Read Divisions (Dev and Lee) Online

Authors: Kyell Gold

Tags: #lee, #furry, #football, #dev, #Romance, #Erotica

Divisions (Dev and Lee) (7 page)

BOOK: Divisions (Dev and Lee)
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I catch the spark in Lee’s eye, the wistful tone, when he says, “That’s great. Making a difference in people’s lives. My dad helps people plan their retirements, save money, make ends meet.”

“Like Gregory,” Dad says, and I follow his eyes across the room to where my brother, still angry, slumps against the wall next to his wife. “Fighting for people who need help.”

The last two cases I can remember hearing about were on behalf of small businesses defending themselves against individuals. Property claims, tenant disputes, something like that. I know Gregory’s specialty is corporate law, and I used to think that meant he would be fighting for people against big companies. I think he thought that too.

My sympathy is pretty low for him after the way he yelled at Lee, but I keep my mouth shut and let my dad use him as an example. Lee’s the one who really did fight for people, once upon a time. He doesn’t say anything, but his ears are down just enough that I know he’s thinking about the stuff he did in college with his activist friends.

Me, I’m fighting for the people of Chevali who have never had a football champion in their town. That’s kind of lame compared to what Lee did and what Auntie Za is going to do, so I keep my mouth shut about it.

“So Dev’s brother is a lawyer,” Lee’s dad says to my dad.

“Yes. He has been with this company, this law firm, for two years now, and he continues to be assigned cases. This year he has been in charge of twelve cases by himself, and won nine of them.” He sets his jaw. “This is good.”

Lee’s dad nods. “How’s the auto shop doing?”

“Business is good…”

Auntie Za cuts across the conversation. “Oh, business. I want to know how this fox put you in the hospital, Misha.” She turns to Lee. “Growing up, you know, I never won a fight with him, not once. Not even when I was five and he was three.”

Lee flicks his ears. “It was luck,” he said. “He tripped and hit his head.”

Dad looks between his sister and Lee, and finally coughs. “This fox is clever. He makes me lose my temper.”

“I’m not sure it’s cleverness,” I say. “He does that to a lot of people.”

“That’s for sure,” his father says.

Lee looks around at all of us, but it’s me he elbows in the side. “Aren’t you supposed to defend me?”

I nudge him back, making him lose his balance. “When you need defending, sure.”

Auntie Za laughs her boisterous laugh again. “So you are willing to fight for my nephew. Good, good. I can leave the country with peace in my heart now.” She winks at her brother. “Now I know there is someone who can keep Misha in line.”

“I wouldn’t presume to do that,” Lee says lightly. “I’m just happy to be here, meeting more of Dev’s family. Do you have any embarrassing stories from when he was a cub? His mother already told me one.”

“Well,” I say loudly, “I think Mom needs some help clearing up some glasses. Lee, why don’t you help me for a minute here?”

“Later,” Auntie Za says to Lee with a wink, and how the heck am I going to keep him away from her until she leaves?

I pick up glasses and Lee follows me, doing the same until both our paws are full. We take them to the kitchen, where my mother scolds us and tells us to go back out and be social. But I’m a little weary of my family now, so I just lean against the wall outside the kitchen.

Lee leans back at my side, his tail brushing the backs of my legs. He’s quiet, reflective, and then shakes his head as though dismissing some other thoughts and smiles up at me. “Your Auntie Za is awesome.”

“She’s pretty cool.” We both look across the room. She’s still talking to Lee’s father there. “You ever miss that activist stuff?”

“Mmm. Sometimes.” Lee rubs his whiskers back. “Especially when I see those, like, Families United people…that name’s ironic.”

“Ironic how?”

“Oh, nothing. They just…they’re trying to prevent people like us from having families. And…” He sighs. “Some stuff about Mother. I’ll tell you later.”

I have a pretty good idea then what he wants to tell me, but I don’t pursue it. “You could try to get involved again. Down in Chevali, I mean. There’s a group that’s contacted Ogleby about getting me to speak.”

“I remember.” He flicks his ears. “Why haven’t you?”

“Me?” I wave a paw. “Timing never works out, I guess. Ogleby doesn’t give me details.”

We listen to the murmur of conversation in the room, and I think about how different my relationship with all my relatives is. I used to be the quiet one, the one who didn’t really have many stories to tell next to Gregory’s accomplishments, the one everyone asked, “What are you going to be doing when you’re not playing football?” Now I’m the one with the stories, the football player. The football star.

The gay football star. With my boyfriend. I kind of want to put an arm around him, but I don’t know how people would take it. Probably it would piss off Gregory, which almost gets me to do it right then, but he’s not the only one in the room.

“You remember that Brian moved to Chevali, right?”

Lee’s words break my reverie. “Of course,” I say, but I hadn’t put the pieces together. Brian’s in Chevali. He was Lee’s best friend in Lee’s activist days. Probably Brian is involved in the gay rights scene there. “There’s other activist groups, though, right? You don’t have to be involved with him.”

“Aww.” Lee gives me a foxy smile. “You’re not still jealous, are you? You know you won, right?”

“I didn’t know it was a competition.” I shrug and lean closer. “Anyway, I don’t think you’d run off with him.”


“That doesn’t mean you have to look him up. He’s still an asshole.”

He turns away from me, looks back toward the party. “He’s just idealistic.”

“Yeah,” I say. His ears are splayed, so I work to keep the growl out of my voice. “An idealistic asshole.”

“He might be a good connection. But if it bothers you,” he says, and trails off as he watches his father smile at Auntie Za. It looks like his father’s tail wags, too.

“Probably,” I say, not saying that I’m bothered more by the reminder of his last visit to Brian, “but you know. You do a lot of shit that bothers me.”

He flicks his tail against the back of my legs. “I like you bothered,” he says. “Also hot.”

“No sneaking around rooms this time,” I mutter, even lower. “Gregory’s staying in his room with Marta.”

“Thanks for the invitation, but Father found a hotel room for us. The luxurious Quality Lodge.”

I turn, but he’s not looking at me. “It does sound better than our mildewy basement, but come on. I could put you up at the Hilton or something.”

He shrugs. “It’s okay. They’re cheap and they don’t surcharge for foxes.”

“Does anyone really do that?”

“More expensive hotels do.” Lee makes air quotes. “Euphemistically called the ‘scent equalization surcharge.’”

“Even with the Orwell laws?”

“You’re allowed to discriminate if you can show a compelling economic reason that non-discrimination would hurt you.”

“Hmph.” I lean over and daringly nuzzle one of his ears. “I think you smell terrific.”

He flicks it and leans back against me. “I am glad none of your relatives commented on it.”

“Nobody cares about smell in this day and age.”

“Says the guy who doesn’t smell musky all the time. I guess if they’re expecting a fox, they’re okay with it.”

I nudge him. “We work with foxes and skunks and weasels, all of us. It’s fine.”

He grins. “Doesn’t stop the occasional asshole from commenting on it. Or the hotel chains from charging us for it. Speaking of…want to come visit me in the hotel room?”

Across the room, his father joins my father and Auntie Za. From their gestures, I’d bet they’re talking football. The two tigers dwarf Lee’s father, but he doesn’t seem uncomfortable. “What about your father?”

“He’s a heavy sleeper, it’ll be fine.” A pair of sparkling blue fox eyes meets mine. “Kidding. I mostly meant just to sit and chat with me and him. Though I bet I could get him to go down to the bar for fifteen minutes.”

“Mm-hmm.” I curl my own tail against his. “And what could we do that he wouldn’t smell when he got back?”

He licks his lips. “I’m sure we can think of something.”

“You realize that in a few days, we’ll be living together and we’ll see each other all the time?”

“Doesn’t mean I don’t miss you now.”

I exhale. “I miss you too. And tomorrow afternoon, I have to go back to football.”

Mom comes out with another tray of small cookies. “You’re welcome to stay longer if you like, Lee. After Devlin leaves.”

“I thought I’d go with him to the airport. May I?” Lee reaches for one of the cookies, a small pile of coconut in a sugary glaze. They smell heavenly.

“Of course.” She lifts the tray toward him. “So Devlin tells us you’ll be moving in with him. I think that’s lovely.”

“I’m hoping to keep his apartment a little cleaner.” Lee winks at me, chewing on the cookie. “This is really good, by the way.”

Mom beams. “Thank you. Are you going to look for work in Chevali, or…?”

“I’ve got a couple interviews lined up, but nothing’s really going to happen until after the season.”

“I’m glad to hear you have options.” Mom’s eyes linger on him. I get the feeling that in this room of all our tall relatives, she likes having Lee to look down at. “Have you met everyone?”

“I don’t know. Have I?” He turns blue eyes up to me.

There are a couple more distant cousins we haven’t talked to, but I don’t know them all that well anyway. “Kate and Peter,” I say.

“Oh, you should go say hi!” Mom scans the room for them.

“We will, in a minute. We were just talking about my trip tomorrow and where Lee’s staying tonight.”

A cloud flickers across her expression. Lee sees it too. “Father got us a room a little ways down route 94,” he says. “We’re staying there and we thought we’d come back in the morning, if that’s still okay.”

“Oh, of course.” Mom brightens, the weight of talking to us about what we are allowed to do under her roof lifted from her future.

Having set Mom’s mind at ease, we walk around avoiding troublesome conversations as best we can and nibbling on cookies. I sneak into the kitchen to get Lee a piece of Mom’s pumpkin pie, and then he takes it to his dad, so I have to get him another one.

While he’s eating it, Mom takes me into the kitchen to get my “help with something.” Once we’re in there, though, she just glances past me to the living room and says, “Where’s Lee’s mother?”

“Oh,” I say. “I think his father left her recently.”

Mom puts a paw to her muzzle. “Oh, no.”

“They’ve been having trouble. Lee won’t tell me what’s wrong, but it’s not that hard to figure out.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“His mother joined some kind of anti-gay religious group.”

Mom stares at me. “His own
?” She looks across the room; Lee’s father is tucking into pumpkin pie and Lee’s coming back.

“I met her once. She just seemed super-nervous.”

I’m not sure she’s even heard me. Her eyes are still on Lee. “I’ll get him another slice.”

“Dad doing okay?” I ask Lee when he reaches me, and he nods, just as Mom comes back out of the kitchen with a paper plate sagging in the middle from the weight of a double slice of pie. She hands it to Lee and his eyes widen as he takes it.

“Thank you very much.” He smiles at Mom and wags his tail, picking up the plastic fork. “Father says it’s the best pie he’s had in years.”

He knows it’s homemade, of course, because I told him. Mom beams. “It’s an old recipe,” she says. “It never seems as good as my mother’s, though.”

“I can’t imagine it being better than this.” Lee grins, swallowing the first bite of pie. “See, Father’s almost finished.”

“And Dad’s eyeing his plate.” I grin. “Maybe he needs more pie.”

“He has had enough for one night.” Mom follows our looks. “He won’t take more.”

“Mikhail is in a good mood.” Lee takes another bite, looking up at Mom.

She smiles. “He is pleased that Devlin’s career is successful. Also he loves Thanksgiving. We did not grow up with it, but he says any country that allows him to close the shop to spend the day eating with family is a blessed country.”

Lee laughs. “Next time I visit, I’ll bring some food. I do really appreciate you allowing us to intrude here.”

“It is no intrusion! We have plenty of food and it is a pleasure to see you and your father again.” She hesitates as if about to say more.

Whether Lee senses the direction she was about to go, or just wanted to say more, I don’t know. But in between mouthfuls of pie, he says, “I hope things turn around for Gregory.”

“Yes,” Mom says, and after some innocuous discussion about Gregory’s practice and their cub Alex, Mom goes off to take care of her sister again. Left alone, Lee and I stand quietly together, him still holding his plate, me with thumbs hooked in the pockets of my jeans.

The feeling is nice, the closeness of family combined with the presence of my fox. If someone had told me just a month ago that Lee would be here on Thanksgiving night, I would’ve assumed that he’d snuck in the back way to meet me for furtive sex in the basement or something. He really is pretty amazing, the way he can be so argumentative and yet still be charming when he wants to.

When he wants to, that’s the key. Here, he doesn’t seem to have an agenda, but it’s always hard to tell. If anything, he’s more worried about his father than about my family. And I wish there were something I could say to him about that to make him feel better.

Chapter 3: Quality Time (Lee)

I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed with how mellow Mikhail is. He squeezed a little hard when he shook my paw, true, but we seem to have graduated from “furious rage” to “playful sparring.” It’s good to see him talking to my father, too.

Father’s holding up well. I know if Dev and I split up, I’d be a mess, but I guess if you’ve been drifting apart for years, the impact gets spread out. I’m still trying to process it myself. Mostly I’m doing it by not thinking about it.

And there’s a lot I’m not thinking about. I haven’t seen or talked to Mother in a while. Now it’s going to be even longer, I guess. I’m aware that it isn’t fair of me to put all the blame for this split on her, but Father’s the one I had dinner with, the one who reached out and stayed in touch with me and came around to support me. Mother’s distant, and I know that to be completely fair, I should talk to her and get her side of the story.

Part of me wants to talk to her, but that’s the same part that drove up here to pick a fight with Dev’s father a few weeks back. It’s probably wiser to keep that part quiet for the moment, not because of the strain it’d put on Mother, or on our relationship, but because of the stress it would cause Father. Divorce is one of the top three stressful things in a person’s life, I remember reading somewhere, and the last thing he needs is for me and Mother to start yelling at each other.

When some of Dev’s relatives leave, Father comes over and tells me we can stay as long as I want. “Actually,” I say, “I’m ready to go. Would you mind if Dev comes over for a bit?”

He eyes my tiger, who gives him a winning smile. “I guess I can have a drink in the bar,” he says. “Half an hour? Forty-five minutes?”

“Just to talk,” I say, “and I really don’t want to know how you came up with those numbers.”

He affects a shrug. “I just wanted to be sure the estimate wasn’t too short. I’m happy to leave you some private time.”

“Thanks,” I say. “Maybe a little.”

So Dev follows us in his car. My father says he can drive my car if I want to ride with Dev, but I’ll be seeing a lot of my tiger soon enough, and I’m still a little worried about Father. He’s not being as edgy with his banter as he usually is, and I can see he’s still thinking about things.

We turn into the hotel parking lot, and Father says, out of the blue, “What do you want me to do with the stuff in your room?”

I pause, my paw on the door handle. “I hadn’t thought of that,” I say. “Do you think Mother might do something to it?”

“I don’t know what to think.” His head droops a little. “But they’re your things. You should have them.”

I tap the steering wheel. “When are you moving your things out?”

For several seconds, he doesn’t answer. His ears are down, but not flat, and search as I might in my recollection, I can’t remember him looking this way before. It’s a little frightening. “Hey,” I say, “how much did you have to drink at Dev’s place? The wine wasn’t that strong.”

He turns, fixes me with one eye. I want him to jibe back at me. But he just says, “We haven’t worked out a date. I need to rent a truck, probably put some stuff in storage.”

“Why don’t I come up whenever you do that? I’ll just move out my stuff at the same time.”

He sits back in the passenger seat and exhales, and stays quiet. I breathe in, but his scent doesn’t give me any further clues to his mood. Combined with mine, it makes me think of the family car, the one I always sat in the back of, with my parents in front. This car is sort of like the little brother of the one my father has, the compact version. I got it used when I got hired by the Dragons. Dev wanted to buy me a nicer car, but I refused. It meant more to have one I’d paid for myself. And even though the scents of the previous owners were wiped pretty clean, every now and then I’d get a hint of cougar, when the car rattled and shook something free. But I’ve had the car for over a year, and now all I can smell is fox.

Father finally says, “It might upset your mother.”

“Well, sure,” I say. “I wouldn’t want to do that, seeing as how she’s been so considerate to me—us.”

“This divorce…” He stops. I let him collect his thoughts. “It was my idea.”

“Did she argue?” The question slips out.

He shakes his head once, quickly. “We both knew it had to be done. She was tired of trying to bring me around to her point of view.”

“What, the whole gay-hating thing in pro-family clothing?”

“There’s no hatred,” he says, but I don’t let him finish.

“Bullshit.” It’s easier for me to talk about this stuff if I don’t think about Mother being involved. “Hatred doesn’t sell, so they sugar-coat it. They say they love us fags, they just want us to be able to live normal lives, but their definition of ‘normal’ is ‘just like them.’ They hate that we’re different, or else there’d be no reason for them to spend so much time and energy trying to get us to change.”

Now Father’s ears are flat. “Not now, Wiley,” he says.

“I just don’t want to sugarcoat what she’s doing.”

“Wiley.” His voice is sharper.

Dev pulls his car in next to us. I’m back to remembering that it’s Mother we’re talking about, and memories fog my righteous anger. “All right. Just tell me when you’re going to be there and I’ll show up. It’ll be easier on you.” He shifts, and I anticipate what he’s going to say. “I don’t really care if it’s hard on Mother. This might have been your idea, but it’s her fault.”

“Wiley, it’s not anyone’s fault—”

“You’re here with me. She’s not. Who’s the one who’s invested in family?”

Dev’s out of his car and standing a little ways apart from us, behind my father’s window. His breath puffs white in front of his nose, but he stands patiently. My father raises an eyebrow, turning all the way toward me. “Now it’s about being invested in family?”

I flick my ears back and look over his shoulder at Dev. “I was in college. You can’t blame me for taking a little distance to find out who I was.”

“No.” Father looks back at me. “And maybe that’s what your mother’s doing.”

“I didn’t disown the two of you.”

“And if it had been easy, if there’d been a legal way, would you have?”

“Of course not.” I put my paw on the door handle. “Anyway, that’s a pointless question. Asking me what I would have done years ago in a situation that didn’t and doesn’t exist? What am I supposed to say?”

He shrugs, opens his own door. Dev steps back. “I’m just asking you not to judge her too harshly.”

We both exit the car and grab our bags from the trunk. I walk around to Dev. “Have trouble finding the place?”

He grins. “I made a stop.”

Father shuts the car door and looks over to the both of us. “I’ll check us in and then get a drink at the bar.”

“Have you seen this place?” I say. “I think the only bar is the clerk’s liquor cabinet.”

He looks up at the bright yellow ‘Q’ and the 1970s font, at the carport roof missing some shingles, the weak glow of the yellow lamp in the window of the office. I’m wondering whether there even is a clerk there at almost eleven p.m. on Thanksgiving night, but the Quality Lodges advertise 24-hour service, and the door is open when I try it.

It takes us a good minute of ringing the bell before a beaver shuffles out of the back, yawning. Father’s nose twitches with mine at the smell of pot, but we don’t say anything. The beaver checks us in pretty quickly, but my father hesitates when we head for the room.

“Hey,” he says to the clerk, “is there a bar around that’d be open?”

The beaver blinks at him. “It’s Thanksgiving,” he says.

“Right.” My father waits patiently.

“Um.” The beaver scratches the side of his muzzle.

“You don’t have to go to a bar,” I say. “Just come to the room.”

The beaver points out the office door. “Star Liquors is prolly open. Bout two miles down Garner. I think they were doin’ a special on Wild Turkey today?”

“Can I take the car?” My father holds out a paw to me. “I promise not to be back too soon.”

“No. This is ridiculous. Just come to the room.” I turn my back and start walking. Dev follows me, and a moment later, my father sighs and walks after us.

The room is small, but it’s got two beds and a bathroom and we don’t need much more. Dev waits for me to claim one bed, and when I take the one nearer the window, he sits next to me. My father tosses his bag onto the other one and sits in the rolling chair at the desk. When he shifts, the wheels squeak.

Dev and I slip our coats off, and the pocket of his rustles as he tosses it behind us. For an awkward moment, we all sit in silence, my father looking out the window, Dev looking down at his paws which happen to be near where I’ve curled my tail on the bed. I take a breath. “Okay, we can all relax. I just wanted a little time to tell Dev what’s going on.”

Father stands and holds out his paw again. “Then give me the keys. I don’t want to sit around and listen to that any more than I want to watch you…” He waves a paw, his meaning clear. “I’ll go drive around for half an hour.”

“Don’t go to the liquor store.”

He looks steadily down at me. “Don’t tell me what to do.” His fingers curl. “I’m not going to wreck your car.”

“It’s not the car I’m worried about.”

He sighs. “Wiley?”

Dev reaches for his coat. “Maybe I should just go.”

“No.” Father glances his way, curls his fingers again. “Wiley, give me the keys. I appreciate what you’re doing, but I want to give you two some private time.”

I sigh, reach into my pocket, and hand him the car keys. It’s clear he’s not going to be comfortable staying, so I might as well let him go.

His tail stays curled beneath him as he walks to the door. “I’ll be back in half an hour,” he says. “I’ll knock.”

“It’s okay,” I say, but he’s already on his way out, the door swinging closed behind him.

And Dev curls an arm around me. “They’re splitting up,” he says.

I nod, and lean back. “Yeah.”

“Your mom’s really getting into that religious group?” His paw presses in on my chest.

“Sounds like it.” I close my eyes and breathe in his scent, let myself relax back into the warmth. “Father said they filed for divorce.”

“Wow. Really?” He tenses.

My ears, pressed into his arm and chest, struggle to twitch one way or another against the soft fabric of his cotton shirt. “It’s not a big surprise.”

“I knew they had problems, but I thought maybe they were just separating…” He rubs my chest; under my shoulders, his chest sinks as he exhales. “It’s funny, I never really think of your parents much—well, I didn’t until a couple weeks ago. But now I have to think about you without a mom.” His wide nose brushes the side of my left ear. “You okay, fox?”

“Pretty sure I am.” I can see our reflections in the mirror, the stripes on his wrist where his shirt cuff has slid up, his small black ears and my large ones, my thoughtful expression and his concerned one. “I mean, I haven’t talked to Mother in…a while. Maybe once or twice since Christmas.”

“Still.” His arm tightens around me.

“Ah, you know.” I try to grin. “It’s kind of like being traded. Look what happened to you. The Dragons said, ‘We don’t want him,’ and you end up starting for the Firebirds. I’m just on a new team now.”

“It’s not quite the same.” But he rumbles, almost like purring, and his fingers massage my chest, sliding down to my stomach. I tighten the muscles there reflexively and then relax.

“It’s an analogy. I guess I’m trying to say, it’s not the end of the world. I’m more worried about my father. I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Dev squeezes me again. “He’s a smart guy. He’ll figure something out.” I nod. “And meanwhile, we’ve got some changes to plan for too.”

“Right. I’ll drive down as soon as you leave tomorrow. Should be about three days if I take my time. I’ll watch your game from a sports bar in the middle of nowhere.”

“I’ll know you’re watching.” His paw rubs around my stomach, and normally I know it’d be going lower, but he’s hesitating.

“You better not slack off. After that Hellentown game, you’ve set a high standard.” I put my paw over his. “You know, I know Father left us alone to…do whatever. But I don’t know that I’m really in the mood, now?”

He laughs softly, his body shaking gently below me. “I’ve never known you not in the mood. That’s why I’m a little worried about you.”

“I could get in the mood, don’t get me wrong.” I squirm a bit against him. “But we don’t have lube or anything—not that that usually stops us, but—what?”

He shifts, reaching for his coat, showing me the pocket that was rustling. From it, he pulls a small plastic bag, and inside I can see a box of condoms and a small bottle of lube.

“Aww.” I turn around and crane my neck up to kiss him. “You’re so sweet. You bought me lube!”

He kisses back, wrapping both arms around me. “I didn’t know if we’d need it, but I wanted to be prepared.”

“And the condoms?”

He grins. “So you don’t make a mess on your fur. And so I don’t, uh…” His ears flick. “Leave a mess in you.”

I hug back tightly. “You’re wonderful.”

He rumbles and holds me. “I didn’t know if I’d feel comfortable fucking you in the hotel room where your father’s going to be sleeping in an hour, even if we stayed on your bed. But I thought, better have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Especially with you.”

“We’ve done it in weirder places.” I grin, tail wagging, and now I am in the mood a bit more, but not enough to override my common sense. Back in college, I would totally have fucked my boyfriend in the hotel room I was sharing with my parents, if I was sharing anything with my parents then. I would’ve said that they needed to accept my lifestyle or get out of my life. Now, that seems a little extreme, and I find myself imagining my father bringing back some vixen from the liquor store and curling up with her in the next bed and me and Dev going for a walk and… “But yeah, not tonight, I think. I’ll keep the lube, though. Can I call you and jerk off on the road?”

“Mmm, no.” He licks my nose. “No getting off until you’re in my bed. And I’m on top of you. And—”

“Okay, you need to stop that.” I push at his muzzle. “Because if you don’t, I’m going to pull your pants down and then my father’s going to come back and the room’s going to smell like sex and I’ll be uncomfortable all night. I’d rather be virtuously pent-up.”

BOOK: Divisions (Dev and Lee)
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