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Part 6 in the 'A Beautiful Lie' Series
Lies For Thought
Part 6 in the ‘A Beautiful Lie’ Series. In hot pursuit
of an exclusive, Amy gets a little more, or less, than she bargained
for. Set just after ‘Taxicab Wars’ Sequel to “Between The
Disclaimer: I don’t own the A Team and I’ve not made a penny from this; I just do it for the jazz!
Copyright: October 2008
The battle between Lone Star Cabs and Love Cabs was over, and in print. Another A-Team exclusive under Amy’s belt. With circulation figures steadily rising, it seemed the people of Los Angeles enjoyed reading about their local heroes. Amy’s stories were becoming more and more popular, although with that popularity came Decker not far behind, trying to tie her with the team. But Eldridge seemed to be keeping some of the heat off her where the military was concerned. Maybe Eldridge saw her as his Peter Parker - the only way he’d get these ‘exclusive’ A-Team stories in his papers. Amy shook her head as she walked. She really needed to stop listening to Murdock harping on about his comics.
“Hey, Amy, you seen Massey?” a colleague asked as Amy passed his desk, that day’s morning edition folded under her arm.
Amy paused and then shook her head. As usual Al had been vague about his latest story. Early this morning he’d mentioned something about investigating a possible lead but that had been it. No details. Well, as long as it wasn’t in the depths of Mexico, she wasn’t worried.
“No, not since this morning, James. Isn’t he covering some new story across town?”
James shrugged his shoulders. “If he is, he hasn’t told Eldridge.”
Amy rolled her eyes. Great, she thought, that meant Al had confided in her and yet, he hadn’t. She’d have to try and talk to him, soon. Somehow Al still had a job at this paper – which she was relieved about, because he was her friend and mentor. He was the only one here that knew her true link with the team. And his encouragement had helped give her the confidence to move up the ladder in her job.
James went back to his work, bashing away at a typewriter, so Amy continued towards her desk, not giving Al Massey’s antics another thought. She had other things pressing on her mind.
Amy sat at her desk and opened up the newspaper. She stared at the small print which gradually blurred, her thoughts drifting back to what had been playing on her mind - her reaction to what happened after the team’s winning the taxicab war. She’d been totally unprepared when, after listening to a corny chat up line, she’d watched Face kiss Kathy. Recognising the jealousy building inside, and the importance of hiding it, she’d quickly gotten into the van. She’d sat there writing up some notes for her story, trying to ignore the torn feeling inside her chest.
Kathy. Ordinary. She wasn’t at all the type of girl Face dated. She was just like Amy. Not some glamorous model or actress want-to-be type he usually hooked up with. She wasn’t some damn airhead or blond bombshell. Amy could deal with those. No, Kathy was nice, sweet, and… intelligent.
Face hadn’t displayed any women in front of her for a while. Not until Daniel. This job had come up soon after Daniel had returned to Arizona… Maybe this was Face’s way….
“Amy.” Startled, Amy hastily pushed some papers around her desk, as if to appear busily working. Then she sighed, realising it was Zack. She relaxed but was annoyed at herself. She’d been so lost in her thoughts, she hadn’t even noticed him approaching.
“Some guy gave this to Marie down in reception. She asked me to pass it on. It’s a message for you,” Zack continued, standing by her desk. “Apparently, he said he had an A-Team exclusive that you might be interested in.”
“He did?” Amy immediately focused, snatching the envelope out of his hand and tearing it open. Zack watched as she hastily read the handwritten note inside.
‘Meet me in the underground parking garage, area C, ten minutes. Make sure you’re not followed.’
That was all the note said. She turned the paper over. Nothing on the other side. She raised an eyebrow, still staring at the note. Okay, now she was intrigued.
Amy glanced at her watch, and grabbed her purse, still clutching the note.
“Thanks, Zack,” she said, smiling at him. “I’m just popping out. Cover for me, will you?”
“What did it say?” Zack asked, watching Amy rush from her desk.
“He wants me to meet him.”
“Amy!” Zack called after her, following her down the corridor. “Where?”
“I can’t say!”
“Amy! He could be some nut case!”
“I’ll be fine, I promise,” Amy called, rushing into an elevator. The doors were starting to shut, but sprung back open as she squeezed through the gap. She turned and beamed at Zack as the doors closed, who threw his hands up in the air in frustration.
As the elevator descended, Amy quickly checked her makeup in the mirror and straightened her clothing, making sure she looked presentable for this mysterious man. Then realization took over from the jazz. Her head had been clouded in her own thoughts – she’s wasn’t being very careful. Think straight. Focus. What if she was running into…?
Nah, she waved it off. He can’t arrest her for pursuing a story. Amy smiled smugly.
The elevator doors opened. Well, here goes nothing, she thought as she took a deep breath and stepped out into the garage. The heels of her shoes clicked on the concrete as she hesitantly walked along in front of the parked cars, looking for someone, anyone, as she headed for area C. She ignored the fact her heart was beating much faster and harder inside her chest than it should be.
What if Zack was right and she was walking right into the path of some lunatic? Someone who could use her against the team.
She checked the note again. The handwriting looked neat, all in capitals to hide its true style, but there was something familiar…
“I knew it!” a man said as he came out of hiding between two cars, startling Amy. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist an A-Team exclusive.”
“Face?” Amy frowned. She felt a hint of disappointment, the excitement ebbing away, as she waved the note at him. “This was you?”
“Of course it was me.” He laughed.
She sighed with relief. “Well, at least you’re not Decker or some -”
“Yeah,” Amy nervously laughed, “I had this horrid thought that I was walking into Decker’s trap.”
Face chuckled, shaking his head. “No, I’m not Decker. Thank God! I’d like to think I had a little more -”
“Face, you could have just called me, or made up some name.” Amy scowled, not quite seeing the funny side. “Damn it, you got my hopes up that I might have had an interesting lead.”
“Sorry. I thought this would be a nice surprise.” He smiled wickedly. “Besides, I wanted to see if you would bite.”
“Of course I’d bite. I’m the only person who gets A-Team exclusives around here!” She crossly slapped his arm. “I hope!” She narrowed her eyes. “If a note like that lands on my desk, I wouldn’t be a very good reporter if I didn’t follow up that sort of lead.”
“Of course, kid. Of course,” Face agreed. “But you know you ought to be more careful -”
“Oh, please… Anyway, the note said ten minutes! So, what’s this about?” She eyed him suspiciously. What was he up to? Probably wanting her to do some tedious errand he didn’t want to do.
“I thought I’d take you out for lunch.”
“Lunch?” Amy said, surprised, watching him. Face had already linked an arm through hers and was leading her to his Corvette. The roof was off, ready for the hot sunshine that awaited them outside.
“Yeah, can’t I take you out for lunch?”
“Ah…” Amy thought she’d cottoned on. “Hannibal’s got a new job lined up, right? You need me to delve into the archives -”
“No,” Face interrupted her, “not as far as I know.”
As Face held open the passenger car door, Amy got in, feeling confused. Ten minutes ago she’d been mad at him, thinking about Kathy… now… now she didn’t know what to feel.
She watched him get into the driver’s seat. “Face, what is this about?”
“This!” Amy said with frustration. “You’ve never taken me to lunch, not unless you needed me to do something for a job. For the team.”
“Can’t a friend take another friend out to lunch?”
“Yes, of course.” She went to lunch with friends all the time, but Face was… different. Wasn’t he? She watched him, with uncertainty. Maybe she needed to stop feeling suspicious every time Face tried surprising her. She always had her guard up. Expecting he was after something, trying to con her into (or out of) something. That’s usually because he was. But sometimes it might actually be genuine. She needed to start trusting him more.
“Good.” Face beamed. He turned the ignition of the car, and its engine roared with his foot hitting the gas, screeching out of the parking lot.
As they entered the daylight, the heat of the sun instantly hit them. Weaving the car through the busy streets of LA, Face glanced at Amy.
“How long can you be out of the office?” he asked, keeping his attention on the road.
“Oh, I should be okay, although really it would have been better if I was returning with a story… like I thought I was going to….”
“Ah, maybe I can think of something, little bit of background -”
“Just don’t tell Hannibal you got it from me.” He flashed a quick smile at her.
She grinned. Maybe she’d get something out of Face after all. Some back-story of life in Vietnam, the team becoming the team, a little history on LA’s latest heroes – definitely something the readers would be interested in. Now that made her feel better.
Amy flipped down the sun visor to check her makeup.
“Face, where are you taking me? I don’t really feel dressed up for one of your finer restaurants.” Luckily, she looked smart – well, good enough for the office - but she just didn’t think it was sophisticated enough for some of Face’s fancier restaurants.
“Don’t panic. It’s this great little place, out in the foothills. You look just fine.” Face combed a hand through his hair, still concentrating on the road ahead. He gave Amy another glance and smiled. “It’s a great home-style -”
“Oh I see, not classy enough for a girlfriend.” Amy frowned.
“It’s not like that. Yes, they’d expect something, uh, classier. They just wouldn’t appreciate this place either. But I know you will.”
“Would Kathy appreciate this place?” She realised her tone sounded short. She needed to stop that right away. Face wouldn’t take this kind of crap. But thinking about Kathy was what had put her in this mood.
“Uh, Kathy? No, no, I’m not seeing her anymore. That’s, um, over.”
“Oh,” Amy replied, then raising an eyebrow. “That was quick.” Face’s glance made her aware of her tone. Stop it, Amy. That’s not fair. “Sorry. I, uh…” He gave a gentle nod and then focused his attention back on the road.
Amy stared out the windshield too, watching the road ahead, her thoughts elsewhere. There was another thing that was over. But should she tell Face?
As soon as Amy had seen Face kissing Kathy, her mind had been made up - she’d call Courtney and end the lies. She’d put it off long enough, pushed it to the back of her mind, forgetting she’d promised Murdock. That conversation with Murdock seemed so long ago.
Realising she’d been deep in her thoughts and feeling guilty that she’d caused the end of the conversation, Amy felt the need to fill the silence. “So why’d you want to take me here? Why not Hannibal and BA, or Murdock even?”
“Are you kidding? I’m not having them burn this place for me, too.”
Amy giggled, making Face smile, releasing the tension between them.
“They’d probably fit right in - until someone gave BA the wrong stare or Murdock started talking to his invisible friends. When you try the food, you’ll realise why I don’t want to lose it,” he replied lightheartedly.
At least he did appreciate that she wouldn’t embarrass him. Maybe this was a place Face wanted to keep… private? And after all, he didn’t have to share everything with the team.
Face finally pulled the Corvette into a parking lot in front of a diner and Amy tried not to frown. Set back from the main road, it looked like a truck stop, the sign reading ‘Dee’s Diner’. It was clean and tidy on the outside, like it was newly refurbished, but it certainly wasn’t what Amy had been expecting.
“Is this it?” she asked, failing to hide her hesitancy.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s great. Trust me.”
Amy touched his arm before he got out of the car. “Face, how the hell did you find a place like this? It isn’t like your usual -”
“You’ve got to taste the food, Amy. Never judge a book by its cover, right? You of all people should know that.”
Amy rolled her eyes. “But how’d you find it?” She looked at the building, puzzled.
“It was late one night and I needed a coffee before I fell asleep at the wheel. And well, this place was open, so I pulled in. Been coming here ever since - when I get the chance.”
As they walked in, bells above the door jingled. The diner was deceivingly large with two lines of booths to the left, in line with the counter. More tables and booths went around to the right. A Wurlitzer jukebox stood in the corner, its columns changing colour as it played a Buddy Holly tune into the background, finishing its nineteen-fifty’s theme.
“Oh hi ya, honey.” A woman, Amy guessing in her late fifties, approached them. She was wearing a light blue pinafore in keeping with the diner’s theme. Giving them a welcoming smile, the woman gestured to their left. “Your table’s free if you want it.”
“Thanks, Dee,” Face replied, smiling back. To Amy’s surprise, Face placed an arm around her, leading her to a booth near the counter.
Dee followed them. “I’ll pop along in a moment to take your order, but would you two like some coffee in the meantime?” she asked as they took their seats in the booth.
“That would be great,” Face replied, getting comfortable in his seat.
As Amy sat down opposite Face, she noticed that he had a view of not only the whole diner, but through the window as well. Behind him, an escape route, if needed - a door leading to the restrooms and fire escape. He’d probably checked that out the first time he’d come here. And another door, close by, lead through to the kitchens and the back lot. No wonder Dee referred to this as ‘his’ booth; he probably sat here regularly. Through the window Amy could see the Corvette parked. Even that had been positioned for an easy escape, she realised.
“So are you going to introduce me to your lady friend, or do I have to ask her?” Dee asked, curiously.
Face chuckled. “Dee, this is my friend, Amy Allen. She’s a reporter. And this is Dee; she owns this diner.”
“A reporter, huh?” Dee raised an eyebrow. “You look too nice to be a reporter.”
Amy, taking Dee’s comment as the compliment it was meant to be, shook Dee’s hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
“And I’m pleased to see this fine man with some company at last.” She winked at Face and then headed back to the counter.
Amy frowned at Face, to which he laughed. It sounded somewhat nervous to her.
“Like I said, I come here on my own.”
“And you don’t make nice with the pretty waitresses?” Amy teased, glancing around at to see if there were any.
“And burn a great place to eat? Besides, there aren’t that many pretty ones.”
Amy laughed. Actually, a couple of waitresses she’d noticed had looked a little old for Face. Face grabbed the menus that were in middle of the table, and offered one to Amy.
“Okay, I can recommend the -”
“Oh, uh, I might just have a salad,” Amy interrupted, looking up from her menu.
“Salad? Amy, you’ve got to try the food,” Face said insistently. “I haven’t brought you here to have a damn salad.”
Could this be another reason why he hasn’t brought a girlfriend here? Does he take them to fine restaurants and all they eat is salad? That could get tiring.
“Okay, okay, you order for me, as you seem to know the menu so well,” she said, closing the menu and looking him in the eye. He smiled, seeming pleased with that answer. Yes, he’d probably brought her here because he knew she’d try the food.
Dee arrived with the coffees, placing them in front of them. “Are you two ready to order?” she asked, taking out her little notepad, pen poised.
Face looked up from the menu. As he ordered for the two of them, like a real regular, Amy raised an eyebrow, admirably watching. He certainly wasn’t lying about frequenting this place.
After finishing scribbling on her small notepad, Dee winked at Amy and headed back to the counter to process their order.
“So, Face,” as she spoke, Amy looked at him, raising a curious eyebrow, “how often do you really come here?”
“Because you seem quite at home here. And Dee definitely treats you like a regular, with ‘your’ table and everything.” Amy smirked at him as she picked up her coffee cup.
“I’ve been coming for a couple of months on and off, probably,” Face replied, sipping his own coffee. “Amy, will you excuse me for a minute,” he asked.
Amy watched as he walked through the door close to their booth, then she glanced around the diner.
While sipping her coffee, Amy took in the feel of the diner. It was warm, friendly and fun with its fifties touch. The menu had good hearty descriptions and Face wouldn’t come back if the food wasn’t good. She knew that much.
Why was he doing this? Being so nice. Was he trying to make amends? But amends for what? The last time he’d tried surprising her - Daniel had been there.
Another relationship that was over – sort of. Daniel and Amy had agreed to try and stay in touch, but they were leaving the relationship open - no ties. She was trying to plan a weekend visit but with her workload and her commitments to the team. Luckily neither of them had made any promises.
Out of the corner of her eye, Amy noticed Dee approaching. Amy looked up and smiled as Dee warmed up her coffee.
“Thanks,” Amy said softly, placing her hand around the cup, moving it carefully from the edge of the table, afraid of doing something clumsy. This lunch with Face made her anxious. Dee gave Amy another warm smile. She kept looking at Amy, and smiling at her, worrying her, like Amy was on display or something. This woman had something to say, Amy could sense it.
“Your food will be ten minutes or so.”
Dee hesitated, glancing at the door Face had walked through, then back at Amy. “You know it’s good to see him so happy,” she said, leaning in towards Amy, her voice low.
“Happy?” Amy tried to hide any surprise from Dee. Yes, she had something to say.
“Yeah, he’s come in sometimes, and I just think he looks so, uh, lonely. Something on his mind - like the whole weight of the world is on his shoulders. I know that’s exaggerating, but you know what I mean – don’t you?” Amy shrugged her shoulders, hoping she looked like she was agreeing. “Anyhow, such a good-looking guy like Sam -”
“Sam. Nice to see he’s got a girlfriend at last -”
“Oh, uh, I’m not his girlfriend. We’re just friends,” Amy quickly stuttered, shaking her head.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I just assumed,” Dee apologized quickly. Amy frowned with confusion. “Well if you’re not, you should be.” Dee patted Amy gently on the shoulder. “You two look great together,” she said, winking and walking off. Amy blushed, glad Face hadn’t been about to hear that.
So he’s using the name Sam. Could be a million reasons why… might have been the first name that came to him as he entered the diner.
She was reminded of her conversation with Courtney, and it saddened her.
Last night had been the first time in Amy’s hectic schedule she’d been able to sit down and make the call. After an hour on the telephone, killing off the lie with more lies, Courtney had finally accepted that Sam and Amy were over.
Face and Amy were over… damn, what was she thinking? There never had been, never would be a Face and Amy. Get over it. Or get yourself thrown off the team. And probably thrown back on to ‘features’ – as she imagined Eldridge pacing his office after telling him she could no longer get A-Team exclusives.
With frustration, Amy put her coffee cup down. She needed to snap out of this mood that had so quickly returned, being left on her own to dwell on her thoughts.
“Hey, sorry I took so long,” Face said, returning to the booth with a grin on his face. “Realised I needed to check in with Hannibal.”
“Oh, right, yeah,” Amy shook her head, quickly bringing her attention back to the present, eyeing Face suspiciously. “Uh, Dee just called you Sam.”
“Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you that,” he replied coolly, adjusting his tie.
“It’s okay, just took me by surprise that’s all. Why’d you use Sam?”
“I think I found this place around the time Courtney was last here, so it just came naturally.”
Amy nodded, wondering when that might have been. The Sunday when he’d turned up and Courtney had already gone, so he’d had to leave with no reason to stay?
“So why do you keep coming back? Isn’t that a bit risky?”
“I just like it here. It’s a friendly place. They don’t ask too many questions. There’s no trouble - which I like, a lot.”
Amy smirked, watching Face, looking for any little mannerisms that might give something away. She could see the appeal of a place lacking in trouble. The guys usually seemed to find it, wherever they went.
“I usually come when it’s quiet,” he continued.
Neither of them said anymore, noticing Dee approaching the booth with their steaming hot food. Looking at the amount of food on the plate, Amy wondered how she was going to actually eat it all, the portions were so large. She could see herself falling asleep at her desk later this afternoon, at this rate.
“So how is Courtney by the way?” Face asked after a few minutes of enjoying the meal.
“Oh, um, she’s fine,” Amy replied, hesitant to whether to change the subject or not. “Uh… she’s getting married in the spring.”
“Really. Robert was the one then, huh?”
“Seems to be. They sound really happy together.”
“Do you need me for that wedding, too?” Face winked cheekily. She knew he was teasing, but she knew she had to answer this truthfully. She had to tell him. The opportunity had opened itself up, and rather than put it off, she might as well deal with this now.
“Uh, no, no. I finished it. You know… us - Sam and Amy,” Amy said, unable to meet his eye, nervously dabbing her mouth with her napkin. “I, uh, told her a little while ago that we’d broken up.” She didn’t want to confess that actually it had been just last night - in a jealous rage of seeing him with Kathy.
“Oh.” Face said. He looked at her for a moment, then shook his head. “Of course, of course. You said that’s what you were going to do.”
“Yeah, and I got reminded that I needed to call her when I spoke with Murdock - before we went to help Daniel.” She noticed Face’s eyes flicker with the mention of Daniel.
“What did she say?”
“Oh, you know Courtney; she had lots to say on it,” Amy tried to joke. “I had to talk fast to convince her not to jump on the first flight to LA.” Amy chuckled nervously, then her expression sobered as she sighed. “I’m just glad I don’t have to lie to her anymore.” Face nodded. “I feel awful that I had to tell her a bunch of lies to end the relationship.”
“A lie to end a lie,” Face added. “So what did you tell her – that I’d run off with another woman?”
“No! I told you I didn’t want you to look bad in all of this.” Amy realised her voice had risen. A couple of other customers had glanced over. She lowered her tone. “Not after all you’ve done for me.” She placed her hand on his. “But it doesn’t matter. I’ve told her it’s finished. End of story. I will no longer need you - or Murdock for that matter - to lie for me again.” Face frowned. “Well, not like this,” she said, grinning.
Face nodded, pushing away his empty plate. “Well, you know if you ever need help… I just don’t do bar mitzvahs.”
Amy laughed. “Yeah, I know, you’re not Jewish.” She realised she was starting to have fun in his company. They could relax and talk without the rest of the team around. They both acted differently around each other when the team was involved. This proved it. But they were both on the team, remember. Lose that; lose everything. She wanted to kick herself for having any remotely romantic thoughts about Face. Amy, of all people, should know better.
She pushed her plate away, regretfully. Unless she was prepared to be rolled into the office, she couldn’t finish it.
“Was it okay?” Face asked, concerned, looking at her plate.
“Yes, yes. It was delicious. Great choice. I just can’t eat another thing.”
“Not even dessert?”
Amy shook her head. “No, I’m sorry. I’ve got to go back to work and try to function, remember? I still have to work for a living. Which reminds me; you promised me a story,” she said curiously, leaning in towards him.
“Ah, yes, I did. Well, how about this place? Great food, atmosphere, great value for money - needs to be put on the map, don’t you think?”
Amy stared at him blankly. “I don’t do restaurant reviews, although I will get someone in that department to give this place a look - if that’s what you’d like?”
“Face?” Amy frowned. “You’re not going to give me that story, are you?”
He shook his head, which made her frown at him further. Damn it, she’d been suckered by him again. When would she learn?
“Well you’d better get me back to the office then,” she said curtly, raising an eyebrow. “Otherwise Eldridge will have my -”
“Everything okay?” Dee asked, as she collected the plates, unknowingly interrupting their banter. Amy hadn’t even noticed her approach the booth.
“Great,” Face replied, smiling at Dee.
Amy nodded. “It was really delicious.”
“Did you kids want dessert?” Dee asked. “We’ve got some great specials!”
“No, I really can’t eat another thing.” Amy shook her head. The thought of squeezing anything else into her stomach nauseated her, however good the food might be.
“More coffee then?” Dee was persistent, Amy would give her that.
Amy glanced at her watch, then at Face. “I really need to be getting back.” Her expression must have shown she was serious; Face nodded and had Dee make out the bill. Did he look disappointed? If so, it was only for a second because he was hiding behind his mask - grinning at Dee.
“Anyhow, Amy’s going to send someone along to give this place a review -”
“I can’t promise.” Amy quickly glared at Face, then smiled, softening her expression as she looked back at Dee. “But I’ll see what I can do.”
“That’ll be great.” Dee beamed at her.
“Ah, I’m sure she’ll charm her way into getting you a good review, Dee.” Face winked at Amy, who narrowed her eyes at him, as Dee cheerfully cleared the table and walked away happy. Damn, he knew how to push his luck.
Face reached inside his pocket and took out his wallet. He flicked through a few bills and left them on the table with the check.
“Okay, your carriage awaits you,” he said cheekily to Amy as he stood up. She slid out of the other side of the booth and walked towards the exit, Face following closely behind her.
Face pulled the Corvette up to the curb outside her office building after making a quick circuit to make sure it was clear of MPs.
“Face, thanks for lunch,” Amy said, turning towards him, meeting his eyes.
“Thanks for joining me.”
“Still not really sure why you took me, but it was nice.” She frowned suddenly. “Although come to think of it - did you take me there so that I’d get Dee a review?”
“No! Absolutely not!” Face’s eyes widened at her suggestion. “Like I said, I knew you’d appreciate it. If I took one of my girlfriends there, they’d turn their nose up at it… ah, you know what I mean. Just when I saw you with, uh, I mean, I, uh… never really got to take you out to celebrate that story. Felt I should return the favour, after you cooked dinner that night.” Then he smiled. “The idea of you setting up a nice review came to me later.”
Amy chuckled. That was as close to the truth as she was going to get. Pushing it would just clam him up and shut their whole conversation down. She didn’t want to ruin the lunch date.
Was this a hint of how he felt about her? Or maybe she was reading too much into this, like usual.
She went to place her hand on his arm, but snatched it back, realising what she was doing.
“Well, thanks again, Face,” she said as she quickly got out of the car.
He gave her a wink, and then drove off, leaving her standing on the sidewalk.
Yes, she was definitely reading too much into it. Get your damn head out of the clouds, Allen.
~ end ~
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