The Best You Never Had

BY : midnightphoenix
Category: Gravitation > Yaoi - Male/Male > Yuki/Shuichi
Dragon prints: 38
Disclaimer: I don't own Gravitation or its characters. All stories are written purely for fun. No profit is generated from the writing of these stories.

This story takes place in Volume 7 of the manga, so some of the dialogue was taken from the manga.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a what-if scenario with that whole storyline, so here it is.

Disclaimer:  I don’t own Gravitation.  It is the property of Maki Murakami.

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“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.  I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody.  I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.” – Elizabeth Gilbert “Eat, Pray, Love”

Shuichi’s heart pounded, his fear rising, as he sprinted down the long hallways, narrowly avoiding crashing into people.  His lungs felt as though they were being squeezed in a vise, fear temporarily stealing the breath from him.  His mind berated him, shouting that he had seen the warning signs, but did nothing to avoid them.  All the weight his lover had lost, not to mention all of the medicine he said was for his stomach.  One minute he’d been ecstatic, elation filling him as Bad Luck sold a million CDs.  Then his world had come crashing down when he’d heard K’s words.  If giving up everything meant that Yuki would be okay, he’d willingly do whatever it took.  He stopped outside of the door, willing his heart to slow down to normal.  He couldn’t go in there acting like his usual hyper self.  Before he could open the door, the sound of voices reached his ears.  That sounds like Seguchi-san and Mika-san!  This isn’t going to go so well.  He knew that they didn’t approve of his relationship with Yuki.  He’d heard the reasons so many times that he could recite them at will.  And he strongly suspected that today’s events would only further their objections.

“I hate to say it, but Tohma’s right.  You shouldn’t be with Shindou-kun anymore.  You need to get away.  You can still write if you’re in New York, right?”

“I suppose you’re right.  Yeah, you’re right.  New York makes sense.  If I move far enough away, he won’t be able to follow me.  If I can get away from the source of my stress, it’ll probably go a long way towards alleviating it.”

“Hmph…you’re not usually so agreeable.  It’s almost creepy.  We’ve been worried about you for quite a while, Eiri.  I don’t want it to sound like we’re specifically targeting your relationship with Shindou-kun.  You need to take your condition into account.  Some time off will do you good.  It might take your mind off of things.”

“You’re probably right.  I’d love to never have to look in a mirror and wonder who I am again or see blood spilling out of my mouth.  Maybe my first reaction was the most honest.  Maybe I should break up with him for good.”

The younger male swayed slightly, shock hitting him as he heard the next words to come out of the room.  Each word hammered nails deeper into his heart, further solidifying his belief that all of this was his fault.  His hand dropped limply to his side, tears sliding silently down his face.

“All right then, it’s settled.  New York, it is.  You’ve always hated Japan, anyway.  New York was your home longer than Tokyo, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to acclimate.”

“Nah, it should be easy.”

“Wait a minute, Mika-san!  Eiri-san, come on…you’re really going to leave?”

There were now a lot of things Shuichi had to think over before any decisions were made.  He looked back at the door longingly, but he knew his presence wasn’t wanted or needed right now.  And that fact hurt more than anything he’d endured so far in his young life.  He walked away, slowly this time, hand wiping away the traces of his tears.  He didn’t want Hiro or K to know that he’d been crying.  Walking to the waiting area, he looked up to see both men approaching him. 

“Shuichi, that was quick!  Did you get lost or something?  It’d be just like you to forget the room number.”

“Yuki…he’s alive.”  He turned and headed towards the door.  “Let’s get out of here.”

Hiro said nothing at first, as he noticed the reddened skin around Shuichi’s eyes.  True, he’d been crying on the way over here, but something was different now.  His violet eyes looked defeated.  “We already knew that,” Hiro replied.  “What are you talking about?  You don’t want to stay by his side?”

Shuichi stopped in his tracks.  It was an innocent question, but it set Shuichi off, reminding him of what he’d overheard.  “It’s my fault he’s sick, Hiro.  I’m responsible!  I never knew or even thought about it.  Damn it, I should have known better!”  Those damned tears started welling up in his eyes and he furiously fought them back.  “I never realized that Yuki was suffering because of me!  He held in his pain until he became physically ill.  Do whatever you want, Hiro, but I’m leaving!”  He ran past them before they could move to stop him.  The door slamming shut behind him.

“Something’s not right here,” Hiro muttered.  “Shuichi would never leave Yuki-san’s side for anything.  I wonder what happened back there.”

K sighed as he rubbed his forehead.  “I have my own suspicions of who caused his sudden flight out of here.  And if I’m correct, things will soon get very ugly around here.”

Hiro’s face hardened as he caught K’s train of thought.  “You’re referring to Seguchi-san, aren’t you?”  At K’s nod, he swore softly.  “That would account for Shuichi’s suddenly odd behavior.  And, of course, Shuichi would be his scapegoat.  Damn it!”

“Don’t worry, Hiro-kun.  We’ll run interference as best as we can.  Right now our main priority should be Shuichi.”

Hiro nodded, his restless thoughts centering on his friend.  Please don’t do anything rash, Shuichi, until we can get things settled.

Shuichi ran until his burning lungs couldn’t take any more abuse.  His frantic pace slowed to a walk, his feet walking by memory, as he neared the entrance to the park.  How ironic that he should show up here, where everything began.  He stood there silently, letting the feel of the wind blow against his skin.  Against his will, the entire conversation he’d just heard kept repeating through his head, his heart twisting when he remembered his lover’s words.  “If I move far enough away, he won’t be able to follow me.  If I can get away from the source of my stress, it’ll probably go a long way towards alleviating it.  Maybe my first reaction was the most honest.  Maybe I should break up with him for good.”  The words so reminded him of the whole affair with Aizawa, of what had happened before and after.  Was he that impossible to live with?  Is that all he was?  Was he just a stressing annoyance that could be discarded like a disposable tissue?

He hadn’t realized that he’d started crying again until he felt the wind blow coldly on his tear-streaked face.  Cold…just like Yuki had been to him at times.  And all I can do is fucking keep crying!  Why is it that whenever something like this happens, that’s all I can do?  Hell, I do it even when I’m not depressed over something!  He wiped his hand disgustedly over his eyes.  In that moment of contemplation, he made his decision.  He’d always been rash, even he couldn’t deny this.  But right now it seemed the best option to him.  Leave…he could always just pack up and leave.  Wouldn’t everyone be happier without their annoyance in their daily lives?  He thought so.  But before he left, there were some bridges he’d have to burn first.  And then he’d walk away, leaving the flames burning merrily behind him.

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Violet eyes blinked open blearily, briefly wondering why it was so dark in the room just then.  He recognized that he was lying on the couch in the apartment he shared with Yuki.  At the thought of his name, Shuichi straightened up on the couch, swinging his legs over the edge.  What scared him was that he had no memory of even walking home from the park.  He supposed that he had just walked home on autopilot.  That should have been a testament to how drained he was.  He flicked on the lamp beside the couch, wincing as the room was lit with brightness.  Looking down at the watch on his wrist, he saw that it was still early in the morning.  Good, maybe then he wouldn’t have a horde of people descending on him just yet.

His phone lay silent, indicating no messages – another good sign.  But his good fortune wouldn’t last long.  Knowing the people around him, it wouldn’t be long before someone tried to contact him.  And right now, that wasn’t something he wanted.  Doubt began to permeate his mind as he thought about what he planned to do.  Was this really what he wanted…to just walk away from everything?  It probably wasn’t the best solution, but right now all he wanted was a little time away.  Kami-sama knew that he needed the break with everything that had happened recently.  He was determined to take it, no matter what anyone thought.  Part of him didn’t want to give up on his relationship with Yuki, while the other snorted at the word “relationship”.  Relationships are considered a two-way street, correct?  His inner voice chided snidely.  Have you seen him work at trying to keep it going?  No, you’ve been the one doing everything, always chasing after him!  It’s time for him to take some initiative if he wants you in his life.  Shuichi sighed, knowing that his inner voice was right.  He’d been thinking the same thing for a long time now.

He got up off of the couch as he made his way to the bathroom, shedding his clothes as he went.  There was one last stop that he needed to make before he left, and he intended to make a clean break.  A few minutes later, he stepped out of the shower feeling marginally better than he had earlier.  A change of clothes and he was ready.  First, however, he needed to pack up his stuff.  Grabbing a few boxes that he found in the closet, he set to work.  It was sad, really, when he had everything packed only to see that his entire life fit into a few boxes and some suitcases.  He found it ironic that he had purchased a new laptop within the last month.  Perhaps his intuition had been trying to tell him even then.  With everything packed, he could finally see the role that he’d been reduced to.  The only space in the apartment that he could truly call his was the living room.  He started laughing, a bitter sound in the empty stillness of the room.  Damn, had it really taken him this long to see it?  Here he was, the punch line to a joke that had gone stale, and he only now realized it.  There was his proof of why he needed to leave.  It’s what he’d been told all along, after all.  The joke was now over and he wasn’t laughing.  It felt more like a practical joke gone awry.

Walking over to the coffee table, he rifled through the phone book looking for the number to call a cab.  Once that was done, he looked over where his boxes stood stacked in the corner.  Taking them with him would be a hassle, and he didn’t want to explain to his parents or Hiro about what he was planning.  Sighing in resignation, he grabbed a piece of paper and left a note attached to his boxes.  Hopefully, his stuff wouldn’t be tossed out like yesterday’s junk.  Picking up his bags, he walked out of the apartment, the door locking behind him.  He touched the key that he still held in his hand, remembering every moment in that small span of time.  Once downstairs, he pulled open the mailbox for Yuki’s apartment, the key gripped tightly in his fist.  Placing it inside, he said nothing, the lid closing softly in the hallway.  His errands were just beginning, so he’d better go meet his cab.  A few stops later, which included the bank so he could withdraw enough money from his account, he stood in front of the hospital where this debacle had all started.  The cab driver waited as his customer finished his last errand.  He was being paid well, so he couldn’t complain.

Shuichi walked once more down the corridors until he stood in front of Yuki’s room.  It was late, so he knew that visiting hours were long over, which meant that he wouldn’t be caught as easily.  The door silently slid open and he walked into the darkened room, his eyes zeroing in on the man lying in the bed near the window.  He walked over to the bed, his shoes making no sound on the tiled floor.  A sigh of relief escaped his lips when he realized that Yuki was asleep.  This would be easier if he was asleep than awake.  If he looked into his golden eyes, his precarious control would falter, making him fall back into his predictable behavior.  He shook his head at that thought.  No, he couldn’t have that.

Standing there silently, he watched as the moonlight traced patterns across Yuki’s sleeping face.  His pajama top was undone, exposing pale skin that shone in the glow from the window.  The monitor beeped quietly, keeping track of his condition.  The arm that was placed behind his head was connected to an IV.  Shuichi’s hand reflexively went to brush the golden strands of hair off of Yuki’s forehead before he caught himself and lowered it once again to his side.  “Yuki…”  He whispered softly.  “I don’t want you to go to New York, Yuki.  But I don’t want you to suffer because of me, either.  That’s why this time I’m leaving instead.  I don’t want to, but I think it’s something that I have to do.  Our time apart will help us figure out what we want from this relationship.”  He stopped then, not knowing what else to say.  Bending down, he placed a soft kiss on Yuki’s forehead, drinking in every feature and committing it to memory.  “Goodbye, Yuki.  I’ll always love you.”  With those softly spoken words, he slipped back out the door, letting it slide shut behind him.  And just like that, he was gone from Yuki Eiri’s life.  Instead of leaving with a bang as he had when he entered Yuki’s life, he left with a whimper.  This chapter in his life was now done.  Now he just waited for the next one to be written.

He got back into the cab and told the driver to head for the airport.  Leaning back, he finally let the tears slide down his face, proud that he hadn’t broken down in the hospital.  For all the psyching he’d given himself, he found it hard to just leave Yuki lying there like that.  But it’s for the best, right?  If I’d stayed here…  He let the thought trail off, not wanting to think about that just yet.  All too soon, the cab pulled up to the airport’s entrance.  Shuichi waited as the cab driver retrieved his luggage and then paid him, thanking him for his services.  He’d not been recognized yet, learning from past experience how to best disguise himself from crazy fans and paparazzi alike.

For all his planning, he didn’t really have a destination in mind.  At that point, his mind was too ensnared to even think of a place he’d like to escape to.  But now that he thought about it, he’d need a place where they wouldn’t automatically start looking.  Somewhere obscure…somewhere not haunted by a ghost from his past.  And that’s when it hit him – Florida, a popular tourist attraction in the States.  He knew they’d probably expect him to head to either New York or California…maybe even overseas to Europe.  Shuichi knew that he had to be one step ahead of his bosses – yet another thing he learned in his time in the music business.  Florida, here I come!

Shuichi walked through the terminal towards the ticket counter.  With his destination now in mind, he had only one thing left to do.  He didn’t notice the woman in his path until it was too late.  Rebounding back, he found himself sprawled on the floor with his suitcases spilled around him.  “Ouch…what the hell just happened?”  That’s when he noticed the young woman sitting across from him.  “I’m so sorry!  Did I hurt you?  Are you alright?!”

Alison Connor sat on the floor of Narita International Airport, her butt hurting from its sudden impact on the tiled floor.  She looked up to see who she’d run into.  The guy appeared to be in his early twenties, wearing a black hat and shades so she couldn’t see what color his eyes were.  He wore a black hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and black running shoes.  If she didn’t know better, she would have sworn it was like he was trying to remain incognito.  “I’m fine, thank you.  It’s my fault.  I should have watched where I was going.”

Shuichi sighed in relief when he saw that she wasn’t hurt.  Now that he had gotten a good look at her, she did seem familiar to him.  Wearing a neat, tailored red business suit, she appeared to be in her late twenties.  Red high-heeled shoes completed the look along with a minimal amount of jewelry and makeup.  Dark brown hair was pulled back into a low ponytail that reached to her shoulders.  Intelligent brown eyes peered back at him over gold wire-rimmed glasses.  She reminded him of Sakano-san, eerily enough.  That’s when he saw the name tag on her business suit:  Alison Connor Flying Star Records.  Now he remembered where he had seen her.  K-san had introduced her to them briefly, saying she was here to have a meeting with Seguchi-san.  “I’m sorry, Connor-san, for running into you like that.  My name is Shindou Shuichi.”

Alison’s eyes lit up at the mention of his name.  Here was the man she wanted to speak with!  But why was he leaving?  Seguchi hadn’t mentioned anything about his star singer leaving on a vacation or some other trip.  “Shindou-san, you’re just the person I wanted to talk with!  But, I see that you’re leaving Japan.  Forgive my asking, but is this trip for personal or business reasons?”

Shuichi seemed confused as to why she wanted to speak with him.  “It’s alright, Connor-san.  I’m leaving on personal business.  Florida seemed to be a good place to visit while I spent some time getting things straightened out.”

Alison couldn’t believe her luck.  “You say you’re going to Florida?  Then why not fly back with me?  The corporate jet is waiting for me on the runway.  Our company is based in Orlando, Florida and I have some business that I need to discuss with you.”

Shuichi didn’t know what to say at first.  Here was a golden opportunity to get out of Japan without anyone knowing where he had gone to.  If he bought a ticket, he ran the risk of someone recognizing him, which would lead K-san and the others onto his trail.  But by going with Connor-san, no one would recognize him.  And since she was with a record company, the chance was good that the business she needed to discuss involved his music in some way.  Smiling he said, “I think that would be a great idea.  Lead the way.”

After picking up their scattered luggage, Shuichi followed Alison as she walked to the tarmac where the sleek Embraer jet sat, its white metal skin glowing silver under the multitude of lights that lit up the runway.  Their luggage was taken from them to be stored in the baggage compartment.  The only thing that Shuichi kept with him was his backpack and his laptop case.  Reluctant as he was to do so, he knew he had to explain things to everyone.  Tell them that he just needed some time alone.  His eyes widened as he stepped into the plane, looking around at the opulent luxury of the private jet.  He’d been on planes before, just never a private jet that was this fancy!  He had to hand it to Connor-san’s company.  They knew how to travel in style.

Taking a seat on one of the sleek leather seats, he placed his bags beside him.  Now that she knew who he was, he didn’t feel the need for his disguise anymore.  Off came his shades and hat, letting his violet eyes and pink hair show once more.  Once buckled in, he turned to face Alison who sat directly across from him.  “Okay, Connor-san, what was it that you wanted to talk about?  I assume it has something to do with either myself or Bad Luck.”

“Yes, Shindou-san, you are correct.  And please call me Alison.  There’s no need to be formal.”

“Alright, Alison – please call me Shuichi then.”

“Shuichi, I had approached Seguchi-san about Bad Luck performing a song with one of our top female artists.  He was in agreement with it but wanted to run it by both your band and manager first to see what they thought of it.  I was to fly back this morning and await his decision.  And then I ran into you at the airport.  That was a lucky coincidence, although Seguchi-san hadn’t mentioned that you’d be taking time off.”

He said nothing for a few minutes, instead seeming to be enthralled by the scenery passing below his window.  When he did speak again, it was in a quiet voice.  “That’s because Seguchi-san knows nothing about it.  I left without saying a word as to where I was going.  I’ve had some things happen recently and I just need some time by myself to straighten everything out.  If I can’t get myself focused, then no one can.”  He hadn’t meant to say more after that since he didn’t know Alison that well, but soon it just erupted out of him like a bottle shaken just right.  “And so I just left him lying there.  He doesn’t even know I’m gone.  Right now, I’m not sure that I’m even thinking straight.  The only thing I could think of at the time was to just leave.  I can’t describe the feeling, but it felt as though I was in a room with both the ceiling and walls caving in on me and I couldn’t breathe.”

Alison had sat through Shuichi’s recitation of everything that had happened, silently watching the young man sitting across from her.  Even though he tried not to show it, she could see that he was hurting on the inside.  To go from a euphoric career high to a spirit-shattering low in such a short span of time would make anyone feel nerve-wracked.  “I’m honestly sorry that you had to endure that, Shuichi.  I stand in agreement with you about needing some time alone.  You need to rediscover yourself before you can move forward.  About what I discussed with you, what would your choice be, Shuichi?”

“I know that my band mates would agree with my decision.  The answer is yes, Alison.  We’d be honored to do this song.”

“That’s wonderful, Shuichi!  You won’t regret your decision, I promise!”  Keen brown eyes noted the pallor to Shuichi’s skin and the tiredness around his eyes.  Her heart ached for him.  There wasn’t much she could do but play a supportive role to him.  “I’m going to go contact my boss and let him know of your decision.  While I’m doing that, why don’t you try and get some sleep in one of the sleeping quarters?  We have a long trip ahead of us, so getting enough rest is important.  Oh, before I forget, let me give you this!”  She reached over and began to rummage in her bag.  “Now, where’d I put that darn thing…ah, here it is!”  Pulling a CD case out of the bag, she handed it to Shuichi.  “This is the artist you’ll be performing with.  I’ve compiled some of her work for you to listen to, so you’ll get an idea of how she sounds.”

“Thanks, Alison.  I’ll give it a listen while I’m writing my e-mails.  Once that’s done, I’ll take you up on your suggestion of catching some sleep.”  Reaching down, he gathered up his things, walking the short distance to one of the sleeping areas.  He sat down on the queen-sized bed, sitting his laptop case near him.  His shades and hat were flung onto the nearby table.  Digging into his backpack, he felt around for his headphones.  While his laptop was loading up, he cracked open the CD case.  The name Christie Martin was written across the top in scrolling kanji.  Below it was a photo of a young girl who appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties.  Chin-length black hair framed a heart-shaped face.  Green eyes stared straight at him, so serious yet he could see the mischief that lurked in their depths.  It was as if she was trying to act serious about the photo shoot, but couldn’t help but find humor in it.  He instantly knew from just looking at her that they’d get along fine.  The only problem was his limited ability to speak English.  Sighing heavily, he knew that he should’ve paid more attention when he was in English class in high school.  He’d just have to discuss that with Alison.

Popping the CD into the drive, he adjusted his headphones and the volume to his liking and sat back to wait for the disc to load.  The slow melody started pouring out of his speakers and it wasn’t long until he heard the smooth voice start to sing.  Her accent clearly stated that she was American, but to his relief, he heard the familiar sound of the Japanese language.  Vowing to thank Alison again, he made up his mind to learn the English language once he was settled in Florida.  Then he’d be able to hear the song in its original language.

His eyes widened as he listened to the lyrics.  It all felt as though she was singing about his relationship with Yuki and his leaving Japan.  Feeling wetness on his face, he quickly wiped at the tears that were rolling down his face.  Okay, I’ve got to start writing these e-mails before I chicken out.  Maybe listening to these songs wasn’t the best of ideas while trying to think about what I want to say.  Opening the browser, he quickly logged into his account.  No new messages so far…good.  That meant he was still safe.  His first one would be to Hiro.  Knowing him as he did, he knew that Hiro would be hurt that he didn’t come to him as he’d always done in the past.  Explaining things to him might be difficult, but he wanted to assure him that he wasn’t at fault for his decision to leave.

Damn this song’s making me more emotional than I already was!  Listening to this, I wonder if she’s had the same experiences I’ve had in a relationship?  Sure sounds as though she has.  Taking a deep breath, he started composing what he wanted to say.  Once Hiro knew everything, he’d let K-san and the others know as well.  He probably wouldn’t like what Shuichi had chosen to do, but he’d understand.

I wonder if the next song will make me want to start crying again.  I have to hand it to her.  She sure knows how to compose a damn good tearjerker.  The next song that came on started in a similar beat to the last one.  Shuichi concentrated as he typed while listening to the song that soon filled his headphones.

His hands froze on the keys, as the lyrics evoked memories that he didn’t want to remember just then.  Finishing up his e-mail to Hiro, he knew that he had only one more to write.  Until he heard that song, he’d been uncertain as to whether he should write Yuki or not.  But that song…it reminded him of all his moments with Yuki, the good and the bad.  Hitting the compose e-mail button again, he didn’t know what to write at first.  This e-mail would be different than the one that he’d written to Hiro.  There was a lot more he had to say here, to explain why he had left when he had always told Yuki that he wouldn’t leave him.

Memories flitted by in his mind, his eyes staring silently at his computer.  From the moment he met Yuki, of seeing him at his concert for the first time, their first time making love after that concert.  He remembered everything in startling clarity.  Then there were the bad times.  Why did they seem to outnumber all of the good?  Wasn’t that what he was trying to sort out?  Why did he want to leave?  Typing and running his hands over his tired eyes, he tried to convey all of this in his e-mail to Yuki.

That song soon ended and Shuichi seriously debated just turning the CD off.  It felt as though each song was rubbing his emotions raw, leaving behind wounds that he didn’t think would ever heal.  He closed the web browser and lay back on the soft pillows, waiting for the third song to load.  This one had a different beat, less melancholy sounding than the other two.

That was exactly how he had felt when he’d been told Yuki was in the hospital.  When he had heard those words…the words that had destroyed his very world, he’d felt devastated.  At that thought, he knew that he wasn’t the only one who needed time to think about their relationship.  Part of him hoped that Yuki hadn’t meant those words.  Shuichi wanted to believe that it had just been the stress of the situation speaking or that he was just telling his family what they wanted to hear.  But what if Yuki really had meant them?  Could he really go on without Yuki in his life?  Everything in the past year had been divided between his two great loves in life:  Yuki and his music.  They were intertwined, inseparable.  One depended on the other to exist.

He had to find out the answer on his own.  Before he met Yuki, he’d been fine on his own, albeit lonely.  Remembering his conversation with Hiro, he had to wonder if that’s what Hiro had been implying when he said he needed someone in his life.  Snorting softly, he doubted that even Hiro could have had the foresight to see the circus his life would become.

He let the song finish before he popped the drive open.  Once everything was back in his case, he set it on the floor beside his backpack.  Reclining once more on the pillows, he closed his eyes, wanting nothing more than to sleep right then.  As he drifted off, he hoped that his nightmares wouldn’t follow him this time.  All he wanted right now was a peaceful mind for once.

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Chapter 2 Preview:  Reactions abound as Shu’s departure is discovered.

Song used in this chapter:  Stay With Me – Danity Kane; Already Gone – Crossfade; Starts with Goodbye – Carrie Underwood; Please Remember – LeAnn Rimes; and Fragile – Delta Goodrem



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