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day 55: sun room [4th shift]
smiles to run away from
witchdetective wrote in damned
Erika had no interest of going out in the courtyard, where it was snowing. Snow meant that it was cold, wet, and exceedingly unpleasant, so when she was presented with the option, she refused at light speed. Unfortunately, she also wasn't one of the lucky ones who got to roam freely, so the Sun Room was the only option left. Erika supposed it wasn't so bad, since she had business there. And the first order of business was on the bulletin, where she went about her daily task of reading everyone else’s messages before reading her own, because it was left up in a public space and that meant she had every right to read it. It helped her kill time while she waited for her mysterious “friend” to show up, at least.

There were few in this place who would recognize her signature, and it was very odd that this person didn’t want to name themselves on this board. In fact, that whole conversation had been a little odd… The person knew her, but Erika had the feeling that she didn’t know them. It was just a feeling she had, since there was really nothing in their conversation that hinted towards that. Still, it was just odd to her that this person refused to name themselves on the board, yet was willing to arrange a meeting. She supposed it was just something that would be better explained in person, though Erika couldn’t imagine what that was. It wasn’t like she minded a face to face meeting, anyway.

Since this person knew who she was, that hopefully meant they knew what she looked like, so all Erika could do was wait patiently for her “guest” to show up. In the meantime, she was more than happy to bully stupid people on the bulletin to pass her time, like that moron who threw juice at her hair. Oh, she was going to have fun with him…

It would have been very hard for anyone to miss the sight of Erika making creepy faces at the bulletin board.

[ hi lion…. ]

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[From here, assuming there's enough time after showers to talk to someone else.]

If it hadn't been for Bella, she would have come out of the showers running.

Claire felt awful. She had to keep better track of everyone. If the place was this dangerous, anyone could disappear at any given time, and no one would be any wiser. Just like Rika.

She frowned. If anything, meeting the girl in that state only strengthened her resolve to help Klavier tonight. They had to find out what happened to the people that left. If they were dead, or if it was something worse. Maybe some had escaped. She couldn't be too hopeful, but no one here could prove any differently, could they?

Claire moved uneasily into the sun room, trying to run her fingers through the ends of her hair. Even that seemed impossible. She had secretly hoped that a proper cleaning might help get it untangled, but it was a lost cause. It was probably ruined beyond repair.

She slouched into a sofa, frowning to herself. Even as it dried now, it began to frizz as badly as before. Maybe not so matted, but not much better either. And she used to have such nice hair, too.

[For the dick vampire's brother. Good luck, bro...]

Edited at 2011-03-24 10:25 am (UTC)

When the soldiers came to separate him from his brother, Stefan was given a choice between the courtyard and the Sun Room. He opted for the latter, having seen enough damp, jacket-wearing patients come in for lunch to know what the weather was like. To be honest, the cold didn't bother him — not, at least, as much as he remembered in the days before a near-dead pulse and the invention of central heating — but given what had happened last night, Stefan was in no rush to go one-on-one with nature again. They were lucky to have gotten their hunting in before now. He could only imagine how much worse that fight would've gone had they both been slipping around in ice and snow.

Plus, the Sun Room would be more bearable now on a full stomach, not that he saw many cats roaming around today. After a soldier ordered him to quit hovering in the doorway, Stefan wandered aimlessly through the room, searching for a familiar face. Alaric had wanted to talk to him about something — something he suspected was better kept from Damon, seeing how the teacher didn't have any other reason to be evasive. Stefan might not be sure if friends was the right word, but he did know the two of them didn't bother to mince words with each other. And Alaric would know as well as anybody that Damon could be... impulsive, even moreso if given a sufficient trigger.

Too bad "things which might trigger Damon" didn't exactly narrow it down.

The adults were probably scheduled for their showers now. Stefan turned to eye the entrances to the changing rooms, his brow crinkling when he saw the next person to emerge. Not his history teacher, but a petite woman with blonde hair. He couldn't be sure — the person he'd seen talking to Damon yesterday had stood with her back to him — but as he watched, her hair seemed to grow more wild and tangled by the second, like a living creature in its own right. Barbie on Survivor, Damon had said. There wasn't a bandage on her neck, at least not one Stefan could see, but he supposed it made more sense for her to be still be alive if Damon's fangs had pierced somewhere less vital.

If this was the girl he'd bitten two nights ago, Stefan owed it to the both of them to try diplomacy. They had enough problems on their hands already without Damon giving people solid reasons to go vampire hunting.

"Hi," he greeted, coming to stand in front of the woman's sofa. "I'm Stefan." As much as he'd complained to Edward earlier about the downsides of being eternally seventeen, there were times when it came in handy. Better to be perceived as just a teenager when trying to convince someone not to kill your brother for trying to eat them.

"So I think we have a mutual... Uh." Okay, friend was definitely not the right word in this case. Stefan smiled sheepishly and amended: "That is, you wouldn't happen to, um, know a guy with black hair and blue eyes... about this tall...?" He held his left hand at an inch shorter than his own height, and hoped this wasn't about to blow up in his face.

The way that people would bustle over to one another with no warning was something Claire was sure she'd never get used to. This one she had caught sight of long before he was standing a foot in front of her, at the least, so there was no need to jump. Instead, Claire was instinctively pressing herself as far back into the sofa as she could. Widening the distance between them. Her fingers curled into the fabric of the cushions as if the couch itself was moving, and only her grip would keep her steady.

The guy had come straight to her. Made a beeline. She didn't like that. She had already met the only mystery person here she'd arranged to talk to, and she didn't believe Klavier was an impostor. Her stare bored into his, wide eyed and calculating.

Stefan. The name was unfamiliar. The description, however, was something a little closer to home. Vague enough to be a coincidence, but Claire wasn't taking chances now.

Her eyes narrowed darkly, flipping from his face to his fingers. Damon had said his brother was here and flashed a ring at her. The gesture had puzzled her at the time, but if this was what she thought it was, then she should be looking for a ring. A matching one.

And what do you know, there it was. Gigantic blue thing on his right hand. Middle finger. Ugly bird on it and all.

Claire was on her feet in an instant. No words. Just fingers reaching for his mouth. Her index and middle fingers snagged around his lips like tarp hooks, and she pulled them back to reveal the canines. They were normal. No more pointed than anyone else's.

Scowling, she released him. That didn't prove anything. Damon had seemed normal during the day. She couldn't see his fangs when he smiled. Maybe they only appeared at night. Claire circled around so that the couch was no longer at her back. If she had to make a run for it, she would need the room to do so. He wouldn't bite her during the day (which was the only reason she'd let herself go sticking fingers into his mouth), but if the conversation turned ugly, she wanted a way out.

"Did he send you?" Her voice was low but not a hiss. It was simply cold. Testing the waters. "Are you like him?"

[All liberties taken with Stefan's face are mun approved.]

When Stefan saw the woman's gaze dart to his right side, he automatically flipped his hand to turn the lapis lazuli ring away from her — but too late. She was on her feet in the next instant, advancing with more speed and aggression than her petite form suggested. "H-hey—!" It was the conspicuous glance which saved her — saved them both, even, since Stefan had time to fight against the predator's instinct which would've thrown the girl to the floor, and given him away as something other than human. As it were, he forced his hands to remain clenched by his sides, and felt desperately grateful that he'd fed last night. If he were even a little hungry right now, having warm living fingers shoved into his mouth would've resulted in an entirely different scene.

Luckily for them both, she let go fast. Stefan covered his mouth with one hand and gave her a look which he hoped accurately conveyed What the hell are you doing. He knew perfectly well what she'd been searching for. Aside from his skin being a few degrees cooler than normal, there was nothing about him which suggested he was a vampire when examined like this. Nothing... except the ring. He knew he and Damon didn't look much alike — for all their shared DNA, they'd taken after different parents — but Katherine's rings always marked them out as brothers anyway, no matter how much Stefan tried to escape that connection. How far would it get him if he pretended to be otherwise?

Not far. Not with the girl snarling accusations at him, suspicion clear in her eyes. She wasn't a fool, and whatever Damon had said or done so far only seemed to make her certain that they were a threat. No wonder Damon had tried to talk him out of it. Now if only Stefan could emulate his brother's insouciance, and leave well enough alone.

Well, little chance of that. It wasn't just this woman's life at stake here, but Damon's too, and the rest of them if they got pulled into this mess. "No one sent me. My brother doesn't even want me talking to you, in fact," he answered in an equally low voice, not wanting to attract attention. No point in lying to her. If they were going to get anywhere here, it would be through convincing her he could be trusted. Stefan's hands dropped, and he tried to keep his posture as open and unthreatening as possible. "I am not going to hurt you. I don't want to hurt anyone." An echo of his words two nights ago, to Castiel. "Please, believe me."

He was acting so affronted right now. It was hilarious. Claire's lips split into a wide grin and she gave a short laugh, rolling her eyes. "Hah - like I haven't heard that before."

She would believe him. She'd believe him for sure when he was locked back in the dank hole he'd crawled out of. He wasn't denying anything yet, but he was promising not to hurt her. That just as good as confirmed it. Another vampire. A little family of them.

How cute was that?

And to think she had idolized the damn things back in school. Claire shook her head in disgust, but the bitter grin remained.

"So what if I did believe you? What then?" Measured steps took her forward. Closer than she would have dared at night, but for now the surrounding soldiers were a safety blanket. He was so much taller than her, but that didn't stop her from leaning in, pushing into the precious few inches of air he had around himself. "Would you be my friend? Explain that it was all some...big misunderstanding? He was just hungry. He couldn't help it. It's not his fault. He really is such a sweet guy underneath it all..."

Then in a flash, the grin was gone. In its place was the cold stare of a woman bent on murder. "Or would you do the same as he did? Tackle me down when I least expect it and take a bite?" Claire sneered. "I was helping him, you know that? He was getting attacked, and I drove the things off. I actually went and killed the monsters for him. He would be dead if I wasn't there. And how does he thank me?"

Stefan probably knew the answer to that already. He'd sought her out, after all. But that didn't stop Claire. The flames of anger were already licking at her insides, pushing red into her cheeks. Even the memory of it made her furious. Her voice became a snarl, and suddenly she didn't care if they were overheard. The more people who knew about these bastards, the better. "He tackles me down and tries to kill me."

Edited at 2011-03-31 04:11 am (UTC)

Suspicion and indignation. Not that greatest start to this conversation, but the more Stefan heard, the more he realized expecting anything more would've been undue optimism. He wanted to say this was his first time getting confronted by an angry young woman over Damon doing something psychopathic, but... it wasn't, not by a long shot, which was probably why he barely flinched when she advanced on him, all five feet of her shaking with threat and fury.

He'd rather not have this turn into a scene, but if that was unavoidable, at least he could control himself and not escalate it into violence. There were a lot of ways this could go now, but he'd rather leave any scenario where she got hurt as last resorts. Stefan had seen enough patient outbursts to know the staff wouldn't hesitate to step in and subdue a patient if needed, and he misliked the idea of anyone getting drugged this close to nighttime. Damon might've been for it (drugs would only make her rantings sound crazier, something he'd clearly banked on with Vicky Donovan), but letting it end that way wasn't going to help them convince her to keep their secret.

Stefan's face stayed impassive as the girl laid in her accusations, but there was a flicker of his eyelids when she described the details of the attack. Of course. "You were hurt by the monsters," he sighed, softly enough to offset her rising voice. "You bled." He couldn't be angry with his brother after hearing that. Yes, Damon could've fought it — Stefan had forced himself resist blood on that same night, and he'd been as hungry, if not moreso — but it would've been hard, and Damon had little to no practice in resisting his impulses.

Still, that wasn't the part which had elicited the reaction from him. He would be dead if I wasn't there. Could it be true? Stefan couldn't imagine Damon ever... No. He could. His brother, lying weakly on the floor of a basement, surrounded by rising flames. The image took him next to Edward with his snapped bones and messy teeth marks, covered in blood. They could endure a lot more damage than humans, true, but he could also easily believe that Damon had come that close to death.

"I'm sorry," Stefan said, looking back to meet her eyes. How old was she? Not a teenager, he thought, but the roundness of her face made her look younger. "My brother can be very... impulsive." It was truer than trying to claim Damon was a sweet guy, anyway. Stefan doubted he'd be able to lie that convincingly, and trying to assert that the younger brother was the nice vampire wasn't going to work either. So then what? He couldn't think of anything to say except: "Thank you... for saving him."

"Oh. Well. I guess that changes everything," Claire said loftily. "I should have just watched where I was bleeding, and none of this would have happened."

This was so ridiculous. How could anyone believe that? Damon could have just as easily drank an animal's blood, or waited for someone that wasn't her. But he hadn't. Why? Because he was a complete bastard. Nothing more, and nothing less. If Stefan here had seen how he'd been acting the day after, he wouldn't be so quick to try to defend him.

The apology was falling on deaf ears. Stefan had all the markings of sincerity. His voice was earnest, expression pained. He wasn't trying to argue with her, or force her away. But he was one of them. Claire narrowed her eyes. She couldn't trust him on that fact alone.

She snorted. 'Impulsive' was an understatement. Try utterly insane. Claire shook her head and stared to the side, fuming. It was just so disgusting that Damon would send his brother (and she knew he sent him, there was no chance that he didn't have a hand in this) to butter her up. Try to convince her that hey, there's a nice guy underneath the fangs and the bloodlust. What kind of idiot did they take her for?

"I should have let him die there." Her voice was soft. Not because she had calmed, but because of how very grave it was. There was no sugar coating the truth. "He deserved it. I shouldn't have let his stupid..."

The words stopped coming to her. Claire's lips had locked together, sealed shut against the rush of fury pulsing inside her. All she could come back to was the stark comparison of the face that had shifted in the darkness, teeth sinking into her arm, and the face of a man sneaking through the camp, trying to slip her a water bottle as she slept. A statuesque blonde sunbathing on the beach, eyes closed and voice droll. My brother. Boone. God's frigging gift to humanity.

Claire began to shake. Maybe this was the root of the problem. It wasn't even that Damon had betrayed her. Just that seeing another familiar face, another person she thought of on lonely days, placed flowers on his grave - that yet another friend had turned on her. It wouldn't be half so bad if he wasn't Boone.

"He's not who I thought he was," she said finally. Her eyes had yet to open. They were now hidden under the heels of her palms as they pushed into her eyelids, fingers tangling into the mess of her bangs and tugging them taut. "He looks so much like him. I thought...I thought he was Boone. I thought he was Boone but he'd somehow forgotten that he was. That he'd...that he woke up and started a new life somewhere and forgot all about before.

"Your brother looks exactly like him. He's a copy. His voice, his - his gestures - everything. He's Boone. But he's not." She took a steadying breath, teeth threatening to cut her bottom lip. "He's a monster. He's a monster and he's wearing Boone's face."

Edited at 2011-04-05 11:17 am (UTC)

Stefan shook his head slightly, but didn't interrupt. That hadn't been his meaning when he mentioned her bleeding, only... a statement of fact. An obvious one, but perhaps the only one which mattered when it came to vampires. Damon had been starving for four nights. She'd bled. Still, it was too late to take it back or rephrase it into something more diplomatic, and impossible, anyway, to make someone truly understand what the hunger was like. He tried explaining to Elena sometimes, because she needed to know, but there were so many other aspects to it he couldn't begin to broach. This woman, justifiably angry and hurt at what Damon did to her, would shut out his words before he even figured out how to phrase them properly.

He watched her when she looked away, and kept his arms folded loosely over his chest in the least threatening way he could manage, careful to not make any sudden movements. She seemed to forget him, locked into some painful memory that was written in every tense muscle of her body. What had Damon done to her? Stefan knew that his brother didn't exactly have a lot of, uh, consideration for human rights, believing as he did that they were on top of the food chain and entitled to all the perks that entailed, but... What? He wasn't sadistic without purpose? He wasn't inherently heartless? He didn't kill without remorse? The arguments sounded feeble in Stefan's own head. How could he even begin to explain about Damon?

He had no choice but to try. Stefan took in a deep breath to marshal his thoughts, but if he believed he could guess the path of this conversation based on more than a century of dealing with Damon's trail of destruction, he couldn't have been more off the mark. Damon wasn't... what? Boone. Who was Boone? What did this—?

For the first time since he'd greeted her, Stefan's controlled composure looked genuinely rattled. She couldn't have known the chord her disjointed ramblings would strike, of who her disbelief and distress would remind him of: himself. When he'd pulled a teenage girl out of a watery car wreck and seen the face of a woman long dead. Of the girl whose laugh had haunted him for 145 years, of the vampire who'd dragged him unwillingly into death and damnation. Katherine's beautiful face in perfect, exacting detail.

There was a reason he'd fled after delivering her to the hospital. There was a reason he'd lurked at the edges of Elena's life for four months, forbidding himself from talking to her or even being seen by her. She could have killed him, like Damon had almost done to this woman. Stefan might have let her. He didn't know. The shock of seeing her face again had been that strong.

"You—" Stefan snapped his mouth shut against a torrent of incoherent words, then tried again. "You're saying that my brother looks like... someone human? Someone alive?" Was it even possible? As far as he knew, the Salvatore line had only continued on through their cousins, and finally ended with Zach. If Damon had managed to impregnate a girl sometime, without anyone knowing... Those months he'd spent serving the Confederate army... No, it still made no sense.

"I'm sorry," Stefan repeated, not quite knowing what he was apologizing for. "He's not anyone else. I know. I've spent..." Longer than any human lifetime. First Katherine and Elena, and now this. Why? "He's my brother. I know him. And if you both go after each other in here, someone is going to get hurt."

Wow that is....a lot shorter than I had intended it to be ;; please don't hate me

"He's not alive!" she snapped, hands torn away from her eyes. Fury and frustration warped her mouth, tugged at her eyes. She shook. "Boone's dead. He was one of the first to go. He got crushed by this...thing. It's been three years. I've been putting flowers on his grave whenever it's safe enough to go near it."

Claire had finally gotten what she had wanted. Stefan had cracked. He was finally reacting to her, unflappable no more. Measured apologies gone. But she had cracked further. Claire was lost on her words, unable to help what flew from her mouth anymore.

She hadn't even meant to bring up Boone in the first place. She wanted that image out of her head.

Anger bubbled as he moved to correct her, pushed her voice to unsettling volumes. Not yet enough to catch the guards' attention, but anyone nearby was fair game. Their talk had escalated into a scene. "I know that! He's not Boone because Boone wasn't a murdering bastard! Boone wouldn't do that to me!" She scowled at him, sniffling miserably. When had her eyes started stinging? "What do you care? You're just like him. If I get hurt, it's just dinner to you, isn't it?"

Edited at 2011-04-05 02:01 pm (UTC)


Stefan fought the urge to reach out to her. Not to silence her — although he was aware of how loud her voice was getting, and how incriminating her words were — but rather to try to calm her down by touching her arm and speaking gently. But he didn't even need her accusatory stare to know what a terrible idea that would be. All she heard were the lies of a monster, and all she would feel was the cold skin of something inhuman. One of the first to go. His arms remained clasped, his gaze dropping briefly at the tail end of her insistences about Boone. Something terrible had happened to this woman, and it hurt him to add to her pain like this.

But he couldn't simply back down. "No," Stefan answered, struggling to find further words. It had been easier once to defend himself — not that he often got close enough to anyone to have to do it, because he learned after the first decade that wherever he went, his brother would follow. Whenever he found happiness, Damon found him. It was easy to argue that he was different from Damon, and that Damon was the deadly beast preying on their town, not him. But if Stefan did it now, he would be abandoning his brother, and abandoning the humanity which had begun to take root in him.

"No, that's not how I live." He looked into the woman's teary eyes, pleading with her in a low voice. "I don't hurt people. I don't... drink from humans. It takes a lot of discipline to manage this, but if you give me a chance, I can keep my brother from hurting someone else." It was a reckless promise, but he could do it. It wasn't impossible for Damon to change. "Please."


Stefan was struggling with himself. Even through her fit, Claire could see that. The arms across his chest seemed so stiff, forced. His expression grew steadily more anxious, a deep line growing between his brows. Claire's mouth clicked shut and she inhaled thickly, the sound coming between them like a gust of wind.

She wasn't ready to buy this yet. She knew better know. She knew how good of an actor a person could be when they put their mind to it. Maybe he did care for his brother. Maybe he just didn't want her exposing them. Proving that vampires did exist. Or, most likely, he knew that Damon had told her about his brother, and was worried that after Damon was gone he'd be next. Not far from the truth, but she couldn't forgive him for that. She couldn't believe that he had the gall to come up to her and pretend like this was about her, her safety, her life.

Claire had never met the guy once in her life. Why should he care about anything that happened to her? She didn't grieve over the boars or the rabbits she hunted down. She didn't feel one lick of sympathy when she slit their throats and peeled the skin off. A girl's gotta eat. And a vampire's gotta feed.

The old story about the 'good' vampire wasn't news to her. There was always one or two books lying around the library that painted them as tortured creatures, choosing animals over feeding on humans. It was too easy of an excuse. Especially when they were trapped in here, where there were so few animals. All she had seen was the cats in the sun room and the rats in the town, and she'd had to use Andrew's ring to get there in the first place. If Stefan was telling the truth, he was in dire need of some solid evidence.

And Claire was going to give it to him. Her breathing thinned, lips drawing a flawless line across her cheeks. "That so?"

Claire touched her thumb to her lips. Then she drove her teeth into the cuticle, sawing through the skin until she could taste blood. The thumb was thrust under his nose. A red bead swelled to life there, slowly rolling down the contours of her nail as it doubled in bulk. "Hungry, Stefan?"

She was listening to him, at least. Stefan could see that she didn't want to, but all he needed was a minute crack in the armour, and maybe he could reach her. She seemed like a good person — as manipulative as it sounded, he knew good people always had room for doubt. Even when they knew what he was, the average person didn't go for a stake until they saw his face change into that of a monster. Right now, he looked and sounded like any teenager. If she had the slightest doubt about how inhuman he was, if she could believe there was even the slightest truth to his words...

When the woman raised her thumb to her mouth, Stefan didn't realize what she intended until the sudden, overpowering scent of blood filled the air. Every one of his blunted senses leapt to attention, and he recoiled in the exact same instant her hand came at him. It moved as if in slow motion — his eyes were rapt on the deep, dark red on the edge of her nail, the way it glinted in the light of the Sun Room. Control. Stefan averted his face, but not completely. The point of this was to prove he could handle himself. Running out of the room wouldn't convince her, although he did allow himself to take a step back.

It was a good thing, a very good thing, that he'd fed last night. While Stefan's discomfort was obvious, at least the squirrel blood in his system tamped down on the worst of it. It's not even that much, he told himself. He'd witnessed classmates suffer papercuts before without feeling that familiar ache in his teeth. He could stand this too.

After a few seconds, Stefan thought he could trust his own voice again. "I already ate, thank you," he answered, forcing himself to look beyond the woman's hand to meet her blue eyes. "One of the animals in the forest."

He recoiled. Almost violently so. Claire watched him stagger back a step, unwavering. That was interesting. Either the idea of eating human blood truly did repulse Stefan, or he was trying to resist temptation. Which was the point, of course. Claire just wished she could crawl inside his head and figure out which.

Though in all honesty, the way he struggled to raise his eyes from her thumb to her face was pretty telling. A neat wrinkle formed between her brows. No, this was more information than she expected. Her blood didn't repulse him. He was almost literally bursting at the seams from the sight of it. It was killing him to turn away. She couldn't say how she knew, but she just did.

Now. Did that mean he was turning away to better convince her that he was good, or because he was genuinely good?

"Forest animal," she parroted. "Right." Claire pressed her thumb to her mouth once more, this time only to suck the blood away from her nail. No use in pushing that anymore. He hadn't launched at her like she thought he would. And maybe it was petty - she deserved the right to be a bit mean, Claire felt - but she wanted to tease him with it. Drink away the blood like he so clearly wanted to. Just for that, she took a touch longer than necessary to suck her thumb clean.

That left her with limited options. With all these people around, all her tools stashed away, there was little place else for the conversation to go. She couldn't trust Stefan. Not completely. But he was much more likable than his brother. That he had even that going in his favour was a downright miracle, and it was going to get him further than Damon ever could.

"Listen. I don't know you. You can say whatever you want to me right here, right now, but in the end, every word from your mouth is just there to cover for your brother. Right?" She didn't wait for him. This wasn't a question and answer period anymore. "So I'll tell you what. If you can keep Damon off my back - off of everyone's backs here? I'll think about.

"I have no reason to trust you, Stefan. And you have no reason to trust me. But if you prove that you mean it, I will leave you both alone." Claire took a cool step back, shrugging with ease. This conversation was done. "It's gonna take time to believe you, that's all."

Edited at 2011-05-01 09:07 am (UTC)

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