2010-09-19: Trust Is A Touchy Subject


Emma_icon.jpg Theo_icon.jpg Tony_icon.jpg

Summary: The meeting to deal with Theo's latest indiscretion is had in Emma Frost's office. With good intentions both Emma and Tony attempt to get Theo to understand the real issue but only time will tell.

Date: September 19, 2010

Log Title: Trust Is A Touchy Subject

Rating: PG-13(L) Brought to you by the letter /L/ for language.

Emma Frost's Office - Xavier Mansion

//Miss Frost's office is not as white as one would expect, however it does present an overall theme in the room. Using a classic den/office style structure from the building, the hardwood floor has been mostly covered from entry to desk with a white carpet that has been decorative bordered in an ivy-pattern, with the center having a delicately done floral arrangement. Two plush white leather chairs sit slightly staggered and angled facing a white marble topped desk of dark-stained oak, the Xavier Academy logo in front emblazoned in a polished steel. Atop the desk is materials for physical writing as well as a dual-monitor computer system that seems keyboardless, instead having a single mouse-like interface device. To the right are a pair of striated white marble book-cases filled from top to bottom, in the center of the pair a marble fireplace that burns sedately despite the time or season.

The left wall has a series of file cabinets sitting next to another computer desk, this one with a standard keyboard and mouse with the academy logo floating sedately on the screen. Next to those is a table where mail seems to be laid out next to a carafe of what is either coffee or tea, and a small pile of cookies, which seems to vary day by day. Behind the carafe is a small containers for sugar, fresh cream, and honey.

Behind the desk is a bank of windows facing northwards, running practically from wall to wall, bordered on both sides by silver-embroidered sheer silk cloth, so even when drawn you can make out details outside, and so long as day is present, line pours in to give the room a sense of warmth. For the times when more light is required, it comes from the vaulted office ceiling from a tasteful-looking light and fan combination. Just behind the desk and on the right side is a second door with a hand-print scanner.//

Sunday evening, and the rest of the events of the weekend out of the way, Emma Frost has a single file up on her desktop, the face of one Theodore Fegenbush staring her in the face in that unblinking fashion. Tapping a couple keys on the projected keyboard on the marble-top desk, she sighs gently, and reaches for her PDA phone to check it once more for the other arrivee for tonight's discussion. Sitting back, she adjusts and then buttons her suit jacket, smoothing down the matching white pants and even her custom leather shoes before finally going back to the screen… and readjusting the choker that deliberately has the school's logo on it.

Just about an hour ago, Tony had arrived at the Towers after a Transpacific flight via his suit. There was just enough time for him to shower and make himself presentable in a black pinstripe suit with a black silk shirt and crimson tie. En route to the Xavier school he sent a message ahead to Emma via his cell that stated his eta as Happy took care of making sure that the notoriously late Stark was going to arrive on time and in an appropriate fashion. Dropped off at the front of the school, after the short drive, Tony entered the mansion heading down familiar halls to rap on Emma Frost's office door.

Emma presses the button just as the first knock is supposed to come, and that seemingly supernatural effect occurs once more. She smiles a bit, but it's a wan thing. There's no alcohol out, but there is water with lemon sparkling in the carafe, and a set of meat and vegetables to nibble upon. Close to them is the more expensive plate with pate, foi grae, and even caviar to add as accents to things. Shaking her head once, she stands up and moves to approach Tony, and gives the man a hug in greeting, "Thank you for coming… Neither of us would want to do this alone… would we."

"We really must work on meeting under better circumstances," Tony teases as he returns the hug then takes a customary step back and to the side so that he's entered the office. "I promised that I would be here, and here I am, more or less. I am glad that I was able to make it back in time." Taking stock of his surroundings he notices that nothing in her office has changed since the last time he had breezed through unannounced but her assortment of goodies catches his eye momentarily. "Am I early? I might have gotten the times confused."

With a single shake of her head, and a cross of her arms under her bosom, Emma replies, "No you're rather on time as Mister Hogan guaranteed me this morning. Which of course he was happy to do… especially since for once it's not for.. I believe as the paparazzi put it… a business bootycall?" Arching a brow in humor she moves back to her desk, and motions for the chairs, "I'll be calling him in. You can move the chairs if you like. And please… refresh if you require." And with that she taps a command on her phone, "Mister Fegenbush, please report to my office now. Thank you." And the message is sent.

Tony snorts at the joke out of reflex but seeing as he has been given a longer leash than he should have, he takes Emma's offer to move things about to his liking then gathers up a plate of various things. "Hmm, excellent choice in finger food as always, thank you." With his plate in hand Tony sits down in the chair he has slid over to the side of her desk and is casually eating.

Back in his room, Theo strolls from one end to the other in his boxers and a T-shirt. He's working on his midterm paper already. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire. As his phone goes off, he stops, and grabs the phone off of his dresser. "It's Sunday, doesn't she ever take a day off?" he mutters to himself.
The technopath pulls the dresser open, and pulls out a pair of cargo shorts. He pulls them on, and ties a belt around his waist. He goes to the perfect line of his shoes by the door, and steps into his flip flops before stuffing his phone in his pocket and heading out the door.
A couple of minutes later Theo strolls in through the door. His pace is casual as he crosses the threshold. Unintimidated. The moment he sees that Tony is in the room as well, though, he visibly closes. An apprehensive look might best describe it. He notices the fancy food, but doesn't move to take any. He doesn't speak, either, uncertain about the nature of this meeting.

A finger from Emma's left hand touches a control and the door closes behind, and the room suddenly goes rather silent, as if sound had been cut off, but more so… feeling might have been. Deliberately, she shuts off her computer and then presses a button to sever power. Next comes the PDA, and she even removes the battery in front of him. Once done, she looks to Tony, before taking a breath, "Theodore Fegenbush… you're here today to speak with both of us due to recent actions you have taken. Forge informed me recently that you presented forged documents to enroll in our driver's education class. Because of the nature of the class, parental permission is required. This is not merely a violation of procedure here at this school. It is a violation of trust, Mister Fegenbush. A trust that affect not only your time here in our school, but your time in other locations as well." Her voice gentle and calm the entire speech.

As Theo entered the room Tony balanced his plate atop a knee and offered a tense smile to the young man. Why Emma is suddenly turning everything off and removing the battery from her phone is a curious sight to Stark. Nodding his head towards the open chair in the room Tony sighs, "Hello, Theo. You're looking much better than the last time I saw you, however, I'm afraid I am not here to catch up with you. You've gotten yourself into a situation where the consequences of your actions involve my company, and myself."

Theo's expression darkens as Emma starts to take apart the things which require power. "I didn't forge anything," he says. "Prove it," he denies. His muscles tighten in the back of his neck, but he makes no comment on Emma's precautions. While his face remains motionless, a certain air surrounds him now, as if he had just pulled the pin on a grenade.

The woman taps the side of her forehead as Emma stands up, balancing her arm by the elbow on the back of the other hand, "You do not, nor have provided credible information on your parents, for the ability to report your grades or progress. As such we do not have any signed forms on file. According to the security file and the follow-up, you arrived here by yourself, were enrolled under at what best is dubious circumstance. If you wish to bare the truth known? Simply call your family, and let them tell me they signed the form?"

Tony has set his half empty plate to the corner of the desk so that he can lean back into the chair casting a glance from one to the other. Choosing to remain silent, for the time being, until he would need to interject on eithers behalf, which was not an easy position to be in.

"They didn't sign the form," Theo answers. "I signed the form. They aren't available to sign it. I'm Theodore Fegenbush, and that name on the form says Theodore Fegenbush." Which is true, except it's the II and not the III which is listed under parent signature, and the handwriting does seem somewhat altered from his normal form. "And even if I had, I don't see what this has to do with my job. I didn't lie on any of the forms that I filled out for Stark Industries." His arms fold across his chest, and he doesn't even give a look in Tony's direction. Instead, he meets Emma's gaze, eyes unflinching.

There's a raise of the eyebrow, and then her hands clench together under her bosom as Emma stands in a motion of one defiant and unmoving under the gaze of the young man, "No, but you see… it does. Because you took this job for Mister Stark under his Research and Development division, it makes your punishment very much a problem. Now there is a work life involved, but ultimately due to your being a student on this campus makes you our legal as well as social responsibility." Her arms drop to her sides, and then she exhales softly, "Do not think I cannot find your parents. I can find anyone, Theodore. Not only can I find them, but I am also very adept at getting into their lives, and finding secrets. I have not done this… with good enough reason so far. Your punishment will be decided on your explanation as to why you would choose to violate the trusts of the people who have given you a home. Who have given you the chance to become what you are now."

Theo's face starts to grow red, but he doesn't explode, which seems eminent. His eyes dart to Tony for a moment, and then back to Emma. He remains silent for a very long time, a brooding look upon him, and he seems frozen in his defiant posture. After a long time, his color returns to his face and beyond what seems like an eternity calculating after that, he speaks. He turns his head to Tony, "Did she already tell you what the punishment will be?" He asks the billionare. He's trying to determine if this hand of poker is simply waiting for the last flop.

The last bit of what Emma had said to Theo came off too much like a threat to Stark, and given what he knew of Theo's past as well as Emma's intent for this meeting he felt the need to interject. "This is a bit too confrontational for my tastes. Will the both of you please sit down and stop trying to out bristle the other?" When Theo directly asks him a question he nods once while extending a lone finger towards the empty chair near him. "I do know of the intended punishment but that is not why I returned from Japan. I returned to be here to support you, Theo. I may be supporting the decisions being made as the school is your legal guardian but I am here out of my own personal concern for you first and foremost."

Her eyes flick to Tony, and then Emma gives an assenting nod before she moves smoothly to settle in her seat. Exhaling once more, the blonde woman keeps her gaze on Theo, "Regardless of what you might think… I do not simply dismiss on the first offense. I find more disturbing than what you did… is the rather casual means of which you have done it. Why wouldn't you consider coming to myself, or Mister Summers? Or to your mentor?" Her hands come together as she leans her elbows on her desk, "You are still considered a minor by the letter of the law, and our responsibility… one we would take seriously. But there is a need to know, Theodore… if not for simply the sake of clearing the air, but because… despite what you might believe I do not LIKE to punish. I like being here, and doing this far less than you might like standing there attempting to defend yourself."

Theo's lips sink into his mouth, and he holds them between his teeth a moment before releasing them. He moves to the seat across from Emma, and presses hard against the back of the chair. His arms unfolding to rest on the arms of the chair, a scowl forming across his face. "I keep my own counsel on why I don't come to you or Scott," he says, using the headmaster's first name intentionally. "As for my mentor, he just headed out on sabbatical, so I don't have one anymore." Hank McCoy by name. "This isn't about trust, and all those fluffy feely things you like to make it about. You can sit their in your fancy white clothes with your prissy fish eggs and pretend you have everything under control, but the truth is nobody has anything under control. Not you," He looks at Emma, "Not you," he says to Tony, "And not me."

"Theodore…" The first name alone ought to be enough of a warning to the young man as Tony has never called him by his full name but the harsh edge to his voice would clearly leave nothing to guess. "If you are meaning to dig yourself a deeper hole then by all means continue as you see fit. Do not delude yourself into believing that there are no issues of trust or lack thereof in this situation." Tony undoes the buttons of his suit jacket flaring the panels outward so that he may sit on the edge of his chair with his forearms resting upon his thighs. "No one can control everything in life, this is true but there are some things that can be controlled, like one's attitude, one's behavior, and actions. Do you believe that forging a signature is a very trustworthy action?"

Her look passes to Tony, and then back to Theo, watching the body language of the boy, his facial expressions, the movements of his eyes. Emma's expression never changes even once as she leans back and continues her gaze in consideration. Once more her eyes flick to Tony, and back once more before she crosses her arms, and her right leg over her left primly behind the desk. Nothing said at all, but her gaze speaks volumes for her calm surety, and patience as Tony's question is to be answered.

The teen rises to his feet as he speaks, "I'm not trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes, I'm not leading some secret plot to overthrow the school," Theo answers, caricature of the two adults' reaction. "I'm just not ready to talk about it. Okay?" He looks back at Emma, "You already have the punishment picked out, why don't you just tell me and get it over with?" he says, trying to close the conversation. His forced calm demeanor is starting to crack.

"Sit..down…" Tony says firmly in a tone that bears reproach. "There's no call to be dramatic, Theo. I am not here to press you into speaking about your past, nor have I asked you to ever do so against your will." With a heavy sigh Tony casts a glance across at Emma before turning back to the young man standing across from him. "You avoided my question, and that is where the real problem lies. Punishments are for those that have done a wrong, and for them to learn from their mistakes. If you are unwilling to admit your error in something so…minor…then what does that tell others about how you will handle yourself? Your school work? Your work? Your personal matters? I have never distrusted you but I find myself disappointed in you."

As Emma continues to wait and Tony speaks, there's a carefully neutral look and expression to her entire visage while finally adding to what Tony has stated, "There is a very good reason I have not simply meted out your punishment, Theodore. That is because what and how are based entirely upon you. Anthony is quite correct in his assessment of the situation, and I am singularly unappreciative of your belligerence and attempt to control this meeting." A careful finger taps the side of her cheek as she continues to watch, "This is a world where one treats others as they expect to be treated. Even if that is not reciprocated, it is still something one attempts."

"YOU ARE NOT MY PARENTS!" comes the response in a maximum volume. No sitting down yet. "They are supposed to do this! It's not your job!" A finger is jabbed at both Tony and Emma respectively. He maintains an imposing position for a moment longer witha quivering lip, collapses back into the chair,and runs his fingers through his hair until his head is sunk into his elbows. For Emma and Tony, this may be about honesty and trust, but Theo is clearly processing the conversation on an entirely different scale. He's quiet for several seconds, letting a quiet fill the room that enables the ticking of wristwatches to be audible.
"I'm sorry," he finally squeaks, head buried in his own lap. He doesn't look up, mortified at his loss of temper.

Stark is struck speechless after Theo's outburst, and finds himself at a loss for what to do when Theo collapses into the chair. With lips pressed together and a furrowing of his brow Tony rises from his chair to walk over to kneel down upon a knee at the side of Theo's chair. "Theo," he calls to the young man with concern. "I can't speak for anyone else but I am not out to play parent. I do, however, get to care about you and what happens to you." Not sure if he's done the right thing or not he reaches a hesitant hand out toward Theo and ends up setting his palm down on the arm of the chair. "I don't want to speak for Emma, as she can talk to you on her own, but she does care about what happens in your life as well."

After closing her eyes for a long moment, Emma steeples her fingers together and looks towards Theo and his current state. Watching Tony and his actions towards the young man, she taps her pointer fingers together for several more moments until she finally says, "Your life is your own, Theodore… and I understand your reticence, but we have a responsibility to you, both of us. You are completely correct… we are not your parents. But it falls to us because we respect your right to privacy. Both of us… Tony as one who I see as your mentor. Someone who understands you as well as you know yourself. In my case… as one who understands that the world can be an ugly place, and not all things can be solved in mere words or good intentions. You have strong convictions, and you can never be faulted for it. But still… you have done us wrong. And something must be done to redress this."

Theo stays in his recluse position for several moments longer, an eye peeking out to look at Tony. At once he sits back up, head tilted toward the ceiling and refusing to look at the headmistress. There are no tears for all of his emotion, though his eyes look rather bloodshot. "What are you going to do?" he asks, staring at the ceiling tiles.

"Knock some sense into you?" Tony teases Theo before adjusting his position so that he may see Emma without craning his neck. Remembering what punishment had been discussed before thsi meeting Tony is prepared to uphold his end of things but finds that he is wondering if Emma intends to keep the Xavier's side of things the same. "Do you wish for me to speak first? Or, would you rather go ahead, considering you are his Headmistress, and I am merely an outside party?"

With Tony assenting, Emma stands up and puts her hands behind her back as she looks at the young man refusing to look at her, "Theodore Fegenbush, your punishment is detailed as follows. You are hereby restricted to the Xavier's campus until after New Year's day. The only exceptions to this will be Halloween, where you will be allowed to leave escorted, Thanksgiving and the weekend attached to it, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Years Eve and Day. I have discussed the issue with Mister Stark, and we have agreed that you are still a legal employee, and as such you will not be barred from working while attending school…" And she pauses, "However… Mister Hogan will be your escort to and from school to your work site. Your membership in the JRXTC will not be affected by this, as I believe you have as much to learn from that as this punishment."

Tony has remained where he is knelt and tacks on his end of things. "As mentioned, Happy will be driving you from here to the plant. I had intended on driving you myself but matters have arisen that keeps me from doing so at the moment." With the hand not resting on the arm of the chair Tony reaches into his inner suit jacket pocket to pull out a folded document. "There has been a revision of your contract that stipulates that your grades must be maintained, which I don't forsee as a problem, or your position at RnD will be on pause until they are brought back into good standing."

"See, you could've said that in the beginning and saved us all this drama," Theo comments dryly. He does look a little relieved that it's so simple a punishment. "I'm parking my car in the garage during that time," he says. "I'm not leaving it off campus to get stolen. And I don't think my grades will be a problem. Seriously, Tony? I've got a 5.68 GPA." He gets up from the chair, now behaving as if they had all had a chat about the weather the whole time.

There is a suddenly chill in the air, followed by the most possibly flat tone to come from Emma's otherwise calm demeanor so far, "Mister Fegenbush… you do not have the privilege to dictate terms. You have neither the age, nor the respect for such to understand what is required to EARN it." Stepping out from around the desk, the look she gives is as icy as the air around her as she then says, "Your vehicle will return with Mister Stark… I am sure he has the facilities to keep it properly. Do not assume for a moment that I am not watching you… you have garnered my attention, and I suspect you do not understand the gravity of doing so. I am being nice. And I continue to be nice, because I -choose- to be nice. If you would not care to see what happens when I stop being nice… then you would do well to be both more respectful, and be on your way to your room, Mister Fegenbush. With alacrity."

Tony has mentally face-palmed but visibly this manifests as a head shake. Theo has missed the point, possibly, but more than likely is avoiding dealing with the matter entirely just to get out of the situation. Slowing rising to his feet Tony keeps the document in one hand and sends a pleading look towards Emma that clearly says, 'let me take it from here.' "Thank you for the small repast, Emma. We will have to have dinner another evening if you are amenable. For now, I will see to it that Theo gets back to his room without getting into any more trouble."

While the chill takes Theo by surprise, he recovers after hearing Emma's statements. There is a certain sad satisfaction that comes to the boy's face in response. "And you wonder why I don't trust you." He turns and heads to the door.

It would take one who has known the woman to see the look, and Tony is one of those few. It is now dangerous, and the kind of look usually reserved for just before the point that someone learns the penalty of crossing her. Turning away, she returns to her desk, and sits down, watching the boy's retreating head, "You were intended to work with Forge this year in personally improving computer security for the campus school systems. I'd had hoped your abilities and your interest would have been a keen draw. But I will unfortunately have to look to others for this student-mentor project. Good evening, Mister Fegenbush… and do not grace my door any time soon, elsewise we WILL have a discussion on the nature of trust you will most likely never forget."

Standing near the doorway Tony lowers his indifferent mask to regard Emma with an apologetic expression. For some strange reason he's the one apologizing to her, "If you must, or want, you can call me when you have need to." Tony leaves Emma's office by gently shutting the door behind him then jogs to catch up with Theo. What could he say about everything that he had witnessed today? "Now, that I am free to berate you on my own," Tony begins, "Firstly, what we're you thinking would happen when you tried to pass off a document like that? To people who know you makes it even more inane. Secondly, if you still go for it you ought to not get caught. Thirdly, you and I are going to have to work on how you interact with people. Speaking well can get you out of hot water more often than you think, even if you blow them off like you just did, which I am not thrilled about."

Theo doesn't respond to Emma's additional statement. It either doesn't bother him, or he doesn't give her the pleasure of letting on to the fact. He simply continues out the door, and manages to resist the overwhelming urge to give her the finger on the way out.

Theo keeps walking, and once he's convinced he's out of earshot, he answers. "I wasn't trying to make some statement, Tony! I just wanted to take the stupid course to lower insurance costs. And she's self-absorbed, egotistical, power hungry bitch. She treated you like you're beneath her at that party, and she treated me like I was beneath her in there. She doesn't have any legal authority over me. She's not my mom, the school's not my guardian. I don't even have-!" he stops himself, his face contorting. "I should file for emancipation."

"Was there some problem with just asking someone in a position to make your request possible? Did you consider that you might have asked me for help? No. You chose the route you did, and mucked it up." Tony cuts off Theo's ability to continue walking down the hall and huffs out a breath. "Whatever happened between Emma and myself is between she and I. Your opinions of her are your own, and I'm not going to tell you otherwise, but she does care about your life even if you are being more abrasive than sandpaper. The school has legal authority over you as you are a student here. The school acts as your absent parent, Theo."
"Also, you may not like her, but you do have to act respectful. You're an extremely intelligent young man but sometimes you fall pray to what we geniuses have a huge problem with, and that is dealing with people. I even pay someone to do that for me but the difference between you and I is that I know how to act, and when to play the right cards." Tony takes a look around then waves towards the hall that leads towards the student quarters. "This is not a conversation we should be having in the hallway where it can be heard."

Theo doesn't answer, but gives a nod and walks out and to the courtyard, across to the quad and then into the dorms. He doesn't answer until he reaches his room. Which is pristine. Nothing is out of place, and a paper remains half finished on his laptop sitting on the desk.
"You've got boatloads of money, Tony," Theo says, sitting down on his bed. "You can have anything you want anytime you want. I don't have any cards. I'm just a blue collar kid from West Virginia. I got nothing. She's a telepath, and was probably robbing me of my privacy the whole time we were in there. What good would it do me to word things in some fancy way?"

Tony has entered Theo's room and spots a chair near a small desk. Taking this he pulls the chair over in front of Theo then straddles it so that he can rest his forearms over the back of the chair. "I'll start with the last part first as it is the most pressing. I have dated several telepaths in my time, Emma being one of them, and have dealt with the good and the bad that comes from people who use that power for good or not. Let me put it to you this way, telepaths don't go rooting around in someone's mind because they can, they respect people's boundaries, and spend considerable time walling out others."
There could be more said there and probably would be but the other matter that Theo brought up is troublesome. "I have been bankrupt, I am rich, and there's one thing that never changes Theo, and that is who you are. No one can change what kind of man you are. Do you want to be one that is respected for his intelligence and his control over his life or do you want to be an intelligent man who garners no
respect because of how he treats others?"

Theo shrugs in response. "I just don't wanna be on the bottom of the heap anymore. I want to win." Which says something about the previous conversation. He wanted to crack Emma's cool exterior. And he did it, but that victory came at a high price. He looks Tony in the eyes, but with a certain defeated look in his face. He doesn't feel like a winner.

"Whatever is this about? What are you trying to win? I doubt whatever it is, is worth all of what has been going on with you recently." Tony lifts a hand up so that he can rest his cheek against his palm. "I know you've had it rough with the attack, and other things that we don't need to bring up but what makes you feel like you are at the bottom of whatever heap you feel you are under? Maybe you need a bit of polishing when it comes to social skills but what's eating at you? I've tried not to pry about why you're here or what is bothering you but I think I've proven that you can trust me."

Theo grows quiet. "I can't," he says. "I trust you, Tony." He seems to want to make that known. "I miss my family, but if they found out where I am…" he looks for a way to say without saying. "It would be dangerous for them. But that could change soon. Once it's safe, I can tell you."

Tony releases a resigned sigh, "I will not misplace your trust, Theo. I am concerned with how you keep winding up in trouble, and the obvious dealing with the aftermath needs some working out." Draping his arm back over his other he seems to be quite receptive to whatever Theo may need to get off his chest. "I mention this, and you don't have to say anything but I want you to think about it, alright?" Tony waits for a moment then offers up what he feels needs to be said. "If you or your family are in danger I am in a position to help. I'm sure you are aware that I can given my ties to various things but perhaps you were unsure of whether you could ask for my help. If you need my help, for you or your family, all you need do is ask me."

Theo nods. "Thanks, Tony," he says. "But this is something I gotta take care of. If you can find a way to get me ungrounded, though, that I could go for." He gives a smile, knowing that might be too tall an order even for Tony Stark. "I guess we will have to wait to hang out for a while."

Tony offers up the first smile Theo had probably seen from him in several weeks. "Anytime, kid. You need me for anything you know how to reach me regardless of what time zone I'm in." Slipping off the chair he flips it back around to scoot under the computer desk. "I can't bail you out of the hot water you are in but I can make it burn a little bit less. When I return from Japan we'll see what we can do as what I consider work is nothing like what others may consider work." With a wink to Theo the billionaire opens the door to the room and steps out into the hall. "Try to stay out of trouble, kid. Flying across the Pacific bores the hell out of me." With a wave Tony shoves his hands into his pockets and walks off to pick up Theo's car.

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