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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Between the Lines of Fear and Blame 3b/4

Post split to make LJ happy.  Previous parts here.

 

Another motel room. Bland and faded. Adorned with Christmas lights.

And eight year old Sam seated on his bed with stretch pants that didn’t fit.

This was the night Sam found out, Dean realized, his stomach sinking. The night Sam knew the truth.

Sam’s eyes were wet and his shoulders are hunched as he sat on the bed.

“I didn’t mean to make you mad,” Sam told him, sniffling a little.

Dean raised his eyebrows. “What?”

“About Mom,” Sam said. “And about...everything. I know that’s why you left.”

Then Dean remembered. Sam had been asking his questions, and Dean had stormed out. Sometimes the kid was just more than he could take--Dean had been young himself and he wasn’t Sam’s father. He loved his kid brother, but he didn’t know what he was supposed to say. What he was supposed to do. Coming up with answers to all of it was an impossible task--sometimes it was easier just to run.

“Sometimes I just want to know,” Sam continued.

Dean sighed, and sat heavily on the bed. “You think you do,” he said. “But trust me. You don’t.”

“But how can I trust you if you don’t tell me the truth?” Sam said. “I know you’re hiding stuff.”

Dean felt his defenses flare. “What am I hiding?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “If I knew that, I wouldn’t have to ask.”

“But how do you know?” Dean persisted. He had worked hard to provide a status quo for Sam, to give Sam the normal Dean himself had been denied.

“The moving. The aliases. We live in motel rooms, Dean,” Sam said plainly. “I figured out it wasn’t normal within a month of starting kindergarten.”

It was kind of a letdown. To think that Sam had lost his normal far earlier than Dean had intended. To think maybe Sam had never had it at all. “It’s to keep you safe,” Dean told him, his voice tight.

“But how can I be safe if I don’t know the truth?”

“I’m here,” Dean said. “So’s Dad. What more do you need?”

“Answers,” Sam said, and he looked earnest and more than a little desperate. “I just want answers. I can’t handle all these questions.”

“Then stop asking,” Dean said, harsher than he intended. “Maybe they don’t all have answers.”

“Every question has an answer, Dean,” Sam said. “Some people think that there are infinite right answers, which is kind of reassuring and true, sometimes. But I don’t believe it. Not always.”

“What do you mean?”

Sam’s brow darkened and he cocked his head uncertainly. “It just seems like sometimes there’s just one answer. One thing that has to be known. One truth. That’s what I’ve been trying to find all these years. I just never thought that I wouldn’t want it when I found it.”

Dean felt his heart twinge. He tried to smile. “It’s not so bad,” Dean said.

Sam didn’t manage to smile back. “I think maybe it is,” he said.

“Dude, come on,” Dean said, patting Sam on the shoulder. “You get to play with guns.”

The kid’s eyes were huge, more penetrating than Dean remembered. “Is that all there is?” he asked.

“What more do you want?”

The second Dean asked the question, he knew it was the wrong thing to ask. Sam’s eyes widened and his face went alive with an intensity Dean recognized.

“I want to stay in the same place,” Sam said. “I want Dad around. Maybe he could come to my soccer games. Maybe you could join a baseball team. And Dad could get a job. And we could be a family, like you used to be, before I was born.”

“Hey!” Dean said harshly. “We’re a family now.”

Sam’s face went tight. “But you were a better family then,” he said. He paused, his eyes focused on Dean. “Weren’t you?”

Dean swallowed hard, feeling his heart begin to race.

Sam didn’t let him speak. “You don’t have to say it, Dean,” he said. “I know. Just like I knew about hunting. I know about how you really feel about me. You protect me because that gives you purpose. We all need purpose. And I think that’s great. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way. I mean, it’s not your fault that you’re stuck with me.”

“Dude, I’m not stuck with you.”

Sam turned his head, pursing his lips slightly in thought. “But aren’t you? Dad put me in your arms. You didn’t have a choice about that. Do you sometimes think about what it would have been like if you’d never come for me?”

Licking his lips, Dean shook his head. “No, never,” he said.

“It’s okay,” Sam said. “I understand. I understand why you had to lie to me all those years.”

“To keep you safe,” Dean told him harshly. “We wanted to keep you safe and happy.”

“But I’m in a motel room,” Sam said. “And there are monsters I know nothing about. How can I be safe? And how can I be happy when no one has ever wanted me?”

“We have always wanted you.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me, Dean?” Sam asked and his eyes were huge now. “Why didn’t you tell me truth?”

“I just wanted to protect you!” Dean snapped, and he pushed to his feet, pacing back and forth. He looked back at his brother, who was watching him impassively. “I just wanted to let you be a kid.”

“And I just wanted to be a part of this family,” Sam said. “Or I thought I did. Now I just want to be safe. I always wanted to be safe. It doesn’t feel safe here, Dean. These motels never feel safe. Mom wasn’t safe. Dad’s not safe. And you’re not safe. I know I’m not supposed to know that, but the other one told me.”

Dean stopped. “The other one?”

“The one with black eyes. He knows the truth. He told me that demons take Dad. They take you, too. And that I’d be better off if I just let them take me and spare us all the trouble.”

It was so wrong to hear, to watch his eight-year-old brother talk about things so far beyond his years. Dean had wanted to protect Sam from this, protect Sam from all of this. He had to do his job, he had to make it right. He couldn’t lie to the kid, because Sam had always known. Maybe he hadn’t known the truth, but he’d recognized the lie when it was in being forced down his throat from the day he was six months old.

Stepping closer, he sat down next to Sam, looking at him intently. “You listen to me,” Dean said. “A lot of stuff happens in life, okay? Bad things. But that’s why we do this. That’s why we always do this. To stop it. That’s why we have to fight harder.”

Sam seemed to consider that. “How can I believe you?”

“I’m your brother,” Dean said.

“You lied to me before,” Sam said. “My entire life is a lie. What makes this any different?”

Dean sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. “It just--is, Sam. Okay? You have to trust me. I’m your brother.”

When he opened his eyes again, Sam was looking at him, looking into him. “I know who you are,” he said. “But who am I, Dean?”

He should have been expecting it, but he hadn’t yet. Not in this stream of conversation. There was so much he wanted to tell Sam, so much he wanted to say to make this better. He wanted to take that look of betrayal off Sam’s face and give him a reason to believe again. He wanted to think that Sam wouldn’t have to lose it altogether. That he could save this kid, and save them all.

But how? Lying hadn’t worked. He could see that now. He could feel Sam’s doubt, so reflexive, bubbling from the very essence of who Sam was. Dean had never grasped that, not really. He knew well enough what it was like to be lied to--the last year with Sam had been a hard lesson in that. But he hadn’t thought about the lies he’d told Sam. The lies about the angels, about how much Dean knew. The lies about his father’s last words. The lies about hunting. For eight years, Sam’s life was built on a shoddy version of the truth. When it was exposed for what it was, it destroyed what little semblance of stability Sam had. Discovering Sam’s deception over the last year had made Dean question his brother’s very place in this family.

What impact had it had for Sam?

No wonder Sam had always wanted to know why. No wonder he’d never taken his father on blind faith. The man had never deserved it. Neither had Dean, and suddenly he realized how lucky he was that he had gotten it at all.

The truth, then. He had to tell Sam the truth.

“You’re a hunter, Sammy,” he said finally.

His little brother looked pensive, face scrunched up with the crease between his eyes. “And what is that worth?”

“It’s worth this life,” Dean said. “I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Hell, sometimes I’m not so sure about it, but it’s all we have. And it’s enough.”

Sam nodded, seeming to consider it. “And what if it’s not?”

Dean pulled himself together, keeping himself impassive as best he could. “You’re just going to have to believe me on that one.”

“It’s always been easier to believe you,” Sam said. “Your lies are so much better than Dad’s. Even when they’re just as false, I like them better. Sometimes I think it’s enough.”

Sam looked down, his shoulders slumping. He looked back up and met Dean’s eyes, and Dean felt his heart breaking just a little more.

Sam sighed, shrugging a little. “It never is.”

Dean just closed his eyes, and he knew his failure here. The same mistake he made then, the same well-intentioned lies--and it wasn’t enough for Sam. It was never enough for Sam. And, for the first time, Dean wondered if the tragedy was that he actually had expected it to work.

He kept his eyes closed, breathed in and out, and waited for the scene to go black.

-o-

The next thing he heard: Thundercats.

Thundercats? What was this? 1989?

Opening his eyes, Dean found himself in a ramshackle motel room. The tacky decor was painfully out of date and even worse for wear. Their personal belongings were sparse, but Dean could see his own stack of frayed comic books on the table and a handful of plastic action figures on the coffee table.

The small TV was playing Thundercats, but half the action was missing due to a blip in the reception. The color was faded funny, making it hard to tell what was really going on, but his brother didn’t seem to care.

Curled up in the chair, Sammy looked positively tiny. His baby features and curly mop of hair were so freakin’ adorable that Dean was glad that he’d been too young to really appreciate it at the time. If he had? Sam would have gotten everything he wanted, and then some. Because the damn kid was practically a muppet, all eyes and limbs.

Then Sam laughed at the program and Dean ached. Laughter. When was the last time Sam had laughed? When was the last time Sam had even smiled? A real, honest smile?

The fact that Dean didn’t know suddenly seemed very, very wrong.

“You can watch, too, you know,” Sam said suddenly, looking up at him.

Dean hesitated. “Oh.” He drew his brows together and shifted uncertainly. He forced a smile and sat down on the couch, which creaked beneath him. “Right.”

“You say this show is good,” Sam said, looking back at it.

“Dude, it’s awesome,” Dean told him.

Sam nodded enthusiastically. “It totally is,” he agreed.

The lapsed into silence, the sound of the cartoon filling the room. But Dean couldn’t watch the cartoon. He could only watch Sam.

His little brother.

To think, all these years ago, this was Sam. Pure and innocent and sweet. The little brother he’d sworn to protect. This was the brother he’d gone to Hell for.

This couldn’t be the brother who had betrayed him--not the one who drank demon blood and lied and let Lucifer loose. Maybe Dean had been right--maybe his brother had changed. Maybe his black-eyed tour guide had taken all this over, subjugated it, and had taken this Sam away from him.

Sam blinked up at him and looked concerned. “You’re not watching,” he said. “We can watch something else. Or you could go play video games. You don’t have to sneak out. I won’t tell Dad.”

“Dude, you know about that?”

Sam nodded, all too earnest. “I hear the keys in the lock when you leave,” he said. “Once I watched where you went. Maybe someday, when I’m bigger, I could go with you.”

“It’s too dangerous,” Dean said without thinking.

A little crestfallen, Sam nodded. “Oh,” he said. “Yeah, that’s okay.”

“Besides,” Dean interjected quickly. “Who needs video games when you have Thundercats?”

Sam nodded again, and looked back at the screen. His amiable silence only lasted a moment before he looked at Dean again. “Why is it safe for you to go out but not me?”

“I’m bigger.”

It wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy Sam. “But what about when I’m bigger?”

Dean almost laughed. The questions. The endless rounds of questions and counter-arguments. Give Sam a reason and he’ll find a reason why not. And yet, Dean couldn’t stop himself from playing along. “You’ll never be bigger than me.”

That seemed to alarm Sam. “So I’ll never get to do what you do?”

“Well, maybe,” Dean relented. “But you’ll have to trust me to let you know when it’s okay.”

That was the thing, in the end. Sam just needed to trust him. If Sam had trusted him all along, they wouldn’t be here at all. Sam wouldn’t have gone darkside. He wouldn’t have started the Apocalypse and life would be so much easier. It was hard to think how easily Dean could have changed it if he’d only convinced Sam that he was right. Maybe not about everything, but about the big things--the things that made a difference.

But even at age five, in the throes of hero worship, Sam was a hard sell. “And you’d never lie to me?”

The lie was perched on Dean’s tongue but it was too hard to give. Not when Sam was looking at him like that. He smiled a little instead. “I’m always going to do right by you.”

“What does that mean?”

“That everything I do, I do it to take care of you.”

“Even when you go to play video games?”

Dean shrugged a little. “Well--”

“Even big brothers should have fun,” Sam told him earnestly. “You make me dinner and you tell me when to go to bed. You’re super smart.”

Dean found himself grinning. That was always good to hear. He’d forgotten how much he relished Sam’s hero worship. For all the work and all the responsibility, it was hard to think of it as a burden when Sam gave him complete adoration and love.

Those were the days.

“You’re not so bad yourself there, kiddo,” Dean said, ruffling Sam’s hair lightly.

Sam grinned up at him, beaming. “Thanks, Dean,” he said. “It’s good to have someone to count on.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Dean assured him.

“So I can ask you questions, and you’ll know the answers?”

“Just like a textbook.”

“And you’ll tell me what I need to know?”

“Without fail.”

“Can I ask you a question now, Dean?”

“Sure, buddy,” Dean said.

“Who am I?” Sam asked, blinking his eyes up at him.

Dean’s heart skipped a beat. He’d walked right into that one. Sam had set him up, nice and slow. He’d forgotten that, with all of Sam’s hero worship, the kid had been clever and inquisitive at heart--and he knew how to work it.

That question. It always came back to that question. And there was one thing Dean knew now better than ever--one thing that this Sam made abundantly clear just by the sheer virtue of who he was. “You’re Sammy.”

“What is that worth?”

It was such a simple question, and his brother looked so earnest about it. And Dean had only one answer to give, and he could only pray that it’d be enough. “It’s worth sticking with me, okay?” Dean said. “I would never lead you wrong.”

“Oh,” Sam said. “Okay.”

Dean’s heart stilled for a moment, the buds of hope blossoming. After all of this--could this be the right answer? “Okay?”

Sam nodded as a matter of fact. “I just have one more question.”

Dean grinned. “Shoot, kiddo.”

Sam’s face went very serious. “Am I still Sammy when my eyes go black?” he asked.

Dean’s throat constricted. “What?”

“When my eyes go black,” Sam said. “I’ve talked to the others. And they all give me their own answers. But you’re my big brother and you would never lie to me, right, Dean?”

Dean could hardly think--he could hardly breathe.

“Unless you were lying when you told me that,” Sam said, his head cocking a little in thought. “Then I guess everything might be a lie. But then how do I know what’s true if it all started with a lie?”

Dean wanted to say it wasn’t true. He wanted to tell Sam it wasn’t like that. But it was like that. Sam’s entire life was based on lies. On their father lies, his mother’s lies, his own. How could Sam ever know what to trust when his foundations were so uncertain?

How could he expect Sam to trust when he’d lied to him from the beginning? Love and safety and protection. Hate and distrust and deception. It was all the same, in the end. Way back at the beginning, he couldn’t make it better for Sam because it had been wrong before Sam was even born.

Sam looked at him, his face as young as it had ever been. Inquisitive. Hopeful. Innocent. What Dean wanted to remember.

What might have never been true.

Sam smiled at him, and laughed a little. “This is what you thought was real, isn’t it?” he asked. “The good little brother who trusts and follows. Only that’s not what I am, and you know that, too. This is what I am.”

And Sam’s eyes went black, and Dean couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t stop it and there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t cry and he couldn’t scream and he couldn’t save his brother.

The blackness expanded, encompassing Sam’s face and body and then the room around them. It spread fast and unstoppable until it took Dean, too, and there was nothing more.

-o-

He came back to the sound of laughter.

Blinking, he was in the dark again. Turning, he found his black-eyed guide nearly keeled over with laughter. “You should have seen your face,” he said, gasping for breath.

“What?” Dean asked.

The Sam looked at him, dimples deep in his cheeks. “When the little guy pulled out the eyes,” he said. “I told them you’d react like that.”

Dean shook his head. This was going too fast and too slow and too wrong to keep up with. “What the hell are you talking about? And how the hell am I supposed to get Sam out of here if none of them are the ones I need to talk to?”

Straightening, Sam’s laughter still, but the bemused smile was still on his face. “And you think you know which ones you need to talk to?”

“One who can make an executive decision, preferably.”

“Oh,” Sam said with a measure of surprise. “See, that’s your problem. There aren’t really any executive decision. We seem to work on a democracy in here, of the truest sense. Not that whole representative one Americans believe in. But we get a straight up vote.”

“We?”

“Each Sam. Me, the little guy you just met--you name it, we all get an equal say.”

It wasn’t what Dean wanted to hear. “So what’s the point of the trips down memory lane?” he snapped.

“You wanted to help Sam,” he said with a shrug.

“Which I could do if you weren’t screwing with them,” Dean said, stepping forward. “What you did to Sam as a kid--you can’t do that. He’s just a kid. You should protect him.”

“What? By lying to him?” Sam asked, eyebrows raised. “Because that worked out so well for all of you.”

Dean’s jaw clenched. “You can’t make him the black-eyed freak. That’s you.”

The bemusement faded from Sam’s face. “That’s the problem with black-eyed freaks, I suppose,” he said, dryly. “We never follow the rules like good little boys.”

“You’re just lucky that I haven’t found a way to drag you out of my brother myself.”

“Yeah, good luck with that one,” Sam said with a roll of his eyes. “The others have tried. There was the one time with the exorcism, but that was just messy and painful for everyone involved.”

Dean’s eyes narrowed. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, wait,” Sam said. “I forget that you don’t know that stuff.”

“Don’t know what stuff?”

“The things we try to do to fix us,” Sam said with a shrug. “We had a whole incident with a gun in the bathroom which nearly ended very poorly, but the exorcism we tried in the shower last month really did take the cake. Luckily, we had enough brains left to do it in the bathroom so you wouldn’t see the blood.”

It wasn’t possible--it wasn’t true. The implications were hard to overlook--hints of suicide and masochism of the deepest sense--but there were too many things. Too many lies and he shouldn’t be trusting a Sam whose eyes could go black. “I’m getting tired of your games,” Dean said. “I just want to help my brother. Now can I help him or not?”

“You can,” Sam said.

“Then, let me.”

“Figure it out, genius,” Sam said pointedly. “I’m trying to let you.”

“I don’t want to relive Sam’s life,” Dean told him. “I just want to wake him up before the doctor wants to pull the plug.”

“And how do you save a life, Dean?” Sam asked, mouth quirked thoughtfully.

“By getting his ass out of here.”

“Logistically, that might be problematic.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “The first thing I’m doing when I get out of here, is to find a way to get rid of you.”

Sam laughed, and shook head. “The rest have tried,” he said. “I keep telling you, and you keep not listening. You can’t get rid of me. I’m as much Sam as that sweet little thing you just saw.”

“He didn’t have black eyes.”


“He just didn’t know how to use them.”

Dean’s rage mounted. “You leave my baby brother alone,” he seethed. “He doesn’t need you filling his head with your crap.”

Sam seemed unfazed. “But he needs you lying to him? Ordering him around? Calling him a freak?”

“Being his brother.”

Sam’s eyes darkened. “Then it’s about time you started acting like it.”

Dean didn’t flinch this time, but stepped closer. “And what is that supposed to mean?”

Sam looked at him, eyes still black. “You want to help? Then help. Answer the questions, Dean. Answer the questions.”

Sam was talking in riddles. He was backwards and forwards and sideways until Dean wasn’t even sure this was his brother. It could be some kind of latent possession, something Dean didn’t know about, some kind of weird parasitical relationship--which would explain why Sam was acting like such a freak, conscious and not. But Dean came here to help, not get lost, and his patience with the entire ordeal was just about shot. Maybe Sam really was gone--maybe this stuff that was left was residual memories. Maybe he’d been right and Sam never really had been his brother.

He shook his head, trying to focus. Sam or possessed or some weird amalgamation, there was one way out of here, and this black eyed freak was standing in his way. “What questions?” he demanded, the strain of desperation coloring his words.

The black eyes narrowed, swirling with inky nothingness. “Who am I, Dean? What is that worth?”

The same question. Again and again and again. All his answers weren’t good enough--just like always. He didn’t know what Sam wanted. But he knew the answer to this one--better than the rest, and he didn’t even hesitate. “You? You are a selfish son of a bitch who doesn’t belong in my brother,” Dean seethed. “And that is worth killing you, right here, right now.”

The anger diffused from Sam’s face and his eyes cleared. “I told them you wouldn’t get it.”

“Get what?”

Sam shrugged, a little resigned. “We’ll give it one more try,” he said. “And pay attention this time, okay?”

And Sam snapped his fingers and Dean was tumbling toward oblivion.

Next

 

Comments

Posted by: MacByrne (macbyrne)
Posted at: September 8th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)

He's your brother, Dean. And that's worth everything. I can't wait until Dean figures it out and answers like he's supposed to. Awesome, awesome update, and I'm dying for the grand finale!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
breathless

Dean will get there--and hopefully both boys will be better for it :) And I hope the finale doesn't disappoint! Thanks!

Posted by: ghostfour (ghostfour)
Posted at: September 8th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)

I keep wanting to go up to Dean and just shout at him: "Because it's not about *you*, you idjit!"

You are handling this wonderfully... Dean gets so close to figuring it out... then backs away because he can't *see* Sam... and until he can see him, really see him - all of him the wonderful parts, the dark parts, the parts that *are not about Dean!* - he will never be able to answer the questions.

I love the hints that this fracturing started so long ago... Sam never giving Dean or John a part of himself that they couldn't handle. And living in pieces because of it.

And I *love* that Black-eyed Sam is the most patient with Dean. That he's the one trying to *show* him, while the others just want him gone. BES is what's left of Sam's self-confidence and self-worth... and isn't that sad -that only the dark part of him feels worthy enough to fight back anymore.

More soon please!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
how

Hee. Yes. Dean is kind of, um, dense? I just think Dean NEEDS this kind of intervention or he'll just go on resenting Sam for things. And Dean has cause to be upset, but he needs to understand Sam and things will be so much easier.

Black-eyed Sam is kind of special--there's something evil but there's something good about him, too. With the rest of Sam lost in self-loathing, it's good that some part of him, even that part, is holding onto himself.

Thanks!

Posted by: Nebula (authoressnebula)
Posted at: September 9th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
spn brothers s1 thatsmyboy

Oh Dean! I feel like he keeps coming SO CLOSE to getting it...and then we're back to demon!blackeyed!Sam and then he loses it all. He's gotta accept that even though he doesn't want it, even if Sam especially doesn't want that part of him, that it's there, and it's a part of him. If that made any sense. :P

*smish* I love this so much, and I cannot WAIT for the last part! (Seriously, this latest chapter made my day, which has so far been craptastic. Cops, bumper-fender, headache-migraine...baby, I've had it all. And this fic was just the thing that made me smile.)

~Nebula

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
broken together

It made total sense and is a huge part of this fic. You'll see :)

Thanks!

Posted by: *Bright (starbright73)
Posted at: September 9th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Sheesh SPN

Oh Dean, you never got it did you? Even if it's right there under your nose, you refuse to see.

See Sammy, all of him, see the parts you don't like and accept them, you moron. It's all your brother, and he's a beautiful sum of everything and he's worthy just the way he is.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
winchester brothers

It may take Dean a bit, but he'll get there. In my fic, anyway. On the show? Not so sure.

Thanks!

Posted by: debbiel66 (debbiel66)
Posted at: September 9th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Sam and Dean cloudy sky

Just wanted to let you know that I'm still reading and enjoying thoroughly. Thanks so much for this complex, layered story.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
brothers malleus

Awesome! I hope the ending doesn't disappoint! Thanks!

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: September 9th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)

So sad :(( I hate that Dean just can't answer the question which seems so simple yet it's really not!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
dazed

It is a harder question than you'd think. But Dean will get there....eventually :)

Thanks!

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