A Simple Touch

Half a Heart

"There's more to a heart than just anger or hate…it's full of all kinds of feelings….

"Don't you remember...?"

In a split second, Vanitas remembered when he felt all those positive emotions which made him feel whole…though; it was only brief, making him angrier.

Vanitas charged and jumped, raising his Key-blade at Kairi, intending to stab her.

"Die!" he said coldly.

At this moment, everything seemed to go in slow motion; Kairi just stood where she was…frozen; unable to move, while Riku, who had recovered, looked at the unpleasant image that was happening. He had it in his mind that he had to do something; to act fast.

"Kairi!" he screamed; getting up running as fast as he could to her.

Though Kairi didn't hear Riku, no…she was still frozen in fear, making her block out the noise surrounding her.

And within the moment, everything was so quiet, that you can hear a pin drop….the only sound that was heard….was the crucial, dreadful sound of a blade piercing skin.

Blood had splattered, reflecting in Kairi's eyes.

She was beyond horrified…the one who took the hit for her…was Riku; it was all so quick that when Riku got himself in front of Kairi to protect her, the price ended up being for him to take the fall.

"RIKU!"

"No…" Sora whispered out; sensing in what Vanitas just did.

And…without further warning, Vanitas then pushed Sora to the ground, with him on top of him; Vanitas' had a firm grip on Sora's arms…pinning him down.

Van moved his head closer…eyeing at Sora with a smirk on his face.

"So…did I make my point clear? Do you still have it in your mind that I'm good?" Vanitas said coldly.

Though Sora didn't respond…he was just lost in words; he just continued to stare at Vanitas.

"Or…do I have to continue on with you?" he continued.

Vanitas then slowly raised his hand and touched Sora's cheek, and within a second, Vanitas started to dig his finger, piercing his skin; making Sora bleed once more.

"He's still alive…." Sora whispered out; though his statement confused Vanitas.

"What?" he asked.

"You didn't kill Riku…you only wounded him….there is still a chance for you to stop while you still can…." Sora said.

"Stubborn brat, play times' over, I will destroy you without any further hesitation!"

Vanitas then summoned his Key-blade, though before he could act, Sora some-how managed to escape and pushed Vanitas back, making him fall to the ground. Sora then got up facing him.

"Fine, let's play it your way then," Sora said, summoning his own Key-blade.

As Vanitas got up and turned his attention to Sora, he saw that he was glowing green; it was more less understood, that he was using the healing spell, though the spell wasn't perfect enough to heal some of the wounds.

Vanitas then jumped and used a fire spell, "Fire!"

The fire came in lightning speed, though Sora stood his ground, and dodged to the side.

"That was close…" he muttered under his breath; though as he picked his head up, more fire was racing towards him.

Sora stood up, and pointed his Key-blade towards the fire, "Blizzard!"

And within a second, a ray of ice shot out, engulfing the flames; pretty soon…there was nothing of it.

This only infuriated Vanitas more, "I hate you, why don't you just die!"

He then ran and swung his Key-blade at Sora…only for it to be clashed with his. Both of them were staring intensely at each other.

"Really? Hatred…anger…and vengeance, is that all you know…" Sora said, eying at him.

"That's all I ever was, cursed with feeling negative emotions…" Vanitas said.

"But there's more than that, haven't you felt some- thing good at least once in your life!"

"Yeah I have, though it only made me feel emptier, that's why I intend to get the x-blade…to change all that."

"But at what cost, the x-blade's power won't help you Vanitas, with all that power, it could possibly destroy you, let alone save you…"

"Shut up! You don't know anything, I did it once before and I can do it again!"

"Fine then, go ahead and continue to be a tool for Xehanort, he doesn't care about you like he doesn't with your other half…"

"Hmph…I don't even care about my Master at all!"

"Well you might not care about him, but I do know that you hate being used! If you ask me, you should be getting revenge on your Master instead of Ven, make HIM suffer for what he did to you, not Ven…

He's the one that caused you your pain, he's the one that separated you from Ven, he's the whole reason you're like this!"

"SHUT UP!"

Then Vanitas' Key-blade started to glow as he raised his weapon once more. With all his strength, he swung and smashed Sora's Key-blade; breaking it. Sora's eyes widen in horror as he saw his weapon literally shatter into pieces...like glass.

"The…the Key-blade…" Sora said sinking down to his knees, plainly lost in words.

The only thing that was heard, was the sound of Vanitas laughing.

"And now, I'm going to finish the both of you off, you and your friend," he then snapped his fingers and within a blink of an eye, darkness appeared, wrapping itself around Sora.

"No! Please I'm begging you, don't do this!" Sora said; though Vanitas turned his back on him.

"Please!"

"RIKU!" kairi yelled.

Blood continued to silently roll down Riku's arm; a drop or two even landed on the ground. After a second, due to the pain, Riku sank down to his knees, putting his hand over his arm, trying to endure it. He then slowly looked up at Vanitas and saw that a bit of blood was on his cheek, and that the part of the blade was also covered in blood.

After a while, Riku then felt two warm hands on his shoulders, nonetheless, he knew it was Kairi.

"Riku, are you alright? Please talk to me," Kairi said worriedly.

"I'm fine," he choked out, "But you, Mickey, and the others should get out of here while you still can."

"No, we're not leaving you like this," Kairi darted back.

"Awww, how touching, it's almost like you two are a couple," Vanitas said annoyed, wiping the splattered blood away from his cheek.

"How revolting, this childish game has gone on long enough," Vanitas then raised his Key-blade, but before he could do anything, a beam of light came out of nowhere hitting him.

Vanitas was sent flying, hitting himself hard against the wall; though it only took him a few seconds to recover. As he picked up his head, he saw that the attack came from Mickey; this only meant that some-how they managed to defeat the Unversed.

"You're dead rodent!

Vanitas then ran at full speed towards Mickey. As he came close, he started to swing a few hits, but Mickey was able to dodge every single one of them. The battle between the two looked about even, but pretty soon as Mickey dodged another swing, an unexpected kick to the chest through him off. The kick was so powerful, it sent Mickey flying, knocking him out cold when he hit the walll; his Key-blade dropped as he fell.

"Your Majesty!" Goofy and Donald yelled.

"That's it. I had enough of this, THUNDER!" Donald yelled.

Thunder came flying out of Donald's staff, moving in a fast pace towards Vanitas, though Van's smirk was still planted on his face. He moved his Key-blade and deflected the spell. The thunder darted back to Donald, and as he attempted to run, the thunder hit the ground, causing a small explosion, which made Donald fly and get knocked out as well.

"Donald!" Goofy yelled.

Then Goofy turned back to Vanitas, though due to the smoke, he couldn't really see much of anything, but Goofy continued to hold up his shield, trying not to let his guard down. Everything was quiet, to quiet that Goofy could hear the sound of his own breathing; he kept circling, looking at every direction, every angle, trying to find Van, but to no success.

But soon enough, a vague shadow jumped out, unraveling from the smoke, coming down at Goofy. Before Goofy knew it, Vanitas it him on the head, also knocking him out cold. After a second, the smoke finally cleared once Vanitas landed on the ground.

Vanitas then turned and darted his eyes towards his last two targets.

"This is too easy," he muttered under his breath.

"You monster, I won't let you hurt my friend," Kairi said getting up.

"No Kairi," Riku said.

Though his words were wasted, Kairi got her Key-blade and charged at Vanitas, but since she wasn't fully skilled, Vanitas was able to disarm her pretty easily. As her Key-blade fell to the floor and vanished, Vanitas then grabbed her by the arm and pulled her close to him, having his weapon close to her neck. Kairi struggled to break free, but the more she tried, the closer she felt the blade draw deeper into her skin.

"Again, this is way too easy," Vanitas said with a smirk.

"You know, besides having her spirit, there's something else about you that seems familiar to me," Vanitas said to Kairi, still holding her close to him.

Without another word, Vanitas then started to smell Kairi's hair; it only took him a second or two before he continued to speak.

"Mmm…I see why now, it's because of your scent, you're like Sora, only…you're pure of heart; no darkness…just light, unlike him."

Vanitas then pushed the blade harder on Kairi's neck, "Which means, I can devour your light if I wanted to…after all, it's so pure, I find a little hard to resist."

Van then moved his head a little closer to Kairi; it almost looked like he was going to kiss her again, though once he heard Riku's voice, he moved his head away.

"Leave her alone!" he yelled.

"Hmph...you're lucky," he said to Kairi.

He then lowered his blade, and threw Kairi to the side. And without further warning, he ran and powerfully kicked Riku right in the stomach again, because of this, Riku started to cough out blood.

"No! Please I'm begging you, don't do this," Vanitas heard Sora's voice echo in the back of his head.

Vanitas then swung his Key-blade, slicing the surface of Riku's chest. His clothes tore, as well as more blood flowing out from the wound.

"I'm going to finish the both of you off, you and your friend," Vanitas' voice echoed back to Sora.

Vanitas then grabbed Riku by the neck and forcefully pushed him back against the wall. He then held the blade close to his neck.

"Does this seem familiar to you? Vanitas snarled, "Just like what you did to me."

"STOP!" Kairi shouted running.

She even put her hands on Vanitas' shoulders to try and stop him, but it was hopeless. Vanitas did let go, resulting for Riku to slide down to the floor, but Van turned to Kairi and grabbed her arm again.

"You should have stayed where I left you girl," he said harshly.

With Van's other hand, he use it to knock out Kairi, just like everyone else.

"Stop…" Van heard Sora's voice once again; though in a faint whisper.

Vanitas was well aware of his voice, but simply ignored it, so he turned his attention back to Riku who was sitting, with his back against the wall. With all the wounds he had been given, it was hard for Riku to even move; at this point, one more hit, would surely end his life.

Van then raised his Key-blade, pointing it at Riku. Dark aura started to swirl around the blade, charging up with power. This was it…the final blow.

"Stop..." Sora's voice echoed, though the tone was slightly louder than the first.

The blade continued to charge up, gaining an incredible amount of dark energy, it just showed that Vanitas wasn't going to stop; he plainly ignored Sora again. Slowly…the blade rose even higher. Riku was just frozen, with all the pain, he couldn't move, even if he wanted to; he was trapped, he truly believed that this was the end.

"Good-bye…" Vanitas said coldly.

And just when he was about to swing to unleash the dark power, Van heard Sora's voice yet again, though his tone was even louder than the last; Sora was screaming at the top of his lungs in desperation.

"STOOOP!"

Out of nowhere, Van felt the familiar sharp pain in his head….making him stop. Due to this unexpected pain, he dropped his Key-blade and the dark energy disappeared as well.

"What! Rrrgh…the pain…" Vanitas said, starting to hold his head; trying to make the pain stop.

But…it was too much for him to endure, that Van was starting to breathe hard. In the end, his entire body was trembling. As this was happening, it left Riku a bit baffled, he didn't know what was going on at first, but then it finally clicked in his head.

"Sora…" Riku said in his mind.

After a second, Vanitas eventually fell to his knees, now having his hand over his chest. Within every waking moment, it seemed like the pain was slowly eating away at Van's existence; it was truly much worse, than what he had experienced back when he first gained an existence. As Riku tried to gain the ability to stand again, he saw that shock, fear, and pain were displayed in Van's eyes, or more like Sora's eyes since he still had control over his body.

"I…I couldn't do it….I failed…." Vanitas said to himself, still trembling.

"Sora?" Riku called, wondering if his friend is somewhere deep inside.

"But why? I never had trouble in doing what I pleased before…what is holding me back?" Vanitas said in his mind, looking at the floor.

"It…it must be Sora….his light is so great…that…it probably balances out my darkness since we share the same body….which means, I'm limited in my actions.

I'm…I truly am a failure…a weakling; he has control over me some-how no matter what I do."

After struggling for a bit, the darkness that was wrapped around Sora's body disappeared, releasing him. Sora was a bit baffled when he saw that this happened, but after a second, he eventually turned his attention to Vanitas. He saw that Van was on his knees, having his back against him.

"Vanitas?" Sora asked getting up.

But there was no response; Van continued to have his back facing Sora.

"Vanitas?" Sora asked again, without even noticing, he found himself slowly walking towards him.

After a minute, Sora was there close to him. He slowly reached his hand, attempting to touch his shoulder, though Vanitas sensed his presence and quickly turned to him, slapping his hand away; it was like if he was a wild animal ready to attack at any moment.

"Get the hell away from me!" Vanitas snapped at Sora.

As Sora looked at him, he saw that tears were slowly forming in his eyes. He was going to break again at any second.

"Go ahead and just finish me off, I don't give a damn anymore…

I'm a weakling…I don't deserve to live any longer….Van continued.

Sora then looked at Van's Key-blade that was on the ground, but then he turned his attention back to him.

"Vanitas…you're not weak," Sora said.

"There's more to a heart than just anger or hate, it's full of all kinds of feelings….

You said earlier, that you felt other emotions besides the dreadful ones….

That alone in itself tells me that you're not weak; it shows that you have a heart and that you're no different from anyone else," Sora continued.

"Oh sure, because the power of the heart is your greatest weapon right?" Vanitas said disgusted.

"It's my friends…my friends are my power…" Sora said.

Hmph…those words…you truly are influenced by Ven," Vanitas said in his mind.

"We are all connected and aren't truly alone no matter where we are. I've become a part of their heart just as they become a part of mine, we're like family…and with a little help…you can become a part of that family too, you won't have to be alone anymore Van.

Just think about it, you can finally be free and happy…" Sora said kneeling down looking at Van.

Vanitas returned his gaze at Sora for a moment thinking…though he didn't say a word; his eyes eventually trailed off to the ground while Sora then extended out his hand.

"So…what do you say?" Sora asked.

As soon as Vanitas saw Sora's hand near him again, his first instinct was to slap it away that he did before. But this time, something deep inside him was telling him not to repeat the same action; no…for the first time ever in his life, he was actually listening to someone other than taking orders from his Master; even though at times he wouldn't really follow them.

Van kept wondering to himself…is it right… to go against his murderous instincts and take this boy's hand; to put his trust in him, hoping he will succeed in getting him a better life? Or…should he just let all the words wash over him like if they were meaningless; to go and just drown Sora in the darkness and keep trying to have control over the body for his own. Which path was the right one to take…or to be clearer for Van, which one suited him better.

The more Vanitas thought…the more tangled up he was in his mind. He thought if he took Sora's hand and trusted him, he felt it would make his character soft which he extremely doesn't want. The last thing on his mind would be for someone to be calling him a softy or a goody goody, he just isn't like that at all since he's darkness itself, and darkness is nothing but wicked…no goodness or softness to taint its pure dark nature.

But in the end, desperation got the better of Van; he wanted freedom so badly, that he'll be willing to do anything to get it. So…without really realizing it, he found himself raising his hand and slowly taking Sora's; it just goes to show that he wanted freedom more than anything; or in this case…maybe even a family. But as Van finally took Sora's hand, he knew later on if his plan worked, Sora will probably never let Van live it down that he was trusting and good. So…in order for him to hide it and still have a sense of being dark, he had this to say to Sora.

"Fine, but you listen and you listen good, I'm only allowing you to help me just because of what you said earlier.

I hate being a pawn, so when I get my life back, the first thing I'm going to do is kick that old man to the curb, you got that?" Van said looking at Sora straight in the eye.

"Got it," Sora said, nearly falling over.

"Good."

Within that moment, as the two were helping each other up, a faint light underneath them appeared. As they turned their attention to the mysterious light, another appeared and within time, another and then another.

"What is going on?" Sora asked.

"Hmph…beats me…" Vanitas said bluntly.

As the two kept staring, they noticed that the small lights before them started to grow…forming something, but what was it? Pretty soon as the lights connected, the question was answered; a circular shape was taking form underneath them and due time, it was safe to conclude that both Sora and Vanitas were standing on a platform; a blue platform to be exact.

As Sora was looking down at the platform, he felt a mysterious feeling inside his body; was his heart restored, if so, how? Sora kept wondering, but didn't really come to a clear conclusion, it must be one of those things where a miracle happens and you try not to make too much sense over it. After staring for quite a while, Sora blinked his eyes only once, and as he opened them again, pupils were revealed. It indicated that he was back to normal; not weak or dying.

"My hearts' restored…" Sora said in his mind; though another presence of light interrupted his thought.

As the glowing orb appeared and hovered close to Sora, he held out his hand and took it. As he did, the orb took shape…a key shape. As the shape continued to take form, the light around it started to fade away. Pretty soon, it revealed itself to be Sora's Key-blade; his weapon was reconstructed and brought back in his grasp.

"My Key-blade…" Sora said happily with a warm smile.

After a second, Sora then turned his attention to Vanitas.

"Okay…I guess we can move on with the situation…" Sora said having the Key-blade in his hand.

"Situation?" Vanitas raised an eyebrow.

"Well, yeah, if I'm going to help you and the others, you kind of have to give me my body back…" Sora said scratching the back of his head.

"And where am I suppose to go then…I'm already a traitor as it is and there is no way in hell I'm going back, just to get another beating from that old man," Vanitas said.

"Well, that's an easy fix, you can stay here; with much thought… this place is more of a shelter rather than a prison. You'll be safe until the time is right," Sora said.

"Hmph…staying here in this nuthouse, I don't think so…" Vanitas said crossing his arms and looking away.

"Okaayy, but just remember, it's either this place, or a beating from Xehanort," Sora said.

"I think I'll take the beating…" Vanitas said.

"Oh come on, just stay here, it'll make things easier," Sora said.

"Easy for you to say," Vanitas said in his mind.

"Fine I'll stay and I'll give you your body back, but before you go, may I ask, how are you going to proceed with this plan?" Vanitas said out loud.

"Well…since you and Ven have a connection with each other…I was thinking… that if I saved Ven first somehow, along the line, you'll be brought back too, having a body of your own instead of using mine…

I believe this will be a good first step..." Sora said.

"Of course, why am I not surprised," Vanitas said annoyed, just hearing Ven again, made him sick.

"Well, good luck finding him," he said back to Sora; though the statement left him confused.

"What do you mean?" Sora asked.

"Well, long story short, he nearly killed himself and in order to survive, he abandoned his body. His spirit went off in searching for you in order to retain his well being…leaving his body in a comatose state.

I only know that much since I can sense where he is and what he feels, but I have limitations, so I don't really know where his body ended up; As far as I know, his body was probably swallowed up by the darkness that nearly destroyed us both." Vanitas said.

"No, I'm pretty sure his body is out there somewhere, don't worry, I'll find him. I'll restore him along with you. It just has to work," Sora said.

Vanitas then gave a little sigh and looked at Sora, "Hmph…so like you, you haven't changed one bit," he said in his mind.

"Well, I guess I better be going now, bye Van…see you soon," Sora said with a warm smile.

Van then sharply turned away, eyeing at the ground, "Yeah whatever, just go," he said.

So without another word, Sora let his Key-blade vanished as he walked over to Van, giving him an unexpected hug good-bye; for some odd reason, he felt the need to do this before leaving. The hug, just made Van uneasy; obviously he hated this type of affection, again he wanted to hurt Sora, but he swallowed his pride and sucked it up; in return he hugged Sora back.

In a weird way, as Van was hugging him, it felt like if he was hugging the four year old boy he met so long ago. To him, the feeling felt sweet, yet at the same time revolting, but again he just had to let it slid since Sora was the key now to help him get the freedom he wanted.

"Good-bye…for now…"

"Sora…Sora…Sora!" a voice shouted.

Sora mumbled a few words, but as he opened his eyes, his vision slowly came into view. It took him a few minutes to realize that he was lying on the ground…but mostly importantly, he remembered that he was in Disney Castle. As his vision came back fully, he slowly picked himself up to his knees and examined his body; no cuts, no scars or bruises, he was completely unharmed and back into his usual clothes; not wearing the black coat anymore.

"My head…" Sora muttered putting his hand on the side of his head, trying to eliminate the drowsiness.

But as he did, a pair of arms instantly wrapped themselves around his neck; hugging him.

"Sora, you're okay!" Kairi cried, holding him tightly.

Apparently after the knock out, Kairi regained consciousness. Sora blinked once or twice, just staring at her a bit baffled, he honestly had no idea what was going on; though after a while, it clicked. So nonetheless, Sora gave a warm smile and embraced her.

"I'm fine," he said giving a faint chuckle, "I'm just glad that you are okay, I was worried about all of you."

"Uh, haven't you got this backwards Sora? After all, we were worried that we lost you for a minute there," Riku said.

After hearing the presence of Riku's voice, Sora turned and saw how badly wounded he was. Sora was just stunned, he couldn't make out the words he wanted to say, all that was playing in his mind, was the dark image of blood being splattered, and him screaming out to Van to stop; it was truly horrifying for Sora to see that his best friend was hurt, who knows, if Van did the same thing to Kairi...seeing her like Riku, Sora probably wouldn't have the ability to forgive Van, since Sora cherished Kairi so much.

"Oh, this, come on Sora, you know me, compared to what I've been through, this is nothing," Riku said looking at his own wounds.

"I used the healing spell, so most of the wounds healed, and the bleeding stop, don't worry I'll be okay," Riku said pushing out a smile; the last thing he wanted was for his friend to worry about him.

But this didn't really help, even though it wasn't Sora's fault, he couldn't help but feel guilty and take the blame for what had happened. It was like if he was the one who hurt the people he loved, even though in the very back of his mind, he knew it was Van who did it.

Sora then turned his gaze to the ground, still holding Kairi in his arms, "I'm sorry…I'm sorry I let you all worry about me, and what I've put you through…" Sora said.

"No need to apologize Sora, it wasn't your fault," Kairi said letting go, looking at him.

Though Sora's heart sank even deeper, "Actually… I feel like it kind of was, I guess I have some explaining to do," he said; his eyes still fixed on the ground.

"Well, we're just glad you are alright, we have our share of explaining too in why we brought you three here," Mickey said walking over to the gang, along with Donald and Goofy.

As everyone was talking among themselves, they were blissfully unaware that they were being watched. A mysterious black hooded person kept observing them while he was safely hidden away in the dark shadows.

"I knew he wasn't fitted for such a task, and now he rests within the boy," the person said disgusted.

"Xehanort is not going to like this…"

The person then dissolved in the darkness and teleported back to the castle. As the hooded person made his way to inform the Master of Vanitas' failure, the person found out that Xehanort was already aware; he watched the whole battle.

"So, you knew then didn't you," the hooded man said.

"Yes, I did, it was pretty convincing, but I had no intention for Sora to be the last vessel…" Xehanort said.

"If that really was the case, then why did you make a big deal in ordering Vanitas to kidnap him?" the man asked.

"I thought you said he was a perfect candidate, next to his nobody Roxas," he continued.

"That is true, there's no mistake in that, I could make Sora my vessel if I wanted to but…there's this other vessel I always had my eye on…" Xehanort said.

"Oh…do tell."

"Yes, you see, I spent quite a while looking for this vessel, but to no prevail, so…I came up with a plan to finally get my hands on it.

First, I went out in searching for Vanitas, hoping he still had his own desire to have freedom; if he did, it would have been no different, he would still play as a pawn in my hand….so luckily he did.

So to make him do what I wished, I let him in on half of the plan, which was to bring the last vessel, in order to take the next step for the x-blade's creation.

That's why I told him to bring Sora, and in the end take over his body, in order for the others to have a reason to fight. Even though I didn't say it, I knew this plan wasn't going to work since I knew Sora wouldn't let Vanitas win.

Being the good little boy he is, I figured that Sora would offer to help Van after seeing what he had been through, there by pushing Sora to find the vessel I want since he is linked to Vanitas," Xehanort said.

"So…all this was just to get the real vessel you wanted? But then if that's the case, what makes you so sure that the lights will fight after you achieve this goal?" the man said.

"Oh, that alone will take care of itself, since Sora has all that darkness inside him now, it will only be a matter of time before Van's influence will eat away at him, slowly turning him into an unstable monster; a being of the dark. This will happen one way or another, even if Van tries to be good.

Once when everyone finds out I was the reason for what happened to Sora, they'll be willing to fight to get revenge on me…thus the clash will begin."

"Mmmm…you seem pretty confident that this plan will work…"

"Yes, and as for you, I want you to follow them. You know Vanitas' scent and now since he rests within the boy, it'll be easier to track Sora down. Once Sora leads you to the vessel, take it and bring it here."

"Okay, whatever you say Master Xehanort…but before I go, mined telling me who is this vessel?" the hooded man asked.

"What a sad pathetic excuse for a world, makes me wonder what I saw in it the first time I came here," Vanitas said.

He was standing near the shore of Destiny Islands.

The place did look similar to the real world, but more less, Van knew he was now resting within Sora's heart. The wind continued to blow across his hair as he was quietly gazing out, seeing the sunset.

Within a second, he then started to hear foot-steps coming his way, but then they faded out. It came towards Van's attention, so he slowly turned his back and saw that a person was standing there behind him….looking at Van.

Vanitas bit the lower part of his lip after seeing who it was.

"Ventus…" he whispered.

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