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It was good to be home. Back on this miserable station where few
regarded him with anything but contempt or suspicion. When *had* it
become home?

The answer was simple: when he had fallen in love here.

Julian was across the room, tending to Worf's injuries. He looked
exhausted but was professional as always, bantering with his patient,
(who in this case responded with all the humour of a Regulan bloodworm,)
healing with compassion and efficiency.

Garak sighed and smiled as he watched. They hadn't been alone for an
instant since they'd both declared love; it might be hours yet. The
pleasure Garak felt now was simply in seeing the young doctor home,
safe, and doing what he had been born to do.

And he was completely absorbed in his work. Garak left without
interrupting him for a farewell, still smiling slightly.

~~~

He showered, changed, and went to Quark's to pass the afternoon. Dukat's
daughter awaited him.

She wrapped him for a moment in an affectionate hug, leaving him rather
bemused by the Bajoran gesture. As they sat, he shook a teasingly
scolding finger at her. "My dear, we have discussed this."

Ziyal met his eyes. "I won't apologize for being glad to see that you're
safe."

Garak nodded his acceptance.

"Did you find who you were looking for?" she asked gently.

"Yes," he murmured reluctantly.

"Will you tell me about it?"

He felt his face form an ironic smile as he looked into her innocent,
questioning face. How often had Julian gazed at him like that as he spun
his lies? Julian, at least, had enough experience to disbelieve him. "I
promised myself I would never lie to you, my dear," he said simply.

Her face twisted for a moment in a sardonic grin. "You could tell me
the truth," she pointed out.

"I cannot."

"Why not? Don't you trust me?"

He almost laughed out loud as she repeated the phrase Julian had used
last night. Had it only been last night? Never mind. He answered her
question. "I am a selfish old man who needs your friendship too much to
risk it over a shifting, subjective thing like truth," he explained,
"and this time, I'm not the only person involved."

She sighed and smiled affectionately at him, visibly casting off her
curiosity. He breathed a sigh of relief.

For the rest of the afternoon he engaged her in a conversation
concerning what she had seen and done while he had been gone. He was
relieved to hear that she had not interacted with the pseudo-Bashir in
his absence, and that she in fact remained ignorant of the substitution.

Finally, near dinnertime, the doctor emerged from the Infirmary with
Chief O'Brien. They crossed the Promenade to Quark's.

The doctor had obviously slept sometime during the afternoon. His
posture held energy, his face was bright, and his eyes, which had
earlier been pale and dull with exhaustion, were darkened to a rich
brown colour.

"One game of darts," O'Brien was saying as they approached. "You can
have lunch with Garak tomorrow. I haven't seen you in a month!"

Garak glanced at Ziyal to make sure she hadn't overheard the Chief. It
was obvious she had not. He smiled. "My dear, I must take my leave of
you. The doctor and I have planned an evening in."

"Of course." She pressed her palm to his, and whispered, "I'm glad
you're back."

"So am I," he answered. Then he turned his attention to the two humans.

"Garak," the Chief acknowledged him grudgingly.

Garak smiled his supercilious smile. "Chief."

"Are you ready to go, Garak?" the doctor asked quietly, almost shyly.

Garak nodded.

"Miles, I'll see you tomorrow. Thank you." Julian squeezed the other
human's arm, then turned to go. Garak joined him.

"You didn't tell him," Garak observed. Surely the man would have been
much more hostile if he'd been informed.

"And you didn't tell Ziyal," Julian countered. Garak nodded and Julian
continued. "I didn't want to get into a fight with him today. Besides, I
know how you are about privacy. If I'd told Miles, the entire station
would know within twenty-six hours."

Garak chuckled. "In Ziyal's case, I'm afraid letting her know would
require telling her that you've been in the Gamma Quadrant for the past
thirty-seven days. I'd prefer that she not be told."

Julian nodded. "Mind if we go to your quarters?" he asked as they
entered the habitat ring, obviously attempting to sound casual.

"Why?"

"Well... I was in my own quarters earlier, and nothing was where I left
it last month." The young man shivered. "The thought of that thing in my
private living space, rifling through my possessions... it's a bit
disconcerting."

Garak recalled the eerie chill of encountering the friend he'd left
behind, and had to suppress a shudder of his own. He wrapped a
protective arm around the waist of his young friend, who was obviously
not simply disconcerted. "Of course we can go to my quarters, my dear."

"Thank you. Miles is going to help me put everything back tomorrow, but
until then I'd rather not have to think about it."

He smiled, letting his hand drift across Julian's hip. "Believe me, it
will be the last thing on your mind."

Julian flushed delightfully, but instead of veiling his eyes he met
Garak's stare boldly.

His eyes, Garak realized, were not one colour. They were brown and green
with flecks of rust and amber. They swam in the light of the hallway,
shining with mischief and desire. Julian's breath was coming faster, and
when they kissed, Garak could feel the subtle pressing of a partial
erection against his thigh.

Heat flashed through his nerves, and he pulled Julian closer, kissing
him harder. Julian moaned softly as he sucked at his tongue.

They pulled apart after a moment, panting, and began walking again.

"So why can't Ziyal know that I've been in the Gamma Quadrant?" Julian
asked as if nothing had happened, though he was still breathing hard.

Garak sighed. "Because you and she have become friends."

The human stopped again, literally gaping for a moment. Then he
collected himself and said evenly, "Ah, yes. I see."

"It would hardly do to tell her that the person who befriended her was
an impostor, and that the man himself..."

Julian coughed, blushed, and looked thoroughly sheepish. "I'm sorry. I
couldn't help but feel jealous." He glanced sidelong at Garak and gave
him a tentative smile. "I'm sure I'll like her, now that I know she
won't steal you away from me."

"I'm very glad to hear that."

"Just one more thing..." Julian ventured as they entered Garak's
quarters.

"What is it?" Garak asked gently. The young man was glancing nervously
about the room as though he expected to find a prowler lurking in the
corner.

"Odo probably has surveillance devices in here."

"Oh, I know he does," Garak said as he took the young man's hand and
kissed it. "I deactivated all the good Constable's devices earlier; no
need to worry about voyeuristic Bajoran deputies."

"Good." Julian wrapped his arms around Garak's shoulders, stared into
his eyes, and whispered, "I've been looking forward to this all day."

Garak smiled, keeping his look bland. "So have I, my dear." With an
effort he disengaged from the enticing body, bestowing one last kiss on
the smooth expanse of Julian's forehead.

He saw the light go out of Julian's eyes.

"Nothing is wrong, my dear, I assure you," he said hastily. Julian
sighed with relief and smiled cautiously, his question clear though he
didn't speak. Garak indicated the bed. "Undress, doctor," he invited.
"Make yourself comfortable."

Julian began to undress obediently, but looked nervously at him. "What
about you?"

Garak only smiled. "All in good time, my dear."

Julian finished stripping and sat on the end of the bed, leaning back on
his hands with an air of infinite, amused tolerance. He gazed up at
Garak expectantly.

Garak controlled his facial expression only with great difficulty. "Lie
back," he suggested, keeping his voice even with years of training.
Julian obeyed, smiling. "Close your eyes."

When Julian's eyes fluttered shut and the dusky lashes brushed the
golden cheeks Garak let out a breath, allowing his desire to show on his
face. He took in the sight before him.

Julian's long, slender body was stretched out on the bed, his caramel
skin flushed slightly pink, darkening to a deep rose in his long,
slender erection. In the comfortably dim light he looked as though he'd
been carved from gold and ebony; the heat made his skin glisten.

Garak's hands stole to the fasteners of his clothing, and he undressed
silently. "Put your hands above your head," he murmured.

Again Julian obeyed. "Are you going to tie me up, Garak?" he asked with
a smile, and Garak saw him shiver slightly.

"No." Naked, he moved stealthily to the bed, hovering over the human,
who was now moving slightly, seeking contact. "You will obey me because
you wish to, not because you are physically restrained."

In a hushed voice, Julian said, "All right."

"You will not move," Garak instructed, "-- unless you want me to stop."

The infinitesimal writhing ceased. "Am I allowed to talk?"

Garak chuckled. "I would never dream of attempting to silence you," he
murmured affectionately. "In any case, the attempt would prove futile."

"Very funny," Julian said sarcastically.

"I thought it was," Garak beamed.

Julian groaned. "When did I begin to find irritation arousing?"

Garak only laughed.

"When are you going to touch me?"

"Ah! Now that is a very good question, my dear doctor." He leaned in,
placing his hands a scant centimetre above Julian's chest. "Do you feel
that?"

A pause, then a gasp. "Oh! Yes, I feel that, Elim," he said softly, and
began to arch up to Garak's hands.

Garak drew away. "No, no, my dear. Do you want me to stop?"

"No!"

"Then stay still."

Julian sank back into the bed. "Sorry," he whispered, panting.

"Never mind. Now," he began again, "where is my hand?"

Julian drew a sharp breath. "Over my lips."

"Good." He let his hands rove over Julian's face as though he were
stroking it, and Julian moaned, visibly holding himself still.

He drew his fingers over the long, slender, fragile-looking throat, over
the clavicles, and caressed the human with his voice. "You are the most
beautiful being I have ever known, Julian. I long to touch you; I
fantasize of your body under mine, you giving yourself to me--"

"Yes!" Julian hissed urgently.

"First," Garak murmured, "I will touch your chest, play my fingers over
your nipples, stroke your stomach, your sides;" he visited Julian's body
with gentle not-quite-touches as he spoke of it. "I will stroke your
lovely thighs, touch you between your legs..." Julian moaned restlessly.

"Elim, please..."

"Where is my hand?"

Julian cried out. "Please..." he panted. "It's between my legs, please
touch me there!" He began to arch his back, but quickly stilled his own
movement.

Garak moved his hand up Julian's body. "Wouldn't you rather I touch you
here?"

"God, yes!"

Garak moved even further up, back to Julian's stomach. "Not yet. If
you're good."

Julian growled. "Elim--!"

"You were a merciless tease in the Gamma Quadrant. Don't I deserve my
revenge?"

Julian whimpered.

"Later, you'll drape your long, beautiful legs over my shoulders, and
I'll take your lovely cock in my mouth." As his hands glided over
Julian's upper arms he leaned in close and hissed into Julian's ear,
"What do you taste like, my dear?"

Julian shivered, tried to still himself, and began to shake with the
effort of restraint.

Garak let himself shiver, tried not to let it show in his voice. "Tell
me what I will taste when you come in my mouth."

"I--I..." Julian was beyond coherence. He moaned helplessly, shaking
uncontrollably. His cries reached a fever pitch, and Garak leaned over
him to watch.

"I want you to come now, Julian."

Julian screamed. He arched his back, grasping the corners of the bed, as
he spilled his seed over his belly and chest.

He was utterly beautiful in this state, slick with sweat, his muscles
taut, crying his pleasure. Garak watched, stunned by a flush of heat in
his own body, amazed that Julian could show this to him, amazed that his
words had done this to both of them. He let out a cry of his own as he
spilled his seed on Julian's chest.

For a long moment they simply hovered there, breathing. Julian was still
quivering from his exertions. Finally Garak lay next to Julian,
exhausted, and the human wrapped him in a hug.

"Elim," Julian whispered, and kissed him.

The kiss was long, slow, and satisfied. Julian gently explored his
ridges, his scales, and the soft tender skin that had neither. In turn
he learned the smooth texture of the unadorned body in his arms.

"I love you," Julian said.

"And I you," Garak answered. "You mustn't expect to hear it often,
however. I find direct expression..."

"Excruciating?" Julian supplied with a grin.

"Difficult," Garak amended. "Not to mention a trifle dull." He smiled
his most mysterious smile. "Besides, my dear, it is useless to pretend
that you value honesty. You enjoy solving the puzzles I give you."

"Of course I do," Julian said. He stifled a yawn. "When I'm awake, that
is. Shall we continue this conversation tomorrow?"

"By all means," Garak said. Julian settled down with his head on Garak's
chest, pressed close to him on the narrow bed. In minutes they were both
asleep.

~~~

He awoke feeling not cold, but distinctly cool. Julian had thrashed
about in the night, kicking the covers to the floor, and now lay pressed
to his side with an arm and a leg thrown casually over him, as though
they'd slept like this a hundred times.

Julian stirred with a soft groan, kissed his chest with bleary
contentment, then suddenly bolted fully awake. "Computer! Time?"

"The time is 0845 hours."

"Damn!" The doctor jumped to the floor and scurried into the bathroom.

Garak smiled lazily at the delicious image: his young love running naked
about his quarters, hair tousled from sleep, chest sticky with drying
semen, both pearly white and sky blue.

He rose slowly, wandering into the bathroom, where Julian was rapidly
cleaning himself in the shower.

"Please don't tell me you're taking a shift in the Infirmary so soon."

"I'm meeting Miles at nine; we're straightening my quarters. Then I'm
going to the Infirmary to read last month's reports." Julian exited the
shower, and kissed him affectionately. "I'm afraid I won't have time for
lunch. Will you meet me for supper?"

"Certainly," Garak agreed. "Shall we say 2000 hours?"

Julian nodded enthusiastically. "I'll pick you up here, then we'll go to
the Replimat. Does that sound alright?"

"One cannot argue with tradition," Garak remarked, watching with
amusement as the young man bustled about, conversing as though he was
not still half naked. It was truly amazing, the trust this man had for
him. They might as well have been lunching in the Replimat for all the
discomfort Julian displayed.

"We'll talk tonight," Julian said as he pulled on the tunic of the
travesty Starfleet called their latest uniform, "about who we want to
tell, how we want to conduct ourselves both publicly and privately, that
sort of thing."

"Until tonight, then," Garak responded, pulling him into a kiss. "Good
day to you, doctor."

Julian smiled. He remembered the first meeting. "Good day, my dear Mr.
Garak. I'm glad to have made such an interesting new friend today."

~~~

"You shut off my monitoring devices."

Garak smiled into his Rokassa juice. "Good morning to you too,
Constable. I'm fine, thank you." He looked across at the shapeshifter,
who had just sat down for their customary breakfast. "Yourself?"

Odo harrumphed. "I thought you and I had reached something of a
stalemate concerning the bugs in your quarters."

"We had," Garak agreed.

"So what happened?"

"Last night I found myself entertaining a third party who wished to keep
our exchange private."

"And when did you begin referring to Dr. Bashir as a 'third party'?" Odo
asked.

Garak sighed and feigned interest in his eggs. "Really, Constable, if
you know the answers, why ask the questions in the first place?"

"I'm simply curious as to why the two of you suddenly feel the need for
such privacy. It's a matter of station security."

"Ah! The high-ranking officer and the former spy, just back from enemy
territory, suddenly conspiring in private," Garak whispered
conspiratorially. "Very suspicious indeed!"

"Precisely."

"Well, much as I enjoy a good conspiracy, we were doing nothing that
would interest you. He was simply attempting to convince me of the merit
of Keats."

"I take it he was less than convincing?"

"Oh, the doctor's argument would have completely won me over, had he not
been devoting it to a poem about a container of olive oil." Garak
smirked. "'Ever will thou love, and she be fair.' Really, Constable,
have you ever heard such utter nonsense?"

Odo regarded him with something approaching amusement. "Never." He took
a long drink from his polite fabrication of Raktijino. "Tell me, why
would a discussion of poetry require the deactivation of my monitoring
devices?"

"Dr. Bashir has just spent a good deal of time in custody. He wished for
complete privacy for one evening. Your... conscientious surveillance of
this station meant that there was only one place where I knew you would
not have any undiscovered bugs." Garak tilted his head in a discreet
apology. "He was less concerned about you than about your deputies. It
will not happen again," he smiled slyly, "unless I have something to
hide."

~~~

Garak smiled as the door chimed. Julian was precisely two minutes late:
late enough for Garak to feign irritation, but not late enough to be
rude.

He opened the door. "Where have you been?" he snarled.

Julian strode past him into the room. "Some of us have important things
to do."

"Like what? Regenerating the scraped knees of the Bajoran military, or
listening to the sound of your own voice, perhaps?"

"At least I'm not hemming the trousers of a species I once conquered,"
Julian retorted. "If you must know, I had to pop Chief O'Brien's
shoulder back into place."

"Ah, the trials and tribulations of frontier medicine," Garak said
archly.

"Nothing compared to the life-and-death decisions faced every day by
tailors." Julian ended the mutual mating display by wrapping his arms
around Garak's waist: a surrender between equals.

"My dear doctor, you begin to understand."

"What?"

"Nothing is as fatal as a fashion crisis." Garak gave his most innocent
smile and Julian laughed.

"I'll try to remember that."

"I'm absolutely serious! Look at what happened to Tain the day he put on
that hideous ensemble."

"I would hardly blame the clothes," Julian objected.

"My dear man, did you look at those clothes?"

"Garak..." Julian gazed at him affectionately, his tone sceptical and
teasing.

Garak kissed the alluring curve of his lips. "Very well," the tailor
murmured. "I don't insist upon the connection."

"Shall we?" Julian asked, gesturing at the door. Garak nodded, and was
mildly amused as the doctor murmured a gallant, "After you."

They sat down to a substantial supper, and Julian grinned openly at him,
eyes sparkling with mirth. "I hear we discussed Keats' 'Ode to a Grecian
Urn' last night."

"Of course. Don't you remember?"

"Usually my memory is rather accurate, but last night... what were your
thoughts?"

"I expressed a distaste for the line 'Ever will thou love, and she be
fair.' I thought it a trifle shallow, in context."

"Care to remind me why?"

Garak smiled. "Love does not thrive in timelessness, as Keats implies.
Change, growth; love is empty and superficial if it cannot encourage, or
at least allow, the growth of the personalities involved. Keats
advocates stagnation, not love."

"Do you want to hear something frightening?" Julian whispered.

"Always."

"I agree completely."

"Oh, my. That is rather disturbing. Though," Garak grasped his arm
gently, "it is also easier to conduct a relationship if we agree on the
basics."

"Yes. First things first." Julian looked pointedly at the hand on his
arm. "In public, I think we ought to keep it discreet. This is fine." He
grasped Garak's hand between his own. "Anything more is risking
violence."

"Undoubtedly." Garak smiled. "Your culture has its code of chivalry, so
does mine. I suggest we adhere to those codes in public." Julian looked
surprised and a little embarrassed at being caught, but he smiled and
nodded.

"In private, well, you did promise to teach me the subtleties of
Cardassian flirting, and you seem to have mastered human flirting."
Julian blushed hard. "Whichever we decide to employ when the mood takes
us... does that sound reasonable?"

"Utterly."

"Then... who do we tell?" Julian sighed suddenly. "I'm torn about
telling Miles. He'll hate it; he'll yell, he'll lecture... today he was
furious because I spent last evening with you. He's terrified that
you'll hurt me, and I can't convince him that you won't unless you have
to."

Garak felt another little shock at the understanding the young human had
gained of his character, his motives. "You must admit, 'He won't kill me
unless he has to,' is hardly a reassuring phrase," he remarked with a
smile.

"He doesn't have any idea how much you care for me. Maybe if he knew, it
would make him feel better," Julian speculated, but then sighed again.
"Or he'll be more convinced that you've utterly brainwashed me," he
finished dejectedly.

"It is up to you, my dear. He's your friend, not mine. You mustn't let
my intense desire to see his head explode influence you in any way."

Julian laughed. "It will explode, won't it? Well, I suppose I'll have to
tell him. I hate lying." He looked up from where he'd been staring at
his asparagus. "I'll tell Captain Sisko privately, but leave it off the
record. I don't want Starfleet Intelligence harassing us. Speaking of
which, the little incident concerning the lights going out in that
crawlspace never happened. I won't give Bajor or Starfleet the means to
torture you." The doctor stabbed a stalk of asparagus vehemently, and
his eyes burned into Garak's with sudden, intense protectiveness.
Garak's chest tightened in reaction.

"Thank you."

Julian's expression softened again, and he squeezed Garak's hand.
"You're welcome." He went back to his previous subject. "I have no
problem telling Dax. Odo... do you want to tell Odo?"

"If he doesn't know already, yes. Ziyal, as well, after a few days have
passed."

"I'll tell Leeta personally, too; she's my ex girlfriend, she has a
right to know directly from me. I think gossip will be more efficient
for letting everyone else know."

Garak gazed at the young man, aware of two people that he hadn't even
thought to tell. In fact, Bashir had never mentioned them at all. "What
about your parents?"

"We aren't close. I haven't been home in three years." Julian's sullen
expression prompted Garak to let the subject drop. As he turned his
attention to his food he felt Julian's hand on his. "I'm not embarrassed
by you, Elim. I'm embarrassed by them."

Garak smiled in sympathy. If it could have been avoided, he would have
preferred that Julian had never met Tain. "I understand."

~~~

They finished eating and retired, this time to Julian's quarters. "Miles
dislocated his shoulder helping me move this," Julian said, indicating
the chesterfield. "It was the last thing we had to do, but now it's
crooked. Can you give me a hand?"

They straightened the couch and then sat together. Julian moved close.
"What did you have in mind tonight?" the young human asked.

"Perhaps a bit of fellatio?" Garak suggested, wearing his most innocent
smile. Julian choked.

"Garak!"

"Would you prefer not?"

"Yes! I mean no. It's not like you to be so blunt." Julian was crimson,
but he was laughing. "You did promise, last night. I suppose it would be
rude of me to refuse."

"Utterly unforgivable," Garak agreed. "Besides, you never answered the
question I posed last night."

"I was hoping the curiosity would drive you to seek the answer yourself.
You and I do have rather different tastes, after all."

"Hmm." He kissed the other man gently. Julian melted into his arms,
writhing against him urgently, trying to get at his neckridges through
his high collared tunic. He let the human struggle with the complicated
Cardassian tailoring while he unfastened Julian's uniform, stripped him
of his shirt, and began kissing his throat.

"Elim! How do I take this off?"

Garak smiled, unfastened it slowly, showing Julian every step, and took
it off. Next he took off the thermal undershirt he wore about the
station, and was surprised at the warmth.

Julian smiled at his pleased expression. "I crashed the environmental
controls for these quarters. They reverted to the original Cardassian
defaults. You should have seen Miles' face."

Garak could picture it. He laughed softly as he kissed the young man
again.

Julian's trousers came off next, along with his boots, socks, and
underwear. Garak slowly kissed down his chest, pausing at the hard
little brown nipples, biting them gently, eliciting a moan from Julian.
"God! Elim..." He paused to remove the rest of his own clothes, and
Julian whispered, "Let's go to bed."

They moved into the other room, and Julian lay down, pulling Garak with
him. This bed was wider than the one they'd shared last night, and
offered more comfort and more possibilities. Garak resumed his place,
kissing Julian's chest.

"No," Julian whispered. Garak looked up. "I want to give you my mouth,
too." He pushed Garak around so they could accommodate one another.

Garak went back to his task, but with the added stimulation of Julian's
mouth tracing every ridge on his chest and stomach he found himself
hurrying. Soon his mouth was poised at Julian's unadorned pink erection.
He paused for a moment, simply breathing the scent of it, imagining what
it would be like to lick the pool of moisture from the tip. Julian
moaned softly.

"Elim..."

Gently he put a hand at the base of Julian's penis to steady it, and
touched it lightly with his tongue. Julian, meanwhile, had lost
patience, and was in the process of taking him into his mouth. He gasped
at the odd sensation, the cool, moist mouth around him, the minute
vibration of the human throat as Julian moaned happily.

Groaning, he kissed his way up the shaft of Julian's penis, licking
carefully. The taste was salty, but pleasant. He cradled the testicles,
and took the hard human cock in his mouth.

The sensation made Julian give a muffled cry, and redouble his efforts.
Garak endeavoured to gather his scattered wits, relax his throat, and
swallow against the cool hardness in his mouth. Slowly he began to suck,
and soon they were matching one another's rhythm. They increased the
pace bit by bit until Julian began to moan steadily and buck his hips
wildly. He reached down, grabbing Garak's neckridges and squeezing hard.
Garak cried out as the heat in his body spilled into Julian's eager
mouth. An instant later, salty white semen filled his own throat.

They lay back together, then after a moment Garak turned and joined
Julian at the head of the bed. Julian yawned. "What time is it?"

Garak checked the chronometer. "It's 2300."

"Time to go to sleep. I have a debriefing with Sisko at 0900." Julian
blinked at him. "Aren't you tired?"

"I will be soon. I will guard you until you fall asleep, then I will
sleep myself."

Julian laughed. "You don't need to guard me," he murmured
affectionately, as he snuggled into Garak's shoulder.

"I was referring to the evolutionary Cardassian post-coital response. We
guard our mate from predators, and sleep only when it is safe to do so."

"Oh." Julian yawned again. "That's sweet."

"I'm glad you approve of my instincts," Garak remarked sardonically.

"Not all of them. This one, though, I like. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Julian," Garak whispered. In minutes he was asleep himself.

~~~

END
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