"Modern myth".

How to train your dragon, Toothcup.

By: Sinattea.

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Disclaimer: Cressida Cowell owns the book series, Dreamworks owns the movies. I own nothing but this AU.

Note: So… I'm not dead yet… sadly. Uhm… I finished college, and… hate christmas season…

Yeah that would be all.

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Chapter 36:

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It was a long way back to Sunstone. Evelyn questioned each and every one of them, insisting on what their purposes were and why was it they wanted to be part of this odyssey. But then, before they really got to answer, she would change the topic to something completely unrelated, and five minutes later, without realizing, the teens themselves had redirected the conversation back to the original question and confessed their true motives.

Yes, maybe Evelyn had frowned at them when Snotlout had mentioned he wanted to impress Astrid, or when then twins went for the thrill, but in the end all of their intentions turned to be born out of friendship and loyalty (and yes, dreams of adventure, but who could blame them).

The Evelyn who went to the clearing with them was a totally different person from the one who came downhill and back to Sunstone. Everybody was a little confused, but glad to see they've managed to produce a change of heart in her. More confused they were when she insisted on learning their names instead of their nicknames. And even more confused when, back at the manor, she invited them in for a cup of tea while waiting for Hiccup and Toothless.

- This is… uhm… odd – Astrid confessed after she served them.

- How come? – Evelyn inquired.

- You pointed a gun at us, and now you're serving us tea – Ruffnut dared to speak.

To everyone's surprise, Evelyn reacted with a laugh.

- Oh, for god's sake, one thing is to hold the gun and an entirely different one is to actually use it. You can ask Dean.

- You have pointed guns at him? – Astrid was kinda freaked out, and that did nothing but amuse Evelyn even more.

- Yes I have, but every single time he deserved it. And he knows that I wasn't serious.

- Seemed pretty serious to me – muttered Tuffnut, earning the first glare from the fancy lady. But as the gang quickly realized, that glare wasn't serious at all.

- You all met Dean in his antagonistic days – she clarified as she put down the teapot -. It's a façade, that's how we work. If I didn't look as menacing as you guys thought I was, I would do a terrible job in protecting Dean.

- Well that makes a lot of sense – admitted Fishlegs.

- See? Do not judge a book by its cover. But don't get to comfortable either, you still do not read the whole content – she added when she saw, through the corner of her eye, Snotlout and Tuffnut almost put down their cups on the sofa's armrests.

They immediately thought better of it and opted for placing the cups on the table and using their respective cupholders and napkins. Ruffnut had to drown her laughter with both hands before the sudden and sloppy good manners of her brother.

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It was passed nightfall when the Night Fury seemed to materialize at the front door. Fishlegs was ecstatic because he'd been looking through the window in hopes of catching a glimpse of Toothless at all times, and still hadn't seen him coming at all. "All the stories about Night Furies' stealth are true" he squealed.

They hurried inside the house, closing the door and activating the alarm behind them, as it was habit.

Toothless was hybrid and with the saddle still strategically strapped around his body. He headed for the closest bathroom to put some clothes on, but Ruffnut called him before he could get out of sight.

- Toothless! – he stopped and turned to look at her. The twin girl smirked mischievously -. N-I-I-I-C-E – she grinned as she studied the dragon-boy from head to toes -. I can see why Hiccup likes you.

- You're such an idiot! – Toothless' face turned bright red, his voice high-pitching as he tried to cover his body with his hands and ran away.

The girl burst out laughing, and when Hiccup gave her a hit on the back of the head, it did nothing but increase her laughter until she was on the floor, rolling and with tears in her eyes.

- That was SO inappropriate – reprimanded Astrid, although it sounded pretty fake because frankly she couldn't not agree with her best friend.

- What? Everybody knows I crushed on Toothless his first weeks at BHS. Aaaand he rejected me. I deserved a little vengeance.

- You're such an idiot – gritted Hiccup as well, flushed red.

- Why? I only approved of your boyfriend's body. Who would've thought he was that ripped?

- Gee, Ruff, shut up! – begged Tuffnut, covering his ears.

Too late, she and Astrid were already laughing as much as their lungs allowed them, making comments about eight-packs and being shredded. And when Fishlegs was inevitably reminded of a sci-fi gag because of that, there was just no way to stop them.

Hiccup had to get out of the room to escape the laughter.

It seemed like fate when he walked straight into the kitchen, where Evelyn was nursing Snotlout, cleaning a small wound on the back of his head that Hookfang caused when he threw the boy off his back. But it had been worth it, as he wouldn't stop reassuring.

Hiccup sat by his cousin's side and made the proper introductions ("Aunt, cousin, cousin, aunt"), which certainly summoned an unwanted awkwardness in the ambiance, and which could only be overcome by Snotlout's excitement when he told Hiccup how he, with Fishlegs' invaluable help, had come up with the plan to earn the dragon's respect and establish a certain dominance over Hookfang. Hiccup could tell right away that the plan was actually Fishlegs', but he wouldn't be the one to burst his cousin's bubble; not that day. Evelyn, on the other hand, didn't lose opportunity to remind Snotlout that dragons didn't take masters per se, but companions, partners, friends. She even dared to throw in a joke: "and, in some cases, boyfriends", much to the dismay of the two boys. She had a good laugh at their expense.

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Later, once Toothless got fully clothed (with saggy sweatpants, a turtle-neck shirt and a black hoodie because he had some dignity to protect), and after the fifteen minutes it took Evelyn to get him and his shame out of the bathroom, they all gathered in the living-room. It was a scene pretty similar in looks to that of the day Green Death had showed up, less than a month ago, but it felt the total opposite. This time they were actually in the mood to address the pool amidst the living room, and how awesome it was.

Ruffnut even gave in to the temptation and asked if she could get her feet on the water.

- Sure, Kristen, make yourself at home – replied Evelyn.

Ruffnut felt incredibly weird to hear her real name, but honestly she wasn't going to complain, until Tuffnut started laughing out loud, a gesture the twin girl quickly silenced "Shut up, TJ! Or do you want me to tell everyone what the T and the J stand for?". The threat did the trick really good.

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Now it was time to get as serious as the situation demanded.

- I guess I can no longer keep you off this secret – admitted Evelyn, crossing her arms and leaning on the sofa with the elegance of a fairy queen -. I must confess I am deeply impressed: it's the first time someone finds out this much without giving Dean away.

- You mean it's the second time – murmured Hiccup, dignified. Evelyn sighed.

- The second time. What is it with Berk and weirdness? You seem to like it very much.

- Did you just call me weird?

- You're half-dragon, Dean, I cannot use the word "normal" to describe you. As I hope I cannot use it to describe any of you either. You are now involved in something really extraordinary. I expect you to be every bit as much.

- We will try, that's for sure – guaranteed Astrid, diplomatic.

Fishlegs kept mumbling to himself how amazing the whole deal was while live whatsapping everything to his girlfriend.

Evelyn gave him a disapproving look, but made no comments. Noticing the gesture, Astrid had the caution to turn off her phone and subtly prompted Ruffnut to do the same.

- Well – continued Evelyn -, if we are to take this issue as seriously as it merits, you must be aware that now that you know so much about dragons, there are people who may know just as much about you.

Toothless' shoulders tensed up as he unconsciously took a step forward.

- Evelyn – he looked at her dead in the eye -, tell me you didn't call them.

- Yes, I did. And they will come.

- Evelyn – he said through gritted teeth.

- This is not some information leak, Dean – she replied in that authoritative tone of hers, reminiscent of a mother who reprimanded her child -. And this is their call, not yours. Your friends are potential recruits. It is my duty to inform them of what kind of people I have found here in Berk.

- Recruits? – noted Snotlout. He'd heard that word quite often during trial season for the Viking team, he knew what it meant, and it confused him in this specific context.

Toothless' eyes fixed on him and then went back to Evelyn, annoyed because she wouldn't pay him any attention, but more so because she was right and now he felt like a reprimanded kid indeed.

- It's time to tell you another story – she looked away from Toothless, studying the expression of the gathered boys and girls with inquisitive eyes -. By now, I am sure all of you know that I am Dean's protector, a guardian, a custodian, you may say – cue dramatic pause -. Well, I am not the only one. Just as the Hunters exist there is another side to this coin: people like me, determined to protect every myth around the globe. It is our job to keep all mythical creatures a secret, and to stop everyone who tries to hurt them. My father belonged to this network, and now I keep alive his legacy. And I'm telling you this, because if you want to play with dragons, you have to go pro. I will not tolerate this amateur tournament in the backyard – she remarked every single word of hers -. If you really plan on helping Dean, you have to join the major leagues.

- Well, that's a metaphor I can get – grunted Tuffnut, exchanging glances with his twin.

- And, do we have to sign for this… network-league-thingy? – inquired Astrid.

- That is the thing. You have to be invited, and unfortunately I lack the power to extend an invitation. But if I am to make a second phonecall, I need to know you will take this seriously.

- What would that mean for us? I mean, joining this network implies what exactly? – asked Fishlegs.

- Well, first of all, you would receive proper training, both intellectual and physical.

- Physical how? Can it get any more physical than what we did back in the woods? – said Ruffnut.

Evelyn let out a laughter clear as crystal. Oh, the naivety!

- You're learning how to deal with dragons, now you have to learn how to deal with the people who hunt them. Which means you will be learning fencing, archery, martial arts and, obviously, shooting. Among many other things.

- Fencing and archery? What's this? A medieval fair? – the twins were about to start a joke, but were cut off right away.

- If you ever have to fight to help a myth it would be really wise to use weapons that will not make the myth fear you as much as it fears the foe you're trying to defeat – Evelyn stated matter-of-factly, nearly upset to see her words were about to be treated as a joke -. Mythical creatures, in general, are not afraid of weapons of old. Swords, arrows, even axes, they're not half as deadly as legends try to make it seem. However, myths are all terrified of new technologies. And when they are scared, they attack, regardless of anything.

- You can't get through me with a sword, but you easily could with the right shotgun – said Toothless in a frustrated tone of voice before he even realized he was joining the conversation.

- Exactly – Evelyn nodded -. You may wander the woods with sword and shield and, trust me, you will scare dragons much less than if you did with a gun.

- Unless they're Whispering Deaths – reminded Toothless offhandedly.

- Oh, yes, those make no difference between a gun and a hobby horse, they tend to attack on sight. Those dragons are one of the selected few I'd rather face with a gun in hand – she said more to herself than to the guys in the room, still she was quick to rectify her words just in case she hadn't spoken low enough -. But I am an expert and I would not recommend you to do the same ever.

She pointed her finger to emphasize her words, and for some reason she looked at the twins when doing so.

Then Hiccup cleared his throat, slightly dubious.

- Ehm… Have you told your… colleagues about me? – he wondered, looking intently at his aunt.

- They have known about you for quite a while. They want you in, but I was waiting for Dean to be ready to meet them before they could come and interview you both.

- I don't know much about them, as you can see – confessed Toothless.

- You had no real need until now – Evelyn's voice was nearly a whisper for a moment, but quickly regained its usual composure -. But you are right Dean, this issue with Green Death is way too big for us. We will need all the help we can muster. This is too dangerous.

- So now you're listening to what I said like five weeks ago? – he pouted.

- And if you're real lucky I might do in five weeks time what you're suggesting now –she teased.

Hiccup didn't know if Toothless would laugh or get angry as a response to the ill-timed teasing, so he firmly wrapped his hand around Toothless' arm just in case.

- When did you say they were coming? – asked Hiccup.

Everybody looked expectant at Evelyn.

- I need to know you all will be truly committed to this if I am to make the second phonecall.

- Yes – blurted Fishlegs out at once. Astrid had to hold his shoulder in a tight grip to prevent him from jumping off the coach and screaming with glee.

- Not so fast, 'Legs. We really don't know what we're getting into.

- Even I can tell this network thingy's really… dead serious – said Tuffnut.

- It is – affirmed Evelyn.

- And once you're in, you're in forever, right? – said Snotlout.

- Yes.

- One way in, no way out – muttered Ruffnut -. Spooky.

- Basically a mafia – replied her twin.

- This could define our entire future – said Astrid, looking mildly concerned, even though she was screaming internally. However, as a good Viking, she knew quite well how to look cool when the situation required it. That's what reputations are built on.

Evelyn dedicated a condescending smile to each and every single one of them.

- Maybe not your entire future, but it certainly will exert a decisive influence in it. It did not stop me from becoming a surgeon – she explained with calm and sympathy -. It does affect what I spend my money into, but- - -

- Why haven't you and I had this conversation yet? – Toothless couldn't remain quiet any longer, he was severely distressed.

Evelyn had to gulp, taken aback. She was really trying to handle the situation in a proper way, but evidently Toothless was going to react exactly the way she didn't want him to regardless of what she did. She either made things digestible for him or for his friends. It was nearly impossible for her to do both, she wasn't that skilled.

- I know it's hard for you to think about the future. I wanted to wait until you finished high school – she told him in the most comprehensive tone she had ever voiced -. I had no idea you'd meet your arch nemesis before that.

- So I have to make a choice…

- Not right now, of course- - -

- Can't I get a goddamned break? – Toothless exclaimed, upset the most.

He stood up and sprinted out of the room, all the way up the stairs and across the manor to the terrace on the third floor.

Quickly enough, Hiccup followed him. Evelyn wanted to go too, because she felt terrible knowing she was the cause of such dismay, but she knew Hiccup would do a much better job than her in making Toothless feel better.

She laid back on the sofa, mortified.

- No matter what I do I just can't seem to find a proper timing with him.

- This is quite a big deal, it's normal to stress out a bit – reminded Astrid, not only for her friends but for the distressed lady that had just watched her protégé and nephew run away.

Evelyn looked at her, and then at the other curious yet comprehensive faces sitting in her living room, and for the first time ever, she was really grateful that they were there.

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The sky was black as ink, diluted in equal amount with stars and clouds. Toothless liked nights like that, nights in which he could merge with the darkness and fly to his heart's content, happy and carefree. Nights in which, if only for a couple hours, he could turn invisible and pretend that he didn't exist, that no one but himself knew he was there…

He hadn't had that kind of dark thoughts in a while. It made him sad.

The boy laid on a corner of the terrace, his knees pulled up to his chest, his arms crossed upon his knees and his face hiding between his arms.

Hiccup approached quietly, carefully, and only decided to take seat next to Toothless and place his hand on his head because the other boy didn't react to his presence.

- Toothless…

- I thought we were going to sit here in silence for a while – he mumbled, his voice muffled by the arms around his head. Hiccup sighed.

- I thought so too, but I changed my mind. We just had an amazing time flying, and trust me that after that the last thing I want is to see you like this.

Toothless didn't say anything, but he rose his head, willing to listen, although not so willing to look at his boyfriend. Hiccup ran his hand through the black hair, and ended up resting it upon Toothless' shoulder.

- I know you're not okay so I'm not asking you that. But I'd like to know why are you so afraid of making choices.

- I'm not afraid! – Toothless snapped, losing it for a second. Yet his bad mood vanished as suddenly as it had appeared - It's this particular choice that freaks me out…

- Ok. I get it – Hiccup assured -. I know it sounds… critical, and that's creepy, but everybody's willing to give it a shot, and that's because of you. If we do this it's going to be for you, because we care, and we're doing it together. That's gotta count for something.

- That's not the problem.

- Then what is it?

- I know whatever you choose you will make things right, but… I'm not so sure about me… I always knew this would happen, you know? But…

- But?

- But I'm not ready to make any choice – finally the boy fixed those bright green eyes of his into Hiccup's, and they were gleaming with the shine of tears contained -. Yet I feel like if I don't choose right now it'll be too late. It's hard to explain…

- Hey, you don't have to. I understand. After everything you've been through I know perfectly that it's hard for you to visualize any future – Hiccup now placed both hands on the other boy's shoulders, solacing and calming as only he -. We'll work on that. It's ok.

- Hiccup…

- It'll be ok. I promise.

There was a moment of silence. Toothless looked up and gaped at the stars, bright and quiet above his head. How many times had they witnessed this kind of scene?

Hiccup, what do you want to do after high school? – he asked out of the blue.

The Haddock boy was honestly surprised.

- Me?

- Yes, you. It's our last semester…

He had to move back a bit in order to sit comfortably, and he had to scratch the back of his head. At least he wasn't hiccupping for a change.

- Well, I'm… I'm kinda applying to BerkU to study some… I dunno… Mechanical Engineering?

Now Toothless had to look at him.

- Really? I thought you wanted Visual Arts and History. That's what you said on our first date.

- Oh, you still remember what I said on our first date? – said Hiccup, goofy smiled popping on his face.

- Noooo… – Toothless immediately replied, trying to dissimulate -. I mean, it's not like I remember every word… – he lied, unsuccessfully.

- Is that a smile? – teased Hiccup, leaning forward.

- No – the other boy pouted.

- An embarrassed smile?

- Shut up.

Toothless gave Hiccup a slight kick, but even that didn't manage to wipe the goofy smile out. Hiccup only drew his neutral expression back when he redirected the conversation to its original path.

- I was thinking of that – he admitted -, but I like the idea of drawing, you know, like designing and building what I imagine, and helping others with that.

- Like my tailfin – Toothless understood right away.

- Like your tailfin – he nodded, big smile back on his lips -. I'd like to do that. It felt awesome when I helped you fly. Actually, now that I think about it, if I did join Evelyn's network, that would work out nicely.

Toothless straightened up his back, alert yet curious, like a cat whose attention got caught but is still unsure of whether to take a closer look or not.

- How come?

- Think of it. If we are going to protect all dragons in Berk, I could help them just like I helped you. Imagine there are other wounded dragons out there – as Hiccup spoke, he told as much with his hands as he did with his words -. We can find them, calm them down, and I can make prosthetics for them… Something like that. I need to know what this secret society does to come up with more ideas.

- I like how that sounds.

- Good. Just imagine: you and I working together. Travelling around the world, living a life more epic than any book I've ever read. Wouldn't you like that?

- Sounds really good… – the excitement in Hiccup's voice was contagious, so much that Toothless almost drew an expression of pure illusion. Almost - But how can I know that's what our future will be like? How can I know something won't go horribly wrong along the way? – he couldn't help it, being so pessimistic, much less when he was anxious - I've never been so long in one place, what if something happens and I ruin everything and have to leave Berk, what if the Hunters- - -

- Our future will be like that because we will shape it that way – Hiccup cut him off.

- But how can you know?

- I can't, ok? – Hiccup admitted, raising his voice with a hint of exasperation. He would slap this boy into sense if he had to! Well, not a physical slap, a metaphorical one. His newfound determination had to be good for something, right? - Truth is I can't. But I'm telling you this, Toothless: I have one thing very clear about my future, and that is us. No matter what, we're staying together, ok? If things work out the way we plan them, I'm gonna be with you. If they don't, I'm gonna be with you.

For a minute, Toothless' looked fixedly at his boyfriend, a vulnerable and tender expression in his bright green eyes.

- I mean it. It's not up for discussion – insisted Hiccup, confidence evident in his voice and facial expression. Confidence he had never owned before meeting Toothless.

And just like that, Toothless' moment of panic was over.

- I am so in love with you – was everything Toothless could offer as a reply. His eyes went watery, and Hiccup held him tight.

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Evelyn was tempted to go upstairs herself, because the boys had been there for a long time and she honestly had no idea how things were going. Good thing that Fishlegs volunteered to text Hiccup and get some answers before she did anything intrusive. He did get a small reply letting him know that things were under control, and even though he only wrote two letters, it was enough to take the burden off Evelyn's shoulders. "Bless you, Valery, for raising a son so sensible" she said to herself.

Only then was she able to take on the rain of questions that the teenagers had about that mysterious network of hers. And even though she wasn't authorized to reveal much, she did manage to ease their doubts and reach an agreement with them.

- Think of it as some sort of college sorority: you can go on about your lives, but you will always know where you come from, and if necessary, you will know where to go back to. I will not ask you to make any final decision before your graduation, but after prom, we might have a little talk with some of my colleagues. Does that work for you? – she asked them.

- I think we can figure something out by then – nodded Fishlegs -. I mean, we're expected to choose the career we will stick to for the rest of our lives before prom. Seems about the right age to also join the masons or the opus dei.

- Or the illuminati – Astrid joined in on the joke.

They actually managed to draw a genuine smile on Evelyn's face.

- Well, take it from my experience, eighteen really is the age when you have to figure out your entire existence. Otherwise, college wouldn't be a thing.

- I knew it! – Fishlegs raised his chubby fist in the air, dramatically.

- So, if Tuff, Snotlout and I are graduating 'bout a year later, does that mean we get extra time before joinin' the illuminati? – smirked Ruffnut.

- Hilarious, Kristen, you truly are hilarious – smiled Evelyn with hypocrisy.

- What's that supposed to mean?

- It's a big fat no, you genius – translated Snotlout, big fat pout on his face.

Both twins groaned miserably in unison, childish as only they.

Evelyn felt tempted to let herself draw a wicked smile. However, an annoying voice in the back of her head reminded her that there was a boy, possibly locked in his room, whose struggle would be offended if she did, so she did not. It was late at night and her serious mood was far more appropriate for the situation.

She breathed in and stood up.

- I take it they will spend some more time upstairs. You should go home.

- Yeah, it's getting late – agreed Astrid.

They all began taking their jackets. Ruffnut put on her boots. Evelyn escorted them to the door to disable the alarm, but before they got to the door, however, she did surprise them with one last comment.

- Do you have any spare time this weekend?

The gang exchanged confused looks amongst themselves.

- I think so…? – voiced Snotlout.

- I do not wish to interfere with your plans, but I would like to throw a small party, for Dean. You know, you can… hang around the manor, enjoy the pool, watch some films, do… normal stuff. I think Dean really needs it. I will spend friday and saturday night at the hospital, you will have time for yourselves. What do you say?

- Sure, sounds great – smiled Fishlegs.

- We'll bring some snacks, then – added Astrid.

- There'll be no need. But thanks. Thanks.

She pressed the buttons and the door opened on its own with a loud click. The gang went through and straight into their cars, but once they were all buckled up, one by one they looked back at the slim figure standing in the doorframe, waving them goodbye in all politeness. They could still hear her voice saying thank you, and though none of them said a word, a glance at each other was enough to know they all agreed: there was nothing to thank.

Just as Snotlout turned the engine on and stepped on the accelerator, Fishlegs had the courage to wave back at Evelyn, and he felt a surge of genuine happiness when she smiled.

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Another note: You wanna know the worst part? Half this chapter was already written like two years ago (in my defense, I published the last chapter two weeks before my grandpa died, so… shit literally happened), and the other half like a year ago, but I have this rule that I don't publish unless I'm one chapter ahead so I have some… cushion, you could say, to fall onto, and guess what? I AM. STILL. NOT. ONE CHAPTER. AHEAD!

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But Hesperydes sneaked into my tumblr inbox, right after a post about people updating fanfics after like three years, and things happened. Now here we are.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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DragonTemeraire, Kigen Dawn, animelovernewbie, Ern Estine 13624,

WarriorCATS fan, HELGHASTMAJOR, Flaredra, AliceCullen3,

A-Considerate-Dragon, Roalind, H.T. Foest, Ancientathens,

TheSilentFury, Lovely Shipper 3, Triforce Dragons, Bearhug01,

Rayvin587, Mousettezz, KawaiSonadowLover10, Niarunne,

QueenoftheSnows, jjongtaeying, TheNaturalLlama3,

Silverskrill Elysia, Hanyou Mage, WolkaiserDrake, Puro the Dark Latex.

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You know? Sometimes I forget I have a heart, at all, and reading these reviews after so long… I DO have one, you bring it back to life. BLESS YOU ALL MY BEAUTIFUL READERS! T^T

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P.S.: If anyone can think of a good name for this chapter, be my guest!