," said Waver.

"It would be categorically impossible for me to steal it." Gilgamesh hefted it into place in what was presumably a spot he found attractive, which was also not near any outlets. When Waver huffed he rolled his eyes and said, "I have a card.")

It took about a week for Gilgamesh's jet lag to wear off, which Waver slotted also into a row of data. Then they settled into an odd routine. Waver learned little else about what Gilgamesh was doing here, but he did learn that Gilgamesh (1) loathed British food; (2) held British spirits in dubious esteem; (3) disliked Britannia from Cumbria to Kent; and (4) liked to sleep and drink. He only went out every so often, which Waver found strange--he'd assumed he was being forced to house a Servant for some nefarious, out-of-order Grail War, but nothing could be more obviously untrue. All in all it seemed like all he was housing was a peculiar, inconsiderate guest.

One night in particular Gilgamesh poked at his takeaway tikka masala with even less enthusiasm than usual; Waver put it away, but Gilgamesh got up without a word (and without doing a damned thing about his dishes, as usual) and lay down on the sofa again.

His jet lag must not have been quite gone, because Waver found him watching television in the middle of the night, around 0300.

He was bathed in the glow of the screen. It made him look decidedly less radiant. He glanced up; he was wearing new clothes he'd purchased (Waver hoped) for himself, a cheap T-shirt with rhinestone lettering that spelled H-A-N-N-A-H.

Waver settled down next to him on the couch. "Why 'Hannah'?"

"It's the same forwards and backwards," said Gilgamesh with an air of, obviously.

Waver let it drop. "What are you doing up?"

Gilgamesh tucked his knees up and stared at the television. "What time is it in Japan?" he said.

It was nothing that Waver hadn’t already suspected, so it shouldn’t have made him flinch. There was no point in pretending, either. "Noon," he said, evenly.

The question and answer sat between them. Waver sat watching, or pretending to watch, the game show re-run while he turned his next question over in his head; when he was sure it was fully formed, he said with some care: "Is there someone out there I should be worried about, Gilgamesh?"

He'd meant an enemy or a pursuer. A vengeful magus, now that his Servant somehow had slipped his leash--he had visions of Tohsaka or Matou, though Tohsaka was dead now, wasn't he--but after a long and uncharacteristic silence Gilgamesh gave a small shake of his head.

"No," he said. "That's not the way that he is."

Gilgamesh said no more than that, but it was enough. With the word he he'd given breath and form to his Master.

"You know who I am," said Gilgamesh the following morning.

Waver looked at him curiously. He'd called the former Archer by his true name more than once over the past several days; as Gilgamesh hadn't been surprised the first time, Waver hadn't supposed it was ever going to be a topic of conversation. Rather, he'd imagined that Gilgamesh thought it natural for anyone to know who he was--certainly he'd said as much at their first meeting by the river. --Their first meeting. As if Gilgamesh had been attending to Waver Velvet's presence. As if Waver had internalized much at all but terror.

He poured milk into a glass. Gilgamesh watched it splash with a faint, childish fascination. "Yes," Waver said and looked heavenward in lieu of elaborating.

"You know who I am," Gilgamesh repeated. He sounded bored, his interest in the subject uncurling in his voice with a stretch. "Is it so easy?"

Waver hesitated. He set breakfast down in front of Gilgamesh first--mindful resentfully of his manners, mindful of Iskandar's--before himself, then sat down opposite. "I've had ten years," he said, "to know who you are, King of Heroes."

It came out more thickly than he meant. He didn't expect Gilgamesh to recognize the great crack the Fourth Holy Grail War had left in the middle of his life. He didn't want him to. There were no words that could make someone like him respect the sleepless nights, the dreams, the demon-haunted wakefulness--the crosshairs of Emiya the killer. Lord Kayneth's funeral and his casket tightly shut. The children's faces upturned to the ceiling of the aqueduct. And his king. Always his king, crumbling into gold and into nothing.

Gilgamesh had quirked an eyebrow. There was no going back from this-- Waver swallowed down a deep breath. "I've had every spare moment of my life since then to make sense of the War," he said. "There is only one way I know how to make sense of things, my lord. I read. Your name is one of the first ever to be committed to letters. You're more than legend--you are the fabric of how we understand what legend is. I don't say that to flatter." (Gilgamesh laughed, short, devoid of malice or compassion either.) "Of course I would come to know my king's killer. Of course I would recognize you."

The nightmares, the fears: these were all the products of an ordinary mind strained by the extraordinary. Waver accepted that now. He wondered what someone like Gilgamesh would make of his petty trauma. --Indifference, likely. He found that he feared no more and less than Gilgamesh's heavenly indifference.

In any case, he didn't find out. Gilgamesh set to his food and it was only when he was finished that he said neutrally, "More than legend. And yet you remember me as your king's killer. Is that right?"

There was no right answer to this question. But there was a true one. Waver glanced away. "Yes."

"Love is a magnificent thing, Waver Velvet. It makes even your small self large." Gilgamesh didn't sound happy when he said it; it was like he was glancing about himself looking for something. Soon enough he fixed on something else entirely. "You've still nothing to drink here, boy. I expect that to change sometime today."

Gilgamesh was a legend, but no more a god. He'd ascended from that. What, wondered Waver Velvet, was the next step from godhood? Definitionally, there wasn't supposed to be one. But he thought he had it. The next step from godhood was becoming a curiosity. When you faded past religion. When your legend became a point of academic curiosity and one-upsmanship, an item in pub trivia in university towns.

That line of thinking bothered him, however, in an under-the-skin way: it came too close to pity, and Gilgamesh didn't deserve Waver's pity, coming at it from either direction. He'd earned less and he'd earned more. It wasn't his guestright, either. So Waver brought home a box of IPAs and planted it on the coffee table and said, "This is alcoholic."

"Many things 'are alcoholic,'" said Gilgamesh in suspicion.

"This is alcoholic," Waver repeated--and, with a twist of a smile, "and what's more, it's something to drink. Enjoy, my lord."

The Gates of Babylon shimmered and pulsed on a new plane behind Gilgamesh's head; Waver shuddered by reflex. Though Gilgamesh reached up an idle hand and seemed to consider plucking worthwhile spirits out of the honeycomb, he thought better of it and the Gates faded into the air again. "I want to go out," he said. "Let's go out somewhere."

He stared at Waver expectantly, as if this were a complete plan that he'd suggested in and of itself, which it was not. "Did you have somewhere in mind?" Waver prompted after several seconds of this.

The bar they went to had chairs that hung from the ceiling. God only knew how Gilgamesh had learnt of it in the first place. Waver fussed semi-consciously with his hair while Gilgamesh shouldered in front of him in the outside line--he was wearing opera gloves again, and fur, like Miss Scarlet--and drew the doorman into some kind of impatient negotiation, one where money changed hands more than once. Then they were inside and music assailed them from all directions; Gilgamesh put his hand to his face immediately and grimaced. "This music," he said, with a warning note in his voice.

"You've no quarrel from me," said Waver louder than he would've liked, over the music. He disliked raising his voice. He sounded shrill and boyish. He added, "It's not I who chose the venue."

"Gods! Iskandar wasn't wrong about you," said Gilgamesh: and with a toss of his head and a scornful twist of his shoulder, he addressed a passing server, "Waitress! I'd like to order a bottle for us both. Something to shove a spine into the boy's back, would you...? --Yes, I'll open up a tab." Again the card came out again while Waver stared at the wine's price, and then at Gilgamesh as he proceeded to order a martini on top of that.

Yet it took Waver two glasses of wine, and his brain being half-pulped to nothingness by the music and the back-and-forth of his chair, before it occurred to him. The two glasses of wine spoke for him too when he said it: "Gilgamesh," he tried to get his drunk guest's attention. "Hey. I mean, my lord. Gilgamesh."

"Yes?" He wasn't as drunk as Waver supposed, and Waver was drunker than he supposed. The hell with it all.

Waver steadied himself in his chair with his feet. "Are you trying to see when he'll cut off your card?"

Gilgamesh said nothing, which was as good as anything. He peeled off one of his gloves and inspected his fingernails. Eventually he said, "You're drunk already."

"Am I."

"You're no use to me drunk." This should have been a dangerous line of conversation, but Gilgamesh sounded mild and Waver found he didn't care. "You aren't much of a protector sober and you're less of one inebriated."

"A protector?" Waver leaned back in an expression of vehement disbelief, which set the chair to swinging again. "Now I'm supposed to be your protector too? I put you up in my flat, I clean up your messes, I share my space with you--I am your host, Gilgamesh. But I can't imagine how I could presume to protect the likes of you. You may as well ask me for prana," he said with a snort. "You'll get about the same."

"You don't have any prana," said Gilgamesh.

"Yes. That was the comparison."

Gilgamesh stretched, languid, in his hanging seat, setting it to rocking to-and-fro until he steadied it again with two of his fingers. Only one of them was drunk, evidently, and only one of them was agitated; the liquor had only unspooled Gilgamesh more, put more looseness in his posture and his half-lidded eyes, which flicked this way and that when people passed them by. Only seldom did his eyes follow a woman with interest--the loveliest in the face. Or a man: only the tall and strapping and well-favored. He returned his eyes to his wineglass, sipped from it, and then seemed to remember the topic.

"If you were my Master," Gilgamesh began.

Waver giggled in spite of himself.

"Don't be low," said Gilgamesh with another nose wrinkle. "If you were my Master, then you and I would be the lioness and the lion. The lioness hunts and provides for the male," he pronounced, "and protects the territory from all the lesser things. The lioness is fierce. The lioness is industrious. But when another lion comes, or something worse--ah, well." He downed the rest of his wine. "Then that's the lion's affair."

"Rather an arrangement that favors the lion," Waver said, "I should think."

Gilgamesh grinned, presenting a full complement of white teeth. "Well, of course."

Yet Waver's eyes tracked the glint off Gilgamesh's card as he retrieved it later from his tab: and he wondered about Gilgamesh and his Master.

Gilgamesh was rounding off the edge of a week in Waver's company when Waver found him missing from the sofa at about 0200. His first thought was that Gilgamesh was gone; his second thought was relief, ashamedly--then defiantly, relief. But his third was that Gilgamesh probably hadn't gone far. So Waver waited; he sat down on the sofa where Gilgamesh usually laid his head and tucked the blanket aside awkwardly with his hands.

He expected him back drunk, from previous experience. He got him back sober, not long after Waver had noticed he'd gone; Waver was jarred out of half-sleep by the rattle of the key in the lock and then the door opening inwards, Gilgamesh stepping inside in a jacket and black trousers. The pupils were dilated wide in his blood-colored eyes. He looked bright and awake; looking at him made Waver tired.

"You're sitting in my bed," said Gilgamesh.

"You weren't occupying it," said Waver.

Gilgamesh walked over and plopped himself down on the other half of the couch; wordlessly, Waver turned on the telly and they both settled down to watch 0230's mind-numbing offerings.

At a certain point Waver dialed down the volume. Gilgamesh grunted in complaint, but Waver shook his head. "I was thinking about something," he said.

"You're often thinking about something," Gilgamesh mused. "There's always something bouncing around in your little head. Do you find it tiring? Does it really afford you any more control over the world around you than you already had?"

Waver could answer those questions, of course; then again, so could Gilgamesh. He ignored them. "I'm not wool-gathering, King of Heroes. I was thinking about the War."

Quiet. True, honest-to-God quiet. Waver sat through it for as long as he could take, until it became unbearable, and then he was about to break and say more when Gilgamesh said, "And did it afford you peace?"

"No." Waver crossed his arms. The colors from the television bounced over him in the dark. "I was thinking-- I was thinking it was a lie. A sort of blood sacrifice to some other power."

"Yes," said Gilgamesh.

Waver gave him a sharp look. "'Yes?'"

"Yes. That's what it is," he said simply; he tucked his knees up to his chest on the couch and settled back down again into the cushions.

Waver sat in silence with his arms tucked over his chest. But it must have been no great task to know what he was thinking. Gilgamesh cast several curious glances in his direction--"curious" was the right word for it, like he wanted to see what Waver would say or do more, not so much unconcerned as finding concern to be completely beside the point.

When Waver said nothing more, Gilgamesh unfurled himself across the sofa--now taking up most of it--and said: "The King of Conquerors died for victory," he said. "He died for a challenge. He was a dreamer and he died for something that did not exist. Believe me that he knew that much, going to his death."

Waver curled up his fingers in his hands.

Gilgamesh said, "I could tell you that there is nothing Alexander of Macedonia could've found there that would have made him happy. But I don't suppose that's any use to you," he tilted his head, "is it?"

Waver gave a short cough. It was the best he could do. He blinked his eyes several times; he bit the inside of his lip. Finally he said, "That wouldn't have been good enough for him."

Gilgamesh nodded. If he had more to share, he didn't elect to; instead he turned over on his side and said, "I require the use of this furniture. Go to bed, Waver Velvet."

But when Waver got up to leave, he said one thing more, with his flat red-eyed gaze directly up at Waver.

"Don't chase another Grail War," he said. "Not for him. Not for yourself. But not for him, child. It's a game for children and fools and he's neither."

"That would be difficult," said Waver with a frown. "I'll be rather old by the next time."

Gilgamesh just shook his head and turned over on the sofa.

There was no use in chasing down the gold trails of what Gilgamesh did and didn't divulge, of what he knew and did not know: you might as well try to span Babylon's Gate with your own two hands. Waver experienced this every time he tried to glean more of the Grail War from Gilgamesh, or worse, any inkling of his Master; he may as well have been trying to catch the sand.

So, any mission of reconnaissance abandoned, he did all that he could do on the following day: he cooked dinner for them both. Nothing fancy. Nothing, in fact, particularly good. Just sausage and mashed potatoes, but at least Gilgamesh didn't turn up his nose at it this time and announce that he was going to go out and get something with his card.

Not that it went over famously either. Gilgamesh just picked at it with his fork, on occasion chipping off a piece to put in his mouth. Something told Waver that he was well acclimated to unexciting cuisine.

He was dressed up again the way he'd been when Waver met him, save that he'd taken off his gloves to eat. When he was about halfway through his plate he set his fork down and stared at the wall over Waver's shoulder.

"There are two things that I've been putting off," he said. He examined the lint on his sleeve.

Waver, who had developed a grudging patience for dramatics, speared a disc of sausage and waited for him to continue.

"One of them is a message." Gilgamesh folded his hands in his lap: a curious image. He regarded Waver head-on. He was a disquieting man to have this from. "You should destroy Iskandar's artifact. I was of half a mind to do it myself. But I don't think that would be in order. Destroy it," he said in his cool young voice, "and break these shackles that come again and again."

Waver sat back, taken aback--and it came out, this time dead sober, before he could stop himself. "And you? What of yours?"

Gilgamesh smiled; when he smiled, he gleamed. "Never mind mine," he said.

By the morning Gilgamesh was gone. He took his card and maybe two sets of his clothes, including the fur and the gloves. He left the rest, scattered about the sofa and toilet with as much inconsideration as ever, along with a bottle: a farewell-gift, Babylon's finest vintage, priceless and useless.