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Darkness Rising

you learned all you know from me

xxxHoLiC, 'Hospitality', mostly gen:

"Always the same, a servant in my own home," Watanuki grumbles as he slowly unfolds from his seat on the veranda, swiping the sake tray as he turns around. If his hand trails across Doumeki's shoulder and through his hair as he passes, it's only because he's had a bit too much to drink and his legs are stiff from sitting so long, causing him to lean off-balance.

"Bring some more pickles," Doumeki reminds him, turning his head so that his voice follows after Watanuki's hand.

"'Not at all, Lord Watanuki, your hospitality is gracious and your culinary skills are without peer, how ever shall I repay you' IS WHAT HE SHOULD BE SAYING." Watanuki's griping, as usual, can be clearly heard no matter how many walls and sliding screens separate him from the object of his ire.

Doumeki wonders if the fact that these indignant ravings are the sound he finds most comforting is a sign of impending insanity. Then he thinks of Yuuko, and wonders if Watanuki didn't go round the bend first in self-defense.

Doumeki smiles as he drains his cup. Watanuki's always been crazy, really; it just took him a while to grow into it properly.

...the OCs took over @ 11:35 p.m. on Friday, May 27, 2011.
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in these shoes?

FFVII, AF: Zack, Sephiroth, and Elise; gen

Zack heralded his entrance, as usual, with a bang as he flung the door to Sephiroth's office wide open.

"Guess what?"

"What."

"No, really, you have to guess."

Ah, the fun part. "Ahm... you finally remembered where you parked Palmer's car."

"Nope. Good try, though."

"You've been demoted or reassigned and are no longer my problem."

"No, and ouch, man."

"Oh, I'm sure." Sephiroth narrowed his eyes and stopped pretending to read the paper in front of him. "What."

"Damn, General Grouchypants. Fine, I just wanted to let you know that I have been approved for a full week's paid leave!" Zack beamed at him as if this were the best news he could expect to hear all year.

Actually, Sephiroth reflected, the prospect of having Zack out of his hair (both figuratively and not-so) really was good news. Palmer was narrowing the field of suspects in the disappearance of his car rather quickly; in a couple of days Zack would probably have to disappear anyway if he didn't want a new career as a hood ornament.

"No kidding. Whose office did you have to booby-trap to swing that?"

"Now c'mon, man, you don't really think--"

"I know. Whose."

"Uh, Hojo's, actually...."

"...I should kill you myself. It would be the merciful thing to do."

"Elise helped." Delivered in the same tones a ten-year-old would use to share the blame for setting the kitchen on fire. (Which was also a regular occurrence, just not something that Elise ever participated in.)

"Lovely. So she'll be off with you, then?" As if Palmer's missing car weren't enough. Sephiroth couldn't help but suspect that Hojo must have something particularly unpleasant planned for his favorite super-soldier, knowing that the twins would be out of the way. Oh joy. "When are you leaving?"

"Tomorrow morning. Now guess who else is coming."

"...No."

"Oh yes. Pack your bags, my friend, we've got a family reunion to crash." Sephiroth's train of thought made it as far as I hope he's talking about his own relatives, because Reno's don't like strangers before the first part of the sentence brought it to a screeching halt.

"There is no way in hell--"

"--That anyone would let you go, I know, I know, but you're due for a special mission to the middle of nowhere, didn't you get the memo?" Zack grinned, that special grin that usually meant HazMat teams or a home-cooked dinner (often both and not in that order). Sephiroth found himself wondering whether being stuck here with Hojo was really the more daunting option.

"Middle of nowhere, you said?" His voice sounded very far away, as if someone else were having the conversation. He wished that were the case.

"Extremely."

"Special mission?"

"Yup. Some nasty monster or other. We'll find one, don't worry-- and we'll still have plenty of time left to hang with the relatives. Man, I can't wait! The food is going to be amazing!"

"Zack, where exactly do you live?" Please, please let it be within a day's hike of civilisation.

"Oh, he crawled out of a bog or something-- all that chemical waste, we keep telling the developers it's a problem, but they never listen. And look what it got us."

Sephiroth flicked a sharp glance over Zack's shoulder, to see Elise leaning against the doorframe. "You. This was your idea."

"Look who's been paying attention in class." She grinned and pushed past Zack, elbowing him as she snagged the empty chair in front of Sephiroth's desk and flopped into it sideways. She propped her stack of file folders on her knees and whipped out a sheet from the one on top. "Now, we won't worry your pretty head with the details--"

"--You'd better not. Plausible deniability is all I've got left these days." Zack looked far too pleased to hear that, Sephiroth thought.

"Yes yes. As I was saying, you just show up here," she passed him the piece of paper, "and have a bag packed with the items suggested on that list."

He scanned it quickly. "I am not going anywhere that requires the use of cactuar repellent."

Zack's grin turned sheepish. "Um, that's more of a general precaution everyone takes when the youngest cousins are around," he explained.

"I'm starting to wonder if actually hunting monsters in a swamp for the whole week wouldn't be more relaxing," Sephiroth muttered, glaring at Elise. She added insult to injury by laughing and shaking her head.

"Absolutely not. Camping with Zack? I know you've campaigned together, but even when he's not scrambling for survival in enemy territory, he gets a bit adventurous with the hunting and gathering."

"Hey, I kill it, I eat it. Usually tastes pretty good."

The look on Elise's face told Sephiroth all he needed to know. "Right. Family reunion it is." Something else occurred to him at the last second. "Zack."

"Yeah boss?" Oh, he knew he'd gotten away with murder. Sephiroth wished he could do the same.

"When I show up tomorrow, at the designated location, I had better not see Palmer's car waiting to take us wherever-the-hell we're going. And the reason it will not be there will be because it has been returned to its owner. Do you understand?"

"Aw..."

"Two words, Zack. Touch Me."

Elise positively lit up. "Oh, awesome. Do you know how brilliant it would be if we actually brought Zack home as a slimy frog? We could carry him around in a shoebox all week!"

She looked so enthused by the idea that Zack edged away from her. "Okay, okay, geez. Gotcha. Don't look so excited, sis!"

Sephiroth raised his eyebrows in speculation. "I don't know, I'm starting to think that's a pretty attractive idea...."

"Okay, I'm leaving now and when I get there tomorrow I don't want to see anything frog-like within a hundred yards, got it?" Zack had edged his way around to the door. Elise jumped up out of the chair, files in one arm, and grabbed his elbow with the other.

"Not so fast, mister. You've got a car to relocate. See you tomorrow," she called to him over her shoulder, with a smile that was far too cheerful to be reassuring.

Sephiroth listened to them snipe at each other until the elevator doors closed. He massaged his forehead with one hand, looking at the sheet of 'instructions' with a definite feeling of foreboding. Some small traitorous part of him was furtively pleased at the prospect of going somewhere new that didn't involve ShinRa business, but he refused to allow himself to be too optimistic about a vacation that required the possession of cactuar repellent, a Poison materia, smoke bombs, and swimming trunks.

...the OCs took over @ 08:03 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2010.
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tell me another

Gundam Wing/31 Days: 3-16-09, 'Iíll keep the lights out, Iíll tell you fairy tales'

(...IDK, it's like the Canadian Shack only with a Pitch Black Room. EXPOSITION WHAT IS THAT YOU SAY)

It was dark. Not just dark, but black, couldn't see your hand before your face utter nothingness. Duo had only experienced such total darkness once or twice before, and as the memories came complete with cramped spaces and blinding fear, he wasn't really a fan.

This time, however, he had company-- which helped, especially since they weren't in danger of running out of oxygen, but also threatened to drive him crazy even faster than the darkness because Wufei wouldn't stop fidgeting.

"Wufei, for the thousandth time, man, would you cut that out?" Duo nearly snapped as the other pilot elbowed him in an attempt to-- well, Duo wasn't sure what the hell he was doing.

"Maxwell, if I don't move around at least a little bit I'm going to lose all sense of physical orientation in this pit," Wufei ground out. "It's extremely disconcerting." True, they had been in more-or-less forced sitting positions long enough for numbness to set in, but for Wufei, that was a major admission of weakness. Duo was impressed.

"Okay, fair enough. Then in the interest of maintaining the sanity of both parties, why don't we sit elbow-to-elbow or something? Then we'll each have an anchor without risking a foot in the face or anything."

"Fine." A short flurry of rearranging limbs, and they were settled.

"Good?" Duo asked, solicitous of the other pilot's comfort (after all, there was a good chance they'd be stuck here for hours, and he really didn't want to go down in the logs as having instigated his own demise).

"Yes." Clipped. Duo figured extracurricular chitchat was not going to be well-received, but he'd accommodated Wufei's peace of mind so now it was Wufei's turn. Oh well.

"Okay, I'm not gonna sit here and twiddle my thumbs all day until our guys find door number three or whatever, so I'm giving you a chance to pick the topic of conversation here. Any thoughts?"

Wufei sighed the sigh of the long-suffering. Duo resisted the urge to stomp on his foot. "Well... it is going to be awhile, so we might as well try something challenging."

"Like what, naming every constellation we can think of?"

"No, challenging. That's just long."

"Soooo... I dunno, man, just start with something." Duo rolled his shoulders and rubbed his knees, bumping against Wufei's shins in the process. Wufei bumped back, tapping his feet against the floor, and cleared his throat.

"Fairy tales, then. We can take turns reciting the ones we remember. Shall I start?"

"I'm all ears, man." Duo settled back to listen, hoping they'd be freed relatively soon or else that it was a really freaking long story, because he had no tale to tell-- just disjointed images from Bible stories long past recalling. And wouldn't Wufei be thrilled, when he found out he'd set himself up to be the one talking nonstop; it was too bad Duo wouldn't be able to see the expression on his face.

...the OCs took over @ 10:01 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
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'til it's gone

Saiyuki Gaiden/31 Days: 3-3-09, 'that unnoticed & that necessary'

The first few times Goku runs off and disappears for a while, Konzen is simply grateful for the reprieve. He enjoys a few quiet and completely undisturbed hours in his office, frowning over his work. Goku always turns up in time for his next meal, anyway, and is usually so full of chatter about his escapades that Konzen threatens to make him sleep outside if he doesn't put a sock in it.

There comes a day when Goku fails to turn up in the evening, clamoring for food. Konzen looks up suddenly from his desk to see the light slanting long and pink through latticed windows, and realizes the whole day has passed in silence. It's actually disconcerting. He leaves without bothering to check that everything is in order for tomorrow, and heads straight to Tenpou's office.

"Goku? No, I haven't seen him at all today," is Tenpou's answer, pushing his glasses back up on his nose as he blinks at Konzen. "Kenren?"

"Whassat? Oh, it's you." Kenren materializes from behind a giant stack of-- what, exactly, Konzen's not sure, but it looks like mostly junk and old policy manuals-- and ambles over to sit on the edge of Tenpou's desk. "Where's the brat?"

Konzen rolls his eyes while Tenpou smiles as if Kenren's just performed a new trick. "Well, that's what we'd like to know. But you've been here all afternoon, so you probably haven't seen him either." Kenren chuckles as he picks up a still-smoking cigarette from Tenpou's ashtray. Taking a drag, he looks thoughtfully at the smoke rising towards the ceiling before contradicting him.

"Actually, I think I heard some yelling earlier this morning directed at a 'smelly, slithery little demon'... coming from the water gardens, it was." Kenren grins at Konzen and cocks his head. "Maybe he's developed a taste for fish."

Konzen resists the urge to bang his head against the doorframe, and wonders if perhaps he's better off just waiting to see whether Goku turns up in the morning. That small sliver of worry has already dug in, however, and he resigns himself to tromping around outside in the dark like an idiot. He's nearly toppled by Kenren, who claps him on the shoulder as he pushes by, followed by Tenpou. "Well, come on then, let's grab some lanterns and see if yelling 'fresh meat buns' lures him in."

Konzen blinks. It's Kenren's turn to roll his eyes. "What, you thought we weren't coming with? That's cold, even for you." He turns away, waving one hand over his head. "You take the orchards, we'll start with the water garden and work our way around the edge. Meet outside near the audience hall, 'kay?" And that's that.

So Konzen's still tromping around outside in the dark like an idiot, but at least he's not the only one. After about half an hour of walking beneath sweet-smelling fruit trees, all of which fail to yield a fruit-pilfering Goku (even after the few times he's called out for him), Konzen makes his way back. He sees two points of light waiting for him beneath the towering pillars of the audience hall, and feels something sink in the pit of his stomach. When he finally walks up to Tenpou and Kenren, breathing rather harder than he feels is dignified, he's in a truly sour mood.

Suddenly, Tenpou's attention is drawn upwards to a point over Konzen's head. He's about to ask what Tenpou sees when--

"OOF."

Tenpou's eyes widen with surprised laughter that's almost as loud as Kenren's, as Goku practically flattens his guardian in his descent from the eaves. The lantern goes out as he hits the paving-stones, and he feels small hands patting his shoulders and arms as Goku's irrepressible babbling breaks over him like a flood. "Konzen, Konzen are you okay? I swear I didn't really jump all the way from the roof, I was just up there on the post-thing watching you and I wanted to surprise you, Konzen please don't be too mad, I wanted to show you what I found--"

"GOKU."

Goku snaps his mouth shut so fast his teeth click together, eyes wide and staring at Konzen with a mixture of apprehension and glee. Konzen can't even decide where to start, he's so-- so--

"Let's move this party inside, guys, I'm dying of thirst," Kenren interjects, dipping down to scoop up the fallen lantern as he walks past with Tenpou. "Come on, monkey, we're gonna have to toss you into another fish pond just to clean you off."

"You better not! I already--" Goku looks up at Konzen and swallows, deciding to err on the side of caution at least until he's closer to a safe hiding place. Konzen sighs, tries to ignore his growing headache, and carefully stands up. Goku walks mostly-backwards in front of him as they follow their friends across the courtyard, occasionally hollering at Kenren to slow down. By the time they arrive back at Konzen's rooms, he's already tuned out Goku's commentary and relegated it to the level of inconsequential background noise, so he doesn't hear the question until Goku stops in his tracks and nearly gets stepped on.

"What is it now?"

"I said, are you still mad at me?" Goku still looks a bit worried, but also curious.

"...Next time you decide to disappear for an entire day, tell someone first," Konzen grumbles. "Now wash your hands before you get anything to eat."

Goku talks up a storm for the rest of the evening. Konzen doesn't say anything.

...the OCs took over @ 09:56 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
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living on a prayer

Gundam Wing/31 Days: 3-2-09, 'a lover as faithful as guilt'

Borrowed time. They were all living on borrowed time, really, and deep down Duo felt he'd been using his up ever since Solo left him. Lately he'd begun to wonder, a kind of constant baseline hum in his subconscious, just when it was going to run out. Every morning he woke up faintly surprised. It should be soon; he was running out of ways to try to atone for everything he'd done. From the day he first took control of Deathscythe he'd felt closer to his own end, but not quite the master of it. Death was his constant companion, his partner, his friend. One day it would stake a more permanent claim.

Duo had always known: Death was the only lover as faithful as guilt.

...the OCs took over @ 09:53 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
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going nowhere fast

Weiss Kreuz/31 Days: 3-2-09, 'a lover as faithful as guilt' [snippet, hopefully to be expanded later]

Schuldig still thought it was monstrously unfair that Crawford got to have one-night stands while he was forbidden to even go bar-hopping unsupervised. Crawford's explanation had been that while he was capable of being discreet and disappearing completely afterwards, Schuldig never could resist playing with his food. "The last thing we need right now is a trail of drooling lunatics scattered across the Tokyo club scene," he'd said. Schuldig wondered how that was different from the status quo.

Besides which, it was just as monstrously unfair that he was stuck in a luxury apartment with the three people whose minds he /didn't/ want to touch. Nagi had learned how to retaliate with nasty accuracy, so no fun there anymore. Crawford had never let him in to begin with, and Farfarello... well, he was tons of fun but spending more than a few moments in his head gave Schuldig a migraine.

...the OCs took over @ 09:49 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
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Spring

12 Kingdoms/31 Days: 3-1-09, 'love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself'

It was like early spring, Gyousou thought. One never knew quite how the weather would behave: It could be warm and sunny all morning and by mid-afternoon a cold wind could blow up clouds full of rain, and the next day would be stormridden. Frost might surprise the beginnings of green things and freeze them, forcing them to start all over again. All one could do was hope for the best... and keep several different sorts of clothing at hand, just in case.

Last week there had been a few cloudy days, but mostly Taiki had been cheerful and willing to engage with those around him. This week had started out balmy and promising, but yesterday there had been a sudden freeze. His kirin had nearly broken down during an audience, and ever since had refused to leave his quarters. Gyousou hadn't the foggiest idea what had brought on this particular mood, but he figured bringing Taiki a tray of his favorite foods couldn't hurt. Waving the servants away, he set the offering down on the veranda where Taiki was rigidly seated. He kicked off his slippers with a sigh of relief and sat, dangling his feet over the edge as he reached for a dish of red and yellow cherries.

"Would you like some?" He proffered one to Taiki. Not meeting Gyousou's eyes, Taiki turned his head slightly and mumbled something that might have been a no-thank-you.

Gyousou frowned ever so faintly. This was unexpected. Not to be defeated, he tried the almond pastry.

"It's very kind of you, Master Gyousou, but I'm not hungry," Taiki said to his hands, which were folded in his lap.

"When your appetite decides to return, is there something in particular that you'd like?" Taiki bit his lip, and Gyousou decided to press his luck. "Whatever you want, I will find a way to procure it for you." Ah. That was an almost-smile, he'd bet his sword on it.

"...Anything, really?"

Gyousou turned to face Taiki, tucking his feet up and putting on his best gentle expression, just as Renrin had (laughingly) coached him. "Do you miss things from Hourai sometimes, Kouri?" He could tell by Taiki's startled-deer look that he'd discovered at least part of the problem.

"I... know it's strange. I was so unhappy, but now that I'm here, I find myself thinking of the things-- little, insignificant things-- that weren't so bad," Taiki admitted, hands twisting in his lap as if he were confessing to something truly awful.

Gyousou smiled and lifted a cherry from the delicate bowl, twirling it by the stem. "There's nothing so strange about that," he said. "People want to be happy, no matter where they find themselves. You may not have realized it at the time, but now that they are gone, you find yourself missing those things that made you feel a little better-- even if they were small and fleeting." Taiki looked at him as if he'd suddenly begun speaking an unintelligible language, and Gyousou shrugged. "Miserable as exile was, I can tell you that I've never appreciated a bath quite so much as those few times I came across hot springs in the wilderness." He reached over and handed the cherry to Taiki, who cupped his hands around it and looked at Gyousou with faint disbelief.

"So, would that be why you seem to prefer the outdoor baths?"

Gyousou couldn't quite stop his smile turning into a laugh. "Probably. I certainly never used to enjoy them in midwinter. Now, tell me, little one: What do you miss?"

"...I missed you calling me that," Taiki whispered and at once looked horrified at himself for having said such a thing out loud. Gyousou lifted a hand to Taiki's forehead and brushed the now-shaggy bangs away from his eyes, waiting for Taiki to look up.

"Well, you're not so little anymore," he said. "But since you're still shorter than me, I suppose it's still appropriate." And there, finally, that watery smile was what he'd been trying to coax from his kirin for weeks.

Later, after the tray was mostly emptied of its contents, Gyousou handed Taiki the last cup of tea and asked once more: "What do you miss, from Hourai?"

Taiki swirled his tea thoughtfully, tilting the cup this way and that. "It feels silly, but... I used to like fried mushrooms, when they were in season. And hot chocolate, when it snowed."

"En Taiho would be happy to look for them for you, I'm sure," Gyousou replied. "I'll make sure he brings back enough to share."

"That would be wonderful," Taiki said, leaning back against a wooden column. "But there's no reason to ask just yet-- the weather's getting too warm for those things anyway." He stretched his legs, letting his own bare feet swing from the veranda alongside Gyousou's.

...the OCs took over @ 09:40 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
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looking for even more trouble

Saiyuki RELOAD/31 Days: 4-30-07, 'searching for the future'

Lilies flashed bright in the sunlight refracted from the surface of Kanzeon Bosatsu's reflecting pool. The Merciful Goddess leaned precariously far over the edge, hir heavy pendant dangling a hair's breadth above the water.

Jiroshin frowned, puzzled. It was strange for his mistress to exhibit such, well, active interest in the pool's relay of events. He looked on in growing consternation as se chewed on a fingernail. "What are you looking at?" he asked.

"A bunch of headless chickens, apparently. It's a real shame I can't add a more personal touch to all the mess those boys have put themselves in." Se settled back and crossed hir legs, gold circlets clashing softly. "But let's have something to drink and enjoy the show, because it's going to be quite entertaining."

"Oh, dear." Looking over hir shoulder, Jiroshin decided that he might need a splash of something stronger in his tea.

...the OCs took over @ 03:41 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2007.
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on an april afternoon

I wrote this with the intent to post in the relevant community but missed the deadline. Surprise, surprise.

12K/31 Days: 4-29-07, 'in the garden, like an immortal'

Taiki watches his master and Shoryu in the water garden pavilion, standing straight and still as statues facing across the lake. How different they look, he thinks, glancing over at Enki, who is sprawled snoring on the moss, the wreckage of a springtime feast on the tray at his feet. Taiki's own state isn't much better, his shoes kicked off and his robes wrinkled from sitting on the ground. Their emperors must be discussing some grave and important matter, he imagines, to be so attentive and quiet. Only the birds' conversation is audible.

But Gyousou proves Taiki wrong as he suddenly tips his head back and laughs, a wonderful, warm, and ringing sound which Taiki loves even more than the sight of his smile. Shoryu's grin is as lazy as his kirin, and Taiki is glad that he himself, at least, is awake to enjoy such a rare moment.

...the OCs took over @ 01:24 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2007.
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in memory and dreams

xxxHOLiC/31 Days: 4-29-07, 'in the garden, like an immortal'

It was one of those odd, singular moments which often happened around Watanuki, though Doumeki hadn't realized that until he was already in the middle of it. He was never quite sure whether he'd dreamed some parts, or all of it, or none; all that was certain was the sliding, floating feeling of its memory in his mind's eye.

Doumeki had happened-- just happened-- to be out walking on a late November evening, when he took a turn around the shrine gate and saw the ghostly glow between the trees. He'd followed it to the edge of the pond, moonlight making paper-trails of white beneath the branches.

Watanuki stood on the high, small bridge, before a great shimmering vision: a golden koi, eyes like harvest moons and scales like polished mirrors. No words reached Doumeki's ears, but standing under the trees he heard a sound like the sighing of waves on some distant shore, or the rushing of a river flowing towards another world. It settled beneath his skin, in his head and his heart, a peculiar calm that suddenly expanded until he felt as if the whole universe was spread smooth and glassy beneath his feet, and Watanuki was its only occupant.

And Doumeki thought, perhaps, he'd always existed just for this moment, to stand here and watch Watanuki converse with eternity by moonlight.

It was the strangest feeling, to casually contemplate the possibility of one's raison d'etre being so fleeting and without apparent meaning. Is it something like love, he wondered. Is that why poets prize sakura blossoms so highly?

Then the wind shifted, the moonlight dimmed, and the apparition vanished. Watanuki sighed, irritated.

"What are YOU doing here?"

Doumeki had no answer.

...the OCs took over @ 01:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2007.
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Odessa Castle

bishink

Vejiitasei Ascendant

Tokyo Roadkill

Gunmetal Song

Shousetsu Bang*Bang

Didodikali's Lemonade Party

Reno & Rude

Eukaryotic Cell Division

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