2007-10-17: Never Letting Go

Starring:

Trina_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif

Summary: After his unexplained absence, Trina proves yet again that she's way too good for Jack.

Date It Happened: October 17th, 2007

Log Title Never Letting Go


Location Jack and Trina's Apartment - NYC

Jack pauses just outside the door to his own apartment and pulls in a deep, steadying breath. For a moment he stares at his own distorted reflection in the polished metal plate that holds the door knocker in place. Though his injuries are still evident from the way he limps and occasionally cups a protective hand over his abdomen, he seems in much better condition this morning than he did the night before. The bandages on the side of his neck and across his broken nose have been changed. The scattering of partially healed cuts and bruises on his face have been cleaned and properly attended to. There are fresh scrapes along most of his knuckles and two of his fingers have been taped together to form an improvised splint. He's even showered, shaved, and doffed his wrinkled suit in favor of a freshly purchased t-shirt, jeans, and a loose leather jacket. A heavy, bulging knapsack is slung around one shoulder, and he occasionally adjusts it against his flank, constantly searching for a comfortable position

Still staring at his reflection, Jack pulls a penlike injector from an inner pocket and considers it briefly, rolling it between thumb and forefinger. He licks his lips in anticipation and his hand trembles, on the verge of popping away the safety cap and prepping it for use. After the better part of a minute he abruptly averts his gaze and crams the injector back into his pocket. An unpleasant shiver runs from his crown to his toes and he squints his eyes tightly shut. A few more calming breaths later, he unlocks the door and steps into his place, smiling as if he only left a few hours ago and hadn't a care in the world. "Honey, I'm home," he calls, his voice raspy and tired.

To say that the past few weeks have been pleasant would be an outright lie. While Trina may have been left provided for, frustration and anger have been the ruling philosophies here. Sure, after Jack got her home, she wasn't Miss Sally Sunshine either. Yelling, born of self-doubt and despair more than fault or blame. More than her fair share of yelling, one might note. Maybe that's what made Jack's abrupt departure harder. Because part of her felt like she had brought it on herself. She started walking on her own while he was away, but never told him in their strained, sparse, infrequent phone conversations out of spite. After all, she figured, if he hadn't have left, he would know. She began to think that he really wasn't coming back. That made it easier somehow.

Of course, the poor nurse that Jack hired to make sure that she didn't kill herself doing something stupid as a defiant act of independence got more than her fair share of abuse, too. Fortunately, the nurse — a feisty, stocky black woman with more stubbornness than should be legal and a stern disposition to go with it — figured out how to keep Trina in line well enough. Medication was on time. The place was kept clean. Food wasn't take out Chinese every night.

But here, at the end of the day, it's just Trina in the lonely apartment. An apartment filled with flowers. Probably Jack sent them, and that stupid nurse brought them in here. For her, it was just a reminder that he WASN'T HERE, and she's been stewing in her anger for the better part of an hour after getting up from her nap. Perhaps that why the dark haired young woman on the couch — dressed in a thick pair of Jack's sweat pants and a tank top from her own duffel of clothes — stares blankly at the door for a few moments before it begins to process through the pretty little stupor she's made for herself from the last beer from the fridge and the pain medication that it's not the nurse. Her icy blue eyes narrow, partly in confusion, partly in bewilderment.

"Jack?"

"Last time I checked," Jack replies easily. He shrugs away from his knapsack and lets it fall it to floor with a heavy, metallic clank. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that he hasn't slept in some time. There are heavy, dark circles under his eyes. The wrinkles around his brow and mouth that had once seemed premature and intermittent are now far deeper, visible even when he isn't frowning. He's thinner, lacking the half-inch of softness that settled life had formed over his lean body before he disappeared so abruptly.

With awkward, limping steps, Jack crosses the space between the door and the couch. He doesn't press his hand to his injured belly, but rests it on his hip in a comforting self-touch gesture. He doesn't immediately reach out to Trina either, though from his expression it's clear that he wants to. His nonchalance barely conceals his fear and hesitation. He knows that he bailed, and he knows that not only did he not properly explain it, but that he never can.

Even as he crosses he room, Trina's breath begins to catch in her chest. He came back. He actually came back. For a long time, she doesn't know what to say. She simply stares at the man who actually has his name on the lease, and then draws her legs up to make room for him to sit at the far end of the couch, turning her attention back to the television that is currently playing an old black and white rerun of the Dick Van Dyke Show. She wants to grab Jack up. To hold him tight and feel his warmth to know he's really there. To kiss him and pretend that it is the middle of June and they're only first diving so carelessly into a pool of love. To forget the confused and terrifying emotions churning in her gut and making her feel ill through the cloud of drug and beer. She wants to ask him why he left. In the end, she's too scared to do any of those things. "You look like hell," she finally manages, watching him from the corner of her eye.

Tentatively, Jack takes a seat next to Trina and reaches out to touch her for the first time in weeks. His fingertips barely brush against her knee through the fabric of her borrowed sweats, but the contact immediately seems to relax him and he lets out a breath that feels as if it's been pent up for a month. "You look beautiful," he replies. When he meets her eyes for the first time, his are sad and weary. He still doesn't offer an explanation, and it's not long before he glances away guiltily. "I missed you," he whispers.

Whatever fury Trina had left seems to ebb away as his hand finds her, and the woman goes entirely still for a moment. Her eyes close and she just savors that moment, the lightness and tenderness inherent in the way he touches her. The way it brings a sudden awareness to the tightness across the back of her shoulders and neck that she's been carrying since he disappeared. She honestly has to consciously will herself not to cry.

When he talks, however, all resolve Trina had is gone. "I missed you, too," she quietly offers back, finally turning her head to glance briefly at him. Then, with an awkward sweep of her legs, she shifts her weight. She shifts it so that she no longer is leaning on the couch, but rather gingerly curling against him instead. Even though she's not supposed to, she smells of beer and cigarettes. He doesn't look like he's been behaving himself, either, so she isn't terribly worried about getting judged.

The last of Jack's accumulated tension is gone in a flash. Of all the things on his mind, this is the only one he was actually worried about. Trina not forgiving him for leaving her when she needed him. Trina not wanting him when he came back. When she curls against him he wraps both arms around her and pulls her against his torso. There's a quiet grunt as he settles her smaller body in between knife wounds and broken ribs, but the aches are more than worth it. As gently as he's able, he pushes a lock of her hair away from her face with shaking hands and leans in to kiss her. Circumstances have forced him to grow more expressive in the last month, but he still doesn't have words for the relief and comfort he feels. As is his way, he falls back to physical expression, pouring every ounce of his emotion and longing into a brief brush of his lips against hers.

Trina wants to be angry. At times, it's much less frightening a proposition than feeling an attachment. Now would be a moment, and as her attention's drawn up, there's a hesitation in her breath. Trepidation. It's felt like forever.

A kiss, comforting in its familiarity but exhilarating in the newness that comes from long separations. And then, just like that, it's gone, melting and sliding away under an avalanche of her own relief. She didn't scare him away; he still wants her. Her own hand slips up to cradle the curve of his jaw with her fingertips, even with her present lack of clarity, it's still the only part of him that she's brave enough to touch. He's broken. He's moving like he's broken. Then there's a tear that escapes from the corner of her eye, and the sickly thin woman draws back to quickly wipe it away, trying to pretend that she's just rubbing her eye. "I din' think you were comin' back," she confesses.

Abruptly, Jack leans away slightly and fixes his grey eyes on Trina's again. For the first time in memory, his are misty with moisture as well. He cups his hand over hers and presses it tighter against his cheek, tender and forceful at the same time. His fingers are still trembling, tremors that occasional travel up his arm and into his upper body. "I'll always come back to you. Always." The whispered promise is husky and thick with emotion. "I'm sorry it took so long this time."

"I'm just glad you're back." If Trina were someone else, she might be inclined to ask where the hell he's been. Why it took so long. Why he left without saying anything. Fortunately for Jack, she's not someone else. She doesn't want to know anything that could possibly destroy this moment. She has the man she loves right in her arms — at least close enough to it after she drapes an arm around the front of his waist — and she has no intention of letting him go any time soon. "Whose ass do I gotta kick?" A joke. Mostly. In so much that she's not in any shape to do so more than any lack of desire.

Completely relaxed and ease for the first time in many, many days, Jack lets out a content sigh and nuzzles against Trina. "No asses left to kick," he replies, his voice muffled against her hair and skin. "Not for now, anyway." There's a note of guilt in his last statement that's so heavy it's almost oppressive. He sinks back slightly into the couch and dismisses the issue by changing the subject. "It's just good to be home. You look so much better than when I left. How've you been feeling?"

"Tired, mostly." Trina shrugs slightly before continuing, staring at Jack's thigh as she does her own form of dodging. "Still kinda spacey or dizzy sometimes. Get worn out pretty easy." But then there's a proud smile as she lifts her head back and then lets it hang there backwards instead of holding it up, made lazy by the languid warmth that has taken to oozing through her veins. "Walked down to the bar by myself a couple of days ago, though, while that bitch nurse was out."

Any response from Jack is cut off by another tremor that runs through the left side of his body. This one is severe enough that his torso involuntarily bucks upward against Trina's body. When his multitude of injuries contact her he lets out an involuntary gasp that stretches into a strangled groan. His muscles continue to clench and unclench spasmodically , each contraction coming faster and more violently than the last. Spots of blood seep through his t-shirt and there's an audible POP of stitches bursting. He shuts his eyes, presses his lips together, and inhales raggedly through his nose.

"Fine. M'fine," he insists, cutting off the inevitable questioning. His right hand moves awkwardly, uncoordinated and clumsy as he digs inside his coat. There's a clicking sound as he snaps the lid off of the injector he'd been toying with earlier, then he presses the exposed needle into the side of his chest through the material of his coat and shirt. This doesn't conceal the problem from Trina, only the solution. The result is almost instantaneous. Jack's seizing slows, then halts completely. His respiration steadies, as does his fast, irregular heartbeat.

Chemical-induced lethargy is momentarily superceded by a distinct terror that seizes Trina. She shoots back to the far end of the couch as quickly as she can, confused for the first breath she sits there. What did she do? Wait… Jack's acting like he's not blaming her. …Not her fault? Maybe that's why at his insistence that everything's okay, the girl's temper flares back to life. "Bull fucking shit, you're fine. What the fuck, Jack?" Her entire brow is furrowed as she just fights the urge to cry again, but this time it's horrified, disappointed, righteous anger. The spasms. The knife wounds. The shaking.

God, why didn't she see this earlier? She should have. Why didn't she recognize it sooner? "What the fuck have you been into? Was that why you left? To get some fix? You left me to binge?" She can't blame him. The coma… The fights after… She probably drove him to hit. Fucking damn it. She's not thinking clearly, but she doesn't realize it. Instead, she's fighting against her compromised balance to get back to her feet. Her glass house has very thin walls at the moment.

The epinephrine in Jack's injections in extremely fast-acting. Though he's still sucking in lungfuls of air like he's afraid someone might take them away, he comes quickly to his feet, hands spread and eyes open wide in a basic, fight or flight response, though he's not sure exactly what he should be fighting or fleeing from. As his body begins to process and distribute the morphine in the mixture he calms a bit more and his pupils fully dilate. "It's not what you think," he begins, now holding his hands out defensively as he grows more coherent. "I never asked for this. I'm… I'm sick," he finishes, well aware of how weak an excuse it sounds. "Please, baby. Be careful. Sit back down."

There's liquor hidden in this apartment. Trina knows where it is. She wants it. However, there is now this matter of Jack returned. Watching. Insisting that this is somehow not as bad as it seems. She's trying to believe him, but experiences past make that extremely difficult. It doesn't matter that it wasn't him. However, when her balance fails and she tries to catch herself in a sit on the couch, she misses its edge and falls on the floor, there's a howl of pain as she hits her tail bone. Which is when that frustration that 'chased' Jack away rears its head, angry and petulant and hopeless. Her leg shoots out on reflex to kick weakly at the coffee table, followed by another bellow of pain as she catches her toe nail on it wrong. "GAWD DAMMIT."

Drawing her knees up, she rests her forehead on them and hugs them tight. Time to go back to crying, thank you. Jack's sick — the truth of it could mean illness or addiction or both, she's not sure which. She just knows that the reunion just got so much more complicated than it was supposed to be. She was supposed to have him back. It was supposed to be okay. Why is it not okay?

"Hey," Jack murmurs as he kneels gingerly in front of Trina, clearly favoring his left leg. He reaches out to her, afraid that she might shy away, but unwilling to let her put herself through this much stress without trying to comfort her. "Look at me. Everything will be okay. It's… It's this." He reaches up and grips the bandage at the side of his neck. With a quick jerk he tears at away, revealing a puckered indentation with an angry red dot in the middle. "I can fix it. I'll fix it. Everything will be okay, I promise. Until I fix it, I need these."

His hands are shaking again, but this time it's nervousness as he produces the recently used injector from inside his coat. It's clearly a medical device, far too complex and professional to have been cooked up for street use. More than anything else, it resembles an EpiPen with markings in a very unfamiliar language.

Looking up, Trina's face is a contorted mess. She doesn't know what to believe now, but she knows something's wrong with Jack. There's several repetitions of that fact in the unspoken recesses of her thoughts, until finally she swallows audibly. Her hands wipe away her tears so that she can see what her lover is trying to show her, trying to make her comprehend. What he shows her she doesn't understand. In her book, that must mean that it's not what she thought because she would have understood that. After considering both injury and strange things she can't read, she simply settles herself against his bent legs, burying her face in the crook between his knees. "'m sorry." It's garbled, lost in the fabric of his pants perhaps, but at least she said it.

Jack cradles Trina gently, clinging to her as much as she is to him. "It's going to be okay," he repeats with confidence he doesn't feel. "Everything is going to be okay. You have nothing to be sorry for." He loops his arms under her and stands, expelling a forceful breath as his aches intensify. A month ago he could've lifted three girls her size. Mindless of his own injuries, he lowers her onto the couch and kneels in front of her. He takes both her hands in one of his, keeping his hands palm up to conceal his scabbed and bruised knuckles. "You waited for me. That's more than I could've asked for, and more than I deserve. I love you, Trina."

Were Trina sober, she might tell him to not even attempt picking her up. Unfortunately for him, she's not. That means that she's all too willing to let him overexert himself because it is a means to make her better. That is her rationale, you see. OMG YOU'RE SICK, COMFORT ME. It's not until he's there, kneeling in front of her and looking at her that something starts to cut through her self-induced fog. Her hands reach out, cupping his face to help her gauge how far away it is so she can gently rest her forehead against his before closing her eyes. "Of course, I'd wait for you, you idiot. I love you, too." A sniffle. "More'n anything. Ch'means you ain't allowed to die on me." Her eyes reopen, head pulling back a little to ask another question. "You know that, right?"

Jack nestles his jaw into Trina's hands and his forehead against hers, comforted by her touch. His own hands slide up to grip her thighs and squeeze gently, as if the more physical contact he can obtain, the more reassured he will be. His eyes drift closed as well. "Can't die yet," he quips. "Too stubborn, and I have shit to do tomorrow."

When his left leg will no longer support his weight, he shifts and stretches it uncomfortably out to the side, unwilling enough to separate from Trina to put himself through the painful motions. The morphine helps, of course. "I'm so sorry I had to leave, and I'm so glad you're okay. I was so worried about you."

"Well, now it's my turn," Trina declares, finding herself again at last. There's a protectiveness that is starting to rise up in her chest, swelling at the thought of Jack in trouble. It's the first time since the fateful day with Elena at the bar — a day she still doesn't really remember — that she should say that she's felt its return. Her gaze drifts down to the slowly growing spot on his shirt. "You're bleedin'. Lemme go get the kit?"

"It's nothing," Jack replies causally, dismissing the injuries along with the rest of his wear and tear. Unfortunately, you can't keep your shirt on in front of your lover forever, so he relents with a nod. Best to get it over with now. "Okay, but you stay still. I can get it." From his stern tone and expression, it would seem that he's pretty determined.

Rather than a nimble twitch of his fingers and a quick relocation, Jack staggers unsteadily to his feet and goes to retrieve the red shoulder bag he carried in with him. On his way back, he digs through it until he comes up with a slim, canvas case. He undoes the snaps and unfolds it, revealing a WWII field surgery kit. There are scissors, scalpels, and needles of several sizes and varieties, as well as small foil envelopes with ointments, painkillers, antibiotics, and lengths of thread. The surgery kit is tossed onto the couch beside Trina and the knapsack onto the floor with more loud, metallic clanking sounds.

Without further ado, Jack shrugs out of his coat and gingerly pulls his t-shirt over his head. The lower left side of his torso is littered with a scattering of round bruises in impressive shades of blue, purple, and yellow. Over time they've melded into one mottled injury. Not far from them, a knife wound almost as wide as his hand with two burst stitches reveals itself as the source of the fresh blood, though the trickle is very small. His chest is covered with scrapes and cuts that will add a great deal of tallies to his scar count by the time they heal. Like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar, Jack drops his shirt to the floor and stands wordlessly with his 'wear and tear' exposed.

It's nothing? Nothing?! Trina is about to say a whole lot of something when Jack relents. Oh, hey, that was easy! So then she shuts her mouth and just waits for him to make his trip. It's the walking and getting it as opposed to using his powers that takes her aback, Trina takes a deep breath. It's very strange how one becomes so accustomed to what most people would consider to be a warp of the mundane.

Once he gets back and takes off his shirt, she just offers a very small smile before giving up on it. "Oh, baby," she offers quietly, brow furrowed. It's a really good thing that she doesn't know who did this. Really good. It wouldn't go well for anybody.

Pushing herself onto her feet only to sit again on the edge of the coffee table. Time to get this done. There are advantages to having a history of dating gangbangers. It's not the first bit of battle damage she's seen.

"Don't sweat it, sugar," Jack reassures her. "I've seen worse and lived through it." Though he keeps his injured abdomen still so that Trina can tend to it properly, his hands and arms shift occasionally, always seeming to cover a palm-sized area over his heart. "Caught a bullet fragment above the knee just after I left," he admits. "But I yanked it out and patched it up right away. Should be right as rain soon."

In a battle of Jack's skills at sleight of hand versus Trina's abiltiy to focus through her pain killer and booze… Oh, yeah. Jack wins. She doesn't even notice that he's playing a game of coverup. Instead, the brunette — after threading a needle and cleaning both needle and wound with some anesthetic — leans in close and draws her lips tightly against her teeth in sympathy. She doesn't want to hurt him. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of choice. So she'll just wince and do what needs doing. Fortunately, that's not a whole lot. "Y'ain't gonna tell me what happened, are you." More statement than fact.

Not only does Jack not wince or flinch away from the contact, he barely seems to notice it at all, other than a slight narrowing of his eyes. The morphine is still hard at work. "Got stabbed with my own knife," he explains. "These…" he points to each of the circular bruises in turn. "Would be giant bullet holes if not for the magic of tri-weave kevlar with ceramic inserts. And this…" he taps the angry indentation in the side of his neck. "This was a gift from an old enemy." He doesn't even pretend that this is the answer that Trina was looking for, but it's an answer. Of sorts. He looks down at her face as she patches him up. Takes care of him. Like she always does after he's been out doing something dangerous.

"I did a lot of things I'm not proud of while I was away," Jack admits quietly.

The advantage of it only being two stitches is that it doesn't take long to take repair the work. When Jack explains things in a vague, but still very specific manner, Trina tries to keep her attention focused on what she's doing rather than being angry. Angry won't help. As she ties off the thread, she focuses on making that knot very, very, very secure. No ripping again, please. "Where did you go?"

Now Jack looks away. His eyes grow cold and distant, though from the way he stares off, it's clear that the expression isn't directed at Trina. "I went home," he replies, his voice still quiet and subdued. He sways a bit as his love tugs the stitches tight, still showing no signs of pain other than a slight frown. This is a different kind of evasion that usual. Rather than trying to protect Trina, he's trying to protect himself. Now he's unable to meet her gaze at all. The hand drops from over his heart, revealing dozens of needlepricks from administering injections.

"Oh." With her work done, Trina snips the thread. She doesn't really look at Jack, not wanting to add to his discomfort. Rather, she just concentrates on putting everything away in her meticulously tidy fashion. Then there's a glance up and she spies the track marks all over her lover's chest. Yeah, okay, time to look back to the kit. "How long's this been goin' on?"

"Ever since I left," Jack replies unhappily. "Don't worry about those. I smear some vaseline on them before I go to bed. I'm just going to make more, anyway." He crosses his arms over his chest, effectively bringing the issue to a close. "I'm more concerned about you. Did the nurse take good care of you while I was gone?"

"Make sure you see a doctor," Trina replies simply before letting the issue slide from the table onto the floor and into a corner to be forgotten about. "And yeah, she did alright. Hell of a hard ass." With an unsteady step, the girl rises to her feet and slowly moves to put the kit away into a drawer. Somewhere permanent. It's her way of telling Jack that she doesn't expect to see him running off again any time soon without saying it out loud.

The gesture doesn't go unnoticed by Jack. He ponders a clean shirt, but the closet is upstairs, and upstairs seems very far away right now. Instead he slumps down onto the couch, scoops up his blood-spotted tee, and shrugs back into it. "That's why I hired her. I thought about asking Peter, but he's such a sissy that he would've let you walk all over him." When Jack grins and winks at Trina he looks more like himself than he has since he arrived.

After getting the kit put back in its spot, Trina shoots a quizzical glance at her boyfriend and tilts her head. It's like he's telling her a joke, but she's entirely missing the punchline. And Jack doesn't have to worry about going upstairs: the brunette's already ambling in that direction. It's a mostly straight path. "Who's Peter?"

"Peter? Nathan Petrelli's little brother. Decided he wanted to be a nurse/bookstore employee/puppy when he grew up." Jack lounges back against the couch and grins wider. "Kid's good with medicine, but if I left you alone with him for two weeks he'd probably develop a betwetting problem. He's a nice boy, but what you needed to keep you in line was a crotchety woman built like our fridge."

At talk of keeping her in line, Trina's eyebrow peaks in an expression of 'Oh, yeah?' There's a dramatic snort afterwards, followed promptly by a mock-indignant toss of her head as she starts pulling herself up the stairs. "I don't know what your talkin' 'bout. I'm imported Southern sunshine." After a half-second, she continues. "Sounds like a real snore."

"Pete's a good kid, he just takes himself a bit too seriously. Needs to loosen up," Jack calls up the stairs after Trina. As soon as she's out of sight, Jack scrambles for his jacket and digs another injector from it. This one he jabs into his thigh so the puncture won't be immediately visible when she returns. When the unit is spent he crams it under a couch cushion for later extraction.

Unaware of Jack's actions, Trina pulls open one of his drawers and rummages through it until, at last, she finds a gun metal grey shirt of a thin cotton that shouldn't pull too tightly about the things that are going wrong with Jack's stitches. She takes her time in coming back downstairs, clinging tightly to the banister. It isn't until she reaches the bottom, however, that she opens her eyes wide. "Shit. I forgot to gauze that thing up." Moving back towards the kitchen to get to the drawer, she sighs, frustrated with herself. "Why didn't you remind me, sugar?"

"Stop. Don't worry about it. It hasn't had gauze on it for days, another hour or two won't make a difference. I just want to hold you." Jack extends both hands in Trina's direction with a hopeful expression on his face. "You've been up too much anyway. You need a rest. In my lap."

Insert devilishly charming smile and wink right ---> (here) <---.

As Jack stops her mid-walk, Trina's arm comes up to point towards the kitchen. On her face is an unspoken 'But!' …But there's the fact that Jack's smile is sitting there in plain view, undoing her.Eventually, the arm drops, the gearhead's resolve crumbling under the weight of Derex's mighty hold over her.

Changing course, the slender thing makes her way back towards him with a shuffling step. Her heavy-lidded eyes watch him, even as she draws to a stop just in front of his knees whereupon she offers a weak smile. He's as good about sweeping any apparent concern for himself under the rug as she is about herself. She doesn't buy it, but she'll play along. "Were you this sexy and irresistable before you left?"

"Nope. You just love me for reasons I can't really understand." Jack holds his hands out to his lover beckoningly, longing to have her close. After so much time spent apart, all he can think about is holding her and never letting go.

Jack blinks once. Twice. Speak your mind, Irishman. This is important.

"C'mere," he urges. "I missed you so damn much, all I can think about is holding you and never letting go."

Grabbing hold of Jack's hands, Trina moves to steal a kiss and then pull Jack up to his feet. "Why don't you come to bed? It just ain't been the same without you in it." Just a little more, Jack, is the silent encouraging. Nevermind that it's only 8:30, and Nick at Night is still in its early programming. Once they're to bed, neither of them has to go anywhere else till morning. Right now, that sounds so promising.

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