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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24

Between the Darkness and the Light - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Amanda Sichter
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 13

To: storm@ xmen.com

Subject: {blank}

Three months.

Three months.

An eternity. An eyeblink. For me, both at once.

I close my eyes and I see her under that streetlight, shining, pale face, happy, confident, beloved, and it seems that it has only been an instant since she walked down that alley -- that I can open my eyes and I will still be in that dark street and that she will be just going around that corner and I can shout and stop her and keep her from walking away from me. Walking into the night and never coming back.

But it seems to be forever since I saw her, since I wrapped her in my arms and told her I loved her, since I let her walk away. Oh gods, 'Ro, why did I ever let her walk away?

I will be in Schenectady soon, seeing if Sinister has taken her back there. When I have finished, if I have found her or not, I will come to the mansion. I am praying that it is with Azimuth at my side.


Storm was meditating in her attic, sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, hands resting upturned on her knees, when she heard the tapping on her window. For a moment she thought it was a tree branch, but the swift realisation came to her that there were no trees outside her window. Her eyes flew open and met the demon-chylde eyes of Gambit.

She stood and moved to the window, so quickly she wasn't sure her feet touched the ground. Storm flung the window up and reached out to grab Remy, precariously balanced on the tiny ledge beneath her window. She grabbed his shoulders and then he was coming in through the window, fast.

Expecting Remy's usual cat-like grace, Storm wasn't prepared for the sudden crash of his body-weight down upon her as he half-fell through the window. She was nearly taken to the floor, and it was only her last second change of grip that enabled her to prop herself beneath him and prevent them both from tumbling.

'Merci, chere, merci,' Gambit murmured and then he had caught himself, propped himself back and balanced on the balls of his feet. Storm was relieved by the removal of his weight, so relieved it took her a moment to take in Remy's condition. When she did, she gasped.

'Remy,' she said. 'Remy.' And she cupped his face between her hands. 'By the Goddess, Remy, what have you been doing? You look -- *dreadful*.'

Remy grinned ghoulishly, his eyes glowing in a face so drawn it seemed a death-mask. Great, dark circles marred the skin beneath his eyes and he wore an expression so haggard, so care-worn, that Storm feared for his health. His body-armour, normally taut over iron-hard muscles, now hung loose from his shoulders. His hair didn't appear to have been washed for some time and Storm decided she could detect a faint, but definite, odour. She wondered how long it had been since Remy had had a shower.

'What have I been doing?' Remy repeated. 'Fighting Marauders, takin' out Sinister's bases, looking for Azimuth, dyin' of a broken heart. Isn' dat what I'm supposed to be doin'?' He smiled, but there was no humour in it at all.

'You've come straight from Schenectady,' said Storm. It wasn't a question.

'Rode straight here after I took de base out,' confirmed Remy.

'Azimuth wasn't there.' This, too, was not a question.

'Non,' said Remy, and drowning grief and horror and rage flickered across his face and then were gone.

'How many bases, Remy?' asked Storm.


'Five in three months.' Storm wasn't sure whether to be impressed or horrified. 'Remy, you can't . . .Have there been Marauders -- at every one?'

'Oui,' said Remy. 'Sinister's cloning tanks must be givin' off smoke, I'm making him work dem so hard.'

'You can't keep this up,' said Storm. 'Not the Marauders. They've beaten all of the X-Men in the past -- how can you keep taking them out?'

'What do dey say about de Cajun, chere? Dat I always got secrets?' Remy laughed, again, a half-mad, wild laugh that made Storm wince. It hovered on the edge of hysteria and it made her very afraid for Remy's sanity.

And then it caught in his throat, and he choked and began to cough, a hacking, lung-sore cough. It was too much for his weakened body and he staggered. Storm only just caught him and held him as he coughed until tears bled down his face.

'Pardon, 'Ro,' whispered Remy, his voice raw, when he finally got the cough under control. 'Takin' out de base -- didn' realise dere was quite so much gas stored in dere. Got caught in the backwash of de explosion -- smoke got in my lungs b'fore Gambit get out.'

Storm winced. 'Remy, you are not well,' she said. 'You have to let me get the Beast. You need medical attention.'

'Non.' Remy tried to pull back from Storm but the coughing fit had left him too weak. 'I'm okay,' he said sharply. 'I don' need Hank.'

Storm knew arguing with him was going to be useless, so she didn't try. 'I will not make you see Hank,' she said, equably. 'But Remy, you really *do* need a bath.' Her nose wrinkled gently.

The laugh she got from Remy was, finally, unstrained, genuine. 'It's been a while, chere,' he admitted. 'And a lot of sweating.'

'We shouldn't meet anyone,' said Storm. 'It's after midnight, so even in this mansion the bathroom should be free.' Her voice took on the wry tone of someone who had had to produce lightning in a hallway to move to the front of the bathroom queue. At 6am. On a Sunday.

'Dere's no-one around,' confirmed Remy. 'Logan was out in de woods but he lef' me alone. I figure he knew I was comin' to see you.'

Storm altered her stance carefully, until she could slide under Gambit's arm and support his weight. For a moment she thought he would resist the help, but then exhaustion -- and, she suspected, several wounds -- caught up with him and he leaned against her.

Slowly, quietly, they made their way down to the bathroom. When they got there, Storm ran the bath while Remy slumped on a stool in the corner. When she had the water hot enough and deep enough, she turned to find that Remy was leaning back against the wall and nearly asleep. Storm looked at him for a long moment, hoping that he would develop a sudden burst of energy that would enable her to leave him without thinking he would fall asleep in the tub and drown. It didn't happen. Sighing, Storm realised she would have to help him.

'Come here,' she said, and gripped Remy's shoulders, pulling him forward. For a moment, he protested sleepily, but then Storm had found the fastenings of his body armour. She detached them and pulled his armour sideways and across. What she saw horrified her.

'By the Goddess, Remy, what have you done?' she asked. She reached out and gently touched the burn mark that covered half of his abdomen.

Remy winced as her fingers brushed lightly over his reddened, taut skin. 'Didn' dodge Harpoon quick enough a few weeks ago,' he said.

'Oh Remy,' whispered Storm and then she was peeling the armour off his shoulders. She could barely bite back a cry of anguish as she did. Gambit's shoulder was black with bruising, from a blow nearly heavy enough to break his shoulder-bones. Storm touched her fingers to the livid, star-shaped scar that decorated Remy's abdomen on the far left side. To confirm her suspicions she made him lean forward and found the much larger scar where what she suspected was a bullet had exited. But the healing scar did not interest her for more than an instant because across Remy's shoulder-blade there were three ragged cuts, so fresh that blood still oozed from them.

'Remy, you're wounded,' whispered Storm, her hand hovering over the cuts.

'Oui.' Remy shrugged, causing more blood to ooze from his shoulder. 'A Sabretooth got me coming around a corner. Took me by surprise. Took it by surprise when Gambit put his bo t'rough it's brain.' Remy's voice was unapologetically savage.

'You have to let me -- Hank *has* to see you.' Storm's voice was full of pleading.

'Non.' Gambit's face was blank, stubborn. 'Jus' help me clean up, Stormy. De wounds will heal.'

Storm wanted to argue -- desperately wanted to argue -- but there was something in Remy's tone that convinced her he would not be reached. If she argued with him, she thought he may just gather his clothing and flee. So she kept her silence and helped Remy out of the rest of his armour and into the bath. She made him lean forward and then slowly began to sponge the cuts that decorated his back. Her breath hissed in through her teeth as she exposed the ragged, oozing depths of the wounds.

'Please, Remy,' she begged, helpless to stop herself. 'Let Hank stitch them, at least.'

'Non,' Remy repeated, his voice muffled as he bent his head to his chest. 'If de Beast gets his hands on me, Stormy, he won' be content wit' jus' stitchin' me. He want to keep me here, wait till I heal. De longer I spend here, de longer it is before I can start lookin' for Azimuth again. I won' lose dat much time. Sinister had her t'ree months already.' Remy buried his face in his hands. 'What is he doing to her, 'Ro?' he asked, and his voice was anguished.

Storm was silent for a long moment, concentrating on sponging Remy's wound clean. Finally, she softly said, 'Are you sure it's Sinister, Remy? Are you sure Azimuth hasn't been -- taken -- by someone else?'

Remy's hands dropped back to his lap and his voice was almost amused as he replied, 'Who else, 'Ro? Who else knew 'bout Azimuth -- who else want to take her away from me? Sinister fascinated by Azimuth's power -- he want to find out how it works. Seems to me like he finish doing what he want with what he got from Azimuth las' time and he want her back. So he jus' took her. And I couldn' do a single t'ing to stop him.'

'What about the job she was on?' asked Storm. 'Maybe they caught her, or she's been arrested or -- or something.' Storm finished lamely.

'De contract was a set-up, Storm,' replied Remy. 'Lynch been tracin' it back -- he get two people down de contact trail and den -- not'ing. He still tryin' to find out who set him up, but he had no luck so far. De contract was bait. It was designed specifically to make Lynch t'ink of me, to make me want to take it. But if it were one of my enemies dey either leave Azimuth alone when she turn up, or dey take her as a hostage, make me do what dey want. Someone wanted her -- or was quite happy to take her when I didn' turn up. Dere's only Sinister dat happy to take either of us.' Remy paused and continued softly, 'B'sides, he can' be happy Gambit takin' down his bases -- if someone else have Azimuth, Sinister find some way of provin' it to me, so I stop destroyin' his labs. He staying quiet -- he has Azimuth.'

'It makes sense,' admitted Storm. She moved from the side of the bath until she could face Remy. He looked up at her and she handed him the sponge. 'You can do the front,' she said, and smiled.

The smile faded as Remy leaned back and she could see his ribs. 'How long has it been since you've eaten?' she asked sharply.

Gambit shrugged. 'Don' remember,' he said.

'You have to take better care of yourself,' scolded Storm. 'How can you keep up what you're doing if you drive yourself to ill-health? And if you won't take care of your wounds . . .' Storm couldn't find any way to finish. She let her gaze drift over the burn on Remy's abdomen and the bullet wound. He gaze swept down and was arrested by the sight of a dozen or so thin, white scars that decorated the full length of Remy's right thigh. 'What happened there?' She nodded at the scars.

Remy looked down with a rueful smile. 'A Riptide got me a while ago. Nearly took my leg off. Lucky he didn' get much higher or Azimuth be very disappointed when I get her back.'

Storm noted the way Remy phrased the sentence and her heart sank. 'Remy,' she said and her voice ached with her concern for him. 'What about if you don't get Azimuth back? What if she's dead? It's a possibility you have to consider.'

The hand that gripped around her wrist was vice-like and nearly crushed her bones. Storm gasped and looked at Remy's face and was shocked into immobility. There was nothing in his expression that she recognised - instead a feral, fanatic light glowed in his eyes and his face was twisted into a grimace.

But his voice was even and deadly quiet as he said, 'Azimuth is not dead. She is *not*. I'd know if she was dead -- I'd feel it, I know I would. She isn' dead. She can' be dead, 'Ro. We've jus' found each other again -- I can' have lost her. I can'.'

'I'm sorry, Remy, I'm sorry,' murmured Storm frantically. 'I don't think she's dead, Remy, really. I just thought you needed to be prepared for the possibility. I'm sorry. I'm *sorry*.'

'She's not dead,' whispered Remy, his face blank. 'If she was dead, Sinister would have given her back to me.' He let go of 'Ro's wrist and turned his face to the wall, curling his body tight. 'He'd enjoy that,' he said, very softly, and then he was gone somewhere so far away from Storm she was not sure he would ever come back.

'Remy, I'm sorry,' said Storm, but there was no response. 'I'm going to get you some clothes,' she said. 'You finish cleaning up and then we'll go down and get some food, and then you can sleep in my room. Remy?' For a long moment Remy said nothing, but he finally gave a single, sharp nod to indicate that he had heard.

Silently Storm padded from the room, leaving Remy locked in his grief and guilt and misery -- locked away from anyone who could help him, locked away from everyone who would try.

Storm had borrowed -- well, technically, since she hadn't asked permission, stolen -- some clothes from Logan's room and Gambit now sat in the mansion's kitchen wearing an oversized checked shirt and the largest pair of jeans Storm had been able to find. Even so, his ankles and half his shins were bare.

Storm had scoured the fridge, taking all of the left-overs out and creating something that defied description as a foodstuff but contained as much nourishment as she figured Gambit's half-starved body could handle. He was eating it with no relish, but with a single-minded determination to finish it that nearly frightened Storm.

'You have to eat more, Remy,' she said softly as he began to munch on a banana with something that approached ferocity. 'If you're going to stay well, if you're going to keep looking for Azimuth, you have to eat on a regular basis.'

Gambit swallowed and grinned unexpectedly. 'Oui, tante Stormy,' he said. 'If Gambit be a good boy, will he be allowed to play wit' de other kiddies?'

'I'm being serious, Remy,' scolded Storm, gently. 'You have to take care of yourself.'

For an instant Remy ducked his head, as if he was going to ignore her by concentrating on the food, but then he raised it and looked into her eyes. 'Oui,' he said, softly. 'You're right, as usual. I t'ink I realise tonight, when I takin' out de base, dat it not be easy when you ain't got de strength to stay upright. Dey nearly took me down dis time, 'Ro. I not be letting dat happen again. I take care of myself better from now on, neh?'

Storm reached forward and clasped his hand. 'You do that,' she said. She gripped his hand even tighter, so he couldn't pull away. 'Let me come with you,' she said.

She had anticipated correctly, for Remy tried to pull his hand from hers. 'Non,' he said, shaking his head violently when he realised he couldn't get his hand free. 'Gambit won' risk you. I'm not takin' you into dose bases, 'Ro, not now, not ever.' His voice, his eyes were full of agony as he said, 'I couldn' stand it, chere, not de t'ought of takin' you in dere, not de t'ought of losing you. Can' you see dat? Can' you see I can' risk losing you as well?'

'You can't keep on doing this by yourself, Remy,' replied Storm. 'You can't keep on fighting Marauders, taking down bases. You can't keep doing it and stay alive. Let me help you, Remy. Please?'

'Non,' said Remy and suddenly, unexpectedly, he managed to free his hand. He turned away from her, back to his food. 'Gambit not goin' to risk you too. Not when it be my quest. Not when it be my fault. Gambit couldn' stand it if you get hurt, chere.'

'Then I will follow you,' said Storm, stubbornly. 'I can do it, you know. If you won't *let* me help you, I won't give you a choice. I'm not going to let you die hunting down the Marauders.'

'I won' die,' replied Remy, so quietly Storm barely heard him. 'Gambit is . . not what dey expect.'

'What do you mean?' asked Storm.

There was a long pause, as if Remy could not make up his mind what to tell her. Finally, haltingly, he said, 'Phoenix teach me. She give me a - memory - of training - when she inside my head. When Gambit start to hunt down Sinister - I accessed de training. I'm learning how to use - what I been given. De Marauders - de clones - Sinister not expectin' dat Gambit know what to do wit' his powers. Each time I take out a base - I make sure all de clones are dead. Dat way dey can' give deir memories back to Sinister. He can' put dem in de heads of de nex' batch.' He looked back at Storm and his eyes were sunken, subdued. 'Dey can' defeat me, 'Ro. Dey programmed all wrong for what I am now. So long as dey fight me de wrong way - dey can' beat me. Not ever. I don' need you wit' me. Please, 'Ro, don' try and join me. I jus' couldn' stand it if you got hurt too.'

Storm stared down at her hands for a long time, mulling over what Remy had told her - and what he hadn't. In her head, she weighed up the damage that the Marauders could inflict on Remy, and what could be wrought on him if she was injured by helping him. He would excoriate his own soul, she knew that, if she was injured - and he was already wounded enough. Finally, she nodded. 'I will not force myself upon you,' she said. 'But only on the condition that you promise me you will ask for my help as soon as you need it.' She looked up at Remy and her voice was fierce as she said, '*Promise me!*'

'I promise,' he whispered and reached out and stroked her cheek. 'T'ank you, chere,' he said. 'I need to know you be safe, neh? Or at least as safe as you can be.'

'Don't get hurt on me, Remy,' said Storm. 'Please, don't.'

Remy nodded and dropped his hand from her face. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the kitchen door swinging open.

'I thought I heard someone,' said Beast. 'Though what you are doing gallivanting around this abode in the wee small hours of the morning conversing with yourself, Ororo . .' His voice trailed off as he noticed Gambit sitting at the table. Remy's whole body had tensed, poised for fight or flight and Storm couldn't help but see the stark panic in his eyes. Beast noticed it as well. His whole attitude changed, shifting away from bluff cheeriness into neutral passivity. 'Gambit,' he acknowledged his presence, softly.

'Hank,' replied Remy, and a little of the panic left his eyes.

'I did not expect to see you here,' said Hank, and his voice was gentle, non-threatening.

Remy shrugged slightly, a tiny, tense movement, trying to indicate he didn't care. He couldn't disguise the tension that filled his whole body, however, nor the state of his health.

'You don't look well,' said the Beast, trying to act nonchalant, but failing to cover up the wince around his eyes as he noted Gambit's physical condition.

'Been busy,' said Gambit, warily. 'Haven' had time to keep myself in shape.'

'I would be more inclined to believe you, if your shoulder was not soaked in blood,' said Hank. 'I do not think you can ascribe that to insufficient exercise.'

Storm started at Hank's words. Sitting in front of Remy she had not been able to see the blood that was staining the back of his shirt, but Hank had walked in nearly behind Gambit. She reached out and gently turned Remy until she could see the dark stain that soaked the material over his shoulder. She cursed herself mentally that she hadn't been able to dress the wound properly.

'Remy,' she said, sharply. 'Hank is here now. Let him treat you. At least get stitches.'

'Non,' replied Remy, panic rising in his voice. 'Non!'

'You need stitches,' said Hank, his voice reasonable. 'You also need some rest, a thorough physical and almost certainly a course of electrolytes to build up your strength. You are not well, Remy. Let me help you.'

'Non,' said Remy, his voice low but emphatic. 'You want to keep me here,' he continued. 'I won' be kept here. I won' abandon Azimuth.' He turned pleading eyes on Storm. 'Don' you understand, chere?' he said. 'I abandon too many people in my life. Genevieve to Sabretooth. Belle to de Assassins. De Morlocks. De T'ieves' Guild. My pere. Rogue. Gambit fail too many times to do it again. I can' leave Azimuth wit' Sinister. Don' you see? I can'.'

'It's not abandonment,' soothed Hank. 'Just a rest, Remy. Just a chance to regain your health.'

'Please, Remy, stay,' added Storm. 'Azimuth will be okay. You said so yourself - Sinister wants her alive. Just stay for a little while.'

'Non,' repeated Remy.

'You have to,' said Hank. 'As a doctor, I feel compelled to keep you here, Gambit. It is for your own good.'

~No, no, no,~ thought Storm helplessly. She couldn't think of anything designed more specifically to drive Remy away. Hopelessly, she reached out her hand to Remy, but he tipped over his chair and backed away into the corner, his eyes wild with fear.

'Non,' he said, and reached behind him, his hand groping over the kitchen bench, until it closed around a salt shaker someone had left there. Before Hank or Storm could react he had it charged and had flung it at the window behind Storm. She heard the sharp tap of it against the glass and hunched herself away from the imminent explosion.

There was none.

Startled, Storm turned and saw something unexpected. Instead of the salt shaker exploding, the cerise charge had been transferred somehow to the glass. A spider-web of glowing lines spread from the centre of the window until they engulfed the pane. There was a flash and silently the glass crumbled and slid from the window's frame.

For an instant Hank and Storm gaped at the open window. It was long enough for Remy. Before Storm could even reach out a hand to him, he was at the window and then gone, diving through the frame and into the night. Helplessly, Storm went to the window and looked out into the dark. Not surprisingly, there was nothing to see.

'He said he had been working on his powers,' she said to Hank, her voice low with surprise.

'It seems his claims had an element of veracity,' replied Hank, somewhat startled by what had just happened. 'There was an element of conscious control there - I have not seen it manifested by Gambit previously.'

The roar of the Harley split the night and then faded down the drive at a speed that Storm considered seriously unsafe. For a moment she debated pursuing Remy, but decided against it. He was too skittish at the moment to consider her pursuit anything but a threat. With a heavy heart, she turned away from the window and back to the table. Hank joined her, easing out a chair to sit opposite her.

'Why did he run?' he asked.

Storm sighed and rubbed her temples. 'Remy thinks Sinister has Azimuth,' she said. 'He's so sure it's his fault - he's so wrapped up in guilt - he couldn't stand the thought of being stopped, even for a day. When you said you wanted to keep him here . . .' Storm trailed off and shrugged.

Hank contemplated his hands for a moment. 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'If I had realised - but all I saw was the blood - I'm afraid the doctor in me took over.' He raised apologetic eyes to Storm.

'You couldn't know,' she replied, warmly. 'Don't you start taking on all the guilt in the world. One friend with that habit is enough.' She smiled slightly.

Hank returned the grin, but it faded quickly from his face. 'Do you think he was correct in his assumption?' he asked. 'Do you think Sinister has Azimuth?'

'I'm inclined to believe him,' replied Storm, thoughtfully. 'Remy's reasoning is sound. Sinister has shown an inordinate interest in Azimuth since they became a couple. I suspect that there is something about their pairing that interests Sinister. What that may be, I do not know.'

Hank opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the door crashing open. Logan stumped in, looking somewhat dishevelled. 'Just saw the Cajun harin' down the drive,' he announced. 'Figured you did somethin' to spook him - scare him off. You want me to get him back?' He aimed the question at Storm.

She shook her head. 'No,' she said. 'I think that it would do more harm than good to chase him. Remy is somewhat - fragile, at the moment.'

'He smelt like an open wound,' offered Logan.

'He has been injured,' began Hank, but Logan shook his head.

'Not that kind of wound,' he said. 'Messed up in the head kind of wound. Soul-wounded.'

Storm was often startled by Logan, by the depths of insight of which he was capable. Once again, he managed to surprise her. 'Yes,' she whispered. 'Soul-wounded. He is bleeding away inside. And there is little I can do.'

'You can be there for him,' said Logan's gruff voice, and she looked up into eyes that understood her completely, that told her she was not alone in her concern for Remy. Then the flash of humanity was gone, tucked back under the persona Logan liked to show the world. 'Anyone eatin' this?' he asked and began to eat the remains of Gambit's meal.

Hank cleared his throat. 'Should we tell the others he was here?' he asked, diffidently.

Storm thought about it for a moment and then shook her head. 'No,' she said, decisively. 'Rogue has not been the same since Joseph left with Sabra. I do not think she could cope with the news that Remy has been and gone without trying to see her. The others do not need to know.'

Hank nodded and Logan grunted his agreement.

'Do you think that Remy will be able to overcome his difficulties?' asked Hank.

Storm sighed. 'If he finds Azimuth alive, yes. That is all he needs.'

'And if she's dead?' Hank said, softly.

'If Azimuth is dead,' replied Storm. 'If Remy finds out - I do not think he will long survive the knowledge.'

'You think - he would suicide?' asked Hank, astonished.

'He would not kill himself, no,' replied Storm. 'But he would find a way not to be alive anymore. Some way to die if Azimuth is dead.' She buried her face in her hands, and a sudden, gulping sob forced itself out. 'I'm so afraid for him - for both of them,' she said.

She felt them then, one hand on each shoulder, one hard, one furry soft. 'We know,' said Hank.

'He'll be okay,' said Logan. 'Cajun's got a talent for stayin' alive. You wait and see. He'll find her. They'll be okay.'

Storm lowered her hands, her face composed again. 'I hope you are right, Logan,' she sighed. 'For both their sakes, I hope you are right.'

To: gambit@ noguild.com

Subject: {blank}

Forgive me, Remy. Forgive us.

I do not know what you think of me, whether you think I was trying to trick you into seeing Hank, whether you thought I would be willing to hold you against your will, but that was not my intention. I did not tell Hank we would be in the kitchen, I did not try and set you up. Please, believe me.

Hank, too, seeks your forgiveness. He meant you no harm. He just did not understand.

Forgive us, Remy.


To: storm@ xmen.com

Subject: {blank}


Did you think you even had to ask?



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