DISCLAIMER: So not mine.
NOTES: Thanks to Luna, Jess and Mosca.

DOCUMENT

May 2000.

"I have no idea what to write." Dan hunched over his laptop and sighed.

"Writer's block?" Casey looked up from the desk.

"No. No. Especially not if Natalie is anywhere near us right now."

"You don't want more water thrown on you?" Casey grinned.

"Nailed it in one. I have a question for you."

Dan looked over at Casey, his face set in a serious expression.

"Yes?"

"Why do we only one desk in our office?" Dan gestured at the desk that Casey sat behind.

"We have a desk and a table."

"Yes. One desk. Two people." Dan leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.

"We've never had two desks," Casey said patiently.

"Yes. Again. One desk. Two people. We've moved the desk and we've moved the table and now we have a nice arrangement of the two, but still. One desk. Two people."

"It's not like it's my desk."

"Nor is it mine, really. Also. One computer. Two people, one computer."

"There's the laptop," Casey said, waving at the laptop open in front of Dan.

"Which we also share."

"Sharing is good."

"Right. But shouldn't we each have a desk in here? And each of us have a computer?" Dan stood up and began waving at the desk and the computer in front of Casey.

"Is the lack of a desk and a superfluous computer impeding your progress there, Danny boy?" Casey smirked.

"Don't call me that. And how is another computer, attached to a desk I would hope, superfluous?"

Casey regarded Dan from behind the desk. "Is it currently impeding your work that we don't have the second desk and computer?"

"No."

"Has it ever impeded your work?"

"No."

"Ergo, superfluous. Not needed." Casey leaned back and crossed his arms, still smirking.

"But we share a desk."

"And a table, a computer, and a laptop. And a couch and a chair. We share this space, we share lots of thing, Dan."

Dan smirked. "That sounds like a come-on."

"It's not - a come-on would be 'we could share lots of things, Danny boy, sweet thing.'" Casey rolled his eyes.

"Sweet thing? Casey, please tell me you don't say that to girls."

"I don't say anything like that to girls, since I'm 34 and I would be arrested. I have said it to women. Mature, hot women." Casey leaned forward to emphasize his point.

"And they responded by walking away? Throwing their drinks in your face? Slapping you?"

"Not the slapping part, no."

"Okay. But you can't divert me from this desk thing. Why don't we have two desks?"

"There wouldn't be space."

Dan waved his arms in the empty space in front of him. "We could get rid of the table. Then we'd have room."

"I like the table." Casey sounded petulant, even to himself.

"It would be nice to have my own desk."

"I don't have my own desk."

Dan leaned against the desk. "Wouldn't it be nice to change that?"

"Do you think you need more space in the desk? We split the drawers up pretty evenly."

"We're on national TV. 3 million people watch our show, why don't we have our own desks? Our own computers? Our own laptops? Instead we share all these things. Maybe I want a little more privacy for my files." Dan sat down on the desk and tapped on the desk.

"So I won't see your files? You have half your stuff password protected on the computers anyway," Casey sputtered.

Dan narrowed his eyes and leaned in closer to Casey. "You've tried to open them, in other words."

"I have not."

"But you know I have things password protected."

"I've accidentally clicked on things." Casey moved the mouse around to illustrate how accidents happened.

"Accidentally? The mouse just started moving like a ouija board thingy towards my files?"

"Thingy?"

"What are those things called - you put your hands on it and it moves by magic or whatever."

"Right. I have no idea." Casey turned back to the computer, hoping Dan would get the hint and get back to work.

"Why are you trying to read my stuff, Casey?" Dan sounded serious, but Casey couldn't always tell.

"I'm not. I just know it's there. What are you hiding?"

Dan scoffed. "Hiding? Like my secret plan to get us another desk and topple Dana as executive producer?"

Casey looked over at Dan who was still perched on the edge of the desk. "You're hiding more than that. What are you writing you won't tell me about?"

"I don't have to tell you everything."

"You usually do."

"I usually don't."

"You can tell me, you know. Whatever it is."

Dan stood up. "Okay. What do you think I'm hiding here, Casey?"

"I don't think it's a new desk or toppling Dana."

"Maybe I just want some privacy. Maybe it's nothing more mysterious than a letter to my mother."

"You don't put password protection on those." Casey bit his lip. He would never work for the FBI.

"So, you read my letters to my mother?"

"You leave them up on the desktop, Danny."

Dan marched toward the door. "Okay, I want my own computer and my own desk. I had no idea you had no sense of boundaries."

"Come on. I was kidding."

"No, you weren't. Stop reading my letters. I'm going to find Dana right now and get to the bottom of this desk issue. Don't look at my stuff while I'm gone."

Casey waved at him. "Whatever."

Casey's mind was made up. He clicked on the intriguingly titled strange.doc. As he knew it would, a window popped up asking for the password. This couldn't be that hard - whatever Danny said, Casey knew he knew him well enough to guess his password. He tried the obvious ones - birthday, mother's birthday, Sam's birthday, favorite baseball team (Orioles), favorite basketball team, favorite football team and favorite players. He'd gone through the twenty obvious choices in five minutes. He looked up to see if Dan was heading back from harassing Dana. No sign of him.

He saw Jeremy walking by and called him inside.

Jeremy walked in and glanced at the screen. "Did you forget your password, Casey?"

"Yes. Yes, I did. What can I do about that?"

"Let me look." Jeremy sighed and sat down at the desk. He began fussing. "You're sure you don't remember?"

"I'm sure."

"You know, I read a study that showed that something 50% of all men in Chicago in 1997 were using some variation of the Bulls, or Michael Jordan as their password."

"Well, it's not 1997, and it's not the Bulls or Michael Jordan or anything like that." Casey tried to see what Jeremy was doing.

Jeremy kept clicking and staring. "Why do you have things password protected on your own computer?"

"It's not mine. It's mine and Danny's."

"Right. What are you hiding from Dan?"

"If I told you, then I wouldn't be hiding it very well, would I?"

"Fair point. Here it is. You forgot that you were using your birthday as your password?"

"My birthday?"

"Yeah - 090565. That's your birthday, right?"

"Yeah. And I'm using it on all of them?"

"Yup."

"Okay. Thanks, Jeremy, thanks a lot." Still no sign of Dan, so Casey sat down to read. Then he thought, maybe he shouldn't. They were Dan's things, and Casey was the person he had specifically not wanted to read them. But then again, Dan was using his birthday as his password. He looked up and there was still no sign of Dan heading back to the office. Which was also, he thought, a sign.

Strange.doc proved, after all of Casey's angst, to be a list of videos. Videos that Dan owned, Casey thought, because it included flicks like The Negotiator, Pulp Fiction and the Usual Suspects, which he had seen at Dan's place. All that, he thought, all that for nothing. It seemed typical of Dan to be so pissy about something so silly.

He looked up, and saw Dan walking back. He closed the document and resolved to look at more later.

****

Strange.doc was the title for the videos. Kingofbirds.doc proved to be books. But not every book he owned, just apparently, books that had nothing to do with sports. Fireplace.doc was a list of names. He thought at first it was sexual partners, as he recognized the names of some of Dan's ex-girlfriends. But then he saw Sam and Isaac and decided it wasn't about sex. He saw his own name.

He'd waited until after the show and after Dan had left so he felt safe poking around to his heart's content. But he shouldn't be poking around. He thought he was being a very bad friend - violating Danny's privacy. He couldn't stop.

He dismissed the list of people - they were clearly people Dan liked, or admired or something. Finestworksong.doc proved to be a list of cds. It was pretty long, and he thought Dan had written down every cd he owned. Or not, Casey had no idea who half the artists were, and he almost never recognized the music Dan had playing in his car or in the office or in the apartment. There was at least 600 cds listed, which sounded about right for Dan.

Next he looked at exhumingmccarthy.doc. It was a list with just two entries. Number of sexual partners: 52 (as of 5/15/2000). Number of people I've loved (non-family and non-platonic): 7 (as of 5/15/2000). Casey stared. His first thought was 52? Dan had actually slept with 5 times more women than he had? 52 was a lot. Where did he meet these women? But the 7 women he loved - he thought he could name 6 of them without thinking twice.

Casey bit his lip. He should stop looking at these things. He had no idea why Danny had started making lists, and then saving them and protecting them from him. He wondered if it was an assignment from Abby. Did therapists give homework? He shouldn't be doing this.

He clicked on welcometotheoccupation.doc. This one was actually labeled at the top: People I've Harmed. Casey bit on his lip again. He really, really shouldn't read this one. He looked out at the darkened newsroom.

He started reading. Dan had listed names and next to them a short description of what he'd done. He saw Sam and Bobbi Bernstein. An ex-girlfriend Dan had cheated on. Other girls he'd slept with and never called or girls he'd slept with for reasons he felt were wrong. Jeremy - because of the pranks he'd played on his first week. He looked at the entry for Natalie. Dan had been rude to her on a number of occasions and he had belittled her to Dana and Isaac on a number of occasions during their first year. He remembered that. He saw Dana's name. He read "accidentally told Natalie about the abortion." He stared. What abortion? Dan thought he had somehow harmed Dana by telling Natalie about the abortion. Dana had an abortion? He rubbed his eyes. He should never have read this. Ever. He read the entry for himself before closing the documents - he knew everything listed.

****

"Dan?"

"Yes?" Dan waited. Casey stared at his monitor. "Casey?"

"Yeah. Did. Did you get Dana to order us another desk?" Casey still stared at his monitor.

"Dana sent me to Janie. Janie was Janie." Dan sighed.

"She hemmed and hawed and refused to do anything that might involve money?" Casey smiled.

"Yes. She pointed out that there was only one desk because there's only supposed to be one person in the office."

Casey looked at Dan and bit his lip. "You like sharing this office."

"I do. It's fine. But I want my own desk."

"And Janie said no?"

"She said this office was supposed to be mine alone. Therefore it has one computer and one desk." Dan sighed again.

Casey thought. "Somewhere on this floor is an office that is supposed to be mine. It has a desk and a computer, right? Can't we have those?"

"No, we can't. I did point that out. And I found out what happened to your abandoned office."

"I didn't so much abandon it as never use it."

"You know where it is?"

"Not anymore. Dana," Casey paused. "- Dana showed me the first day or something. But I came to your office to talk to you and sat down and ..."

"And you've never left."

"Where's my office?"

"Right next to Dana's."

"That's - Janie stole my office?"

"You abandoned it." Dan smirked.

"Wait. Janie's office is smaller than this one. They assigned you the larger office?" Casey pushed his chair back from the desk.

"You had the better view. And it's right next to Dana's."

"Ah. But yours is still bigger."

"Heh. Should I make the obvious reply to that, Casey?"

"You know what I meant!" Casey tapped his fingers on the desk.

"My office is larger, but you had the better view and you were right next to Dana."

Casey paused. He turned back to the monitor. "So, so we're not getting another desk?"

"We still might. I pointed out to Janie that she had your desk and your computer and they were both maybe nicer than an office manager might normally have received ..."

"Blackmail. Did it work?"

"We'll see. Maybe we'll get a second desk yet." Dan smiled.

"Will we lose the table?"

"Probably."

"I don't want to lose the table."

"We'll get more drawer space. We won't be splitting the drawers anymore."

"I don't need that many drawers, I keep most of that stuff on the computer." Casey sighed.

"Well, you'll have more of that space, too."

"Yeah." Casey thought. "Um. You deleted a lot of files yesterday."

"Did it before you could figure out my password, I note." Dan smirked.

"Right. I didn't try to read them, Danny."

"Liar." Dan was still smirking.

"Whatever."

"Abby told me to - she thought it would be a good idea for me to write some stuff down. That's all. I wrote it down, I talked to her about it. I deleted them. Sorry you didn't get a chance to read it." Dan got up and walked to the couch. He flopped down on it and rubbed his eyes.

"I didn't." Casey sighed and looked down at his hands. "I didn't try to read them."

"You're so clearly lying, Casey." Dan sounded tired.

"Whatever." Casey stood up. "I'm going to - I'm going to go somewhere."

Dan looked up from the couch. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. I'm perfectly fine. I need. I need to talk to Natalie."

"Okay." Dan looked up. "Casey?"

"Yeah?"

Dan stood up and walked over to Casey. "Are you sure you're okay? Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?"

Casey thought, what abortion? Why did she tell Danny and not him? When was it? Then he thought, how much would Danny hate him if he admitted what he had done?

"There's nothing to talk about. I'm going to talk to Natalie about things sports-related."

He wasn't able to ask Natalie. He talked to her about baseball and how things were with the whole getting back together with Jeremy thing, but he couldn't bring himself to ask her about Dana. He felt his confusion was just punishment for reading Dan's things. He shouldn't have, and now he was suffering. He stared at Dana in the rundown meeting. It was a consistent melody in his head, over and over again, what abortion? What abortion? Why tell Danny and not him? She asked him about the Mets, and he stuttered out something noncommittal.

He had to know. Or be told he wouldn't ever know.

He decided to ask Natalie. He would meet her somewhere outside the office so he didn't have to worry about Danny or Dana overhearing. He asked her to lunch. After listening to an hour of Natalie's chatter about Jeremy, the show, changes at the network since Quo Vadimus took over and what seemed like every other little thing that crossed her mind. After lunch, Natalie insisted on getting ice cream, since Casey was paying, and walking down by the harbor.

"Okay, Casey, what's up?" Natalie looked up at him.

"Natalie, why are we walking by the harbor? This isn't exactly scenic."

"I like to look at the sailors."

"What about Jeremy?"

"He doesn't like to look at sailors. He likes to look at porn stars, apparently."

Casey smiled. "He likes to look at you."

"Yeah. True. What's up, Casey?"

"Okay. Here's the thing. There's no way to tell this without me looking bad, but I need to know." Casey sighed.

"This sounds serious. Do you like Dana again?"

"I never - I never stopped liking Dana. I stopped wanting to go out with her." Casey shook his head.

"But now you want to go out with her again?"

"No. It's not that, Natalie."

"You should ask her out. And soon, cause they've fired JJ and they're going to hire Sam Donovan."

Casey looked down at her. "Where did you hear that?"

"I have sources."

"Who told you that?"

"Isaac. And Sam'll probably take the job. Isaac told him he should, since Sam's too old to be jumping from place to place and making no money. So, you should ask Dana out and soon."

"I'm not - this isn't about that." Casey sighed again.

"It's not about Dana?" Natalie licked her ice cream and looked concerned.

"It is. But not that. Just - just let me tell you, okay?"

"Okay."

Casey sighed again. "So. Danny has - he had these files on our computer. And he did this tricky computer thing where you couldn't read them unless you had the password. And I got the password and read them."

"How'd you get the password?"

"I figured it out."

"You figured it out?" Natalie looked up at him, grinning.

"Jeremy found it for me."

"Jeremy helped you break into Dan's files?"

"I lied to him and said they were my files. We share a computer."

"That wasn't very nice. You lied to Jeremy so you could violate Dan's privacy."

"I know. I'm suffering for it, I swear."

"You found a file called 'things I hate about Casey?'"

"No. There was a list of things Danny made - I'm not - on this list, there was this thing. And I need to ask you about it." He paused.

"Does Dan have a crush on you?"

"NO. No, not that I'm aware of. Does he?"

"Not that I'm aware of. Plus, I think if Dan were gay, you wouldn't be his type."

"Natalie. Please. Wait. You don't think I'm his type?"

"I just think if Dan were gay, or bisexual, he wouldn't be interested in you. He'd probably want someone more hip. More cool." She was still grinning.

"You think I'm not cool enough for Dan to be attracted to me?"

"You think Dan is attracted to you?"

"I do not. But if he were, if he were that way, I think I would be cool enough for him."

Natalie licked her ice cream and grinned at him again. "You can choose to believe that."

"Natalie."

"What's the thing?"

"He wrote this thing. He said, he wrote that he accidentally told you something about Dana." He looked at the ships. He prayed she wouldn't force him to say more.

Natalie stopped grinning. "Huh. He wrote what it was, too?"

"Yeah. But."

"Hmm. Dan didn't want you to read that." She frowned.

"I know. And I feel bad about it." He rubbed his eyes and looked at her.

"You should."

"So."

"I know what you're talking about and I'm not going to tell you."

"That's okay. I just."

"You should not think about it." She frowned again and walked ahead of him.

"It's a little hard."

She stopped and turned to look at him. She put her hands on her hips. "Well. You did a horrible thing. And you should be punished for it, so I'm not going to tell you anything. And I wouldn't tell you anyway cause it's so far from being your business it's in a whole 'nother country and two continents away from being your business."

"Okay."

"And I take it back - you shouldn't ask Dana out. You're not good enough for her."

They rode a cab back to the office and Casey felt like a jerk the whole way home.

****

Natalie told Dan about Casey reading the files. Casey realized it when Dan came into the office, and called him a fucking asshole. Dan yelled at him for another twenty minutes. It was long enough for Casey to realize that Natalie had told him about the files, but not about the ones Casey had seen. Dan accepted his many apologies and agreed to take Casey's next two days off as penance. Casey tried to forget it.

"Which specific things did you read?"

Casey sighed. He looked down at his hands. "Danny. I don't want to even think about it."

"Well, think about it. I'd like to know which of my deep, dark secrets you're aware of now."

Casey said the first thing that came into his head. "If you were gay or bisexual, would you be attracted to me?"

"Excuse me. What?"

"I was just wondering."

Dan glared at him. "You weren't just wondering. You're trying to distract me."

"Yes. But Natalie thinks if you were gay or bisexual, you wouldn't be attracted to me."

"Casey." Dan kept glaring at him.

"I was just wondering."

"Casey."

Casey sighed. He kept looking at his hands. "I read the list of books. And the cds. And the list of people, where it was just people and I don't know why any of them were on the list. And the thing about how many women you've slept with."

"That was all?"

"No."

"And?"

"The list of all the people you think you've harmed."

"You read that?" Dan rubbed his forehead.

"Yeah."

"I'm getting mad at you all over again." Dan looked stricken. He looked over at Casey.

"Danny."

Dan glared at him again. "You're not - you couldn't possibly be about to ask me what I think you're about to ask me."

"I'm not. I'm just sorry."

"You suck. I mean it, Casey. You suck."

"I know."

That night, Dan forgave him again. They went to Anthony's, Dan refused to let Casey sit with Dana or Jeremy and made Casey pay for the many, many expensive drinks Dan ordered. Dan made sure that Casey was "wallowing in his miserable sucky miserableness" and only sipped the 10 different drinks he ordered. It was what men did, Casey thought. Or these two men - they forgave each other.

Dan's blackmail of Janie worked. They received a second desk and a second computer. They put the second desk against the wall where the bookcase was and moved the bookcase. Casey got the desk that faced the door and Dan claimed the old desk. Janie took the table.

Casey still stared at Dana. After two weeks of knowing, he wasn't not thinking about it. He did think about it.

"Danny."

"Casey. Casey. Casey. Do you know how much I love my desk?" Dan ran his hands over the desktop.

"I'm pretty sure you love it, Danny, since you've brought it up every hour in the last two days since we got the desk."

"It's a lovely desk."

Casey rolled his eyes. "I remember from when we shared it."

"Now it's all mine, though, and it's just wonderful. It's grown in wonderfulness."

"Dan. Moving away from the desk for a minute ..."

"I won't move away from my desk. I love my desk."

"I don't want to talk about the desk." Casey stared at Dan.

"Okay."

"Could you - could you tell Dana that I read that thing and ..."

"Why?"

"Cause I feel bad. I sort of know this thing and she doesn't know I know."

"Right. So you want me to make sure she knows that I have once again done this thing she didn't want to me to do."

"It was my fault."

Dan frowned. "Then you tell her."

"I don't want to."

"You don't want to because you're scared or because there's really no reason for her to know that you know and you just want to find about it and make her feel bad?"

"I don't want her to feel bad."

"Then you should let it lie."

"I don't think I can."

"Why not? It's none of your business. It's absolutely none of your business. Is there any good that would come out of you telling her you know this one small thing?"

"I don't know. But."

"But you want to know. Right? That's hardly good enough to cause her pain."

"You - you're right. I withdraw the question - I withdraw whatever."

"Good."

He tried. He genuinely tried. He concentrated on being as nice as possible to Dana. But he wasn't normally that nice to her, so then he concentrated on not being too nice. He concentrated when he talked to her on being as normal as possible.

Dana walked into their office. "Casey."

"Dana."

"Where's Dan?"

"Pulling tape."

"Good. What's up with you lately?"

"What do you mean?"

"You've been acting all weird around me for the past three weeks."

"I haven't."

"You have. You stare at me, and then you're super nice to me, and then you're not nice to me at all, and whatever's going on, could you just tell me? Cause you're freakin' me out, McCall."

"I'm not. I'm not anything with you."

"Seriously. Casey, what is it? I'm not seeing Sam, or planning to see him or something."

"It's not that. It's really not. You should see anyone you want, Dana."

"Then tell me."

"There's nothing to tell."

"There is something to tell."

"There's nothing to tell."

"Casey. Stop it. Just tell me what's going on."

"I. I don't know what it is."

"You don't know?"

"I don't acknowledge that there is anything going on and if there is I don't know."

"Casey."

"Dana."

"Casey, just tell me. You're driving me crazy."

"It's - it's nothing."

"There's something?"

"Dana." He had no idea what to say. "Dana." He stared at the newsroom over Dana's shoulder and heard over and over again in his head, what abortion? What abortion?

Dana stared at him. "What did you say?"

"What?"

Dana looked stricken. "You. You said 'what a-abortion.'"

"I didn't say that out loud."

"You. You did. Fucking Danny. That fucking asshole."

"He didn't. He didn't tell me. I broke into his files, I snooped on his computer and he had written something and - it's not Danny's fault. It's all me." Casey's voice broke.

She stared at him. "Then fuck you." She walked out.

Dana's anger at him in the rundown meeting caused Natalie and Dan to shoot evil looks. After the rundown, they both bitched him out. He stood and took it.

After the show he changed and walked back to his office. Dana was sitting in the dark, on the couch.

He said, "Look. I'm sorry. I'm seriously sorry. I'm so sorry."

"Whatever. You're an asshole."

"I know."

"You know, I don't. I don't think of it as some badge of shame. It's my life but it's not. I don't think of it as this horrible, awful thing."

Casey sat down in the chair and felt miserable.

"I was 23 and the guy was this jerk - this reporter from the station."

"The summer you were here, and Danny was your room-mate."

"Yeah. That was then. He took me to the place. I made the right decision. The guy had gotten a job in LA and just left and didn't care about me or anything. And I couldn't be - I wasn't prepared to be anything. I was only six weeks along, so. I did it, it's over, I'm not haunted by it. So. Don't think that I didn't have reasons."

"I don't." Casey sat down on Dan's desk.

"You better not. You have no right. I didn't tell you cause it was none of your business."

"It wasn't. It isn't."

"You're right."

"I know. I'm sorry I. I'm sorry for everything."

She walked out again. He sat in the dark for a long time.

****

"You're an asshole." Dan shook his head.

Casey sighed. "Danny. I know."

Danny sighed. "Look. I know we talked about this and settled this and you just blurted it out and she talked to you. But I'm still pissed at you."

"I know. I don't know what to do here. I'm sorry, I feel like a complete tool, and I still feel that way. Tell me what to do to make it up to you."

Dan considered. "Well. Don't read my shit."

"Never again. Though. Danny."

Dan smiled. "Casey? Is this the question about whether or not I'd be attracted to you if I were gay or bisexual?"

"No."

"Well."

"Why was your password my birthday?"

"Heh. Well, I thought you might try to read it. So I tried to pick a password I would remember, but not something associated with me that you would easily guess. I didn't think you'd enlist Jeremy in your works of evil."

Casey sighed. "Okay. So I won't ever read your stuff. Or try to read your stuff. What else?"

"I don't know. Don't tell anyone about Dana's thing."

"I won't. I haven't. And I won't."

Dan leaned back and stroked the desk. "Okay. I really like my desk."

"I know." Casey smiled.

"I can't believe blackmailing Janie worked."

Casey looked down at his gleaming new desk. "Danny."

"Casey."

"It didn't work. I paid for the desk. And the computer. I went to Janie and I said I would pay for it after you yelled at me the second time."

"You did?" Danny grinned.

"Yeah."

"You're not just saying that cause I'm mad at you about Dana?"

Casey shook his head. "No. You can ask her. Janie's actually worried that people will think she caved on something - she'd be happy to tell you the truth. She'd be happy to tell everyone."

"Okay. I'm not so pissed at you now."

Casey smiled and then looked down. "Do you think Dana will stop being pissed at me? Ever?"

"She's not pissed. She's something else that's kinda like disappointed and not liking you very much and thinking you're an asshole. And she's gonna feel that way for a long time. And you should take it."

"I will." Casey turned to his monitor and started writing.

Dan looked at him. "Good."

THE END

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