UPDATES:

August 10, 2014

(SLASH) Ahem. I finally got a Summer break from my university classes, so here it is. Hey. Hey. To be fair, some people have not updated for years. *runs away before I get strangled* OHOOHOH


ACT IT OUT

CHAPTER 5: Truth & Oatmeal


My eyes shot open, and the first thing I did was put both hands up in a ninja pose and shrink my whole body back, like I was preparing to get hit by a giant rock.

"Cain, NO-"

Seri, with her body comfortably settled on the bed, gave a bare side smirk, the kind that twitched and was close to bursting out into laughter.

"Cain?"

"Wha? Oh, it's just you, Seri." The morning sun shone at us from the single bedroom window. I had to squint at her to clearly see her in the sunlight.

"What are you doing here?" I tilted my head and eyed her from between the bed comforter folds, trying to keep the sun out of my eyes.

I should have known she was the only friend who had the key to my bedroom. It was strange I actually thought she was-

"Your wifemade you some quick breakfast for the morning." Seri ignored the question and smiled at me while sitting Indian-style on my legs, keeping me from moving my legs very well.

"My wife?" I asked, shifting my right foot to push her side to the left, implying she needed to shift off the bed before I kicked her off the bed.

"Yeah." Seri's hair flailed sideways on her cheeks as she kept balance by grabbing my right leg from on top of the blanket and secured it down.

She giggled as I grunted and struggled under the weight.

Seri sat up straight and peered down at me, giving me a doting look. Like, hey. Here's mom. Ready to wake you up.

"I came here to check up on you two, but it looks like you were plenty taken care of. You going to get up, or what?" Seri said.

I shook my right foot off and twisted my body to the side of the bed. The carpet felt bare and uncomfortable as I slid my bare feet over it. I grumbled and ruffled my hair with my hand, realizing the left side of my hair was half-titled the wrong way.

"Urgghhh…"

I was not sure why, but I felt weird walking like a zombie across the carpet- even weirder than usual in the morning.

I peered down at myself with my hands outstretched.

Oh yeah, I slept in freaking skinny jeans and a dress shirt. No wonder I feel like an itchy butterfly shedding from its cocoon.

"What time is it?" I grumbled.

"9:05 AM." Seri replied back from the bed.

My hand froze midway between trying to push the left side of my hair back in place.

"What?" My eyes darted to the apartment's long hallway clock that ticked way too quickly all of a sudden.

9:05 AM. That's what it said.

"Aughh! I'm late for Photojournalism!" I shouted. I darted fully out of the bedroom and ran into the living room, ready to take my backpack that was sprawled over the floor and dumbly run out of the apartment in tight jeans and a dress shirt until I thankfully smelled the unfamiliar scent of fried eggs and cooked oatmeal, with a nice hint of orange.

My eyes noticed the big dish on the kitchen counter filled with two well-cooked sunny-side up eggs and some of that wonderful-smelling oatmeal, waiting for me like a naked wife.

I dropped the half-open backpack on my shoulder and robotically walked over to the oatmeal and spooned it into my mouth as fast as possible.

Seri came near the entrance of the hallway, her peach Spring dress flowing beautifully behind her, crossing her arms.

I ignored her, for there was a flashback of my mom microwaving quick Walmart-bought oatmeal in the morning for me before she ran to work for the majority of the day. I would have almost considered it child cruelty to leave a 7 year old alone with almost nothing but oatmeal to eat for the whole day if not for the fact that I loved that Walmart brand oatmeal. They eliminated that specific oatmeal stock. -Something about having an unimaginably unhealthy level of sugar.

As I was pondering this nostalgic childhood memory, I heard a loud laugh-snort to the left of me. I peered to the side with oatmeal falling from the side of my mouth, seeing Seri clutching her stomach, trying to keep upright in the hallway.

"Hahah, I remember how obsessed you were with oatmeal back in the day. I thought I would get used it, but it is still hilarious every time I see it." She emphasized just how strong the comedy was by wiping literal tears from her eyes with her hands.

I tilted my head back to the oatmeal and closed my eyes as I savored the orange-flavored oatmeal.

"Whatever. Thank you for making it for me." I smiled as I put another spoon full into my mouth.

Seri straightened herself. "I wasn't the one who made it. Your wife did. Cain."

I twisted my neck to her and almost choked. Hearing his name in the morning, all of a sudden, made me feel a little uncomfortable in my stomach.

"R-Really?" I stared at her with my left hand wiping part of the oatmeal from my mouth.

Seri narrowed her doll-like eyes.

"Yeah. Do me and Seri know how to cook? You should know more than anyone the answer to that." Seri smirked.

It was true. She once tried to cook ramen on the stove and almost burned down my apartment, and in the other room on the same day, Sara simultaneously almost electrocuted herself by accidentally throwing water at the plugged in hair dryer. I do not trust those two with anything electronic, especially not Sara-

"How is Sara?"

I instinctively edged closer to Seri. Despite how dumb and quick this morning started, the past crazy night of someone collapsing from alcohol poisoning and rooming with a stranger that invited you on the couch should not be ignored.

"Is she okay?"

"She is fine." Seri's face became serious.

"I called up my good pre-medical friend, and he took a look at her last night. He says she was going to be fine after some sleep. I think…"

"What?" I peered at her.

"I think she was roofied."

I slammed the oatmeal bowl on the counter, making a loud clanging sound through the apartment. "What?!"

"Yeah." Seri gave me a concerned look and looked straight into my eyes. "I think it's my fault. I have a big suspicion the Hispanic guy I was dancing with all night was the one who slipped it in her drink. While I was on the dance floor alone, I saw him near her drink while she was in the bathroom, but I never thought he may have put something in there."

Seri crossed her arms and looked to the side in a concentrated manner. "Actually, I'm sure of it. She was only out for 3 hours. Ecstasy wouldn't have done that, and you know how high her alcohol tolerance is. She lost her memory, had some serious nausea, and passed out in about 15 minutes. That's a roofie."

I gaped at her. How the heck was she spouting out medical information when her best friend could have almost gotten gang-raped by strangers at a bar?

"Seri, this is serious!"

Seri looked at me, calmly leaning on the hallway wall with crossed arms.

"I know. That's why I am being calm about this. Don't you have a class to go to?"

I worriedly peered down at my almost-broken wrist watch and groaned. I looked back at Seri.

"Text me the rest of the information. Tell me how she is doing. I will be back, okay?"

I grabbed my backpack, actually zipped it up this time, and walked out the door as fast as possible. I ran with my keys to the silver car in the parking lot and opened up the doors. I peered down at the empty back seat as I sat into the front seat.

Does Cain know about this?

"Mr. Lammert." The teacher stood over me like a giant gray shadow lecturing a dumb, gray squirrel. I stood in front of him with my head down, barely after Photojournalism ended.

Dr. Camillo, with his tight white dress shirt and black-like-his-soul tie, held his attendance roster clipboard out into the air as I peered up at him.

"According to my attendance sheet, this is the fifth time you have been late to my class, and this is photojournalism, so unless you have a great picture for your final project to compensate for this lateness, then I see no reason to overlook this obvious disrespect to the class."

I looked back at the floor again like a really really sad, lectured child.

"I am really sorry, Dr. Camillo. There is no excuse. You're right. I won't do it again." Other than the fact that someone almost wanted to fuck me in my own house, and an old friend was roofied, and I did not get home until about 4 AM, there was no excuse. No good one without making it too dramatic and awful.

Dr. Camillo sighed and took off his glasses. That is what he does whenever I am presented in front of him in such a shameful manner. Honestly, he might as well do it every time I walk into the door on time too.

I heard the sound of shuffling heels from the outside classroom door. It was the girls waiting worriedly for me to be done. I think this one might take a long time.

"I am aware of your background, Mr. Lamert."

Okay, here we go.

"And I will not treat you as special. Especially for a subject such as this. I heard you wanted to be a professional photographer when you got out. Correct?"

I edged my eyes slightly to the right.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, photographers should be best known for their punctuality. How do you think they get the shots? How do you think they get the jobs? They are the first ones there. You have to be more than punctual. Take this from a professional background. Not from just…quick shots at night."

I cocked my eyebrow. If he was referring to my Facebook Night Time photoshoot of the city lights from across town to the edge of the water bridge 50 miles away, a personal project for myself after backpacking for a week across an unfamiliar town, then he was referring this self assignment as "quick shots across the nights."

Before I could stop myself, an evident cringe appeared on my face as I stared back at Dr. Camillo.

Dr. Camillo, noticing my ill-tolerance, changed the topic into something worse.

"Do you know what you want to do for the final Photojournalism project yet?"

"No, sir."

"Then start. You have about a month ahead of you. You should be quicker than this.

"Yes, sir."

It was true that if you wanted to set up a good shot, you have to explore and get to places and hear things and talk to people ahead of time. But last time I checked, finding the right natural eye-catching photo was about the movement of normal, randomly caught life. You cannot plan that a month ahead.

But like the trapped student I was, I nodded with a "yes."

All I could think about was visiting Sara at Seri's place after this.

Dr. Camillo glared at me a little more, just that last pinch of "I don't like you, Alton. Get out of my sight," and I was off walking hastily to the door.

The large wooden double doors opened loudly as I burst through, and I looked up, seeing three girls: it was a blonde, brunette, and another brunette this time.

Caitlyn? I think that was the second brunette's name.

"Alton!" Caitlyn cried towards me, smiling and waving me towards the group. "We were waiting for you. Is Dr. Camillo done being a total dick to you?"

The blonde and the other brunette looked at me anticipatively to the side of Catylin. From the fact that I have never met them before, but they looked confident in meeting me, Catylin must have told them I was planning on coming out with her, and they were allowed to tag along.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to get to know their names this time.

"Sorry, Catylin, I have to go really quickly. I have some things I have to attend to."

Catylin's school bag sunk on her shoulder. "Awww." The other girls looked betrayed for waiting so long only to be told plans have been changed.

I briskly walked to the opposite direction of Hall C and looked back at Catilyn and her friends. "Sorry!" I apologized again and concentrated back on getting to my car as soon as possible and visiting Sara's house before noon, which is when Sara goes to work. Knowing Sara, she would go to work even if her limbs were broken.

However, that plan did not really go as planned.

Cain stood still in front of the largely displayed campus map in front of the Creative Arts building, figuring out where his location and new destination is.

I froze as I saw him after I walked out the main double doors. My right leg instinctively paced backwards, wanting to retreat. There were better things to do than figure out why this enigma of a guy was in front of my university, specifically in front of my building, right? Yes, I should have left. I really should have, but…

From a profile view, the brief wind flowing behind Cain's slumped shoulders holding up many souvenir bags from the university, and an evidently confused and concerned face on Cain's pretty face as he stared at the map, I felt a need to freeze just to see if he was okay. It happens a lot with me and pitiful, innocent girls that go through their first breakup, and for some strange reason, go to me. I had the same feelings when I invited Cain to my house last night, and it was the same feeling now.

The damn motherly feeling of wanting to take care of someone.

Cain peered at a specific building graphic on the big map. "Building 72." He whispered to himself.

"Hey, what's up?" I smiled and tilted myself into view.

This scared Cain, and he inched back with a surprised expression, like he did not expect anyone to notice him in this new town, much less this university. I studied his face. I guess this meant he was not looking for me.

"A…Alton." Cain pressed his palm to his chest, a subconscious way to keep his distance. "I did not know you go to this university!"

"Yeah, I take photography classes here for my Photography major." I smiled at him fidgeting awkwardly, meeting me out of the blue. It was actually a little cute.

"I am looking for building 72. Do you know where that is?" Cain looked up guiltily.

I looked over to the south side of the campus and pointed my thumb at it. "Oh, that should be the Chemistry and Biology department's main welcome building. Do you need to find someone there?"

Cain looked at me seriously. "No, I am going to major in Biochemistry here." His words had a sort of weariness to them.

My thumb slowly lowered as I gawked at him. Cain was quick and kind, but I would not have pinned him as a science major. Maybe… a theater major?

"Did you hear about this university from Sara?" I asked with a surprised expression.

"Yes, she said it was a good university. In the mean time while staying in this town, I wanted to pursue my interest in… getting a higher education. And simply going to clubs all day just does not cut it, yeah?" Cain said sarcastically.

Cain instinctively covered his mouth, quickly realizing what he said. "Oh, er, I did not mean it like that, Alton." He looked down and flushed red, not because he was making fun of people like me and Seri for going to clubs often but-

"You feel bad about what happened last night?" I smiled and tilted my head.

I was not sure which was redder. My red pepper keychain on my keys, or Cain's face. He peered to the side awkwardly with definite closed lips, thinking hard about what to say before he blurted something out.

"Er, I am very sorry for what I did and said. I seriously cannot remember what I said, or why I said it, but I am sorry. Ahah." Cain continued peering to the right like there was an interesting bug on the ground, but I could tell looking at the face of the person you tried to seduce last night could and was extremely overwhelming.

I just busted out laughing, and I am not sure if that was out of sincerity for him, or I just did not care.

"I'm not entirely sure I want to see you drunk again, Cain. You do things like this. It makes me feel bad afterwards." I said, clutching my stomach like in the bar. I forgave him already. I was not sure why, but he made me laugh. 4 hours of inching myself closer to the bedroom wall through the night, wondering if Cain was going to find a way to lock-pick my bedroom door just got forgotten. He was like a girl, but ten times more awkward than a girl, but somehow, just as attractive as a girl.

Cain looked at me surprised as I laughed and stood still for a bit. His shoulder slumped a little under the weight of his supplies.

"Here, need help with that?" I asked in a good mood. I reached at his shoulder and grabbed the blue bag with food cans in it. Food cans…

I looked into the bag to assure it. Yeah, food cans. "Cain, why in the world are you carrying this heavy food stuff around? Don't you have a place to put it in?"

"I don't want to bother Sara." Cain replied.

I looked up quickly, and Cain noticed how freaked out I was. Oh fuck, I forgot about Sara. I looked at my wrist watch.

11:20 AM.

It took me 25 minutes to get to her house through the car, and if it took her a bit to wake up, we would just have like ~6 minutes to talk anyways.

I slumped my head down and sighed, evidentially feeling like a fucking idiot for hurrying out of class only to be distracted by something else right after I come out of the building.

Cain looked over me worriedly. "What?"

I frowned at him. "How is Sara?"

"Oh, she is doing all right. Seri came with her friend who took some medical classes, and he said she may have been drugged because of the strange passing out she did." Cain clenched his fist. "He and Seri told me this calmly, but I couldn't help but feel more responsible for this. She was my guest host, and I leave her alone like that. Seri told me it was okay, but her being so calm like that made me feel even more at fault!"

"I know right?" I put both hands out, showing just how relieved I was that I was not the only one Seri told the news to in such a manner. "She told me the same thing this morning when I woke up, and I feel responsible for it, but she tells me it's practically nothing, and I should go to class. There's a level of guilt a man feels when a girl next to him just gets roofied, you know!"

Cain smiled at me. "…You are a good friend, Alton."

I immediately give him a questioning look, kind of uncomfortable about talking about my good points and friendship, for some strange reason. "Hey, but why aren't you at Seri's place then? You know she can give you a ride to the university once she gets better. You didn't have to come here yourself."

Cain edged a little backwards with a surprised expression. "No, Sara is only my host for about 2 days. I have no set place to live right now. I wanted to check the university early before I went off to look for some places to stay."

I gaped at him. No place to stay? Cain, who just got here 2 days ago, has no place to stay already? And he deals with his guest host getting roofied for half of a day, and then he gets kicked out? The realization dawned on me that having a lot of money because of my parents and my modeling made me kind of spoiled with my big apartment and constant food service. People like Cain were nice enough to help others, and he has to deal with everything when he comes into a new town.

"Cain, just stay with me."

Cain looked at me in a weird manner. His eyebrows scrunched down, like he couldn't believe what he was hearing. He kind of looked like he was questioning if he was even hearing it right.

"You've stayed with me before, right?"

It's okay. Even if Cain is gay, he's cool. I never thought I would get used to it or find myself inviting a homosexual into my apartment, but I was. If it was Cain, even for a few months, it would be okay.

I smiled at him, but for some strange reason, Cain did not smile embarrassingly like I expected.

Cain stood there on the sidewalk, very still, looking at me with a solid look. His university bags were practically hanging on his shoulders, like if he moved, they would completely fall off. He concentrated carefully on my face, trying to analyze something. His gray eyes kind of darkened as his eyelashes hovered into a literal squint at me. The sun wasn't shining in his eye or anything. What was wrong?

Cain finally just gave an extremely surprised expression, like everything he was questioning in his head was really happening right now.

"Alton, do you just trust any stranger? Anyone who comes into your apartment and is nice to you? There should be a line, shouldn't there? To see if someone should live with you for a long time?"

I peered at him, thinking. It took me a bit to contemplate my own thoughts and actions, especially for a stranger. But was Cain really a stranger? From the night and a half that I knew him? Could you tell? And then I had it.

"You wouldn't know that line until you cross it. I trust you, even though we have known each other in that little time, but I have never let a man room with me like this. I have never reinvited a man back like this. So this is a first for both of us."

Cain gray eyes just kind of darkened more at this point. He was confused with my matter-of-fact reason.

"What I mean to say is… how do you know the "line" when you have never let people in to make it? You can't live alone forever, and I know you need a place to stay, and from what I know about you, I will give you a chance with me. Would you like to take it? Because in the end, I am interested in you. Ah, not in that sense." I immediately said the last part too fast, and I put my hand up to mentally stop him from teasing me.

Cain smiled a bit at my gesture.

"But yes. AND NO HANKY PANKY."

Cain just started laughing now. He laughed at the sky, and he closed his mouth quickly, but the giggling made his mouth a little uneven, like he could start laughing all over again.

Cain kept his eyes closed and smiled away from me.

"Sara was right. You are quite a good friend too, Alton."

I thought he did not remember his night very well? He was referring to when he said Sara considered me a gentleman, and I skedaddled the heck away from the living room after that?

Ahh, whatever, I am sick of thinking about it.

I smiled back to reassure him. "And just think. If you still feel paranoid about this weird invite, I'm not gonna touch you. You pay rent like any regular guy at an apartment. And if you become too much of a bore, I can just kick you out." I say this sarcastically but very literally. I have not kicked people out before, but maybe I could literally kick Cain's butt out if he attacks me when he's drunk again.

Cain just kept smiling, like everything I said was funny and amusing. Somehow, I also like it when everything I say is not too dramatic with someone. He could be okay. I was okay with this.

"All right." Cain said.

I reached into the smallest front pocket of my backpack and pulled out a single spare room key.

"Here's the key to my apartment. 367. Do you still remember how to get near that street yourself? Afterwards, just put all your stuff there, hang out, and be yourself, okay? I need to call up or visit Seri for a bit if she is still at Sara's house." I handed him the key. It felt weird to give my spare to someone else, but Cain took it in his hand with great carefulness and sincerity.

"All right." He reassured again, like he was planning on being the most quiet and polite room guest in the world.

I turned around to make sure I can drive to Sara's house and beat any university class traffic for the next bell, but Cain said something one last time to stop me.

"I realize you are a very nice person."

Cain held the apartment key in his right hand, and the sun glowed behind him, making his smile all the more radiant. But there was something sad about his eyes this time. Something was weird about him.

To me, I did not really have time to figure it out. They say that after you get a roommate, you start learning so many things about them that you start to wish you didn't. I could figure it out later, right? I briskly walked to the car.

5 miles into the highway and beating some mild morning traffic, I called Seri's cellphone number, and Seri picked up.

"…You what?"

"I said I invited Cain to room with me while he is living in town and going to school at my university. Being a student and trying to find a place to live can be tough, you know?" I voiced into the receiver.

Seri was quiet on the phone. Sara already left to work, and she had picked up her phone quickly after seeing it was Alton's call, even though she knew it was probably just something predictable and cute again.

"He was sincere about it? He wanted to room with you?"

I gave a questioning look as I turned and passed a car on the right lane.

"Yeah, he did."

Wait, what was wrong now? From the bottom of my heart, was it weird I invited someone to room with me now? -When I invited so many girls over, including Sara and Seri in my past?

"Alton." Sara paused briefly to collect her thoughts on the phone, and then she opened her mouth dramatically to give the truth.

"This …wasn't supposed to last for this long." She felt guilty just squeezing the cellphone in her hand.

"What are you talking about?" I asked back.

"Cain's an actor. He, uh, Sara knew him after helping him on set for a side job, and since he was interested in moving into the same town she was in, we wanted to just play a quick joke on you since you were in the same town as well."

I almost swerved the car into high speed traffic. I slowed the car down a bit, moved into the slower lane, and made sure I knew what I was hearing was in the calmest atmosphere I could find.

"What the fuck are you talking about? Huh?!" Am I hearing her right? Was this a prank?

"No, er, you're going…you invited him to your apartment, right? Just go there right now. Cain said he would only act a certain way until the bar was over, but he kept going for…some strange reason." Seri replied back quickly on the phone, trying to get me to understand it quickly.

There was no way someone can just ask someone to act a certain way just to prank someone they have never met. I'm not special. I'm not a prick. Why was I getting pranked? This was no way this was happening.

"You're joking." I sped the car up and took the Exit as fast as I could to get back to my apartment.

"No, I'm definitely not." Sara smiled, and I could tell she was smiling from the way her words sounded afterwards. "We thought it would just be funny to see how you would react to a Cain that was totally different than how he was, and to see if you would treat him well, and you did. You treated him nicer than a lot of the girls you've seen."

I was about ready to throw the phone out the window. I made a quick left turn on a familiar street, and a car angrily honked at me as I passed him. Sorry, dude. I just invited…

A STRANGER? INTO MY APARTMENT?

Cain was right, I thought ironically.

"Seri, you owe me lunch."

"I know." Seri answered back. "More than just lunch. You want more orange-flavored oatmeal?"

I hung up on her and stomped through my apartment complex's parking lot. John, the daytime door man, with his strict folding-of-arms behind his back, noticed me and gave the general greeting. "Hello, Mr. Lamert."

"Hello, Carlos." I said, forgetting his name for 7th time, and he gracefully tipped his hat a little to show me he acknowledged the wrong name again. Sorry, Carlos, I wasn't in the right mood to figure it out again.

In the midst of being told I accepted Cain, the nice, kind, polite Cain I just talked and had a kind conversation with an hour ago, who was also a town-touring actortold to just prank me for the heck of it, I started to doubt if I even needed that orange oatmeal at all. There was no way a guy can trick you for that long. I felt I understood and knew people.

Sure, he was a guy, and guys are different than girls, but there is a certain level of respect and concern and sincerity that I sense from people, and what I examined from Cain seemed genuine. I believed it, I really did. So I was ready to laugh when I came into my apartment and ask him how silly it was that Seri tried to prank me again, but that was not so.

People watched as I briskly power-walked past them, and I swung the apartment door open with a WHAM.

The nice, strong smell of bitter morning coffee entered my nostrils.

"You could be a little quieter."

And the deep, unfamiliar, and elegant British accent that only the polished and worthy voice actor or experienced speaker could have.

Cain was sitting on my smaller red-brown living room arm chair with a cup of strong coffee in his left hand. The coffee was the same type that I served him last night. A large newspaper was in his right hand, held nice and steadily, like he had been reading it for hours. His university supplies were nowhere to be found, and he had his legs crossed like he was in a business meeting, the kind that only accepted the most brilliant and successful individuals.

With him in there, I almost felt like this wasn't my appartment, and I felt confused if I was looking at someone else, but those gray eyes were the same, and the short dark-brown hair that barely fell over his eyes were the same. And it is not like this man was all that unfamiliar.

He was the guy I first saw at the bar. The one that was unapprocable, wore the Beckham suit with confidence and strive, and did not let anyone save for the best company catch his attention. Until he saw me.

"I thought you hated coffee." I noted out loud, with the apartment door still open behind me.

Cain leered at the bitter and dark coffee in his own white mug and took a long sip from it. He looked back at the newspaper. "I said that, didn't I?"

His confidence and snideness while saying that -while not even looking at me- was the most infuriating part. I was familiar with this guy, all right.

"I thought you didn't like to wear hot suits like that?" I questioned again.

Cain kept reading the newspaper, giving me the minimalist level of attention, like I was not even there, and this was his apartment.

"I can wear whatever I want in the house I am staying in, right?" he chimed.

I stood there distraught with what to say, and if I had a place to say anything at all in front of this guy.

I just stood still, completely appalled that this was who Seri and Sara sent to me: an uncaring, stoic, and superiority-complex-obsessed individual that lied about everything.

I scrunched my eyebrows and glared at him furiously.

"Who the fuck are you?"

Cain's eyes shifted quickly on his newspaper. Was he just reading a new line? He finally looked up to me with a joking, sarcastic face.

"I'm Cain. You told me to come and be myself. Here I am."

He gave the most rapacious and evil smile in the world.

I felt like I was going to hurl.


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