I can’t go home. My head is too alive, my mind too chaotic with racing thoughts and confused emotions. I really want to talk to Gohan about this, he has a way of putting things into perspective that I’ve come to rely on. But he and Videl are out tonight, and I’m not about the spoil that for them. I sure as hell can’t talk to Kakarot! He either wouldn’t understand, or understand far too well and immediately go spill it to Vegeta. Of course Chichi is out for a million reasons. Who else is there? Krillin has the finesse of an elephant when it comes to relationships; it’s no wonder he ended up with an android. I barely know Yamcha, and somehow I doubt his “ladies man” reputation bodes well for any confessions from someone like me.

The trees race by endlessly below me before parting gracefully to reveal a shining pool. Of course, Piccolo! He’s the perfect objective observer, not likely to be too judgmental, and best yet, discreet. I swoop down into the clearing, peering through the trees for that rock face he pointed out last time I was here…ah! I hope he’s not pissed off at me for calling him a son of a bitch. Nah.

I knock on the door loudly, leaning up against the cold stone that comprises his “wall”. I hope he’s in…he did say he only stays here when he doesn’t want to live at the Lookout. Maybe he’s gone tonight? I knock again, a bit less hopefully this time, but I’m rewarded with the very quiet sound of footsteps. Sometimes I forget how stealthy Piccolo can be; sounds like he’s right on the other side of the door!

“It’s me, Raditz!” I call through the sturdy oak of the door. The door, to my grateful surprise, opens a crack.

“I know that. I can smell you from all the way in the back of the house.” The familiar growl brings a smile to my lips.

“Hey, Piccolo! I need to talk to you.”

“I was sleeping,” he answers in irritation. Oh shit, that’s right! It is sort of the middle of the night…and Piccolo’s probably one of those people who goes to bed in the early evening, then gets up at the crack of dawn. I can’t really see his face in the near total darkness, but I can just guess at what kind of scowl he’s wearing.

“Oh…uh, sorry! I’ll just go then…” I turn around, hoping a quick retreat will help make amends for my late night visit.

“Wait a minute…” I hear a tired sigh, then the door opens wider. “Come in, before I change my mind.” Good advice…I slip through the door into the blackness of his little “house”. I can’t see a damn thing, but I can smell and hear him moving around. Then a little flare of light, and I can make out his features. He looks as alert as ever, holding a flame on the tip of his finger as he pulls down a lamp from a high shelf. The only clue he’s been asleep at all is the wrinkled disarray of his indigo gi. He lights the lamp carefully, and I study the room, still fairly dimly lit.

It’s all one room, as I guess any cave dwelling would have to be. A table, a few chairs, some shelves line the walls. A stand up wardrobe in cherry. A big bookshelf, filled with all sorts of books and papers. I didn’t know Piccolo was such a big reader, but then, I have the feeling a lot of the books and magazines were from Gohan. No real bed, just a pile of cushions and blankets in a corner. I expected the walls to be bare, but they’re draped with long lengths of lush fabrics instead, tending towards rich red and purple hues. It lends what should be a spartan atmosphere a sort of opium den vibe that seems at odds with the personality of the man who lives here.

“Nice place, “ I offer as Piccolo sets the lamp on the table, gesturing at one of the chairs. I sit down, watch him slide in across the table from me. The chairs are wide and generous; like me, Piccolo is a big guy, not really to scale with the rest of the population. I pull up one knee, resting it against my chest as I wonder where to begin.

“What’s with the get-up?” Piccolo asks mildly. The muted glow of the lamp lends his normally harsh face a sort of comforting softness, and I find myself glad I came. Piccolo’s almost as good as Gohan when it comes to this sort of thing.

“Well, I guess that’s where I should start…” and I find it all spilling out of me. I talk for almost half an hour, explaining how I got roped into taking the boys to that club, breaking the guy’s wrist, Trunks getting into my lap, and finally that last, painfully confusing confession on his part. I gloss over some of the details, especially the more intimate ones, thinking it might make the Namek uncomfortable, but all in all I’m pretty straight, laying it all out in front of him.

“And now I don’t really know what to do,” I finish lamely. “I mean, Trunks is really…well, really amazing. But there’re so many complications that go with him, I’m not sure I’m up to handling them! I’m not a very complex guy, myself. I’m not very smart, either. I don’t know what I can do.” I sigh loudly, leaning my chin on my knee and lacing my fingers over my shin.

Piccolo doesn’t say anything for quite awhile, just tapping his lips thoughtfully with one clawed finger. I shift in my chair, watching him uneasily. Sometimes I hate how hard he is to read. Did I make a mistake in coming here?

“Well, it sounds like you’ve got several things going on.” Finally, the mountain speaks! I laugh inwardly at my own disquiet. “First, there’s what’s going on with you. Secondly, there’s what’s going with him.”

“Figured it out pretty quick, didn’t you?” I snort.

“Did you want my advice, or not?” he growls, and I nearly bite my tongue.

“Yes, yes I did, you’re right, I’ll shut up.”

“Okay. First, there’s you. You’re lonely. Not lonely for friends or whatever, I’m sure Goku keeps you pretty busy on that front, but lonely for a companion. Being dead was probably a good thing for you, it sounds to me like you’ve gotten a lot of Vegeta out of your system. But that puts you in the place where you’re ready for someone new to come along. Right?”

I think about it seriously, look inside myself, examine all the angles. “Yeah. I guess that’s about right.”

“Also, while you may be mostly over Vegeta, you’re not entirely there. And Trunks is a lot like his father: arrogant, cocky, and mouthy. So maybe there’s also a part of you that’s unconsciously trying to fix that old relationship, try it again and make it work this time.”

That hits a lot harder. Is it true? Maybe it is…but if so, it is unconscious. “Go on,” I say warily.

“Well, and then there’s just your basic personality. You seem like a sensual sort of guy. All you Saiyans are, a race who like the physical side of things. You don’t seem like the type who can say no when something like that is literally dropped in your lap.” That is very true. I’ve always known that about myself, and while it’s caused me some problems in the past, nothing like this. Things that I shouldn’t have aren’t usually presented to me, so I’ve never had to deal much with resisting temptation.

“Yeah. Okay, so what about him?”

Piccolo grins at me suddenly, baring his fangs, and I raise thick eyebrows at him. “Are you really sure you want to hear this, Saiyan? I can almost guarantee you won’t like it.”

I just nod back.

“Well, Trunks is very wrapped up in his relationship with his father. Vegeta’s not very good at showing the love and affection side of things. He’s better than he used to be, but still…Trunks often acts based on what he thinks his father will think. That means he’s either trying to get his approval…or he’s trying to piss him off.”

“What, so you think I’m the piss-off factor?” I ask, a little annoyed. He was right, I don’t want to hear this.

“Some of it is that…some of is that you probably remind him a lot of his father. Now, he can’t go and have sex with dad to gain his approval. But he can have sex with you and gain approval from a stand-in.”

“That’s sick!” I snarl, glaring at Piccolo. I’m not interested in being anyone’s father, and certainly not a poor imitation of one!

“It’s the way humans work,” Piccolo replies calmly, a hint of his previous smile still present. “They frequently seek out partners that remind them of their parents. I think because it’s the parents that first teach them what love is. If a human has a good parent to base things on, they can pick a good partner. If not, things can get mixed up. Of course, not all humans are that way, and some do it much more than others. It’s almost always unconscious, though.”

I shake my head, trying to absorb this new information. It did make a twisted sort of sense…but I really didn’t like thinking that Trunks wasn’t actually interested in me. Or at least, not interested in me for myself, just for what I represented to him. Maybe I would be better off finding one of those grabby humans and having some meaningless sex. It certainly would make things less complicated.

“Where the hell did you learn so much about human behavior?” I ask suddenly. Isn’t this guy supposed to be the alien? He simply grins smugly at me, and gestures to his bookcase.

“Oh, Gohan got me a great many books on the subject. He got tired of me asking him questions. It’s a fascinating topic, so I ended up reading a good deal about it. I still don’t understand a lot of your drives and such, but it’s given me at least a little insight.”

“’Your’ drives? Hey, I’m a full-blooded Saiyan, not one of these watered down half breeds!”

“Saiyans and humans actually have a lot in common. There are some definite differences, but not so many that I can’t apply most of my knowledge to both races.”

I feel a bit outraged at that…but then, maybe he’s right. “What don’t you understand?”

Piccolo shrugs broad shoulders, rubbing the base of his antennae in a gesture I’ve learned means he’s thinking. “Oh. Mostly the physical stuff. Sex and food being the big ones. Both humans and Saiyans have whole sections of their cultures devoted to those two things: what and how you eat, and how and who you can have sex with! There are hundreds of thousands of rituals around those two activities, whole sections of language devoted to them! It’s so strange!”

I blink in surprise. It never occurred to me that those would be alien concepts to anyone, I mean, everybody’s got to eat, right? And how else are you going to continue the species? “Well, what do Nameks do?” I ask reasonably.

“We only drink water, we don’t eat. And I told you before, we reproduce asexually. I’m not going into the details of that,” he adds a bit sniffily.

“Well, doesn’t water taste good to you?” I ask.

“Yes, but it’s hardly the experience you people seem to have with food.”

“Well, what do Nameks do when they want companionship? Or to be closer to someone?” I’m genuinely curious now. I spent a good deal of my life surrounded by aliens, but most of them really weren’t that different from my own people. Then again, I never really took the time to ask them about it…

“On Namek, we live in small communities. There’s plenty of opportunity for companionship in that situation. The whole village is responsible for the children, and we often share residences. Out whole lives are spent with others.” That same smug smirk is on his face, and I frown.

“But weren’t you raised on Earth?” I ask, trying to remember what Kakarot had told me about it. “How do you know about all that stuff?”

The smile on his face disappears, and he sighs quietly. “I was, but Kami and Nail weren’t. They are a part of me now, so I identify more with Namek culture. It’s still not really my home, though.” The slight melancholy twinge in his voice startles me. I’m seeing a whole new side to Piccolo tonight…several new sides, in fact. It makes me forget my own problems, if only briefly.

“So Earth is your home, then? In your heart.”

He shrugs again, turning those deep black eyes to me. “In a way, yes, but in a way, no. Sometimes I love it here, and I know this is the only place I’ll ever want to live. I want to protect it. But sometimes I feel completely out of place, like I’m standing outside a house and only looking in through the window. I can see what’s going on, but I can’t really understand it, because I can’t hear.”

I let my mouth drop open slightly. That’s exactly how I feel, that strange experience of disconnection, only half comprehending the world around me. “Yeah,” I breathe, and we sit in the silence together for awhile. The very quiet hiss of the lamp pricks at my ears, and I turn to look at Piccolo, his face lost in contemplation, a blank green mask.

“I wish I could help you understand some of this stuff,” I say, partly born of frustration, partly because I understand how he feels, to be the outsider. He looks over at me, blinking slowly.

“How would you do that?” he asks, mildly curious.

“I don’t know, explain some of it to you, I guess. You can’t really experience it for yourself, can you?”

“No, not really.”

“Well, I’d like to try…can I?”

He sits still for a minute, then turns back to me. “Why not? I’m not sure what good it will do, though.” It does seem like a kinda stupid idea, but I don’t know what else to do. I have no plans, no clever words to help with any of that separation that he feels. This is all I can think of to do.

I laugh suddenly. “I have no idea where to start.”

“Well, why not start with some experience you’ve had? Maybe tonight?” Piccolo is sounding entirely too reasonable, and I wonder if he actually looking forward to this?

“Hmm. Okay.” I stand, start to pace the room as I try to think back through the night. Okay, there’s the dancing, but he probably could understand that with a little effort. “Well, first there’s alcohol. I don’t suppose Nameks can get drunk?”

“Actually, we can. We just don’t choose to.”

Hmm. “How do you…uh, how does that work?”

“The same way it does with you, I imagine.”

I frown at him. “Well, I guess it’s straight on to the sex, then, huh?”

“If you like.”

He’s way too calm. I consider making some snide comment, then I remember I am trying to do him a favor. I wonder, though…if Nameks can get drunk, does that mean they can do other things, too? Is all the spartan living just a cultural norm? I wonder if Piccolo would tell me if I asked? Of course, these questions are all pretty good distractions from the real issue of how the hell do you explain sex to someone who’s not only never had sex, but has never even considered having sex, and probably can’t have sex. I need more information first.

“Okay, give me some idea of what I can expect here…Nameks don’t have sex, I got that much…but…uh…what do you have in the way of equipment?” A slow purple flush crosses his cheeks, which usually means he’s mad.

“WHAT?” I put up my hands quickly in a defensive gesture.

“Look, I just need to know how to describe it to you! It’s really different if you don’t have anything…uh…to do anything with as opposed to non-functioning stuff, or stuff you choose not to do anything with.” There is just no graceful way to say this, and I have the sneaking suspicion I’m coming off as a total reprobate weirdo. Of course, this is one of the strangest conversations I’ve ever had, and I’m the one who initiated the damn thing! If anyone out there needed any more proof that I wasn’t first in line when brains were handed out…

Piccolo grimaces, baring his fangs, but actually answers my question. “I suppose I would have what you would consider normal male equipment. Nameks are capable of changing certain parts of their bodies depending on…need. Since I was raised here on earth, around mostly males, I developed in a mammalian masculine manner. If I chose to have children, those attributes would change.”

“Really?” I find myself leaning forward, elbow on the table, chin planted firmly in my palm. “Does it…ah…function the way ours do?”

“I have very little to compare it to,” he grinds out, and I laugh suddenly, flustered.

“Oh, yeah. Well, uh…lots of nerve endings there?”

“I suppose. I don’t go around poking myself with a pin to test the amount of nerve endings in my skin. And before you go asking any other questions, I don’t know why it’s that way, or why it works like it does, or anything along those lines. Neither Kami nor Nail were biologists, and I hardly have anyone else to ask about it, so let’s cut this little discussion short.” His tone is final, but looking at his face, it’s my guess it’s less from outrage than it is from embarrassment. I forgot what a prude he is. I stifle another laugh.

Then again, he’s all ears when I say I’m going to try to explain sex to him. This situation is so bizarre, I have absolutely nothing to compare it to, and no idea where to go with this. If Piccolo was anyone but Piccolo, I’d say he was flirting with me in a rather backward way, but it is Piccolo, so I have no idea what’s going on. But as long as he doesn’t crawl into my lap while we’re talking, I guess I’ll be okay. I’ve had more than enough unfinished business for one day.

I ponder where to start. “Well, I was sitting down, and Trunks was staring at me kind of strangely,” I begin, setting it up a little. “And Goten went to the bathroom, so we were alone…well, I mean, surrounded by a bunch of people, but they were strangers, so it didn’t really count. So he gets up, and…well, I guess he just sort of got into my lap.”

“What do you mean?” I hate not being able to read that face…it’s gone blank and reflective again, like green glass.

“Well, he was sort of straddling my hips, facing me,” I pat my thighs for emphasis, “And uh…well, that felt really nice, so…”

“Wait. Would it feel nice if anyone did that?”

“No, just someone I found attractive.”

“So what do you find attractive about Trunks?”

What don’t I find attractive about him? “Well, he’s got a very nice body…strong, well muscled, a really great ass, and I like the long hair, the way it kind of hides his face sometimes. And his eyes…I really like his eyes. They almost seem to change with the light, sometimes they’re really dark, other times paler, more…like ice?”

“So you find him aesthetically pleasing.” Piccolo sounds almost dismissive, and I find myself becoming defensive.

“It’s more than that, though. He’s got this attitude…he walks around like he’s royalty, and everyone around him are his subjects. He’s got this supreme self confidence…”

“Sounds like arrogance.”

I sigh, shaking my head. How to explain this to a non-Saiyan? “I suppose some people would look at it that way, but it’s always been a highly valued trait among Saiyans, the attitude that you’ll triumph, not matter what, because you’re better. It’s one of the reasons we’re so hard to put down…and one of the things, from hearing my brother talk, that confuses you guys so much about Vegeta. How many times has Kakarot beaten him? Bested him at something, done things better, faster? But Prince Vegeta won’t back down…ever. He’s strong, and his only weakness would be in quitting, in assuming he was the inferior one. He is a perfect example of all Saiyans idealize, all we want to be. Kakarot is the same way…he never gives up, either. No matter how many people tell him he’s outmatched, he knows better, pushes himself harder, because he knows he can.”

I sigh softly, letting my eyes fall to the floor. “I used to be that way, too, but somewhere along the line I lost it. I’d hardly make a fit partner for any Saiyan, even a half breed like Trunks.” Great, my good deed for the day has turned into a philosophy lesson on the Saiyan way of life.

“I don’t think that you’ve lost it.” Piccolo’s voice is bland, matter of fact, and I look up at him in surprise as he continues. “It’s probably one of the reason’s Trunks is attracted to you, one of the reasons you remind him of his father.”

I want to tell him I don’t need the little pep talk, but he doesn’t sound like he’s saying it to be nice. More just stating the facts as he sees them. I flash him a ghost of a grin. “Thanks. So…do you understand the attraction a bit better now?” He nods, and waves a hand in my direction, presumably for me to continue.

“Okay, so where was I…oh, okay, he’s in my lap, and he’s pressed up against me and he starts kissing me…” How the hell do I explain kissing? “It’s like…when you kiss someone you’re really attracted to, it’s like the first real acknowledgement of that attraction, you know? Like they’re letting you in a little bit…it just feels amazing. A person’s mouth, it’s much hotter than their skin, I think, and there’s something about a really good kiss that feels incredibly intimate. Like your entire body is focused in your mouth, on that one contact, and there’s something passing between you, like electricity.”

I shift uncomfortably in my chair, and I find myself looking down again, hoping that my face isn’t as glowing red as it feels. Just thinking about the way he touched me…”And, uh…well, he was sort of wiggling on my lap, which uh…” Wow, this went from sweetly romantic to hardcore pretty quickly. “Well, you know, it feels really nice when, uh, when you’ve got someone rubbing up against you…” Don’t ask any questions, don’t ask any questions.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know, just, someone else’s skin feels nice, um, warm, um…against the chest and…uh…” I am absolutely positive my face is dark red by now. I sneak a glance at Piccolo out of the corner of my eye, and he’s still watching me with that blank expression. I’ve never been a person who has that much of a problem talking about sex. In fact, I have been told I can get downright crude about it. But somehow, this situation makes it all different, explaining it to him like this. It doesn’t help that now I’m thinking about the delicious way Trunks pressed up against me, molding himself to my chest and groin.

“The what?”

“Oh, you know, the…” I gesture downwards vaguely, and suddenly I realize talking about all of this has excited me in a very visible way. Oh, Gods! I’m going to have nightmares about this for months! I cross my legs hurriedly, cursing the tight leather. My tail whips behind me in agitation and I try to calm it with little success.

“Well? Go on.”

Is he laughing at me? This must seem terribly amusing to someone who has no interest in sex, how we get so worked up over simple bodily contact. But at the same time, I wish I could make him understand…how can you understand Saiyans, or humans for that matter, if you don’t understand this about us? “Well, he stopped kissing me, and leaned in to lick at my ear, and…well, all I could smell was him, and it was this really good smell, sort of overwhelming, the kind of smell that just short circuits your brain, it felt like I was just breathing him into me…” My voice has gotten low and rough, and I shift in my chair again. “And I could hear his breath in my ear, it was heavy, like he was really turned on, and that’s one of the worst things for me, to hear how much someone else is enjoying something like that. You can’t imagine, feeling so incredible, and knowing that you’re making the other person feel the same way.”

Would it be a major social gaffe to stick my knuckles in my mouth and bite down hard at this point? Probably, but then, what’s the etiquette for talking dirty to a Namek? I settle for lacing my hands at the back of my neck, trying to keep them occupied so I don’t do something even more humiliating with them. “And then he asked me what I did to some guy on the dance floor, and he freaked out and dragged me outside.” I finish quickly, glad I’ve gotten through this ordeal. Of course, there’s still the aftermath pressing insistently against my hip, and painted across my face. I keep my eyes down.

“So…that’s sex?” His voice is quiet, curious, but nothing else.

“Sex? No! That’s…well, that’s the beginning, but there’s a lot more than that that goes on…” I trail off awkwardly, let my eyes slowly track up the leg of the table, crawl across to the lantern. If I concentrate on the little flame, he’s only a dark blur, green and black in the low light.

“Hmmm.” He leans back in his chair, and is rubbing the base of one antennae.

“Hmmm? Is that it?” I look up, suddenly irritated. Here I am, hornier than I’ve been in Gods know when, and all he can say is ‘Hmmm’!?

“Yes. Why, is there something else I should say?”

I snap my eyes up to meet him, scowling. “Yeah, you can say ‘Thanks, Raditz, for humiliating yourself for my enlightenment!’” He blinks back at me.

“You found that humiliating?”

“Yeah! What, you thought I normally turn bright red when I’m just passing the time of day?” Gods, how dumb can he be?

“Well, I thought you were aroused by it, and that was an after-effect.” Oh. Well, that, too. How can he sit there so calmly, like it’s nothing at all? Like I just described a really good steak? He continues, “If you felt so embarrassed by it, why did you do it?”

Good question. “I…I told you I would.”

“Because you wanted to help me understand.”

I nod. “Well, yeah.”

He’s rubbing his thumb in slow circles around the base of his left antennae, and I start to wonder. Maybe he doesn’t know how to react to this either? I somehow doubt that anyone else has ever sat down and tried to explain this to him…okay, maybe Kakarot, but that would be a disaster from step one. And I don’t think Piccolo would be comfortable talking to Gohan about it, probably wouldn’t even occur to him to ask.

He stands suddenly, and begins pacing the floor, his brow furrowed. He must be thinking really hard to let his emotion show through like that, though what it’s about, I can’t tell.

“Piccolo, look-“ I begin, but he cuts me off.

“Raditz, I want you to do something for me.” The gravel in his voice is harsher than usual, he’s speaking very low, like when he’s pissed off. I can’t figure out what I’ve done now, so I just shrug.

“Sure, Piccolo. What do you want?”

“Stand up,” he says, gesturing impatiently, stopping to turn and face me. I stand cautiously. We’re almost the same height, him and me, he’s the only person I’ve met on Earth that I can say that about. I’ve maybe got two or three inches on him, but that’s it. Is he going to hit me? Nah, that’s not like him, not without warning anyway. But what is going on?

I get my answer as he reaches out, grabs the front of my shirt roughly, his black claws scraping over bare skin with a hissing sting. I frown, opening my mouth to ask what he’s doing as he pulls me forward, stumbling, into him, and then he’s pressing his lips against mine. It takes me a second to realize he’s trying to kiss me with no real idea of how to actually do so, and some part of me laughs. The main part of me, the part hooked up to my body, though, tilts my head to the side for a better fit and moves my lips against his, showing him how it’s done. He mimics me, and I venture my tongue into his mouth, curious about what he tastes like. Not the sour tang of his blood, but something lighter, cool, almost like mint. I lean into him, trapping his fist and forearm between us as I deepen the kiss.

He responds hesitantly, his own tongue dancing around mine experimentally. I find my hands sliding to his hips, fingers gliding over rough cotton, kneading the firm muscle underneath. He lets his fist relax, just pressing his palm against my chest, his claws five pin pricks against my flesh, over my heart. His skin is warm, not cool like I thought it would be, but I note all this in the back of my mind, as I’m still concentrating on the way our mouths press together, sharing breath and heat in liberal amounts, tongues warring back and forth, first dipping into his mouth, then back into mine.

Finally I pull back, shaking my head in a flurry of negation. “No. No, we can’t do this. No.”

His black eyes follow my face curiously, and that purple flush has returned, rendering his features somehow more alluring. “Why not?” he asks quietly. “I want to know.”

“BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FINISH IT!” I find myself roaring, frustration on this level too much for one night. Not once, but twice I have to be the one who says no, who stops it. What the hell is he thinking? What the hell am I thinking?

He shrugs, and his voice is low, rough. “Maybe I can,” he says. “I don’t know. But I want to find out.”

“I am not your little experiment! I am not your exploration into what Saiyans or humans are like! I refuse to be treated like that! Fuck, Piccolo! You should know me better than that by now!”

“But you liked it, didn’t you?” he asks, face still as opaque as ever.

“YES, I FUCKING LIKED IT, OKAY? That’s not the point! I don’t do casual sex, and I’m not going to play games with you! I’m sick of it! I’m sick of having people use me! GODS!” Everything that’s gone through me tonight, all the mixed-up, fucked-up feelings are turning into one flaming ball of temper, and I don’t feel like using that all-fucking-mighty self-restraint tonight. I’m all used up in that area.

“You want to know what sex is, find yourself a goddamned whore! I won’t do it for you!” I have to get out of here, have to find somewhere else to be, anywhere. For the second time tonight, I’m running, and Piccolo’s door shreds before me like paper as I take off into the night. FuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK!

Part Eleven | Back
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