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the things we do for love
R, slash, non-con. Hawkeye is blackmailed; Flagg knows how to keep a secret.
This story came second for its characterisation of a minor character (Flagg).
Early evening, and the camp rang with the sound of shattering glass.
Hawkeye looked up briefly from his handful of playing cards, then returned his attention to shuffling them into something that resembled order.
“Do you fold?”
At Hawkeye’s nod, BJ laid his hand of cards on the table.
“You know something?” Hawkeye said conversationally. “Poker is no fun with just two people.” Without missing a beat, he began to deal again, and went on, “Strip-poker, now, there’s another game entirely…”
BJ looked amused underneath the brim of his cowboy hat. “You’ve played it?”
“Would I do that?” Hawkeye said mildly in reply, and his expression was so innocent that BJ had to laugh. “You’ve got the shadiest track record of anyone I know, Hawkeye.”
“Would I lie to you?”
“And yet you still respect me every morning.”
They turned, one blushing slightly, the other smiling to himself, to see the camp company clerk at the door. Radar stared at them, wild-eyed. He could have made a guess at the subject of the conversation, but now wasn’t the time. “Colonel Flagg’s back!”
“How do you know?” BJ asked.
“ESP?” Hawkeye suggested. “A hidden message in the powdered mashed potato?”
“Not really. He jumped through Colonel Potter’s window again.”
Having said this, Radar entered the Swamp properly and began pouring himself a drink. BJ picked up his cards. “Was it from the inside to the outside, or vice versa?”
“Huh?” Radar blinked. “Sir.”
“The window,” Hawkeye said.
“Oh,” Radar said, his face clearing. “It was from the outside to the inside. The office is all covered with glass now.”
“Did he break his leg again?” BJ asked.
Radar shook his head. “No, sir. Sorry.”
“Shame.” The doctor assumed a straight face. Hawkeye rightly interpreted this to mean he was bluffing, and laid a straight run of cards on the table.
“Damn you,” BJ said affectionately, “damn you and your straight and this lousy pair of nines.”
Hawkeye stood up. BJ looked up at him. “Don’t you want your winnings, Captain Pierce?”
“More than life itself. But…”
“Ah-ah, don’t say ‘but.’”
“That’s just a fancy but.”
“Contrary to what habitually transpires…” – BJ glared – “… I must depart. Potter might need a little help… um… dealing with Colonel Flagg. Lead the way, sweet prince!”
This last to Radar, who looked dubious but did as he was asked. Hawkeye was just ducking through the doorway when BJ called him back. “Hawkeye?”
Hawkeye stuck his head back through the doorway. “Yo?”
“You’ll need this.” BJ threw his red robe at him. Hawkeye caught it. Off his questioning look, BJ shrugged. “It’s red, isn’t it!”
Hawkeye saluted. “Keep a candle in the window, comrade!”
Hawkeye and Radar arrived in time to see Colonel Flagg emerge from Potter’s office, looking dishevelled and wrathful. Radar hurried into the office, but Hawkeye, suddenly seized with perverse fascination, lingered to hear what the CIA man would have to say for himself this time.
Flagg was dusting himself off. There were fragments of glass still clinging to his clothes, and he was trying to reach behind him in vain in an attempt to get the remains of what had been Potter’s window off his back.
“Want me to get that?” Hawkeye said helpfully, leaning on the doorframe.
Flagg turned. His eyes narrowed at the sight of the doctor. “You.”
“Me,” Hawkeye said blandly. “Hawkeye Pierce, MD, manic-depressive.”
“Don’t think I don’t know what you think you’re pretending not to be,” growled the other man menacingly.
Hawkeye blinked. “I don’t.”
“Don’t think you don’t know.”
“Don’t think I know what?”
“Don’t think you don’t know what you think.”
“No,” Hawkeye said smoothly, “I don’t think I know what you think when you don’t know what you think.”
Flagg glared. “Don’t you try to be clever.”
“I’m sorry, don’t what?”
Flagg merely stared at Hawkeye impassively for a few seconds before speaking. “I would think twice before mocking me, Captain Pierce. I can make it so you tremble when you hear my name spoken!”
“Why, you’re that good?” Hawkeye said wickedly. His blue eyes held an expression of childish innocence, but the innuendo was not lost on the colonel. “I always thought…” he began, and then stopped. Taking a step closer, he lifted one side of Hawkeye’s robe, and the surgeon flinched. “This is red,” he stated, in a tone that suggested he had just discovered the key to the universe.
Hawkeye had collected himself. “Very good, Colonel,” he said. “Now what noise does a dog make?”
“Almost,” remarked Hawkeye, and strolled off towards the Swamp.
For a moment, the compound was rusty red in the dim light of the setting sun. The retreating doctor cast a long shadow. Flagg watched him go with an unreadable expression on his face. No-one was around to see.
“Well?” BJ asked. “How is our mutual friend?”
“Paranoid as ever.” Hawkeye sighed and half-fell onto his cot. “He thinks I’m a communist. Radar’s requisitioning a replacement pane of glass. Potter’s apoplectic. All’s fair in love” – a glance at his companion – “and war.”
The door swung open. Radar wandered in, looking dazed. He sat down and stared into space for a few moments before Hawkeye gently prompted, “Radar?”
Radar started. “Hawk?”
“Did you want something?”
“Uh…” Radar looked pained. “Can I stay here?”
“Sure, but why?” BJ asked.
“Oh, geez, it’s Colonel Flagg. He keeps coming into the office and I… well, I get nervous.” He twitched, looking down and wringing his hands. Hawkeye was going to say something, but didn’t.
“That man,” said a new voice, “is a maniac!”
Hawkeye looked up as the door burst open. “Oh,” he said. “I thought you’d call first.”
“No wisecracks, Hawkeye, I’m not in the mood,” Potter retorted. “I’m here for a drink.”
BJ had already reached for the pitcher. Silently, he poured four drinks and handed them round. Radar didn’t refuse his, for once. He drank it with the ease of one who has faced down paranoid CIA operatives and lived to requisition a window pane.
“Right,” Potter said. “Why is that man here?”
“He said he was looking for communists,” Radar said helpfully.
“You know, Colonel,” Hawkeye said seriously, “I think that really is the reason he’s here. All the other times he’s been here, he’s been looking for communists, penicillin, or Margaret.” He paused, and went on: “Hotlips is safe in post-op along with our stash of white gold, thus remains the old standby.”
“That’s all very well,” Potter said, “but just what do we do about it?”
Hawkeye considered. “Operating on him tends to keep him quiet.”
Both BJ and Potter turned to look at him. “You’ve operated on him?” BJ asked, with a hint of accusation. “You never told me that.”
“I have,” Hawkeye said. “He made me swear not to look at the microfilm he keeps in his ascending colon.”
“Look, son,” Potter began. “If you’re attempting to pull my leg…”
“No, sir!” Radar jumped in. “It’s true! Him ‘n’ Captain McIntyre, they took out his appendix!”
“Only time I ever broke my Hippocratic oath,” Hawkeye said reflectively.
“How is taking out a man’s appendix breaking… ah.” BJ stopped as he realised. “You didn’t.”
“War is hell, Beej!” Hawkeye laughed and BJ smiled at the sound.
Potter glanced from one to the other. “Well, boys, this has all been very informative, but we can’t exactly operate on him.”
“I say we give him a hysterectomy,” Hawkeye declared.
“Failing that, can’t we just shoot him?” BJ asked.
“Don’t be ridiculous, BJ, there’d be an inquiry,” Potter said brusquely. “Look, which one of you is on post-op duty next?”
“That would be me,” BJ said.
“I’m not asking you for miracles, but please, just try and keep him away from the patients. Their blood is red and it might give him ideas.” He stood up. “Come along, Radar. Well, boys, thank you for the drink. I’d love to stay longer but I’ve got to go and burn Das Kapital.”
“Talking of extremism,” Hawkeye said, “where’s Frank?”
“He got a three-day pass,” Potter said. “Left for Seoul this afternoon in a blaze of obscurity.”
He and Radar departed, and the door swung shut behind them leaving a silent Swamp. Hawkeye suddenly sighed and lost his air of gentle insolence. He flopped back onto the cot and his eyes closed.
“You okay, Hawk?” BJ asked, a little startled at the sudden change in demeanour. The other surgeon sighed again and blinked. “I don’t like this, BJ.”
BJ barely had time to notice he hadn’t used the nickname before Hawkeye went on, “The man gives me the creeps.”
“Hawkeye,” – and now his hand was in Hawkeye’s, pulling him back into a sitting position – “he’s a lunatic.”
“Doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous,” Hawkeye argued. “I’ve had a lot more experience with him than you, remember.”
“Ah, yes,” BJ said. “You and Trapper operated on him.”
Just as he was supposed to, Hawkeye noticed where the emphasis was. “BJ, you’re not saying you’re…”
“It’s because you’re happily married,” Hawkeye said ironically.
“Oh, my love…” Irony, jealousy, bitterness.
“You call Peg that?”
Hawkeye said nothing, merely rocking back and forth on the cot, arms wrapped tightly around himself. BJ understood his body language; he was determined to ignore it. He reached out, but Hawkeye backed off, staring him down. “Frank’s not here, Hawk,” BJ said patiently, soothingly. For a moment he was reminded of Radar’s quieting of a terrified doe. “It’s okay.”
“Sure it is,” Hawkeye muttered, “sure it’s okay, we’re seven thousand miles from home, we’ve got a hospital full of wounded and a crazy communist-witch-hunter on the warpath!” He blinked, looked up, and added, “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Post-op, but not for another twenty minutes.”
A silence, a heavy tense silence that was broken by a worried, angry question. “Hawk, what’s the matter with you?”
Hawkeye disentangled himself from himself. He forced himself to look up and smile, a genuine smile that drained the worry and tension. BJ had to smile in return. “You know,” he said delicately, “now that everyone’s gone, you can go back to your own cot.”
“I know,” Hawkeye said. “I have my reasons.”
“And what would those be?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Hawkeye teased. BJ relaxed at the familiar flirting, and smiled as he replied, “I would, actually.”
Hawkeye reached forwards, lazily running his fingers through BJ’s hair, coming close enough for the younger doctor to feel his body heat. With his other hand, Hawk swept the cowboy hat to the ground in one fluid motion.
“Hawkeye, what are you doing?”
“I believe,” said Hawkeye softly, getting rid of his boots with two practised kicks, “it’s called the prelude to a kiss.”
The prelude ended within seconds as BJ reciprocated. Hawkeye, never letting go, moved light hands downwards. BJ wondered at yet another swift change in Hawkeye’s surface emotions, from fearful to flirtatious and now to shamelessly provocative, but there was no time for conjecture or any type of rational thought. In a strange, almost medical approach, Hawkeye’s fingertips were on the pulse points in the younger doctor’s neck, and the cold of his hands made them both shiver and move into each other for heat. The motion made them roll backwards over each other until suddenly it was Hawkeye being pressed under the other doctor’s weight, and even as his head sank into the army-issue pillow, he was thinking of Frank and how he would never know to what use his army-issue cot had been put.
Touch, caress, kiss, blink, warmth, no words, no need, this could be perfect, except…
Only someone with the eyes of a hawk could have noticed the quick movement through the canvas walls of the tent, only someone listening carefully between two sets of rapid breathing could hear the footsteps, only someone with everything to lose could have striven to recognise that stealthy tread.
BJ never felt Hawkeye shudder, never felt the rush of fear surge through the body of someone in his arms, but he felt it when he was lifted and pushed gently away by a white-faced doctor. When he tried his voice, it was hoarse, uncertain. “Hawk?”
Hawkeye was facing him, tapping his watch. “Eight o’clock, BJ. You’re due in post-op.”
Looking at him curiously, BJ shrugged. “Thanks, Hawk.” He stood up and retrieved his hat and his boots from the floor of the Swamp, his movements jerky and hesitant. Every other moment he turned to look at the other doctor, but Hawkeye stared out of the sides of the tent, never returning his glance.
Finally, BJ was ready, but he paused in the doorway. “I’ll come and get you at midnight, Hawkeye,” he said.
With an effort, Hawkeye looked at him and nodded.
With a sudden rush of feeling, BJ added, “Try and get some sleep,” and then he was gone. Hawkeye stood up and went to the light switch. He flicked it off, walked to his own cot in the darkness and lay down, his head buried in a pillow.
Hawkeye wasn’t clairvoyant, like Radar; he didn’t have extra-sensory perception, a sixth sense – but he had keen ears and an eye for detail. He lay, eyes closed, wide awake, waiting in the dark. When the door opened, his slowed-down breathing was the only sound to be heard in the tent.
Colonel Flagg had entered, closed the door behind him, tripped over a stray baseball bat and sat down on Frank Burns’ army cot before he realised Hawkeye Pierce was sitting up and facing him, his eyes gleaming like a cat’s in the darkness.
“Can I help you?” The chief surgeon’s voice was carefully neutral.
“That depends,” said the other, and in the darkness Hawkeye noticed his voice was just like the rest of him; jumpy, a little frenzied, while also nauseatingly sure of himself.
“Depends on what?” Hawkeye asked. He was suddenly determined not to let this conversation dissolve into innuendo and implication. Whatever happened, he wanted to be absolutely certain what was going on.
“Let’s say I always had my suspicious about you,” Flagg replied. “You’re a dangerous man, Captain Pierce.”
Hawkeye was momentarily stunned. “*I’m* dangerous?”
“Yes. You have this entire camp wrapped around your little finger. I don’t know how you’ve done it, but you’ve got them all dancing to your tune.”
Hawkeye sighed. “You’re paranoid.”
Flagg ignored him. “And now, after what I’ve seen tonight… oh, that poor young doctor.”
“Who?” Hawkeye knew the answer, and suddenly he knew…
“Captain Hunnicut. I’ve done my research, Pierce. I know all about him. He’s fresh out of residency, I believe.”
Seized with a sudden suspicion, Hawkeye demanded, “Do you even know what that means?”
“I see all, I know all!”
Hawkeye muttered something that sounded like ‘great and powerful Oz.’
“He’s married, too. A young daughter. Her name’s… Elizabeth?”
“Erin,” Hawkeye corrected automatically.
“The poor child,” Flagg said, once again ignoring Hawkeye completely, “growing up knowing what her daddy did in Korea. The disgrace. The humiliation.”
He stopped, and even though it was pitch dark Hawkeye knew he was being scrutinised.
“But then, what am I saying?” Flagg said, all innocence. “You won’t let that happen, will you?”
Hawkeye was suddenly exhausted. He lay back, flinging one arm over his eyes. “What do you want from me, Flagg?”
“What a good question!” It was said delightedly, almost childishly, and something inside the doctor snapped.
“What?” Flagg asked, conscious that he wasn’t in as much control of the conversation as he’d thought.
“You’re trying to blackmail me,” Hawkeye said wearily. “Cut the crap. You’ve got a hold over me, you’ve made that quite clear. If you had anything remotely resembling decency, you would have kept your mouth shut. If you had religion, you would have gone and told Potter. You don’t have either, therefore you’re here to ask something from me to pay for your silence.”
A pause, then: “Smart cookie, aren’t you?”
Hawkeye held up his palms. “I aim to please.”
Flagg twitched at the words. He lifted one hand to his mouth.
“Before you go on,” Hawkeye said, with the general confidence that never left him, “remember I’m a country doctor. I don’t have a thriving practice in Fort Wayne, no elderly relative’s about to die and leave me anything. Don’t think…”
“No, Captain Pierce, I’m not thinking that.” Flagg had reached a decision, and seemed more sane than he had been until now. “There’s something else you can do for me. Something you’re quite talented at, if I’ve heard rightly.”
Hawkeye rolled his eyes in the darkness. “You want me to operate on you again?”
Flagg said “No,” without inflection.
“Well, well,” Hawkeye said lightly, counting off on his fingers. “You don’t want me to operate on you, you don’t want to drink gin, you probably don’t want me to play poker with you, you want…” He stopped, as his remaining talent set up camp inside his brain.
Flagg nodded. “Do I have to spell it out for you, Captain? I wouldn’t want to insult your intelligence.”
Hawkeye was tired and angry and sickened. “I don’t need my intelligence, it’s not that complicated. You want me to buy your silence by letting you fuck me.”
“Silver-tongued as ever,” Flagg commented. “Don’t flaunt your virtue, Captain, you don’t have any left.”
“It may be true,” Hawkeye said, unfazed, “that I’m easy. I drink, I play poker, and I’m a miserable sinner in the bargain. But I’m not committing emotional blackmail and threatening to destroy a man’s life.”
Flagg sighed. He sounded bored. “Enough with the bleeding heart talk. Just tell me, Captain, what’s your answer?”
Hawkeye flicked on the light and threw a pillow at him. “Here’s your answer. Get out.”
Flagg immediately reached out and turned the light off again. “I was just going. Places to go, things to do.”
“Like what?” Hawkeye asked in spite of himself.
The door was opened and faint light from the compound flowed in. The CIA operative’s eyes gleamed. “I’m going to see Potter. Do you think he’ll mind if I wake him?”
“You’re going to see…”
“My dear Captain Pierce, there’s no point in putting off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
“You…” Hawkeye began, hissing with barely suppressed fury, but Flagg waved him silent.
“And if Potter won’t listen to me, there are many who will.” He paused, a still silhouette in the doorway. “I daresay it’s not so bad for you. You don’t have as much family to be disgraced.” He wagged a finger. “I did my research on you, too. Unmarried, an only child, it’s not so bad for you. It’s the other one I feel for.”
A whisper – “BJ.”
“Captain Hunnicut. He’s just starting out, a young family to provide for… this would hit him hard. News travels fast in wartime, you know. It’ll be common knowledge Stateside the day after tomorrow.”
The door was closing, but Hawkeye saw him shrug. “Ah, well, what can you do. Good night, Captain.”
The door was almost closed…
“Wait.” Hawkeye was scrambling to his feet. “Colonel Flagg.”
Flagg stuck his head around the door. “Can I help you?”
Hawkeye was standing up, barefoot and breathless. “I think… I think…” He struggled, but Flagg waited. He was determined to make the doctor say the words.
“I think… I’ve changed my mind.”
“Oh, you have?” Flagg asked, as if he were surprised. Hawkeye nodded dumbly.
“Well, I salute you, Captain,” said Flagg, smiling. “You’re not as stubborn as I thought you were.”
Hawkeye turned and the red robe swung out behind him. He turned to look at the Swamp, in all its shambolic olive-green glory. His cot, BJ’s cot, even Frank’s cot seemed oddly inviting in the darkness. He could make out the gleam of the Martini glasses besides the still, he could see one of Frank’s many Bibles, he could see his own copy of the Crabapple Cove Courier, he could even see BJ’s hand of playing cards still lying where he had discarded it so many hours before.
“If,” Hawkeye said, in a low voice, “this is going to happen, then not here.”
Flagg was all acquiescence. “Anywhere,” he agreed amiably, and opened the door for Hawkeye in true gentlemanly fashion. “Come along, Hawkeye.”
Something about the colonel’s last word had grated on the chief surgeon. With a final glance at the Swamp, Hawkeye placed one of his hands on his neck, felt for the thin chain, and pulled off his dogtags, flinging them behind him in blind passion. “Don’t call me that,” he said passively, and allowed himself to be led outside.
Hawkeye, bird of prey, led like a lamb to the slaughter, and all for…
Not that word. Not that.
Flagg knew his way around the camp. Supply tent. Site of so many clandestine liaisons. Hawkeye’s reputation preceded him, but he wasn’t the only one who ever came here for reasons other than supplies. Who knew how often those small white penicillin bottles had been shaken in their trays?
It was dark. It stayed that way.
One hand over Hawkeye’s mouth kept him from screaming.
A soldier rolled over in his sleep and moaned. BJ’s attention was caught for a moment, but then heavy silence descended again. There were few patients and even fewer that needed a great deal of attention; Margaret was half asleep in her chair and BJ was approaching the same state.
He jerked suddenly at a sound. It was only the creak of a bed, but his subconscious had seized upon it as a way of waking him. It was his shift and he was here for a purpose. Just because post-op was quiet, it didn’t mean that someone didn’t need him, wouldn’t need him soon…
The silence was almost tangible. BJ’s thoughts were wandering again, he was thinking about the outside, stormy weather and rain… why was that? It was the silence. The same silence that foretold a coming thunderstorm.
Stormy weather made him think of Hawkeye, and the smile on his lips remained as he slept.
The hours wore on, the ticking clock often the only sound in the room. The nurses checked on the wounded soldiers, waking the doctor at intervals. There were no emergencies, no-one in critical condition, no units of whole blood were needed that night. When the minute hand obscured the hour hand on the twelve of the clock, BJ realised he had no idea where the time had gone. He stood up, stretching out aching muscles. Margaret was doing the same. “Good night, Captain.”
“Good night, Major.”
The words had an air of finality to them; with a final nod at each other, they parted. At the end of one of the quietest shifts in his experience, BJ went out into the compound feeling unreal. As he walked silently across the compound, a sudden moving light caught his eye. Still feeling far removed from reality, as if this were just a dream, he saw a jeep suddenly swing through and launch itself towards the rough road. BJ watched the lights getting fainter and finally vanishing into the distance. In the morning, he would know whom he had seen leave.
He reached the Swamp to find it in pitch darkness. Hawkeye lay face-down on his cot, sleeping fitfully, his breathing ragged and uneven. BJ reached for a blanket and was about to throw it over him when he remembered where was he had just come from. Reluctantly, he perched himself beside Hawkeye and laid a hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Hawkeye. Hawk. Wake up.”
“BJ?” Hawkeye’s eyes flicked open and he looked wildly around, covering his eyes. “Light.”
“Light,” agreed BJ good-naturedly. “There’ll be even more light in post-op.”
A confused whisper: “Post-op?”
“It’s midnight, Hawkeye. Your turn at the grindstone.”
When Hawkeye still looked wide-eyed and baffled, BJ’s instincts were triggered. “Are you all right, Hawk?” he asked. His arm was still draped comfortably around Hawkeye’s shoulders, but he could feel him shrinking away from the touch.
Hawkeye shook his head as if to clear it. “What? Yeah… I’m fine.” He turned to face the wall for a moment. Slowly and torturously he moved, swung his feet onto the floor, stood up, while all the time, BJ didn’t dare let go of him. Hawkeye made no move to break free, not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t struggle any more.
A glint of silver caught BJ’s eye; something was shining at Hawkeye’s feet. He leant down and lifted the set of tags, gleaming dully in his hands. “Hawkeye…”
Hawkeye turned. His eyes were still half-closed as protection against the light.
“These are yours,” BJ said. “Didn’t you notice you weren’t wearing them?”
Hawkeye took them dumbly, leaving them held loosely in both hands. He made no move to put them on. “I must have dropped them…” he said slowly.
No-one in this man’s army, be he regular army or draftee, soldier or medical corps, ever removed those tags, not when sleeping, showering, firing bullets into people or extracting bullets from people, because losing them meant losing the identity that went with them, and BJ knew it. He nodded. “Right.”
And when Hawkeye still made no move to reclaim who he was, BJ gently took them from him and drew them over his head. His fingers were cold on Hawkeye’s neck, but he didn’t say a word. BJ lingered over the touch, enjoying the luxury of the moment, and he knew he was trying to somehow break Hawkeye using touch, make him soften, make him explain, but instead all he found was another mystery.
“Where’d you get this, Hawk?”
Hawkeye reached up behind him, linked fingers with BJ, who guided his hands. Doctors, both of them, they knew the anatomy of it – clavicle, collarbone, the frightening jugular where life flowed perilously close to the surface, and there it was. A new wound, a strangely obscene illustration of the fact that not long ago, human teeth had broken the even white of the skin and left their mark.
Hawkeye suddenly shook himself free of BJ, stepping forward and away. He turned and gave the other doctor a forthright, coquettish glance. “Sacrifice of war,” he said simply.
And he closed the door behind him and was gone, leaving BJ baffled and a little jealous, but he would never know the truth, oh, no, not him with his wife and daughter now safe at home in Mill Valley, California, and Hawkeye would wake in years to come thinking of this night, and know there was nothing he could have done differently.
The enigma would remain, but BJ would forget.
That night, someone would have a dream. And in that dream, he would see a dark shadowy shape, an old hill, an old enemy. Hawkeye was scrambling up the steep grassy sides, stumbling, falling, but always rising again, his surgeon’s hands cut and bleeding, and in the dream, he reached the crest and lay beneath a cold starry sky, hurting and exhausted and broken.
And the name of that place was Golgotha, but whose dream it was, we may not know or tell…
…because war is hell, but love ain’t heaven, oh, no.
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