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Angel Hunt and Streifen in Roleplay
+ Alternate Universe 04 +
C H A P T E R O N E : P A R T 10
It’s something else, something far more profound.
He’s become so familiar with this scent in his dreams. Every night that he’s fought beside him, seen himself reflected in his eyes, been held in his arms as he’s died –these exact same arms that hold him now, this scent, his scent has always been there. It’s always been the same. So has this body… he knows this body, he’s felt the closeness of these muscles before, he’s felt these hands touching him many times, his arms holding him many times and for the first time in months, he feels a sense of completion standing here like this, as if somewhere along the line he’d lost an important piece of himself and it’s just now being returned.
This… this feels right in a way nothing else has since those dreams began.
But when the taller man pulls back just far enough to speak, his words snap him from the moment, and all that he’d been feeling a second prior quickly begins to slip away. The confusion he feels keeps the tall Angel silent until the elaboration, his brows furrowing as he tries to recall. “When? When did you…?” Jun asks, making no move to pull himself from Zephyr’s hold as pink flecked white remain locked with dark coal. “You told me what you are but you haven’t told me your name… yet…” His words slow to a stop as an urge he can’t control suddenly pulls his arm up, the blonde freezing the instant tapered fingers slide around to grip at the back of his neck.
There’s no thought lent as the Higher slides in closer, his long braid falling to the side as he tilts his head in to press his nose just beneath the Seeker’s structured jaw. Early dawn flecked eyes slip partially closed as the Angel takes a deep breath in, the need to immerse himself in a scent he’s known so intimately in his dreams momentarily washing away all reason and sense. But a second later he realizes exactly what it is that he’s done, his eyes snapping back open and widening a little in surprise. Pulling quickly back, he slips his hand away from Zephyr’s neck before his arms fall downward to carefully tug the hold around him free.
“Forgive me,” Jun whispers in a voice audibly shaken as he takes a single step back. “I… I don’t know why I did that .” Taking another step from the blonde, he finds he can’t hold the Dark’s gaze and turning his head in the slightest, his words leave him quiet as he continues in an attempt to redirect his confusion in some way. “A few days ago, I began losing time. One moment I would be in my home, then the next, elsewhere. It was one time, then another… then it began happening more frequently and I’m still unable to recall anything in-between. The same thing happened just now,” the Angel’s eyes narrow, his hand sliding up to press against his heart. “There was pain and then… something inside of me, something I couldn’t control, telling me I had to run.” Just as there’d been something he couldn’t control that made him touch the other man the way he just did…
Zephyr: The touch of the Angel’s hand on the back of his neck catches him off guard, as does the light press of a nose just beneath his jaw a heartbeat later. Jun had done this with him many times in the past, an act that is intimate and personal and never done casually. Angels have that ramped up sense of smell, that catch a whiff of baloney from four blocks away kind of smell that anyone without can’t truly appreciate. His boyfriend had always said he loved his scent, and the blonde had often teased that Jun got off more on just his scent alone than the physical things they shared. There had always been a protest to that kind of teasing, promising it wasn’t the case, but honestly he’d always found it to be kind of a turn on, something akin to the way he felt whenever his mind was completely linked with Jun’s. It’s a deeper connection than the mere joining of bodies, something felt at the core and not undertaken on a whim.
The tall Selestarri remains still even after Jun pulls away, surprise clear in his pink and white eyes and the shaking of his voice, and he’s not sure if it’s something in his scent that the other man wasn’t expecting or if it was the action itself. Letting it go, he focuses on the quiet words spilling from the Angel, the confession of lost time, of the pain in his chest, and of the uncontrollable urge to bolt.
“And you don’t remember me telling you my name?” The other man shakes his head and Zephyr frowns before turning and walking back to the kitchen.
Jun follows slowly, his dual-colored gaze watching as the Dark returns to boxing up the food. The more he hears about what the Angel is experiencing, the more it reminds him of what his Jun dealt with in the time leading up to the breaking of his seal. He had never said anything about pain, but he had often forgotten people, even those he’d met several times, the seal resetting over and over in order to keep him from realizing who he really was. Maybe this is something similar, tuned into the old memories from his Jun’s life.
Tucking the extra pitas into a neat row in the takeout box, he closes the lid, trying to sort through what he’s been told. “You’ve had these dreams for a while now, but the loss of time for only a few days?” The Angel nods, gracefully resuming his perch on the barstool. The thick, twisting braid slips over his shoulder to pool on the dark countertop like a spill of snow. “I don’t know how it’s been the other times, but just now when I told you my name you doubled over as if you’d been punched in the chest and then spun around and ran for the door. It was the same earlier when you were looking at the pictures that shattered.” The other man flashes a look of confusion, one that clearly says he has no idea what he’s talking about. “You don’t remember that either, I’m betting.”
Finishing with the last box, Zeph moves them all to the empty fridge and then places the plates, one mostly empty and the other more than three-quarters full, in the sink. One of the cabinets yields a tall glass carafe and another a pair of pink tinted water glasses. “Just the pain and the need to get away, right?” He glances over his shoulder at the Angel. “No sounds or anything like that?” Both questions bring a negative response, and somehow he’s not surprised.
Twisting the knob on the faucet, he sets the carafe beneath and watches as it slowly fills. Dreams from someone else’s life, flight that seems to be triggered by an array of incidents, and earlier Jun had claimed he didn’t remember how he got to this house. It all must add up to something, some overall cause, but he’s not sure what it is. It must not be the memories that trigger the hurt and the flight because Jun said they’d been coming through for a while now. So it must be something else, and there’s only one unaccounted person he can think of that could be a likely cause. If Saiyuri really is involved in the creation of this clone, and it’s seem more and more likely that she is given how involved “Haniel” is in this Jun’s life, then why did she bother with his Jun’s memories at all? Why not just build the shell and then simply fill it with the life she’d wanted him to live?
Shutting off the faucet and easing the carafe from the sink, he turns and sets it on the counter. The glasses join it a moment later and a simple rune chills the water as if he’d dropped in a handful of ice cubes. Pouring them each a glass, he slides one over to the Angel, watching as tapered fingers wrap around and pull it to pale lips. Zephyr takes a sip of his own, dark eyes steady on the one across from him.
The only way they’re going to get any of the answers to what’s happening with the other man is to see it firsthand. Still there’s a part of him that doesn’t want to step inside the white-haired Angel’s mind, knowing that it’s possible he’ll find the memories of the life he and Jun shared all lined up, stolen from the one he loves and dropped into this new shell. Every day since his boyfriend died has been filled with aching hurt, at times so deep it feels settled into his very bones, and at others so sharp it seems it will shred him from the inside out. Standing in this house, talking with this Jun has been hard enough, and he’s not sure he can take anything more. But… there is no one else who can do this other than him, no one who can stride into someone’s memories like he can.
With a sigh, Zeph rakes long fingers through white-gold bangs, pushing down the last of his reservations for how much this is going to hurt. “If you’d like,” he offers, “I can step into your mind and see what’s going on. Maybe we’ll find some answers.” Ordinarily he doesn’t ask permission, not really caring if his presence is assented to or not, but he’d always been careful with Jun after all his boyfriend had gone through with the seal, and there’s just something in him that won’t barge into this Jun’s mind either ...
Jun: He frowns when the other man mentions that not only had he been told his name, he had also attempted to look at those pictures he knows to be laying with their glass shattered against the hearth at the fireplace behind where he currently sits. While he remembers standing at the door at some point, staring at the mantle when he first entered this place, he doesn’t remember ever trying to view the pictures when they were intact on the mantle or how they are now spilled below and it’s as disturbing to him as his losses of time have been.
First the dreams of a death that turn out to be similar, if not exact to a memory belonging to someone else, then visions of snapshots in time shared with a person that up until a couple of hours prior he thought to be something his mind had created after a failure to complete travel between realms, then these losses of time, blackouts, speaking a language he’s never spoken before, and now, being unable to recall things that have just happened… Just the other day, he felt as if he might be starting to fall apart and the longer he’s in this house, the more that feeling has grown.
What in the Maker’s name is happening to his head?
Early dawn flecked eyes remain trained on the Seeker’s back as the carafe fills and he finds himself watching every small movement the other man makes. The way he holds that lean frame as he stands near still, the slight hunch of narrow shoulders and a body relaxed yet partially rigid while lost in thought, the way white gold hair falls past his long neck and over his shoulder blades, the coal dipped ends sitting mid back… it’s all so familiar. He knows he hasn’t been in this house before this day, that he’s only sat in this chair one time earlier when he’d been offered food, that despite the dreams where he feels as if he’s come to know the other man in so many ways, they are still just dreams and he’s never actually touched him before this day, been held by him before, or been immersed in his scent… yet as he sits here, he can’t help but feel as if he’s done this previously, that they’ve been in these exact spots many times in the past.
But the thoughts are blinked away when Zephyr turns back towards him and he pulls his gaze from the Dark’s as tapered fingers reach out to accept the glass of water he’s given, sliding it to his lips. As he takes a sip, the Angel can’t help marveling a little inside about the tint of the tumbler itself –finding amusement in the color without fully understanding why . Setting the glass back down when the other man makes his offer, he folds his arms casually at his front on the counter, his dual toned eyes lifting again and a soft sigh pulled from within.
“Protocol would mandate that it would be stupid of me to allow someone into my head I’ve only just met,” or at all really, considering telepathy of any kind for his people is rare. “But considering everything that’s transpired, and the fact that I’m getting really tired of what’s happening to me in particular, if you stepping into my head might shed some light on it, then be my guest. Besides,” Shrugging narrow shoulders, Jun reaches for his glass once more with a small smile, his next words slipping from him before he even realizes they’ve been said. “I trust you.”
Zephyr: Dark eyes watch the other man as he speaks, almost too formal crossing his arms and mentioning protocol, but the image melts away at the end as he shrugs and smiles before declaring his trust. For a long moment the blonde’s heart seems to fall still, stunned by how similar he looks to his Jun, as casual and at ease as he’d been for much of their relationship. They’d always been that way together regardless of the differences in their race and experiences, able to lean on one another when things were difficult because they knew that neither one would let the other fall. He’d never taken it for granted, thrilled that he’d found someone like the Angel, but it had come sharply into focus after Jun died, the loss of easiness and the knowledge that should he fall, it would be alone. Already raw and bleeding, it had been like pouring salt into his wounds, and like all the damage he’s carried for the past ten years, he’s never fully healed.
So to glimpse these once familiar things from someone he didn’t even know existed until a few hours ago, takes him aback for a minute, standing absolutely still until a sharp stab deep in his heart tears his eyes away. Clenching his fists to keep his hands from lifting to press against a wound that isn’t physical, Zephyr turns abruptly from the island, his feet silent on the floorboards as he moves past Jun and into the living room. Resuming his seat in the overstuffed chair, he waits for the Angel to do the same, and when the other man nods, he steps into his mind.
Not long after he’d met Jun, before he knew what he was and anything about the seal, he had done this very same thing. They were just teenagers then, and he’d always been reckless and not overly concerned about consequences, so when Jun had mentioned how worried he was about forgetting people, he’d gone into his head to see what was happening. In the past as part of his training he’d spent time in the minds of people with amnesia, with brain injuries, with dementia, and those who had any kind of disease or issue that dealt with damage to their memories. He was familiar with the memories of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t recall them, but Jun’s mind, that had been something entirely new. Normal memories are in motion, like watching a video on a small screen, but Jun’s memories were frozen, each one still in place, still laid out where he could see them all, but suppressed by the seal that had been laid over him. Even the recent memories that were still active moved in slow motion, eventually drawn into the magic that kept Jun from knowing who he really was.
Given that experience, Zeph is expecting something similar when he walks into this Jun’s mind, but what he finds is nothing at all like the seal. As always he sees the long lines strung out like clotheslines, each memory hung up like a polaroid picture, but there is something distinctly wrong with the display. These memories aren’t frozen like the ones he’d seen in the past, they’re not even visible at all. Each one is plated with solid steel, wrapped several times in thick chains, and secured by a padlock. Every memory, as far as he can see down the lines are exactly the same, very purposefully and intentionally locked down. Someone has done this to this Jun, someone who didn’t want him remembering even the slightest bit of these memories.
Frowning, the Seeker walks down the line, passing steel guarded memories, but he comes to a stop as one catches his eye, the lock hanging open, the chains loose, and part of the plating missing. Leaning closer, it appears as though some kind of acid has been at the barriers, corroding the metal bit by bit. Behind the steel he can see motion, the memory behind still very active, and he recognizes it as that last fight when his Jun lost his life. Something has been strong enough to eat through the metal, something that’s fighting back against this intentional shuttering. Now that he’s spotted the corrosion on this memory he quickly begins to see it on others scattered along the lines, none quite so degraded as that first memory, but enough that he can see bits of the motion behind leaking through. This would explain the “dreams” that this Jun has confessed to seeing, even while awake.
A blur of color catches Zephyr’s attention, and tucked into a niche, almost separate from the blocked memories, he finds a new length of line. The supports that help bridge the sections of one’s life are completely unnatural, as though they’ve been jammed into this Jun’s mind by force. Also unlike the lines behind him, some of these memories are fake and others have been tampered with. There’s always a difference with manufactured memories and those that are genuine, the normally white borders of the photos are instead slightly gray, as are the borders of memories that have been manipulated in any way. All of the memories at the far end of this line are gray-framed, and even some of the more recent memories show evidence of tampering.
Also, in stark contrast to the chained and barred memories on the lines behind, every one of the memories hanging here is visible and in full motion. The Selestarri stands for a while, watching as the visions play out, moving slowly down the line. What strikes him is that there are so few memories here, maybe enough for a handful of years, but definitely not enough to cover any real length of time. Also, and maybe more importantly, these memories are almost on a loop, playing out the same scenes over and over. The same places--a bedroom, a dining room, a training area, a place that might be a library--and the same people--a tall Angel he assumes is Saiyuri and a few others. While it’s entirely possible that this Jun simply does the exact same thing every day with the exact same people, there should still be more memories than what he sees here and with more variation. The only ones that depict different scenes are all very recent, one of Jun sprinting down a glittering white street and others showing the rain soaked city and the carriage house. Leaning close to examine the edge of one of the photos, he finds a slim line of the same corrosion he’d seen on the locked memories just along the edge. There are others scattered along the line with similar bits of damage.
So now he knows what’s blocking his Jun’s memories and why some are starting to break free of the barriers, but again he’s left with the question as to why. Why go through all this trouble of implanting a lifetime of memories that are obviously from his Jun only to lock them away? Why force the fake memories into a clone and leave some of them on a kind of loop? Wouldn’t it have been far simpler just to place the fakes and then let new memories accumulate in the normal course of life? Why continue to tamper with his memories?
Easing himself free of the Angel’s mind, Zephyr opens colorless eyes to find the room lit by only one small lamp, the gray light that had seeped in through the edges of the shutters replaced by the dark of night, although the rain continues to beat its cadence against the windows and roof. Turning his head he finds Jun still settled in the other overstuffed chair, and for a long moment the two men simply stare at one another. “I don’t have any answers,” the blonde finally breaks the silence, “only more questions.” The words bring a frown to the other man’s delicate features, he’d obviously been expecting something more concrete. “Here,” Zeph offers, “I’ll show you… ”
Jun: Easing his lithe frame into the overstuffed chair once again, Jun settles back against it and watches as the other man falls still, unsure of what to expect even as the color begins to drain from pitch black eyes and stain the skin beneath. At first there is nothing, then a sensation akin to the fluttering wings of a moth, touching somewhere at the back of his head. He’s surprised to find that it doesn’t feel like an intrusion in any way, instead more like it did when he was locked against the taller man’s body at the door -as if a part of him had been missing and has finally been returned. It’s comfortable almost, in a way that he hasn’t been in a very long time.
When Zephyr pulls back and offers to show him what he’s seen, Jun nods, a second passing before he finds himself watching as he did before, similar to a television show seen through the eyes of another. He sees the blonde step past clotheslines of pinned up Polaroid style pictures, each one plated and locked behind steel chains and padlocks. There’s the corroded memory of the death he’s lived through every night for months, before he follows a line that leads to memories he’s lived every day for the last six hundred years. The Dark explains it all as he goes, his thoughts and the differences between the white bordered memories and those that are a dirty gray and all Jun can do is watch and listen in silence, the expression on his face darkening his pale features with every new thing that’s said.
When the vision comes to an end, the Seeker finds the white haired Angel’s eyes cast on his knees, his fists clenched and balled against the stark white fabric of his pants. “I don’t understand this,” Jun whispers, his lean frame trembling ever so slightly as he speaks. “Those gray pictures that you showed me… that’s my life… I’ve lived it every day for six hundred years. Every day I wake to the sun shining in, every morning I share a meal with Haniel and I drink that god awful bitter coffee that I can barely stand. Every day he rides my ass about waking up later than I’m supposed to. Every day we spend the morning talking. Every day he leaves before me for duty, always reminding me not to be late when I report for my own. Every day I follow. I train, I oversee those beneath me, then I study and report to the Council. Every day I return home to find Haniel there in the evening, every night he tells me how much he loves me and I remember how lucky I am to have him, to be loved by him, and to share his bed. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember… for four hundred years, he and I have done this Every. Single. Day.” Or he thought he did, up until a few months prior when everything began to go wrong.
“But ever since I began having that dream, it’s all changed. I used to remember what it was like before Haniel was there. I used to remember more than that routine…” He used to remember what it was like before the Council allowed their relationship, what he did before he was moved into First House, before he became a Higher, before everything else… but now- “Now I can’t any more. I try, I’ve sat at that table with him for months trying to recall the exact details of when we met or parts of my life and I… I can’t. I know it had to have happened, that my life had to have happened because it’s here-“ Jun unclenches a fist and slides his hand up before pressing it against his heart. “-in here and I feel it to be true, but I just can’t remember it. I can’t remember it at all.” Pink flecked white eyes pull from his knees and rise up, finding the taller man’s colorless own, the same emotion showing in his dual toned depths cracking his quiet tone, “I’ve been trying to remember it for months and I just can’t.”
Pulling his hand from his chest, the Angel shakes his head “Now you’re telling me that it might be a lie. That those memories aren’t real? That what I know in my heart isn’t real? I don’t understand why. If those first memories are real and not the others, why are they blocked? Why do they look like that? Why would any of it look like that?” It doesn’t make sense to him, none of this makes sense at all. “And why can I remember what happened last night, what happened before I stepped into this house but not actually doing it? Why is it that I remember eating that food a few moments ago, that I remember drinking from that glass, that I remember you telling me what you are but I don’t remember you telling me your name. Why don’t I remember-“ Jun’s tirade comes to an abrupt stop and for a moment, he simply stares at the other man, his brows slightly furrowed in contemplative thought.
With a snapping motion, the Angel suddenly unfolds long legs and pushes himself out of the chair, turning away from Zephyr before streaming towards the mantle. His dual toned gaze locked on the fallen pictures, he squats fluidly down before them as he had previously. As he stares at the broken glass, his heart begins racing and there’s something in him that refuses to allow his eyes to move from the shards onto the pictures that lie beneath. With every second that passes, his heartbeat seems to grow louder, pumping faster beneath his chest and making every breath he takes in more difficult than the last. Soon his ears are filled with the sounds of blood rushing, almost deafening in its course and drowning everything else out. Reaching out, he again realizes that he’s shaking, the trembling becoming more violent as he presses on. But as it was before, he just isn’t able to force himself to touch either the frames or the glass or what lies below and before long, that feeling of panic streaks back into him, slicing through his intent with the sharpness of a knife.
With a loud gasp, Jun tears his arm back and his body follows as his mind begins to scream at him to flee. But before he can push himself up as he means to, one wrist is caught then another, his back hitting the Seeker’s chest and his arms quickly folded around his front and locked down at his waist. He can’t feel the taller man’s warm breath as it spills against his hair from behind, or the press of his body as he’s held and prevented from moving, the tall Higher simply struggling against the one securing him, his dual toned eyes wide and frantic with panic while he tries to get away. A few moments pass where Jun fights against the other before he finally begins to come to his senses, his struggles slowly starting to cease.
“Why?” the white haired man breathes when he finally finds himself able to talk, unable to stop his lithe body from sinking against the one holding him as his head drops in the slightest, his heart still racing even as he falls still. “Why can’t I look at them?”
Zephyr: The blonde rises to his feet when the Angel sinks down in front of the shattered photographs, moving to stand silently behind him, colorless eyes trained on his slender frame. Jun slowly stretches out one hand, the tips of his fingers stopping half a foot from one the broken frames. A shudder rips through his body, the strain evident from the set of the muscles in his back, but it’s as if he’s come into contact with an invisible wall. From this vantage point he can see the fear on delicate features and the effort it takes to continue pushing, desperate to touch the photographs even though pink and white eyes aren’t actually looking at them. Some of the pieces begin to click slowly into place just as the panic wins out over the white-haired man’s resolve.
A gasp rips free of the Angel’s throat and he tears his arm away as if he’s been burned, poised to leap to his feet, intent on making a third dash toward the door. Zephyr is ready, however, his hand snapping out to latch around a narrow wrist even as Jun is rising to his full height. The momentum is cut short as the Seeker pulls him in close, securing the other wrist and holding tight. His heart racing and eyes wide with panic, Jun struggles like an animal caught in a trap, frantic to escape at any cost. As he had earlier, the Dark locks down his restraint, waiting patiently for the calming he knows will follow once the panic has run its course.
After a few minutes Jun finally settles down, his shaking frame sinking back against Zephyr’s, the urgency bled out. The questioning in his tone when he asks why, the desperation for something, anything to make sense is heart-wrenching. He feels for the other man, understanding how difficult it must be to suddenly find oneself faced with something of this magnitude. What he thought was his entire life is a lie constructed of carefully planted memories orchestrated in a way to make him believe he’s been living the same life for six hundred years. The reality, that locked inside his head are memories that aren’t his and that someone doesn’t want him to access, must be overwhelming.
The tall Selestarri remains still, his nose pressed into a crown of snow, struck with that same feeling of rightness he’d felt earlier when they were this close. Despite knowing that this Jun isn’t his Jun, his body seems willing to accept someone so familiar, reveling in a sensation he’s been without for ten years. He should let go now that the Angel has regained control, but his arms seem unwilling to comply. Resigned, he settles for answering some of the barrage of questions that had been leveled at him earlier. “Someone has gone through a lot of effort to make sure you only remember one life.” Someone he would be more than willing to bet is Saiyuri, in the masquerade of her old Haniel persona. The idea of her messing with any form of Jun in any way is not one that pleases him. “They went through the trouble of giving you my Jun’s memories, but then locked them away. That’s why they look the way you saw them, the steel, the chains, the padlocks, all of it are meant to keep those memories from you.” Why this Jun was given them in first place is what he can’t understand. It seems like so much effort to keep them under wraps that it certainly would have been easier to simply implant a few desired memories when this clone was created.
Managing to convince his hands to obey, he releases his hold on the Angel’s wrists and steps away, his body immediately protesting the loss of the other man. “It’s probably a safe bet that whoever locked my Jun’s life away also tampered with your current memories. What you feel in your heart isn’t wrong, it’s just been manipulated.” Leaning down he scoops up the photographs, shaking them free of glass before setting them carefully on the mantle. “As you saw, some of those memories are real. You’ve been in the Heavens and you’ve done all those things you described at one time or another.” He’s just done them too many times in the same sequence for it to be entirely natural.
Wetness on the tips of his fingers draws Zephyr’s attention, and he glances down to find that he’s bleeding. He must have cut his fingers on the glass of the broken frames. Even as gray eyes watch the blood trickle slowly, Jun is stepping in close, concern tinting his gaze. “I think they also may have done something to you to make sure you don’t come into contact with certain things,” he continues even as the other man carefully wraps his own hand around and the wounds seamlessly close. “That’s why you can’t look at these pictures or hear my name. It’s like a failsafe that wipes the event from your memory and forces you to run away. Maybe that’s also why you can’t remember other things, either. What’s been placed in your mind simply won’t allow you to.” It’s high level tampering and mind control, but the reasons it’s needed are beyond him. The memories are one thing - implanting the new ones and locking down the old ones, but why the failsafes? It seems like overkill, even for Saiyuri.
The Angel nods, but it’s clear his attention is divided, pink flecked eyes trained on the white scar that runs across his palm. That wound, received when he pulled the broken knife blade from Jun’s chest, had taken a long time to heal, and regardless of the fact that ten years has passed, it hasn’t faded in the slightest. His heart constricts painfully and suddenly he feels very worn and broken, the events of the day beginning to catch up. Zeph gently pulls his hand from the white-haired man’s grip, unable to mask the sadness that passes briefly over his face. “It’s fine,” he promises quietly. “Look we’ve got some answers, but it’s late, and I don’t think we’ll get many more tonight. Let’s see what tomorrow brings … ”