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The Proximity of Power

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The dark, damp lowest level of the miserable mansion is, in a word, disgusting. Even though it is nearly empty when Gilgamesh visits it, he has no difficulty seeing the truth of it. Even without the persistent, excitable, and utterly empty drivel his new Master gushes with at every turn, he could find more than enough reason to despise this place by standing in the dark, disused chamber alone in silence. The noise and prattling only confirms what he has already decided, and it is utterly boring to be so utterly right about everything, even here.

This place could serve as a microcosm for what he has come to think of the human race, of this world, of what they have made of his garden since his time on earth. It had taken years to develop the particular lack of appreciation he had for the works of humankind in this ugly, new era, but he thinks that if he had only come here first, he could have found the same in a day. Even without the commentary.

The death of one of the worms beneath his boot is a small condemnation of each of them in much the same was as he seeks to condemn the state of humankind. There are too many of them. Even one of these worms is too many, and he knows that in this house, even when they are not visible, crawling in hordes to create a second floor across this basement, they are at its very root.

- - -

The evil that has taken root in the Matou household is deep, stale, and the worst kind of entertainment. Everything in the house smells of death, which is one of the least favorable things Gilgamesh can imagine being around. The frantic buzzing of his new Master seems like a little creature, long past its usefulness and prime but too young to accept its imminent death. Both the young people who live in the Matou household could be consigned to this fate.

Only, the girl is different. She has a more quiet arrogance than the boy, who cannot keep his to himself, even though they are both certain to die. He wonders why she has not yet, for just a moment, when it comes to his notice that she is yet alive.

The house is silent and even more like a tomb one night while his Master is sleeping. The boy's breath gurgles and blows in and out with a surrender that is completely naïve. Finding a seat in the room by the boy's window occupies the time for a few moments. He peers out and finds that there is very little but a gray shadow of night beyond the barrier between this house and the outside world. It is as if the space around the fine – by this era's standards – house as curved around itself to forget that there is a truer form of life somewhere beyond its walls. The idea of sleeping here, the idea of allowing the mechanism that carries out this nonsensical war to show this boy the secrets of his life, the truth of his mind, seems altogether displeasing. If he can find any fatigue, it is only the most simple, dull boredom, and filling this boy's mind with anything precious or abhorrent to him seems not to befit this relationship or this arrangement. The slight heaviness of his eyelids feels more like a poison than a respite from this sepulchral place, and so his next course of action is decided.

He stands from the chair, silent and agile. He stands over the boy and watches him. The boy does not even begin to contemplate waking. Gilgamesh turns away from him and leaves the boy alone in his room. It is a curiosity that he does not leave the house at once and altogether, but there is still at least one source of amusement he can imagine. While the boy is just a boy who is bound to die in the course of this war, the girl is a Grail, and hardly a poor one at that. Her death could mean something. Her survival could mean something. And both of them seem absolutely terrible.

- - -

The other Grail wears a white gown, embellished with ribbons in some places that are a lighter hue of the same color as her hair, nearly more alive than that unnatural color. The color of her hair makes her skin seem more pale than it ought to be. She seems to be going through the motions of some nightly ritual, making preparations for a day that is hardly guaranteed to follow for her.

Gilgamesh stands in her doorway and folds his arms, casually leaning his shoulder against the frame before he draws her attention. Really, the fact that his presence alone could not rouse her suspicion or surprise intrigues him. Nothing about her lack of acknowledgment strikes him of the same kind of ignorance that would draw his anger and offense. She simply seems too completely cold to respond to his light and radiance, like a girl left in the dark, empty desert overnight.

He remembers such cold. From a lifetime so distant and remote from this place that it is almost laughable.

I did warn you,” he says, his voice clear and unannounced and almost jovial in the way it carries across what seems to be the girl's bedchamber.

She flinches, starts, but her hand reaches out and holds on to the beveled edge of the closest piece of furniture. Her hand grasps at it, searching for some stability in the texture. Then, when she turns her head to look at him, she seems almost steady. Her eyes seem so close to empty, so close to dark, the pupils vague in their definition. They are like deep, dark pools. Gilgamesh allows himself to wonder what secret life must be held deep, deep inside of them for this girl not to have already despaired and simply to have gone off alone to die.

You,” she says. He almost laughs. There is certainly no possibility that this intoned little accusation is mere surprise that he is standing in her doorway. No, there is more of an edge to it than that, more strength there than seems to fit in her form which seems like it ought to be just as dead as everything else in this house. Only, it isn't. She certainly holds more potential than anything else housed within it, as awful as that potential might be.

I did warn you,” he repeats, almost teasing the way he might have with a friend – if he'd had one, “that if you did not die at the beginning of this that it would become more difficult for you.”

... Are you here to kill me?” the dark and dreary Grail asks. Her eyes have turned forward, and he notices them catching sight of themselves in a mirror. A ribbon also still hangs from the girl's hair.

No,” Gilgamesh practically snorts. The consideration is beneath him, here and now.

But you... want me to die,” she says, weighing out the words. He believes that there is a little tension in the girl's hands, like she might form fists, like there might be some will in her left to fight. He wonders where it must come from.

You need to listen more carefully, girl. Mine are the words of a wise and very old king,” Gilgamesh says, finding that the more she speaks the more delight he takes in forming phrases to answer her with. It is certainly more interesting than anything else he might have found to do in this tired town which holds no more surprises for him.

The girl's eyes flit down to the back of her hand – he notices that the skin there has a few markings that are as purple as her eyes and her hair.

You are not the Servant summoned for my brother,” she says. Her eyebrows draw a little. She looks back up to the mirror, to herself, and finally to him as she notices his further entry into the room. “But you're one of them.”

Oh, I would mind your tongue. I am not one of them. I am... the very reason they exist,” Gilgamesh tells her, because he has no reason to conceal his identity. He would be offended that she does not know it already, but something about the girl tells him that there is much being kept from her that is her right. He wonders, then, if the spark of life keeping her alive is anger. He approaches her, keeping her eyes through the conduit of the mirror, walking freely through the room.

The girl – Matou Sakura , he is suddenly just burdened enough to recall – blinks rapidly and he notices her loss of focus. He draws it back by being so near to the back of her shoulder that he can feel her body heat.

You're too powerful for him,” she says, a realization – or is it a hope – in her tone. He notices the tightening of her throat as she swallows, but whatever she is swallowing down does not make itself apparent on her face. This creature has become very accustomed to holding some things in inaccessible, perfect silence. It is not usually the sort of burden which fascinates him, but it seems that it might be quite the burden to bear.

You recognize glory more readily than your brother,” he praises her mildly, because praise is simply due. “Why are you still alive?” he pursues, looking for any topic of conversation that will sustain his interest.

Brazenly, the girl does not directly answer him.

You're going to kill him,” she says, and her voice is fraught with... something. For all the world, she sounds like a girl who means with all her heart to protect her arrogant, weak, lowly brother. Only, Gilgamesh is not the rabble who walk this earth, hearing small parts of the truth. He hears something there, and he seeks after it. When Sakura's eyes fall and he notices that she braces both her hands against the dark, wooden surface of the dressing table, he moves ever closer. He wants her eyes.

At first, she keeps her eyes cast downward, concealing that spark that he believes there might be in them. He moves so close that his chin nearly brushes the tendon connecting her slender, pale neck to er shoulder. When his breath warms against her neck, she increases the distance between them by turning – bodily, fully – to face him. Exactly as he wants.

Is there a reason I might kill him?” he asks, struck with a strange and almost amusing sense of familiarity. “... He is my Master.”

She studies his eyes and he watches her watching him. He watches the way they widen. He can see that this girl still, stubbornly, has a soul, and that there are things hidden within it. If only she will honestly answer his question. If only she will do that then perhaps in the midst of this second, poor sequel to this miserable play, he will find some shred of entertainment.