Where You Belong

After leaving the diner Evangeline went back to her office. She thought she would get some take out. It wouldnít be so bad, except for the fact that she wouldnít have any company. Nora was tied up and she wouldnít be available this afternoon. John might be an option, but she hadnít seen him in the last few days other than to discuss the Santi case. He was probably tied up with the case. Sheíd been working on so many cases since moving to Llanview that she really hadnít had an opportunity to make friends with any people outside her circle of attorneys, clients, and police. She had talked to her best friend in D.C. earlier in the day and besides Dani had a family. She would be making dinner for her husband and the twins. Van could always take some work home, or she could go running. She needed to tire herself out enough that she would pass out when she got home. That option sounded even better than the first.

Once Van got home she changed and started her run. It didnít occur to her until 30 minutes into the run, after realizing that sheíd left her cell phone on the counter in the kitchen, that maybe she should have gone to the gym. Between the Santi case and RJ showing up wherever she was, she should have thought this through better. Not that she expected either of them to hurt her. Based on RJís history, he might hurt John; she would never believe he would hurt her. As far as the Santi case, she didnít know anymore than the police, so she should be out of any danger there.

At this point she had no choice but to finish the run. There wasnít anywhere for her to stop since she was running along a path. The street lights were coming on and she had misjudged time. Sheíd been thinking about the situation with RJ and John and hadnít realized how long she had been running or the fact that it was getting dark earlier that she expected. She picked up the pace and didnít notice the car trailing her from a distance.

----------

John had been sitting at the office going over the evidence in the Santi case. He needed to talk to Antonio and hadnít been able to reach him. This was the sixth time heíd called and gotten no answer. He didnít have much else to go on yet. As he was sitting there thinking of what else he could do to progress the case, his mind wandered to Evangeline. He wondered what she was doing. Heíd missed seeing her the last few days. She was easy for him to talk to even though that wasnít saying much. He kept things pretty close to his chest. He could see himself changing that if he got to know Evangeline better. He wanted to get to know her better, he admitted to himself. Before he thought better of it, he pulled out his cell phone and punched in her phone number. Maybe they could have a late dinner and talk. Her phone rang several times. Finally, her voice mail came on and he left a message. That was odd, he thought as he hung up. Evangeline always kept her phone on her, just in case she had a client that needed to reach her, sheíd once told him.

Let me try her house, he thought, as he began dialing the number. Again, all he heard was the ringing of the phone. Finally, he heard the line being picked up.

"EvangelÖ," he began as he was cut off by the answering service.

"Iím sorry I canít take your call at the moment. Please leave a message, to include your name and number and Iíll get back to you as soon as possible."

"Evangeline, its John McBain. Iím trying to reach you. Give me a call when you get this message on my cell." He hung up the phone with a frown.

Now, he was beginning to worry just a little. Evangeline appeared pretty self sufficient and could for the most part take care of herself, but she was still vulnerable. Maybe she was in the shower. That thought caught him off guard as he realized, heíd rather be with her then sitting her at the office. There wasnít much more he could do at the station. They hadnít gotten much more information out of Carlos Rosa before he died and he had been trying to get in touch with Antonio, but John could keep trying to reach him on his cell. Maybe he should drive by Evangelineís house and make sure everything was okay.

----------

Van was turning the corner two blocks from her house, when someone jumped from a car and grabbed her. She struggled with the person and managed to elbow him in the stomach. He cursed and told her she would pay for that. She felt something hit her head and then everything went black.

----------

As John was driving toward Evangelineís house, he saw a car up ahead sitting in the middle of the street with the lights off. He saw one man outside the car roll something pretty big down the slight hill into the ravine. He sped up and the man making the dump jumped in the car and sped away. He couldnít get a good enough look at the car in the dark, and he had to check out what theyíd just put in the ditch. He pulled up to the curb and walked down the hill. With his flash light, he saw white sneakers. He couldnít see who it was because they were face down, head first into the ditch. When he noticed brown legs attached to the sneakers, he ran down the hill almost slipping in his rush. He knew before he rolled her over that it was Evangeline. For a moment, he forgot every thing heíd ever learned in an emergency situation. Just as quickly, he reached for her wrist to check for a pulse. Her pulse was strong. Once heíd determined that she was alive he took a breath. He checked her for any obvious bone breaks and finally turned her over. Her keys were on a keychain around her wrist. She was wearing diamond studs in her ears. Was this a mugging or attempted rape? With the way the car had sped away, it didnít appear so.

"Van, can you hear me? Wake up for me. Itís John."

She didnít move a muscle. He hated to do this, but he pushed open one eyelid to see it the light from the flashlight would shock her into wakefulness. It didnít work. Her eyes were dilated. She could have a concussion. He slipped his hand into her hair to check for any bumps and found a growing knot near the base of her head and it was wet. He pulled his hand away and saw blood on his fingers. He retrieved his phone and called for an ambulance, as well as a forensic team. He took off his jacket and covered her. He didnít want to move her head until a paramedic arrived with a collar.

He swung the flashlight around the area and could just see where Evangeline had rolled down the hill. From seeing that man dump her body, he knew that they wouldnít get a footprint. Maybe the forensic team could pick up some evidence to help his team. Kathryn is killed and now Evangeline is attacked. Is this attack related to the Santi case or just the random attack on a woman alone? He didnít even consider RJ as a suspect, maybe he should, but he didnít think that RJ would try to hurt Van. He would hopefully be able to find out something when Van woke up.

It felt like heíd been waiting on the ambulance for hours as he looked at Vanís face. He could hear the sirens minutes before the paramedics and police arrived on the scene. He gave one of the arriving officers his keys and asked him to bring his car to the hospital when they finished canvassing the area. With that, he climbed in the back of the ambulance next to Van and grabbed her hand. He was breathing easier now that she was in the ambulance, but she still hadnít woken up.

"Is she going to be alright?" John asked the paramedic that was monitoring her vital signs.

"Her vital signs are pretty good. Thatís a definite plus, but you said that she hadnít regained consciousness and you werenít sure how long she was out before you got there. The doctors will know more when she wakes up. Good thing you got there when you did. No telling what those guys would have done to her. Sheís beautiful."

"Yes, she is," John said, thanking God that he had gotten there when he did. Given more time, those guys could have had an opportunity to throw her in the trunk or kill her outright. He shuddered as he thought of that possibility.

He squeezed her hand and looked directly at her, "Youíre going to be fine. Youíve got to, you hear me?"

----------

At the hospital, John walked along side the gurney into the emergency room. An emergency room doctor met them in the hallway and the paramedics related all Evangelineís vitals. At the door to exam room 3, the doctor turned to John,

"Youíre going to have to wait out here. Weíll let you know something as soon as we can."

"Thanks."

John turned toward the waiting room and took a seat. He didnít know if there was anyone he should call. Just a week ago, he would have been calling RJ, but not now. He pulled out the cell and dialed Noraís number. She and Evangeline were close, maybe she knew if there was someone for him to call.

"Hello"

"Hello, itís John McBain."

"Hey, John. Whatís going on?"

"Iím in the emergency room."

"What happened? Are you okay?" Nora asked with concern in her voice.

"Iím fine. Itís not me, itís Evangeline. I donít know all of what happened. I was driving down the street near her house and saw a guy dump her body down a hill. She should be okay, but sheís unconscious. I was calling to check with you to see if you know of any family I should call."

"Youíre talking to her. Iím listed as next of kin for medical purposes. She doesnít have any family close by and the family she does have are distant relatives. I need to come down there and check on her."

"Nora, thereís really nothing you can do here. Iím here and Iím staying at least until she wakes up. I need to find out if she knows anything about the man who grabbed her. Iíll call you if there is any change."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Keep her safe, John."

"I will," John said, ending the call as he saw the doctor come down the hall. He jumped to his feet and met the doctor.

"How is she?"

"She appears to be fine, except for the fact that she still hasnít woken up. Iím concerned about the head injury and wonít know exactly how she is until she opens her eyes. We are going to keep her, at least over night. We are moving her to a room as we speak. You can go with her. Iíll make sure one of the nurses comes and gets you before going upstairs."

"Thank you. I appreciate that."

He dialed Nora back and related the information heíd just received.

After Van had been moved into a room, John was allowed into the room with her. She was attached to monitors, but for the most part she just looked asleep. She looked incredibly small in the hospital bed. She was small, he remembered. Sometimes he forgot that because she was so independent. He thought about all the other losses in his life and he wasnít planning on going through another. Yes, they had decided that their sleeping together was a one-time thing, but every time he saw her, he wanted to make love to her again. Completely sober this time. That scared him. He should get as far away from her as he could, but looking at her lying in that hospital bed scared him more. He knew that she was a beautiful person inside and out. He just hadnít seen the complete picture yet, and he had plans for putting all the pieces to that puzzle together. After their talk in Maryís basement, he realized that there was a lot Van kept hidden because she was afraid to fail. She also didnít like people to see that she wasnít okay. Hopefully, she would come to trust him enough to share those parts of herself with him.

He did realize that he would have to share with her, parts of himself that he hadnít shown anyone. He had thought he could have that with Natalie, but while she could be a good friend and he did feel protective of her, she wasnít someone who could deal with all the facets of his life nor was she strong enough to be there for him when things got bad and in his job, they always did at some point. What was he thinking; he didnít even know how she felt about him. He knew she liked him as a friend, but did it go deeper than that? He wanted her, but could he love her.

Over the last couple of months, heíd been evaluating his feelings for Caitlin. He had loved her very much, but over time he had just felt guilty and couldnít let her memory go. In his mind, he was the reason she was dead. In his head, he knew that wasnít really the case, but thatís how heíd felt. Now that her killer was dead, heíd been allowed to take a step back and look at the whole picture. He could at least see that he had done the best he could with what he had. He was ready to move forward and he hoped he could explore that with Evangeline. Heíd never been a man to let fear dictate what he did. He wasnít about to start now. He didnít know what would happen between the two of them, but he wanted to find out.

----------

While he was waiting for Evangeline to be transferred to a room, he went to find his brother. He found him on the second floor at the coffee machine.

"Hey, Mike."

"Hey, what are you doing here?"

"Evangeline Williamson was brought in earlier. She was attacked and I came in with her."

"Okay. Is there a reason that you came in with her?"

"Well, sheís a friend of mine."

"Really, I didnít know that. I just thought you knew her from your legal case."

"Weíve been working together recently on the Santi case and have become good friends," he said with a smile.

"Is that all you are? I havenít seen you smile like that when you mention a womanís name in a while."

"To be honest, Iím not sure if thatís all we are, but time will tell."

"Well, that said. How is she?"

"Iím not sure yet. The doctor says her vitals are good, but she came in unconscious and she hasnít woken up yet."

"You look worried."

"I am. I need to know what she remembers about the attack."

"Is that all?"

As John was about to respond, the intercom came alive.

"Dr. McBain. Please report to the lab."

"You are saved by the bell, but weíll finish this conversation later," Mike said moving toward the door.

"Talk to you later, Mike."

----------

He walked to the window in her room and sat on the window seal. She needed to wake up, so he would know for sure that she was okay. The nurse came into the room, as he was moving back to the chair next to the bed. After she checked Vanís vitals, she turned to John.

"Sir, could I get you a pillow and blanket?"

"Yes, that would be nice of you," John responded looking at her name tag, "Judy".

"Not a problem. That chair is like a recliner, so you donít have to sit up all night. Iíll be right back with that pillow and blanket."

"Thanks." John said to her back.

He moved the chair closer to the bed and grabbed Vanís hand. He looked at her face and couldnít help but smile, "I know you need the rest so your body can heal, but I really need you to wake up and look at me with those big brown eyes."

He heard a gasp from the door and looked into Judyís face. She smiled at him and passed him the bedding.

"Sheís going to be fine. I can tell. She has a lot to come back to," Judy said as she left the room.

John looked at the closed door and smiled. He looked back at Van, "I think she believes weíre a couple." He chuckled, "Not yet."

----------

A couple of hours later, Van shifted in the bed. Oh my head hurts, she thought. What in the world is going on? She opened her eyes and realized the room was slightly lit by a dim overhead light. Where am I? She glanced up at equipment that was beeping over her head. Why am I in the hospital? She glanced down to see what she was holding in her hand, and noticed John for the first time. He was asleep with his head turned toward her. Her hand was held in his. She smiled, but didnít move for a few minutes just watching him sleep. I could get used to this, she thought. She almost laughed out loud. What in the world am I thinking? Heís my friend. With that thought, she squeezed his hand.

"John. John, wake up."

"Van," he replied sleepily. "Youíre awake. How are you feeling?" he asked with a smile on his face.

"Yes, Iím awake. I feel okay except for a headache."

"Itís about time you woke up. Iíve been waiting forever to look into those beautiful eyes of yours."

"Well, sorry that it took me so long to give you what you wanted," she said with a chuckle.

"Well, I donít know about that. Iíve gotten some things I wanted from you already."

"Is that right?" They both laughed at the banter.

"Yeah. Seriously, I'm glad youíre back. I was worried."

"Iím sorry. What happened?"

"You donít remember?"

"I remember going for a run," she said as she got a faraway look in her eyes, "and then on my way home someone grabbed me from behind. I elbowed him and he cursed, said something about me paying for that and then everything went black."

"Well, I was driving down the street near your house and saw a guy dump you down a hill into a ravine. You were unconscious. Thatís all I know right now. The guys from forensics are canvassing the area and hopefully they will come up with something. Iím just glad youíre awake and okay."

"Thank you for saving me," she said with a soft smile. "What were you doing near my house tonight?"

"Actually, I was coming to see you."

"Why, is there some new evidence in the Santi case? Is my client okay?" she asked with concern in her voice.

"Your client is under guard and no thereís no new evidence in the case."

"Okay, so why were you coming to see me?"

"I missed you. I was going to stop by and maybe take you to dinner."

"That would have been fun. Maybe we can do that when I get out of here."

"Speaking of, I need to get a nurse to check you out." As he rose to leave, Van held onto his hand. He looked down at her, questioningly.

"Thank you for being here. It would have been scarier waking up here alone."

"I couldnít leave," he said with an intense look on his face. He squeezed her hand and left for the nurse.

While the nurse was checking Van out, he called Nora and let her know that Van had woken up. When the nurse was leaving the room, she grabbed John and gave him an update.

"Sheís going to be fine. It doesnít look like a concussion, but sheís going to have a headache for a while. The doctor will tell you more when he does his rounds first thing in the morning."

"Thanks for letting me know."

"I gave her some pain medication so sheís asleep now and probably wonít wake up again until morning. This would probably be a good time for you to go home and get some sleep."

"Iím not leaving."

"Okay, is there anything I can get you?"

"No, Iím fine, but thanks."

----------

Morning rounds came quickly the next morning. Evangeline had been watching John sleep for a while, since she woke and couldnít get back to sleep. He woke when the doctor came in and checked out the patient. After he finished, he announced that Evangeline would be released later that morning. As soon as he completed his rounds, he would get her release papers ready. The phone next to the bed rang and Evangeline reached for it, but John beat her to it.

"Hello."

"McBain? What are you doing in Evangelineís room?"

"Good Morning, Gannon. Evangeline is fine."

"I asked what you are doing in her room."

"I heard you, but since I donít have to answer to you I figured Iíd just ignore the question."

"McBain, let me speak to Van."

"Just a second," John said and looked at Evangeline. He held out the phone and she reluctantly took it.

"Hello, RJ."

"What is he doing there?"

"Thank you for calling, RJ. Iím fine."

"You heard my question."

"RJ, please donít call me anymore. Iíve said all Iím going to say about John. We are no longer together, so please leave me alone. Again, Iím sorry that youíre hurt, but it canít be helped. Good-bye, RJ," she said as she hung up the phone. She turned to John, "Iím sorry that you are being forced to deal with all this hostility from him because of me."

"Donít worry about it. Thatís better than the alternative."

"What alternative?"

"Not having you. I like you and I think you like me, so I think we should just see where it takes us."

"Are you serious? I thought we decided that we were a one-time thing."

John walked to the bed and sat on the side, before grabbing her hand. He looked directly into her eyes before he spoke.

"We did but I think we were wrong. Sitting here last night wondering if you were going to be alright, I did not for a moment even consider leaving to go pursue this. I wanted to be here. I needed to be here. Donít get me wrong. I want the guys who did this, but I needed to be here to make sure you were okay. Wild horses couldnít have dragged me out of here last night. I donít know where this will lead, but I want to find out. Will you give us this chance?"

"John, I donít know. What about all the people that are potentially affected by this? Natalie? RJ? I know he would never hurt me, but Iím concerned he might come after you. I donít want our friendship to be devoured by all the outside influences that could come up," she said with a great deal of concern in her eyes.

"We choose whether to let the things around us destroy us or not. As for Natalie, we have never been a couple. I thought for a while that we could have something, now I know we canít. RJ is another story all together, but I can take care of myself. You let me worry about him. Iím willing to take the chance."

"John, are you sure we can handle this?"

"Can we handle this? The girl and guy who wonít allow themselves even one mistake. I believe we can."

With that said, he placed her hand over his heart and leaned in to kiss her. It was a kiss of understanding and promise. The promise to give it the best shot they both could. It quickly turned into a much more intense exchange. They were about to be carried away, when they heard a cough from the hospital room door. They turned and saw a red-faced Nora standing in the doorway with an overnight bag.

"I used the emergency key to get you some clothes from home. Sorry I interrupted."

"No, Nora, thatís okay. Now that youíre here Iíll go in to the office and see whatís shaking," John replied. Looking back at Evangeline with a smile, "Weíll finish this later. Iíll stop by your house when I leave the station and check on you."

"Okay, later." He pecked her on the lips and grabbed his jacket. He turned to Nora at the door, "Take care of her will you?"

"Yeah," Nora replied.

"Thanks," he said and left the room.

Nora turned to Evangeline, "What in the world happened?"

"I donít know. Iím still in shock."

"Well, what ever it is Iím impressed."

"Yeah, me, too. Can I get out of here?"

"The doctor just gave me the okay to spring you from this place. Take a shower and get dressed. You have got to tell me the story."

----------

That evening, Evangeline was relaxing on the sofa listening to music when the doorbell rang. Sheíd been waiting for John to show up all day. She jumped from the sofa and moved quickly to open the door. She didnít think to ask who was there. As she opened the door an inch, a large Hispanic man pushed the door open and Evangeline hit the wall. He was carrying a gun, which he pointed at her head.

"What do you want?" she asked.

"I want Manuel Santiís money. I know that you were representing the bookkeeper and his girlfriend. I want to know where that money is and I know that you know where it is."

"Youíre wrong. I donít know where the money is."

"Well, thatís too bad, because thatís the only reason I need to keep you alive."

"Have you ever killed anyone?"

"No, youíll be my first."

"You know, you donít have to do this. If you kill me, and youíre caught, you will go to jail for life or to the electric chair. Stop this before itís too late."

"Youíre talking to a man that has grown up in the syndicate. You canít scare me with the whole justice speech. You tell me what you know or I will kill you." As the last words rolled off his tongue, a canister came through the window and within seconds the room was filled with smoke. Evangeline had hit the floor as soon as she heard the window break. She crawled into the corner between the armoire and the wall. She heard gunshots and then heard John calling her name.

"John, Iím okay. Iím in the corner."

"Stay there and stay low."

She sat there trembling and coughing from the smoke bomb. She closed her eyes and put her head down on her raised knees. Someone was willing to kill her for money. It had happened to other people. Kathryn, in her office no less, but she really hadnít thought she would be in any danger.

She started when a couple of minutes later she felt a hand touch her shoulder. She looked up to see John threw the smoke. John carried her outside the door and sat down with her on the steps.

"Hi," she said through tear filled eyes.

"Hi," he said with a smile. "Thatís twice in two days that you have scared me. This has got to stop."

They laughed, and then she broke down. He pulled her into his arms and held her tight. He kissed her hair and took a deep breath. She could have been killed, yesterday and today. He would have lost her for good. That wasnít something he was willing to think about. She was safe and she was in his arms. Exactly where she belonged.

She sniffled and leaned back, "Is he dead?"

"No. He was shot in the arm. What happened before we arrived?"

Evangeline gave him the details of what happened up until the time the police had arrived.

"As soon as heís treated heís going to the precinct. The driver was also arrested, so we have two assailants to question."

"I want to be there when heís questioned."

"No, you canít be there and you know it."

"I might be able to get information out of him."

"No, I donít want you anywhere near him. Iím just glad that I thought to have a patrol car ride by here every hour."

"Why?"

"The whole thing yesterday, just didnít sit right with me. I wanted you kept safe and I knew you would never agree to a guard," he said with a smirk.

"I guess you think you know me pretty well."

"As well as anybody, but I plan on knowing you much better than that."

"Really?"

He responded by kissing her. Hard. "Come on, I want the paramedics to check you out and then we are putting you to bed."

"Iím not sleepy."

"I didnít say anything about sleep."

She laughed, "No you didnít."

As the paramedics check Evangeline for any smoke inhalation concerns, John watched from a distance. He looked up and said, "Thank you for keeping her safe for me." Heíd been sitting at the station thinking about the attack on Evangeline and knew that he wanted to put her under guard, but he knew she would never go for that. So, instead heíd called patrol and had a car drive through the neighborhood every hour looking for anything suspicious. He had gotten caught up in some discussions with the task force about the Santis and couldnít get away to check on her himself. Good thing the cops were thorough enough to run license plates of suspicious cars. He walked to the ambulance to check with the paramedic.

"How is she?" John asked looking at Evangeline.

"Iím fine," she responded with a touch of frustration. "Iím conscious this time. You donít have to talk around me."

"Okay, doctor. How are you feeling?"

"I feel fine. They gave me some oxygen and now Iím as good as new. I just need to drink lots of water to keep my mouth wet and that should keep me from coughing, right?" she said looking at the paramedic.

"Thatís right. You explained it exactly right," the paramedic responded with a laugh.

She turned back to John.

"Whatís wrong?" she asked when she got a good look at the frown on his face.

"Nothing. Iím just sorry that we had to do that in your house."

"Well, itís just a house. Iíll have a carpet service come in and steam the carpet and the furniture. Itíll be fine. Since the officers opened the windows a few minutes after the smoke bomb went off, I donít expect to find much residue upstairs. Whatís really wrong?"

"I donít want to leave you hear to be a target."

"I wonít be a target. You got the men that were after me. I wonít go into hiding and I wonít be under 24-hour guard. I have clients to see and work to do."

He sighed in frustration, " I knew you were going to react like that. You are so strong willed."

"I take it in this case that is not a compliment."

"You would be correct," he said with a laugh. "I guess Iíll just stay here with you tonight and you will keep your eyes and ears open until this case is solved."

"Yes, sir, Lieutenant," she answered with a smile. She looked at the paramedic who was enjoying the exchange between her and John, "Am I okay to go now?"

"Yes, Ms. Williamson. Youíre fine. Just take it easy over the next couple of days. Between that bump on the head and this smoke exposure, plus the shock of being targeted, youíre going to need some extra rest."

"Thanks. Iíll do that."

"Iíll make sure that she does," John added, then responded to her look of shock with a determined look of his own, daring her to say anything. She didnít. After the paramedic moved off to assist his partner in dressing the bullet wound of the assailant, John said, "Letís go. I need to get you settled before I help deal with any of this."

"Okay."

-----------

"Iíll be back after Iíve made sure that these guys get booked properly," John said to Evangeline who was tucked into her bed.

"Take my key with you and you can let yourself back in."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, Iím going to sleep."

"Okay," he said and leaned down to kiss her before leaving. "Donít open the door for anyone."

"Yes, sir."

"Just so you know there is a squad car stationed outside until I get back."

"Thank you. Iíll see you later."

----------

A few hours later, he let himself into Evangelineís house after checking in with the patrol car parked across the street. As he walked through the great room, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, he noticed that the guys had done a good job of placing plastic over the window that had been broken. The smoke hadnít done much damage after all. A good steam cleaning should do the trick. He entered Evangelineís bedroom after tapping on the door lightly. She was curled up on the bed like a little girl, he thought as he smiled as her sleeping form. He sat down on the side of the bed and pushed her hair back so he could get a better look at her.

She muttered sleepily, "John?" opening her eyes to look at him.

"Yeah, who were you expecting?" he asked with a smile.

"No one, but you," she responded with a like smile.

"Good, cause you got me."

"Are you staying here tonight?"

"Yeah, if youíll have me."

"Iíd be glad to have you stay. You can sleep here if you want."

"Iíd like nothing better."

Heíd removed his jacket downstairs. He took off his pants and shirt and climbed into bed next to Evangeline, who curled up into his body. He kissed her hair and sighed with contentment. He was where he belonged.

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Where You Belong (and all original characters)©2004 BillieK26
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