Kiyomaro Explains It All
by murinae


Disclaimer: My life would definitely be more interesting if I owned Gash Bell. It sure would be a lot funnier. But no own, don't sue, have nothing to give but a smelly, geriatric dog (and trust me, you don't want him).

AN: It's a pure fluff piece. So if you want big action, deep storyline, lots of drama ... err ... I'm sorry.

A big thank you should go to Imbrium, who betaed this even if she's only watched about four episodes of Gash (though she listens to me babble in excitement about it all the time). That means, however, that any canon quibbles are ALL my fault. She also beta-read this, but all grammar problems are likewise still my fault. However, you can blame her for saying that I should post this. That really IS all her fault.

Also props to Pastles, who's drabble got my own cogs going. Quite awesome.

Additional thanks go to the Konjiki LJ community, for being very positive and supportive. Also, a HUGE ::we're NOT WORTHY!:: should go to our resident webmistress, Hatsunoutena, who has to put up with me in addition to putting up my fanworks. Jeez, this is beginning to sound like an Oscars speech . . .


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Kiyomaro Explains It All
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"KI-YO-MA-RO! KIYOMARO! WAKE UP! HURRY!"

Huh? Gash? GASH!

"I NEED YOU! WAKE UP!"

Eyes snapping open, Takamine Kiyomaro bolted to his feet. One hand dove into his backpack, searching blindly for the spellbook. He yanked it out and flipped it open. Are we under attack?!

Dropping to a crouch, he surveyed his surroundings. The last thing he remembered was sitting down under the warm sun, opening his book on geophysics, then -- he clenched his teeth. Then he must've fallen asleep, quite obviously. Not exactly a wise thing to do in the open, now that he thought about it. Okay, nothing in the immediate area. Just Gash and a pack of kids. Shit! Got to get them to safety first. Could it be an aerial assault? Are they hiding in the bushes? Are they invisible?!

"Gash! Where did you see it?"

"Kiyomaro?!" Gash blinked, before turning to follow Kiyomaro's right hand as he gestured emphatically outwards and away from himself and the other innocent bystanders. At least all that training has FINALLY sunk in.

Training would not be enough to stop an unknown attack, however.

"GASH! Quit fooling around! The demon! Where's the demon!?"

"Uh, Kiyomaro ... there's no demon." Gash snuck a peek at him.

The expression on his face must have been something fearsome, because Gash -- as well as the rest of the children with him -- skittered backwards hastily. "What the hell?! What do you mean there's no demon?!"

"Uhh ..." Gash could not meet his eyes. "Well ... you see ... umm. Don't get mad," he squeaked.

Kiyomaro took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heartbeat. He took another quick glance around. The playground remained stubbornly demon-free ... well, not counting his own little monster.

But that doesn't mean I'm safe, he thought sourly. Six very young, very intent, and very curious faces surrounded him.

"Are you drunk?" one of them asked. "Cause Uncle Takeshi says stuff 'bout demons when HE'S drunk."

"You talk kinda rude," another one informed him primly. "I'm gonna tell your mommy."

"He doesn't look like much," said a third. Kiyomaro grumbled as he recognized the pinched, piranha like face of Gash's main non-demonic enemy.

Jeez, her parents are gonna have to pay a fortune in orthodontics. The odd thought floated up.

"Actually, he looks kinda stupid," she concluded. "Are you lying again, Gash? He doesn't look like he knows anything at all."

Then again, I hope she'll need full braces, retainers AND a root canal. Serves 'em right for spawning a pain in the pants kid.

"Kiyomaro is a genius!" declared his own pain in the pants kid. "Go on, ask him! Ask him!"

"Ask him! Ask him! Ask him!" came the chorus. The piranha kid narrowed her eyes as she stalked in a circle around him.

Kiyomaro had stood against some of the world's most powerful demons. He had fought against them. Won against them. But for some reason, the look in the kid's eyes ... in all their eyes ...

He could feel the sweat beginning to bead across his forehead.

Why me?

Hadn't he already filled his obligation by taking Gash to the park!? He had better things to do with his Sunday afternoon. He had own friends.

Admittedly, Gash had a lot to do with that. But it didn't mean Kiyomaro wanted to spend every moment with Gash, gratitude or not.

Why does he always want me along anyway?! When Kiyomaro refused, Gash unleashed a floor shaking, ear shattering tantrum. When that hadn't worked, he had climbed up Kiyomaro's left leg and had refused to let go. Kiyomaro had been forced to implement some rather drastic measures.

Okay, so maybe I went a little too far in trying to torch Vulcan. Kiyomaro thought guiltily. The resulting screams, general mayhem, and the fire alarm had been enough to attract the attention of his mother.

It had all gone downhill from there.

Still, he had managed to redeem some of the afternoon. The sun shone warmly down on him, and the sky held no clouds. He had brought a good book along. Even the nap had been a nice, relaxing one until ...

"Ask him! Ask him! Ask him!"

"Ask me what?!" Kiyomaro crossed his arms. His expression must have darkened even more, for the children scattered backwards again, including Gash. Miss Piranha Teeth stood her ground, however.

"Gash says you know everything," she sneered. "I'm going to pound him if he's lying."

It was so tempting just to let it go. So very, very tempting. And it wasn't like he had to prove his intelligence, especially not to six year olds with overbites from Hell. And I HATE being asked those kinds of questions, anyway. It's always turns out the same.

He turned to glare at Gash again ... and found that the little demon looking at him with those large, golden eyes of his. Trusting eyes. Eyes that brimmed with the belief that ...

"Kiyomaro is the BEST!" Gash declared, fiercely swiping his hand down for emphasis. "He'll be able to answer anything! Right, Kiyomaro?!"

Again with those giant gold eyes, staring straight at him, with enough faith to light up the universe ...

"You're not going to pound him TOO hard, are you?" Kiyomaro asked Piranha Girl. She cracked her knuckles together.

"KIYOMAROooo~!" Gash wailed. "Naomi-chan, he really does know everything! Please don't ... waaaa!"

The demon shrieked as Naomi barreled toward him, arms outspread and fingers splayed out like claws.

Gash managed to dodge the first strike from Naomi's fists, but the bully flattened him to the ground within a few yards. Kiyomaro sighed at the all too familiar scene. He started to head back to the bench to read his book again --
but something ...

Wait, why is he ...

Something caught his eye, something subtle in the way Gash moved in response to Naomi's attack.

Why doesn't he just ... he could easily ... Kiyomaro blinked. His ever-sharp memory stirred, remembering another day, one that had storm clouds churning across the sky, the one when Gash had first introduced him to this little pack of playground fiends.

"I can make lightning! That means I'm better than normal people! What's wrong with bragging about it?"

"It's hard being a monster! I'm trying to look on the bright side of things!"

Kiyomaro scrubbed a hand through his hair.

"And this is for lying." Naomi crowed as she pulled at Gash's hair. "And for bragging and being too proud. You're such a weakling . . ."

"Oy!" he walked over to the struggling duo. Peering down, he grabbed the straps of Naomi's pink jumper and pulled. The girl froze, releasing Gash in pure surprise as Kiyomaro hefted her off her feet. Gash too, seemed somewhat bewildered at his unexpected rescue.

"Ki ... Kiyomaro?" he asked as he twisted around. Kiyomaro heard the footfalls of the other children as they crowded closer.

"Look, I didn't say he was lying exactly," Kiyomaro grumbled as he carefully set Naomi down at arms length. He eyed her teeth warily. She's not gonna go all Umagon on me, is she?

From the way she was growling and eyeing his fingers, it seemed she was considering it. He backed away a half-step. "I mean, I don't know everything but ... if you ask, maybe I can answer."

Just please. If there is a higher power, please let it have nothing to do with kissing. Or babies. Or worse yet kissing and babies, and the processes involved from one to the other.

Naomi stopped eyeing his hands speculatively. "Can I pound you if you can't?!"

"Aren't you a bit small for that?" Kiyomaro snorted, though he kept both arms far out of reach when he said it.

"Not if I get my cousin to do it," she answered smugly. "He's in your class, I think. He's big and he can pound you good."

Crap. That's right ... Kaneyama's her cousin, isn't he? Kiyomaro rolled his eyes.

"NO ONE POUNDS KIYOMARO!" Gash sprang to his feet. "Naomi, if you want to pound someone ..."

"You said he knew everything! So are you worried?" Naomi smirked. It was a rather frightening sight. "Are you saying you lied and that he's stupid?"

"Uh ..." Gash twisted awkwardly, staring at the ground.

"Okay, fine. If I can't answer it, then Kaneyama can try to pound me." Kiyomaro shrugged. Though if he does, I won't help him hunt for tsuchinoko. Or help him with his science final. The pounding from his mother should make him think twice about pounding me.  "So, what do you want to know?"

"And it better be fair!" Gash said. "Nothing like 'what did I have for breakfast' or `what did I dream last night'. You gotta be fair, Naomi-chan!"

"Hmmm." Naomi gestured to the other children, and they huddled together -- leaving Gash at the fringe, staring longingly at their backs. Kiyomaro rubbed at his temples as the chattering and snickering from the circle grew louder. They sound like a pack of hyper chipmunks. Make that extremely evil, hyper chipmunks.

A tugging at his pant leg made him look downwards. Gash beamed up at him. "Kiyomaro, thank you!"

Kiyomaro scowled. "Why in the hell did you tell them I know everything!? I don't!"

"Cause Naomi-chan was bragging about her cousin, and then Hideki-kun started about his sister, and everyone had someone they were proud of," Gash said. "But I said you could beat 'em all."

Kiyomaro scratched the side of his face, feeling unaccountably embarrassed. Someone to be proud of, huh?

"Okay, we've got our question!" Naomi declared. "We were going to ask you about kissing . . ."

Shit.

"But Kogoro said that you didn't look like you knew anything about it. And Gash DID say that you deserved a fair chance to not look like a dummy."

WHAT?!

Kiyomaro's mouth opened to protest that, while he didn't have personal experience, he certainly knew something about the basics involved. Luckily, common sense intervened and he closed his mouth before that thought could escape.

"Hiroyuki wanted to ask about babies."

Ugh.

"But everyone KNOWS they come from peaches."

PEACHES?! Kiyomaro pinched the bridge of his nose. Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Though those kids are going to have an interesting love life when they grow up.

"So, the question we decided on ..." Naomi paused and her eyes narrowed to tiny slits.

Oh great. It's going to be about something I have no idea how to answer. Like the mating habits of orangutans. Or disproving Einstein's theory of relativity. The meaning of life.

"Why is the sky blue? And what happens to the light in the refrigerator when you close the door?"

What? He had prepared for babies, kissing, and mating habits, but ... "Those are your questions?!"

Naomi raised an eyebrow. "Do you know the answers or not?"

"Hey! That's not fair. Those are REALLY tough ones!" Gash declared. "And that's TWO questions! Two!"

"But you said he knows everything!"

"NO one can know stuff like that, Naomi-chan!" Gash insisted. "That's even beyond genius stuff!"

"Hold on." Kiyomaro waved an arm inbetween the two to stop the burgeoning argument. "If I can answer them, then you'll never bother me again?"

Naomi nodded. "And I won't pound Gash for at least three days."

A quick glance at Gash made him sigh. "Make it a week."

"Five days, but I can kick him after three! So, do you have the answer?" Naomi grinned. "But don't lie. I'll know."

"Why would I lie?! I know why the sky is blue and where the light in the refrigerator goes after you close the door."

Was I like this when I was six years old? he wondered.

"Really?!" an assortment of jaws dropped open, eyes widened, and little hands waved around in general shock.

"I asked my big sister, and she didn't know," said one of them doubtfully.

Kiyomaro nodded. "Well, it's really not all that big of a deal. The reason the sky is blue is because blue is one of the shortest frequencies in the light-wave spectrum. As sunlight enters through Earth's stratosphere, the different wavelengths of light scatter when they pass through and reflect off of the different gas molecules and other particles of atmospheric debris. Because of its shorter wavelength, blue is reflected more than the other wave lengths, and thus the sky appears predominately blue. Though technically, violet IS a even shorter wavelength than blue, the sky isn't violet because its wavelength is too short to be scattered as much as the blue. Thus that is why the sky appears blue to our eyes. Okay?"

"Uhhhhhh." Six blank looking faces stared back at him.

Wait, Kiyomaro swallowed. Maybe that's a little too much information and not enough explanation ...

"You're making that up!" Naomi stamped a foot. "Grownups always make up stuff with big words when they don't know something."

"I'm NOT making it up!" Kiyomaro resisted the urge to pull out a fistful of hair ... whether it was his own or not, he wasn't quite sure.

"Then PROVE it!" Naomi crossed her arms.

"Yeah prove it! PROVE IT! PROVE IT! PROVE IT!"

Kiyomaro blew a strained breath through his teeth as the kids formed a chanting circle again. "How am I supposed to prove it!?" he pointed to the sky. "It's BLUE isn't it? I told you why. You just got to believe me that it's true!"

"LI-AR! LI-AR! LI-AR!"

Kiyomaro pinched the bridge of his nose again as the taletell pressure of a migraine tightened in the corners of his eyes.

"Kiyomaro's NOT a liar!" A blur of yellow hair dashed in front of him, arms outflung. "He isn't!"

"Do YOU understand what he said?" Naomi poked a finger at Gash's chest.

Unlike before, however, Gash did not budge from his protective stance. "Uh ...no. But if he says it's blue because of some wavy bits and stuff, it must be."

"Well, I know why the sky's blue! My cousin said that the sky's blue because it soaks the color up from where it touches the blue ocean. And the ocean's blue because that's the color of whale poo. So the sky's blue because of whale poo."

"WHAT?! Whale poo?" Kiyomaro blinked, startled by the absurd change in the conversation. "Whale poo isn't blue!"

"Have YOU seen whale poo?" she challenged.

"No! But I'm damn certain that the sky doesn't touch the ocean ... it just looks like that at the horizon. I can't believe that Kaneyama actually TOLD you that!" Kiyomaro dragged a hand down his face.

"He also said that you weren't really smart but you pretended to be 'cause you wanted to be better than other people." Naomi snorted.

"Yeah. My big sister knows you too. And that's what she thinks," piped up another voice. "She says you're kinda freaky. And that you like making people feel stupid."

It shouldn't have hurt. They were only six year olds, and he didn't have anything to prove to them.

It really shouldn't have hurt. But the looks on their faces -- he had seen that before, back when he was not much other than they.

He felt something within him flinch backward, in pure unreasoning instinct. He knew those looks.

"You think you're better than other people ... You like making people feel stupid ... You better stop boasting, Kiyomaro!"

"But what's wrong with it? I'm smarter than they are! It makes me better than them. And it's not like they're my friends, anyway."

Something must have shown in his face. He felt a quick tug at his pants leg and looked down. Gash's eyes were wide, his mouth set in a firm, unyielding line. The little demon turned to the other children, staring at each and every one of them in turn. To Kiyomaro's complete surprise, each of them immediately silenced, even Naomi.

Kiyomaro found himself unable to move as well. He could only stare at Gash as the late afternoon sun seemed to polish the youngster in gold, making him shine with a warm, glowing halo. For a moment, it seemed as if Gash was crowned by the light.

"I believe you. I don't understand. But I believe, Kiyomaro," Gash said firmly. His arms had resumed their outspread position.

He's ... trying to shield me. Kiyomaro stared at his own hands, which felt awkwardly empty, for some reason. It should be the other way around, shouldn't it? I'm his partner. His bookkeeper. His teacher. 

Kneeling down, he rummaged in his backpack. "Okay. You guys want proof, huh?"

Besides, I can't leave them thinking that the sky is blue because of whale shit. His mouth quirked. The future of Japan is in the future of the children, right?

"It has to be because of the poo." Naomi tilted her head to the side. "Whales poop really big."

I fear for the future.

"Well ... if the sky was blue because of whale poo, shouldn't it be blue all the time?" he asked.

"Yeah," Naomi nodded. "It IS blue all the time, when it's not cloudy."

"But what about the sunset? What color does the sky turn then?" Kiyomaro finally located what he needed at the bottom of his backpack.

"Red!" said Gash. "The sky turns red and gold and purply and all sorts of colors."

"Right." Kiyomaro withdrew his water bottle, his pocket pen flashlight, and a sheet of white paper. "So it can't be because of whale poo, right? Because I don't think whales poop rainbows at a certain time each day."

He waited patiently as the children discussed amongst themselves. If I can teach Mizuno about basic geometry, this should be a piece of cake, he tried to reassure himself.

"All right," Naomi said, her eyes narrowing. "If it's not whale poo, then how come it's all those colors?"

"That's because light itself is made up of a lot of different colors. And I can prove that to you with this." He held up the water bottle and the flash light. He flicked it on and aimed it at the notebook paper. "What color do you see?"

"White," Naomi said grudgingly.

"Okay. But when I pass it through this water bottle at JUST the right angle ..."

"A rainbow!" Gash said. "You made a rainbow!"

"Yup. The water acts like a sort of separator, so you can see the different colors. That's how the air works too, way up where the light from the sun first hits the earth. Think about the light as an ... well ... it's kinda like a ribbon made up of lots of different colors tied together. Most of the time you can only see it as one white ribbon. But the water and the air acts like a magic scissors -- it cuts through the ribbon so you see the different colors."

Kiyomaro looked up, and found the children's eyes riveted to him. So far so good. "One thing about that these ribbons though... they're all of different length, so some parts are shorter than others. Since blue part is very short, it tends to gets cut up and scattered the most by the air molecules."

He waited a beat, watching to see if the kids were still following his words. He wasn't quite sure, but he thought he still had most of them. "Okay ... you also know that the sun moves up then down through day, right? Well, that means that different parts of the light ribbon get cut up as the sun moves. Most of the time, when the light is straight overhead, the blue parts get cut up the most. That's why the sky is blue for most of the day. The red parts, which are the longest parts, get cut up and scattered more when the sun rises and sets --- though if you look, you can sometimes see the entire rainbow of colors during sunset and sunrise. And before you ask, the reason that we don't see light as rainbows ALL the time is that the air only separates out some, but not ALL of the light."

Kiyomaro held his breath as he waited for the children to digest what he had just said. "Got it? Oh, and by the way --  the reason the ocean is blue is because it reflects the sky ... haven't you ever looked into a puddle and seen your own face? Yeah. That's because the water acts like a giant mirror, right? So the sky isn't blue because of the ocean. The ocean is blue because the sky is blue. Okay?"

The kids mumbled amongst themselves.

"Gash?" he turned to the demon. "What do you think?"

"A rainbow! So cool!" Gash had grabbed the flashlight and was moving it up and around, making the rainbows dance across the white paper.

"ARE YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION?!" Kiyomaro cuffed him across the head, carefully aiming for the spot between Gash's horns. "I'm trying to teach you something!"

"Owww! Why do you always hit me? And NO, I don't really get it." Gash rubbed his head. "But the rainbow is SOOO cool!"

Naomi cleared her throat, and the ring of children opened up again. "So, we don't understand all the light ribbon stuff, but we all think now that whale poo probably doesn't make the sky or the ocean blue. We don't know if you're telling the truth still but um ... itiskindaneatabouttherainbow."

The last words jumbled together, but Kiyomaro caught enough of their gist. The beginnings of a grin creased the corners of his mouth. "You can't prove that I'm lying though, can you?"

Naomi shrugged. "Nope. Doesn't mean you're telling the truth though."

Kiyomaro released his grin, letting spread full across his face. "Good. Don't blindly take someone's word just because they're bigger than you or because they say they're smarter than you. Think about things. And most of the time, you'll figure it out for yourselves. And by the way, the refrigerator has a little demon that comes out and turns off the lightbulb once you close the door. He's also the one that makes your food go bad, if you don't treat him nice."

"A refrigerator demon?!" Gash's eyes grew big. "Really, Kiyomaro?!"

"I KNEW IT! I just KNEW it!" chimed another one of the kids. "You really do know everything!"

Naomi just stared at him, her eyes speculative. The corner of her mouth twitched upwards. "I dunno. I'll hafta see. But hey! Since you know so much ... do you know why girls have boo--"

"No more! Absolutely no more questions," Kiyomaro cut her off with a wave. "And isn't it time for you all to go HOME?!"

He didn't feel the least bit of shame about looming over them, even though they were half his size. The kids looked at each other, then at Naomi. At her nod, they started walking away in a sparrow-like flock, chattering all while.

"I'll see YOU in three days," Naomi pointed at Gash. "I'm going to train extra hard, so you better watch out."

"You said FIVE days!" Gash whined, stamping a foot and waving a fist into the air. "FIVE!"

"Well, I don't know if he's right about the sky bit. But he really knows about the fridge." Naomi turned to Kiyomaro. "Are you SURE whale poo isn't blue?"

"Just! Go! Home!" Kiyomaro ground out the words from between his clenched teeth.

Naomi made one last threatening growl at Gash, forcing him to duck back behind Kiyomaro.

"Y'know, my cousin USED to say those things about you," she threw over one shoulder as she headed towards her pedal car. "But ... he doesn't anymore."

"HOME!" Kiyomaro rubbed his forehead as she finally disappeared. If I never have to answer another little kid question EVER again ...

"Kiyomaro? Can I ask you something?"

Why do the heavens hate me? "Yes, Gash?" he bit out.

"Uunuuu ... are you mad at me? I didn't mean for them to bother you." With his gaze to the ground and arms folded together, Gash did seem supremely contrite. "You hated all those questions, didn't you? I could tell."

Kiyomaro debated for a moment, craning his head back to study the darkening sky. How can I explain it to him?

"It's not that I hate it, not exactly. It's just ... sometimes, people ask questions without really wanting to hear the answers -- or at least not the answers I give them. They always think I'm showing off or that I'm trying to make them feel stupid. It's like the light thing; they can't see any colors but one. But that's not your fault. You didn't know."

"But those people are wrong!" Gash's shoulders stiffened and his hands had balled into fists. "They're SO wrong! It's not fair. You aren't trying to show off or stuff. And ... and I'm still gonna be proud of you for being smart. Even if you do get mad."

"I'm not mad. Actually, it reminded me of something."

"It ...did?"

"It's not easy being different, is it?" He knelt, waiting until the gold eyes met his. He saw surprise in there, and for a moment, he closed his eyes in regret. "It's not easy being able to do what others can't. And it's especially not easy hiding that sort of power. You're very, very strong."

"Kiyomaro?"

"But when you play with Naomi, you aren't even using even a fraction of your strength. Because--" Kiyomaro stopped as Gash shuddered, small hands fiddling at his bow.

"Because if I make even a single mistake, it would be really bad, wouldn't it? My spells are like weapons. But even without the spells, I know I can hurt people. K-kill them." Gash swallowed, one hand rubbing at his eyes. "That's what you said before. I try very, very hard to be careful. I really do."

"I know. And you are very careful." Kiyomaro reached out, tugging Gash's hand away from his eyes. His other hand ruffled the top of Gash's head. "Naomi-chan is very lucky. All your friends are, and they don't even know it. The fact they think you're weak ... it only shows how much control you really have. You're anything but weak."

"Uuunuuu ..." Gash nearly vibrated with excitement at the revelation, "really?"

"Yeah."

He knelt there for a moment, watching as his words sunk in. Gash's entire bearing straightened, and his eyes closed as his face turned toward the fading sunlight.

"But don't let it go to your head." Kiyomaro warned.

"I won't," Gash said. "`Cause there's Tio. She's not gonna let me. She and Naomi-chan are SCARY!" he added in afterthought.

Kiyomaro shrugged, groaning as he stood and stretched. "C'mon, let's just get home."

Gash immediately bounded ahead, spreading his arms wide and zooming around as if he was a sugared up hummingbird. It made Kiyomaro severely dizzy just watching him. "WOO! The rainbow thing was really cool. And the refrigerator thing! I didn't know humans had demons without books! I wonder if I can make friends! But ... Kiyomaro?"

"Yeah?"

"I still think whale poo is so much cooler."

"WHAT?!"

-owari

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AN: Well. That was ... strange. Let me know what you think. Actually, if Kiyomaro had milk flakes, he could've tried THIS experiment: Why is the sky blue? but I wouldn't recommend trying it on kids younger than eight years old.

Kiyomaro's explanation has been simplified down a lot but heh ... for the most part it's correct, to my knowledge. I have no idea where he got his info on the refrigerator light though. Everyone knows that it's not demons. It's the little green men. *nods*

Anyways, thank you for reading!

Um, and if you could  give me a reply as to what you thought of it all  -- it'd really make my day! :) Heck, flame the heck out of me! I'm still puzzled on how I wrote such a long story involving whale poo.


cheers,
muri


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