2008-02-24: Worse Before Better

Starring:

Logan_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif

Summary: Things have to get worse before they get better. Nathan meets Trina when trying to find Jack and make things right, but things get a little worse for everyone instead. He also doesn't get the answers he wanted, just the ones he needed.

Date It Happened: February 24th, 2008

Worse Before Better


Midtown, NYC - 1701 - Prestige Midtown Apts.

Morning. A cruel and unpleasant foe, it has crept upon the apartment with little regard to the occupant who is currently curled up on the couch. The couch which — for those familiar with the state she left it — seems to be one of the very few items left intact after Peter and Jack had one of their more lively 'discussions.' The one that made her leave. The one that threatened to ruin everything.

But yes. Anyway. Getting back to the couch. Or, more importantly, the dark haired young woman currently sleeping upon it. She's had a hard two days of work that she's put in, scrubbing and picking up debris. A lot of the larger pieces — the shattered table, as a notable example — have been hauled downstairs to the dumpster already. There are still, however, numerous contractor garbage bags piled up in the corner of the kitchen that she is still not brave enough to face dragging downstairs. They're heavy.

It's cold, and there's a space heater cranked on high on the coffee table she's pulled close. Why is it cold? Well, because she had to leave all of the windows open because SOMEONE couldn't even be bothered to get the DEAD FISH off of the floor. It's a wonder no one called management. She was a little irritated about that.

But now, buried under a pile of blankets possibly four inches deep and with a space heater blowing blessedly warmed and dry air towards her face, Trina slumbers.

Someone left a window open. Not into a room, just into a building. This was fine by Nathan, who was kind of wanting to delay making his presence known for as long as possible. There's the sound of footsteps against carpeted hallway floors, rounding a corner and apparently telling the window he passes to stay out of it, as you do, no one wants windows interfering with things. Or sociopathic alteregos. You choose.

There's a visible difference between Logan and Nathan. They're both healthy, clean-cut 40 somethings but one man looks like he can sleep at night, and the other can't. So Nathan has deep circles of sleeplessness beneath his eyes and the kind of posture that might suggest the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's dressed in a way he deems to be inconspicuous - a sweater beneath a jacket, jeans, boots, even sunglasses against the glare of the morning light, but these are tucked into his pocket by the time he finds himself out the front of Jack's— Trina's door.

He's not quite sure what the other side will bring when he knocks, kind of like how no one can be sure of who he'll be when they talk to him. It's a fair trade, he figures, in terms of karma.

It takes Trina a few moments to realize that, yes, she actually heard the door. There's a groggy mumbling of something that may, or may not, sound something like 'just a minute' and may, or may not, have enough volume to get to the door. She nearly slips out of the blankets, but when she puts out her hand and realizes that it's freezing in the apartment, she pulls one of the blankets with her. There's a clatter as she knocks the corner of the too close coffee table and a howl of pain. The small space heater wobbles, but doesn't fall over. Hopping a few steps, she calls out with a sudden new clarity, "Coming!" It could, after all, finally be the carpet guy coming in to do the estimate to replace the carpet.

Jack needs new carpet. Desperately. And if he cuts a body sized hole in the next one, she's cutting him. Just sayin'.

When she gets to the door and unlatches Jack's sturdy lock, she pulls the door open without any sense of concern. After all, only Peter really knew she was here. When she sees Nathan, however, the woman with her absolutely puffy bed hair blinks. And then slides a hand over said bed hair, a bewildered expression painting her features with a furrowed brow. It's a handsome face she hasn't seen often, maybe a handful of times. A man with whom she's never had a conversation of any significant length. Despite all that, it's certainly a face she knows. It's the face of a friend. Well, Jack's friend, at any rate. "N-nathan?"

He'd been hoping for Jack. It would, perhaps, be too much to expect to see his friend cleaned up, injuries taken care of, perhaps having lost the junkie-gauntness. Because nothing can be that easy. No, instead, bed-head Trina, a woman he'd heard far more of than had actually seen, but at least they'd met before, however briefly. A moment of surprise crosses his face, which has long since healed the injuries of his clashes with Jack, whether through natural means or not.

Back to the present. Trina, answering the door. Ffff.

"Trina. Yeah," he confirms, after a moment, voice coming out a little rustily, a sleepy kind of croak, as if perhaps he hadn't been awake for much longer than the woman in front of him. He clears his throat, and really— unhelpfully, says nothing after that, watching her tensely.

Trina's eyes narrow, nearly imperceptibly. And then, an eyebrow arches. With her blanket still pulled around her, she leans with a deceiving casualness against the door frame without opening the door any more than is actually necessary. Mr. Hoity Toity Senator doesn't need to see the shambles that is the apartment, no matter how close to her fiance he may be. Embarrassed? Maybe a little. "Jack ain't here," she offers in a much more level and clear tone of voice as the surprise fades. Because, clearly, he's not here for her. "Somethin' I can do for you?"

Well that's something. A couple of somethings, actually, if you read between the lines, and Nathan generally does. "Maybe," he says, a little guardedly, glancing over her head towards the interior of the apartment, but he's not quite tall enough to see anything amiss, and the dark haired woman gets his full attention once more. "Do you know where I could find Jack? He's been… I'm not sure if missing is the operative word, but I thought maybe you could point me in the right direction." He doesn't know what she knows - not about Jack, the drugs, their situation, his situation. He can only wander blindly through this conversation.

As Trina momentarily loses Nathan's attention so he can try to look further into the apartment, her foot moves backwards and hooks the door to close it another few degrees. She doesn't stop it until it is pressed flat against the back of her thigh, making further movement impossible without actually shifting position. Ah-ah-ah. No looking in there.

Alas, the girl was never a good liar, and her suspicion is brought to the forefront as he starts asking questions. Her voice is more carefully monitored now, the Southern drawl leeching out of it as she starts to wake up and returning to whatever part of her being it hides in. "He didn't tell you either, huh? Well, that makes me feel better. Not a whole lot better, mind, but better enough." She frowns. "Haven't seen him in days."

The corner of his mouth twists up a little bitterly when Trina expresses how she feels about his ignorance, the lines at his eyes seeming to deepen a little. This whole ordeal is, generally, aging, and Nathan nods a little as his question turns up what he considers to be bad news. He can't imagine why Jack would be in hiding, not with the last of his precious supply still remaining in their shared apartment. He's worried for Jack. He's worried for himself. It's hard not to be paranoid when dangerous men vanish.

"Then missing is the operative word," Nathan says, a hand up to rub the back of his neck wearily. The further closing of the door isn't entirely missed on him, but he doesn't chalk this up to a messy apartment. He chalks it up to his presence, as well he should. "Look, I want to try and help him. I'm not here to…" Make it worse. His head tilts a little, as if hoping that sentence might finish itself on its own accord.

Trina's lips twitch. It's an expression born of the myriad of unspoken thoughts that go through her head until finally she decides to simply roll her shoulders beneath that thick blanket that engulfs the slender curves of bone and flesh. "When'd you see him last?" She seems content, for now, to allow his sentence stand as it is. She's worried, too, but she also has a bit of intel that Nathan is lacking. That gives her the upper hand, so far as she knows. Maybe. There's a twitch of her nose. She's nervous.

Nathan's hands find his jacket pockets, for want of somewhere to rest them, a moment of silence as if sizing her up, like perhaps this conversation were a game of poker. Then, he admits, "The fifteenth. As far as I know." Whatever that's supposed to mean. He adds, "That's the last I saw of him in the apartment we were sharing. After that I stayed away for a while to take care of a few things, came back and," shrug, "nothing. I don't know how long he's been gone, if he's gone." An expectant look, as if to say, your turn. All the while, he tries to ignore the fact he's standing in the hallway, distinctly unwelcome.

Behind her lips, Trina runs her tongue over her teeth, terminating the gesture with a clucking sound. Her mouth purses, her head tilts to the other side, and then both eyebrows arch. New information. That's helpful. "You want a cup of coffee? I can't make any promises that there's any in here or that the coffee pot's still working, but I can look."

"That depends, do I have to drink it out in the hallway?" Nathan asks, before he can really help himself. The comment is made lightly, however, some deeply embedded instinct to charm people with abrasive, good humoured wit. At least he'll never lose that, no matter how many hot coals his soul has to be dragged over. He almost apologetically amends it with, "That would be nice, thanks." An inch step taken forwards.

There's a sharp inhalation and a curt nod, Trina pushing herself off of the door frame in order to wander into the apartment. "I'd offer to take your coat," she offers as she makes her way, leaving the door open behind her for Nathan to make his way inside, "but you're gonna need it." Ducking into the kitchen, Trina tries to make sense of the broken bits of everything and emptied drawers and cabinets. Bullet holes. Explosion. Dribbling condiments. Blood. Hell of a row. Nothing's where she left it the morning before the fight, and it is delaying the process, dragging it out. She starts rifling through the things in a cupboard first after carefully opening its door. "'m sorry for the mess."

Christ. Nathan manages to keep his reaction to the damaged apartment off his face, as he's generally so apt at doing, shutting the door behind him as his other hand comes up to nervously grip the edge of his coat. But it shows, a little, in the clench of his jaw and the darting gaze about the place that finally rests on Trina. He navigates his way further inside, and there's really only one appropriate question: "What happened?" he asks, voice graveled more than usual.

"Jack and Peter, 'parently," she explains, stooping to pick a few things off the floor. Spoons. They're helpful, but not what she needs. They're tossed into the sink. When she straightens up, she continues. "'Bout three weeks ago. I guess, since he moved in with you, he just decided he wasn't gonna bother with puttin' his toys away." There's a dry look that she casts to Nathan, shrugging. "That's what Mommy's for, right?" Back to the hunt for the… shattered… coffee… pot.

Fuck.

When Trina spies it, she closes her eyes softly. Of course. Of course, the coffee pot's broken on its little knocked over drip-brew stand. There's a sigh, and then she starts looking into the lower cabinets, delicately avoiding the splintered bits. There's gotta be a teapot or percolator in there somewhere. "Anyway. So, if you saw him on the fifteenth last… Was he himself when he saw you?" Her vague way of asking about the drugs. If he knows, he'll clarify, right? If he doesn't, he'll think she's just trying to figure out where he went? That's the hope, anyway.

Jack and Peter. Did this. Did this to each other. Looking past Trina and into the window in the kitchen, Nathan is momentarily frozen in place when the scarred visage of not-quite-himself stares opaquely back at him, face draining just a little bit. So much of this is his fault, in the end, from his dead wife to Trina's shattered coffee pot.

The closing of a cabinet door snaps Nathan back out of his reverie, and blessedly, he's still himself. Just. Needs to keep it together.

"Was he…" Easy code to crack. The drugs. Nathan's eyes shut momentarily, lets out a soft sigh, watches Trina again. "No, he wasn't himself." Not after Nathan handed him the fucking vials, and he's not a good enough man to admit this to her. "But the last of the— stash. There's still some left, back in the apartment. I don't know if he forgot it, or…" He lets that trail into nothing, watching her for a moment. He wants to tell her to forget the coffee, but clamps down on the urge.

Last of the—

Trina, with her hands around an ancient percolator, straightens and visibly bristles. She blinks, almost vacantly, after she turns around to look at Nathan. For those interested? That's not a good thing. Her icy blue eyes narrow next, as if in confusion. "So, you knew, then." Just making sure we're on the same page here. Not that she's really asking. She's not really confused.

Abruptly, she holds the antique appliance up demonstratively as she seems to be content to change the subject. "You know how to work one of these things? Jack always did it. I don't know how."

"Sure," Nathan says, shortly, hey change of subject. "I'm Italian. Coffee's in the blood. Or something." He goes to join her in the kitchen. "I knew," he answers, taking the appliance from her, moving to organize it. He doesn't typically know his way around the kitchen, but he knows his way around coffee, regardless of ethnicity. He could probably fix himself a double-espresso in a tornado. "But it's… it's complicated. Did… I know Jack didn't… say anything to you, but maybe Peter, did he tell you— what was going on?" He's not about to introduce himself as crazy, not even a little bit, but if she already knows…

When Nathan comes to collect the percolator, she hands it to him with an easy grace. "Yeah," she offers easily, misunderstanding his meaning in her ignorance. "Pete said somethin' about Jack holin' up to get himself straight again. Won't tell me where, though."

There. That said, she goes to pull open the dented and damaged fridge to pull out the ground coffee and sets it on the counter next to where Nathan's setting up camp. But when she sets them down, she then moves to roughly grab his pretty coat's lapel with a hand, turning him if he'll go but not forcing the matter. Trina has a point to make. "But you listen up. When you go back to your place? Pitch the drugs. You can tell Jack I did it if you want, but get rid of them. It ain't up for debate. I hear you're holdin' 'em for him again, we ain't gonna have a civil conversation." Threats are not her forte, but this 'friend' was facilitating Jack. Made everything worse. Fed a recovering addict. All bets are off.

Blue eyes are set up to look at the man who's probably got sixty pounds and half a foot on her, gaze every bit as intense and fierce as a she-wolf despite the perfectly level tone of her voice. Senator? No. This is a discussion between man's girlfriend and man's best guyfriend. "You got me?"

There's a slight clatter as things are set down more quickly than intended, but Nathan doesn't resist as she grabs him by the coat, turns him, hands only go up a little in defense and jaw clenching as she makes her point, eyes eyes wide and bright enough that he can see small versions of his own reflections in them. He opens his mouth to apologize, but she has a decent amount to say, and he lets her say it.

And she knows. She knows he was the hand that fed Jack, destroyed him, ruined his life. There's nothing physically threatening about Trina, at least not on paper. He doesn't really have time to feel relief that Peter is taking care of Jack, helping him, just like he had asked for. In fact, he doesn't have time to feel much of anything.

Strong hands grip Trina's arms, and with more fierceness than a man should typically handle a woman with, Logan turns them, lets the kitchen counter make sharp contact with Trina's back, expression going from rueful acceptance to something colder, more dangerous. "I think I got you," Logan says, pressing in close, hands and body keeping her in place. "How does right here sound?"

And in the blink of an eye, the tables turn.

Still wrapped in her heavy blanket cape, Trina feels large hands stronger than she was expecting dig into her thin arms like steel. That thick blanket helps to pad the way that the counter drives into her back, but it does not entirely mitigate it. There's a loud, gasping cry its sharp edge finds a place to nestle between vertebrae and the blanket falls off of her shoulders to reveal the black tank underneath, the bulge of her chain-hung ring sitting beneath the cloth. The surprise is momentary, the pain less fleeting.

She starts twice to push off the counter with enough force to send black hair whipping against her face when she's slammed back, trying to get it off of the painful point and Nathan away from her. She fails.

Regardless, Trina looks up at Nathan, blue eyes venomous as she sneers and hisses at him. "Get your hands off of me. I ain't scared of you; you ain't got the balls for this."

An arm snakes around her, hand coming up to grip a fistful of dark hair, to draw her head back and tilt her face up to both him and the ceiling. "Now, now," Logan says, eyes hooding halfway, looking at her through slits hidden by eyelashes, almost to the point where she can barely see his eyes at all. His other arm is wrapped around her too, as if to use the heavy blanket as its own form of imprisonment. "Some of us in this room have a spine. You do. I do. But not everyone."

Fingers twist, tightening that grip to the point of pain. "And being scared isn't a requirement." It's just more fun that way, but Logan doesn't put this to words, just twists a smile at her that says all it needs to. "But you should know who you're dealing with. Tell me what Peter said about Jack, Trina. Everything."

It hurts. While that thought never finds voice, it's a truth that lies in the way that Trina grits her teeth and her breathing becomes more halted, slipping through her nostrils in furious, bullish snorts. Her own eyes narrow into thin, angry slits. She doesn't struggle much, doesn't fight. This is supposed to be Jack's friend. But there is no small amount of fury that is blazing behind that gaze that shoots back up at Nathan from that head pulled so uncomfortably far behind her. If finding him was something for Jack's benefit, it wouldn't have come to this. Thus, what precious little information she has is trapped beneath her bold defiance.

Trina's voice is perfectly level, perfectly stern. "Go to hell, Nathan. And don't come back 'til you got a better attitude."

He settles against her more— to say comfortably would be inaccurate, but he presses close all the same, enough that contours of body can be felt through the thicker barriers of fabric, too intimate and too claustrophobic. "Hell isn't a place you go," Logan says, his voice a low, graveled rasp. "It's in the bite of a needle. Heart ache. Bruises. Sweetheart, we're already there."

Yank.

Her hair gets a brutal jolt. "Maybe you just don't know. Maybe they didn't bother to tell poor little you. But if you're protecting him from me, know that I'm the best thing that happened to Jack. And I'll continue to be." He steps back, takes her with him, and with a brutal pull and shove, he throws her across the kitchen, to let feet skitter against ruined kitchen floor, towards the the kitchen sink. "Come on, Trina, don't make this worse for yourself. You've been through enough."

Feet, still bare from sleeping, trip over broken ceramic tile. Carefully navigated before, now there's nothing but slices and pain as Trina stumbles over it and roughly plants her hands against the crumbling edge of the counter to stop herself before she falls over the sink entirely. She does, however, get the sharp counter edge jammed into her stomach and she stands there for a moment breathing heavily. The more carefully neutral American accent starts slipping as she tries to come to grips with the pain of her bleeding feet, revealing its Georgian core. "Best thing that happened to him? You let him keep using that shit when you knew that he was still trying to get better! Did you even try to help him stop? You don't know shit about what I been through."

"Clearly he wasn't trying to get better," Logan says, pacing a little along the broken up kitchen. There's a pause as he bends to pick something up, scrape of metal against tile. "He's weak. I gave him purpose. Or maybe you can carry on believing that he was content to pour drinks for better men and marry trailer trash and I forced the drug into his veins against his own will. He fawned for it, Trina. Begged for it, sometimes. Once more with feeling, now."

A hand reaches for her, to force her to face him, her shirt and some blanket clenched in a fist, and the shark fin blade of a knife comes flashes into her periphery, held up to her but not against her. "Before we figure out what I have the balls to do and not do: where is Jack? He has something I want."

Trina would be lying if she said that Nathan's words don't sting. They do. They shake her to the core, stirring long buried self-resentment and doubt. But there's more than insult to what Nathan says. There's his pride. His pride that he…

"You…" And there it is. That final little piece that didn't make sense; that Trina didn't question. Nathan wasn't just holding Jack's drugs for him. Her jaw sets as she looks down to regard the knife. Looks up to Nathan. Down to the hand holding the blanket shielding her against the freezing February cold that freely blows around the apartment. Up to Nathan. "He's twice the man you are, Petrelli." And then a slow, small smile grows as she shrugs, unapologetic. "And I don't know anything. So you can go fuck yourself."

The knife comes to rest under her jaw, the serrated edge rough against the skin of her throat, tilting her head up as a flicker of anger crosses Logan's face when he doesn't get what he wants. Blood will flow and he'll move on, and he readies his arm to make the killing slash, to saw through soft skin and walk away. It should be easy. It isn't. The knife tilts and he glances down into it, and loses himself. The transitions are always painless, always seamlessly digging into the crux of a flicker of doubt, and then it just changes, like a rotating door, or a sun setting.

Nathan is frozen for a few moments as he stares into Trina's eyes, wondering why and what

His grip loosens on her blanket around the same time he drops the knife, the utensil clattering dangerously but ultimately harmless near their feet before he's backing up a step or two, blinking. Losing time, yet again. He almost wants to ask where were we? but— he glances down at the knife, glances over her, as if checking for blood or injury and his hands clench at his sides. "I'm— sorry, are you okay?"

When the knife comes that much closer to her throat, Trina watches Nathan with a wide-eyed stare. Her chin lifts subconsciously as she tries to shy away from its chilled edge, and she swallows hard as she braces for it. The end. In the wake of such a moment, her smile fades and there's just fear and an unspoken else-feeling that muddies her terror to make it less pure.

But still, wordless and without struggle, Trina waits for the end. That jagged, ripping cut to split flesh like any other butcher's stock.

When it doesn't come — when she is instead greeted by an imperceptible shift of gaze, she doesn't recognize it. What she does recognize is the retreat and the sudden release from his hold. After a moment, when it looks like he's done terrorizing her, the young woman slides to the floor with a ragged breath. Her feet, bleeding all over the floor from the deep cuts given them by jagged slices of ceramic are set upon her baby blue blanket as she tries to slow the bleeding. Once she takes a few shuddering inhalations, she looks up to Nathan, confused and hurt. "What the hell are you playing? This isn't funny." What sick person would think it is?

Retreat, retreat until Nathan's own back finds the opposite kitchen counter, though no one is forcing him away as he stares down at the woman. How does one explain this? "I'm not," he says, voice coming out thin. "I'm not playing. It's not funny, either." The trails of red that have smeared on the kitchen floor draw his gaze, the bloodied pieces of ceramic telling him what he needs to know, and it takes a couple of moments to discern that he didn't stab her. He hopes he didn't hit her. But he almost killed her.

His knees bend, he crouches down to grab a discarded dish towel, to gather up the broken and bloodied ceramic. It'd be too easy to just run away, let her take care of herself, and that's probably the best idea anyway, but if he wants control, he has to deal with things. Be prepared to fix them. Nathan's jaw clenches and unclenches as he clears up the jagged ceramic.

"I'm not entirely well," he admits to her, not really looking at her, focused on his task. "I go blank, I do things I wouldn't normally. I don't remember anything that happened between you grabbing my coat and just now." Now's not really a time to be too proud to admit things, whether she wants to hear it or not. Or even believes it.

Trina's face is an inscrutable blend of emotions, and she looks at Nathan for a long time. Look at her one way and it might look like horror and surprise. Another way? Simple disbelief and disgust. No matter how she appears, however, it doesn't change the fact that she is still barely breathing. Eventually, she jut pulls her blanket up a little tighter about her shoulders, watching Nathan shuffle about and clean the mess that's all over her floor. "So… what? This is like your one-man Good Cop, Bad Cop show? I still ain't tellin' you where Jack is." Even if she knew, she's still adamant. Tentatively, she indicates a large black garbage bag on the other side of the kitchen. "That one's open."

Despite himself, that gets a flash of a smile, as bitter as it may be, and hidden too as Nathan continues not to really look at her. At the indication towards the garbage bag, Nathan collects all the broken pieces into the towel, bundling it up and throwing the whole thing in. The blood, he'd clean up, but she's seated just next to the sink and he's maintaining perhaps a three foot distance from her at all times, so just he just backs up, self-consciously smooths his coat down.

"Not exactly," he says, but then something clicks into place. Logan wanted to know where Jack is as well. A contemplative silence, and he nods a little, looking grim. Before he'd blanked, she'd said Peter had taken him somewhere. He may just have to trust his brother, despite the mess they're surrounded by. "Don't tell me," he agrees, finally looking back at her.

On the verge of apologizing. Despite the appropriateness of such a gesture, Nathan finds himself shying away, and instead offering, "I can get this place cleaned up for you. Have people come around, throw out all the damaged things, replace it. Least I could do."

Trina is immediately distrustful and proud. After what she just saw, she's not entirely certain that she wants his help. On the other hand, she wants the place presentable when Jack comes home, and she doesn't exactly have the cash to do the likely thousands of dollars of renovations that this place is going to need. Her lips purse as she debates the matter.

In the end, her poor upbringing leaves her absolutely powerless to turn away the offer. It's money that she doesn't have, and he does. It's help. It's what she really needs and she's paid for it now, in blood. He does owe her. And he owes Jack.

"Alright," she allows, pulling her blanket as tightly against her as it can possibly be. It masks the shake of her hands when they have a purpose. "But no funny business. And… And I get to inspect the stuff comin' in." Suspicious? Maybe a little. Can you blame her?

A hint of a smile suggests itself in the lines in his face, but it never quite happens. You offer to renovate an apartment and they have conditions upon which they'd let you. This is how low he's sunk. Good job, Petrelli. "However you want it," Nathan says. Throw money at a problem until it goes away. To be fair, people need money. The sudden need to be alone somewhere hits him, not an uncommon occurrence, gaze dropping to the still blood-stained floor and back to her. "Take care of yourself." And he's leaving, it seems, a few slow steps out of the kitchen at first before he hits a more determined stride.

Jack might have handled this better. Maybe. Probably.

"I'll try," Trina offers honestly. She should say thank you. Her grandmother, were she here right now, would be hitting her in the back of the head with a wooden spoon and demanding she thank him. Somehow, Trina just can't seem to bring herself to do it. "You, too, huh?" There. That's something remotely more polite than nothing at least. Once Nathan's out of sight from where she sits on the kitchen floor, the brunette pulls the blanket back over her head. When's she's wrapped up, nice and warm, she slowly falls over to the side atop the debris to just lie there a few moments to rest, curled up in a ball. To breathe. To collect herself. …To cry in peace as soon as soon as she hears that front door close.

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