Story Title: Trials of a Dreamless
Chapter Title: Inescapable Past Relationships
Story Summary: Bestowed upon the characters of this world is a Dream Diary— a device that helps you attain one’s dream. Yet what if you don’t have a dream? Can loving someone be considered a dream? Now, is falling in love with you ex even possible? What about time? Time flies— whether or not you have fun.
Disclaimer: Those who have followed my previous blog will notice that this story is ‘Diary of the Dreamers and Dreamless‘. However, it’s incomplete in my old blog and I’ll be continuing it here. The title has changed because the plot has taken a turn for what I think is the better— plus, the revamped title suits the plot better. I’ll release this chapter as a teaser that shows that I’m still continuing the story.
Status: Plot Beta’d.
Footsteps rung through the narrow alley— increasing in both speed and sound. The person was panting, but he knew he couldn’t stop. Will he get to stop? He didn’t know. When he was out, he banged each door and rung each bell he passed. He was desperate for a safe haven. Yet no one was heeding his frantic movements. He turned right at the next street just to realize he gave up what was left. The street was dimly lit by dilapidated street lights and there wasn’t any form of life. He couldn’t turn back or he’d be meeting what he feared— death. He continued running— hoping he’d be able to keep what was his.
The dreaded dead end awaited the boy. “Nightmare.” He muttered to himself as he read that last message on his phone— ultimately his last words. The phone was knocked out of his hand, trampled on, crushed. The night became silent and the concrete wall stained with crimson blood that trickled to the ground. The killer grinned in delight as the weapon phased into the killer’s arm. A paper swished down from the killer’s pocket as he/she disappeared.
Click. Grail attained.
The hallway was buzzing with news about the recent Nightmare case. Same signature was left at the scene of the crime— a picture of a thorny-vine-wrapped grail. It was a signature that had been appearing too often— a serial killer perhaps? The students knew who had been Nightmarized— a student from their school under the name Naoi. He was well-known for his enthusiasm and ambition. His ambition was to be part of a rock band— an ambition secretly shared by the students of ASA. His enthusiasm towards his ambition is what also led him to his downfall. In the music industry, it’s a dog eats dog world— people willing to do anything to gain the contract, even if it meant killing the competition— literally. What was suspicious about this case was that there was no underlying psychological aspect that hinted the killer wanted to be in the music industry. Contact details of different music companies that were in the victim’s wallet weren’t taken. The guitar in the scene was intentionally stained with blood, which destroyed the sound board. So really, why?
Ailia continued walking. She didn’t slow down to listen to the gossip— it didn’t interest her. She had other things in mind, which were contained in the folder wrapped in her arms. It was an urgent matter as the teacher-in-charge ordered her to report to HQ immediately. She took a final glimpse at her music player— 11:49am: Briefing of New Mission. She swiped her identification card that allowed her access into HQ. She passed by different rooms, not bothering to look into any of them. She had one destination and one destination only— the briefing room.
Atria Specialized Academy, commonly called ASA, was an academy for a special group of students. On the outside, it’s considered a normal elitist school that had high standards. Behind that facade, a group known as ASA’s Dreamless team fought the major evil doings of ASA students and alumni. Because ASA isn’t your normal special academy, it’s a school that houses students that possess a Dream Diary— having a Dream Diary grants you entrance to the academy no matter what. The goal of the academy is to gather all those who possess the Dream Diary in order to regulate murders, cases, disputes and ultimately, to teach the students the purpose of having a dream. The murders and cases were mainly caused by jealousy and people having the same ambitions. When ambitions clash, people’s negative side appears and takes over them. In the end, ambitions do blind morality in some manner. Exactly why the golden rule in ASA is: Never Share The Basis of Your Dream Diary.
In the briefing room, the teacher in charge of the Dreamless team, sir Dalv, stood at the head of the table. He acknowledged Ailia’s arrival as she took the seat at the other end of the table. The other occupants of the table were the main members of the Dreamless team— one of them was Teito, her ex-boyfriend. When the Dreamless team was initially formed, she was certain that he’d be part of the team. His power, controlling projectiles with his mind, was at level 5— two levels below the highest level attainable in their school. Yet what made him stand out amongst other level 5 students was that he was a Dreamless.
A Dreamless is a student who owns a Dream Diary, but its contents are unknown. When read, there were no words on it— no dreams. The Dreamless are those who don’t know what their dreams are. They didn’t strive for anything and exactly why there is a Dreamless team. There wasn’t a Dreamers team because by being a Dreamer, it means you have a dream— an aspiration— one that can disappear if exposed to death-prone missions. ASA’s administration couldn’t risk losing dreamers because dreamers have aspirations that could change the world— a change always needed. But the administration also believed that by exposing the dreamless to missions from different walks of life, they might find a mission that’d severely affect them. A mission that could give them a dream— the dream that can allow them to graduate from the Dreamless team.
“Looks like everyone is here.” Chief Dalv opened. Sir Dalv was called chief Dalv whenever he had to handle business concerning the Dreamless team. This included mission briefings, misdemeanor cases and anything else that involved the specialized team.
The wall screen lit up with a summary of the details to be discussed. The pictures of the victims from the recent spree of Nightmares were shown. Bloated up was the picture of the most recent case.
“Naoi Kuru. 14. Freshman. Power- 3-Enhanced Hearing. Last seen at a singing audition.”
The picture minimized to the size similar to the other pictures. There were five pictures on the screen. Each picture, when selected, opened up the details about the Nightmare case of the person.
“Our intelligence team has found a link among the victims.” Pictures of different studios quickly filled up the screen and in the very middle was a picture of a boy in the Atria uniform. “All victims auditioned at studios Matt Brisque went to and for the same part.” The boy’s picture showed his serious side, but the tattoo at the side of his neck gave away his rebel side.
“Junior. Power- 2-Tattoo Weaponry.” Yoshii said with a hint of interest as he skimmed through the folder. “This will look like a fun game. But for such a cool power, he hasn’t leveled it up. What a waste!”
Yoshii was carefree person to the point that he’s indecisive about a numerous of things— like his dream. His indecisiveness led him to the Dreamless team, which he agreed to on a whim. He liked the idea of adventure and it was that impulsive mindset that got him a placing on the team. He was a level 4 Infinite Supply User. What he could supply infinitely were paper and needles. Of course, with his limitless power, the level given to him reflected how much supplies he can release at one go. Level 4 was the midway point, but then again, there were very few level 5 users and above.
“Our mission is to monitor Matt Brisque during and after his next audition. Schedule of assignments will be sent to you via Dream Diaries.” Chief Dalv explained. Yoshii wasn’t that happy with the news because he wanted to get into some action— not babysitting work. “If there are no more questions. Dismissed!”
The Dreamless team stood up and left the room. Ailia lagged behind to fix the papers in the briefing folder while skimming over the different cases. Each case became bloodier and bloodier to the point that the last case, the victim would’ve died if a domesticated dog hadn’t smelled him during its late night walk. The attacker’s insignia didn’t match the profile of the assumed attacker, Matt. All she could understand from the insignia was a grail. A grail symbolized an achievement or a goal, so it must me the grail was the intent of the person; however, why was it wrapped around with a thorny-vine?
Before she left HQ, she took a detour to the intelligence team’s room. When she entered, she was greeted by the students, teachers and personnel who saw her right away. She nodded in acknowledgement before proceeding to the cubicle of the person she was looking for. At that person’s table, she slammed the paper on the table. The boy removed his headphones and looked at the girl who disturbed his sound-tripping. He was supposed to get mad, but upon seeing who it was, he raised his hand for a brofist— that went ignored.
“Train. Favor. Do you understand the finer details to this insignia?” Ailia demanded.
“You know, it’s not a favor if you order me to do it.” Train clarified as he took a look at the insignia. He pointed at the vine and thorns for clarification, which Ailia said yes to. He searched through the database about the possible definition behind those two items. The symbolisms of the two details appeared on screen.
Vine – attachment, hinderance (not applicable for Ivy)
Thorn – forbidden, immoral
Ailia wrote down the symbolisms at the back of the picture. She took a look at it once again— attempting to decipher what could it mean. Was a dream supposed to be forbidden? That went against the aspect of a dream, but there were a few cases where the idea of forbidden dream existed. “Your opinion? I’m not sure if my analysis is plausible.” Ailia worried.
Train pointed at the grail. “Grail symbolizes goal or dream, so that’s probably the basic idea of it.” He traced the vine that wrapped around the grail in the picture. “With the case you’re handling, the vine might mean hinderance more than attachment. Since the victims were in the same audition as your suspect, your suspect might’ve thought of them as hinderances to his dream. Finally, the thorn means immoral, so your suspect acknowledges that what he’s doing is immoral or maybe he thinks what the victims were doing was immoral.”
“How sure are you the attacker is male?” Ailia questioned. “The vine is too detailed to be done by the hands of a male. Also, the color scheme screams the opposite gender.”
“Well…” Train closed the database. “…if we follow the symbolisms, it’s theoretically male. Plus, your Nightmare scenes get bloodier and bloodier— girls don’t like to get their hands dirty.”
That generalization earned Train a whack to the head, courtesy of Ailia. She had one eyebrow raised and eyes that screamed, ‘seriously’. Train simply returned a grin, which made Ailia sigh. Nevertheless, before she left, she returned Train the brofist he asked at the beginning of her favor.
The hallway was congested with students as Ailia returned to the classroom. Ailia stood away from the crowd and simply listened to the array of words that flung out of people’s mouths. The description of what was happening was incoherent, but she was sure that she heard the words Matt, Virgo, Lizzie, Aris and audition. She heard her music player ring and took a look at it— You’re on stand-by. She stuffed her music player in her pocket when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around and saw Haru, the school chairman and her friend. She stepped out of Haru’s way as she knew Haru was going to investigate the scene. She whispered a request as Haru passed by, which the girl acknowledged.
The crowd felt the aura Haru brought in and quickly dispersed except the two girls who continued to bitch at each other.
“You’re fucking obsessed with Matt.” Aris sneered.
“Ha! You just can’t admit Matt will do better than Virgo.” Lizzie blurted with pride.
“He’s not supposed to be in the modeling domain.” Aris claimed and snorted. “And Virgo could beat Matt any day.”
“Says his group of bitches who don’t know how to tell what’s real talent and look.” Lizzie proclaimed.
“Ladies. Stop.” Haru attempted to grab their attention, but the two were still arguing, ignoring the fact that their superior just told them to stop. Haru rolled her eyes— she obviously hated stopping bitch fights. Impulsive idiots. “CHRONOLOCK!”
The hallway was wrapped in subtle red except for those unaffected by the chronolock. The change in atmosphere got the girls’ attention momentarily. Lizzie was about to restart the bitching, but her attempt was futile as nothing came out of her mouth. Aris and Lizzie knew that they were at the mercy of Haru, who looked insanely ticked off.
“The questions and the truth will only be said in this chronolock state. Lies are silenced at the moment of conception.” Haru sharply explained. No flamboyant words were needed for that will only lead to insincerity- ultimately, a lie.
Neither of the girls bothered to speak up. In reality, they’d attept to say something, but only air came out of their mouths. Their interpretation of the bickering must’ve been morphed a great deal that neither of them could remember the actual details.
“I just wanted to support Matt.” Lizzie explained.
“I wanted to protect Virgo’s integrity and plans.” Aris shared.
“Seriously…” Haru exasperated. “The two boys can stand on their own. I don’t understand why you need to have a bitch fight about their widely known goals.”
Haru removed them from the state of chronolock. The subtle red disappeared and movement existed once more. Haru reprimanded the girls for the last time before dismissing them. Upon dismissal, the girls walked off towards different directions, making sure thy wouldn’t have to encounter each other again for that day. Haru shot a glance at Ailia, who nodded before entering her classroom.
That chronolock was an eye opener.
On her way back to Fortuna dormitory, Ailia messaged Train to tell her if the Dreamless team were on the move. She had a feeling something would happen out of the norm. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Sir Dalv’s order in placing her on stand-by. She had this feeling that something out of the norm would happen. She was adamant that the serial attacker wasn’t Matt. He seemed to be too absorbed in his dream— then again, his dream could’ve overshadowed morality. It puzzled her to no end.
As she entered the dormitory, Teito was leaving. The two exchanged glances and nothing more. He looked annoyed— as if what he had hurriedly gone to was a hassle. She headed to her room to change into her casual wear. She liked the ASA’s uniform, but it wasn’t really something she’d want to wear if she went around the city. Ai was in the room, sketching a still life away, but she knew Ailia had arrived.
“Here to stay or here to change?” Ai inquired.
“Change.” Ailia replied as she changed out of her uniform.
Ai sighed. “I don’t get why you’re part of the Dreamless team. I thought you had a dream.”
Ailia closed the cabinet door and looked at herself. She was wearing her comfy green rubber shoes along with her usual utility belt. “Well, I’m off.”
“Just take care of yourself.” Ai said. “The world doesn’t need to lose a Dreamer.”
“Noted.” Ailia said before the door finally shut.
“They’re on the move” said the message on her music player. She quickly dashed to the location where her target usually hung at— or person.
“Babysitting missions are a drag.” Yoshii complained as Teito watched Matt closely through a pair of binoculars.
The pair was assigned to babysitting duty that day— much to their dismay. Yoshii took the binoculars from Teito and spied on the rocker boy.
“What’s he auditioning for and who else is auditioning for it? ” Yoshii inquired as he continued to look through the binoculars.
“Guitarist for the studios newest band.” Teito replied. “As for who else, I haven’t been informed.”
The air became silent, only to be filled with the chirping noises of the birds. They had to spy from a tree because the studio’s audition area was at the second floor and the two weren’t given entrance to the place. The two were quiet until Yoshii gasped, which alerted Teito.
“Bri-brittany… is auditioning.” Yoshii stuttered. The mere name of Brittany woke up Teito’s sub-conscious state of mind and made him grab the binoculars from Yoshii. He quickly peered into the binoculars just to realize that what Yoshii had said wasn’t a lie.
There was Brittany in front of the judges. She looked meek in front of the judges, but when she started playing the guitar, she was wicked. Her fingers were able to change to the different power chords in mere milliseconds. She was shredding the guitar.
“Isn’t she great?” Yoshii said heart stricken.
“Yeah.” Teito smiled as she looked at the girl.
“I don’t know if I should even try.” Yoshii mumbled. Teito looked at the confused boy. “Hey, weren’t you together for a while, how was she like?”
“Less demanding than Ailia.” Teito quickly blurted.
“That’d be a change.” Yoshii smiled at his daydream. “But that’s exactly why I don’t want to try. Ailia is going to have negative vibes against Brittany. She lost both of us to Brittany.” Yoshii returned to his confused state.
“I think she has come to accept that. Don’t be guilty about it.” Teito explained. “Though you’ll have to fight against me to get Brittany.”
Yoshii grinned expectantly. “Bring it. I don’t care that you were together once.”
The two got down from the tree and proceeded to wait for Brittany outside the studio. It was like killing two things with one stone. They get to protect Brittany for that moment while monitoring Matt. As the two were waiting, they saw Lizzie enter the studio. What business did the girl have there? Did it consider Matt? Suddenly, the two saw those who auditioned leave the building. They kept a close eye for Matt and Brittany— but more of Brittany. Boys and their hormones. Brittany went down the steps and Teito decided to greet the girl first.
“Hi.” Teito said. In truth, he wanted to say more, but he need to tread Brittany’s waters first. Their break-up happened 2 months ago, so he wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk to him. That’s exactly what happened— she ignored his presence and walked pass him. That was a huge blow to his pride— she didn’t even give him the time of day.
When he turned around, he saw Yoshii stalling Brittany. Yoshii had a lilac-colored paper rose in his hand, which he handed to Brittany. The gesture surprised her and left her confused. Brittany didn’t know Yoshii, so receiving a childish paper rose from him was weird. Nevertheless, it got her attention, so it’s like Yoshii won. Brittany walked away with the paper rose hanging from her guitar bag. Teito sadly watched the scene unfolding before him. Was it a sign for him to give up? Someone hit his shoulder, which he found out was Lizzie as she sped past him. What’s with people and ignoring his presence?
“Lucky!” Yoshii happily said. Teito gave him a small smile, but underneath that, he was devastated. She didn’t even acknowledge his presence. The joy-trip was put on a halt when Matt passed by. He had a sad look on his face, which was off to the duo’s opinion. They decided to follow the boy to wherever he went.
“I think you should follow Brittany.” Teito commented as he attempted to hide the bitterness in his voice.
“Don’t worry. I placed a tracker in the rose I gave. Train’s watching her movements right now.” Yoshii said in a carefree manner.
Teito wanted to punch a wall. Now wasn’t the time for Yoshii to be thick-headed. He wanted to be away from Yoshii because of what happened. His anger was getting the best of him and if Yoshii stayed any longer, he had no idea what he’d do to the boy— considering that he wrapped any item around Yoshii’s neck at any moment. He knew he could do a lot of things with his powers, but the reason why he isn’t at level 6 is because he can’t control his temper. He got hot-headed quickly, which isn’t a good thing.
Around 7pm, Chief Dalv asked a status report from Teito and Yoshii. The two were in the arcade where they watched Matt from afar, who was playing Rockband™ against a friend. The two heard ruckus and static coming from their earpieces. They could hear Train attempting to relay information as quickly as possible. The attempt was futile as it was inaudible to them and made Chief Dalv muddled. He told Train to speak slower, which was when they understood the message.
“Brittany is being chased.” Train said as he breathed heavily.
“How is that possible?!” Yoshii exclaimed. “Matt was here at the arcade this whole time.”
“Your new order is to ensure the safety of Brittany Snow’s safety.” Sir Dalv stated. “I’m giving the earpiece to Train so he could guide you.”
The two quickly headed out of the arcade. “Who has an idea where Brittany lives?” Train inquired over the phone.
“I do.” Teito said. “Do I head to that area?”
“Yes. I’ll give you the precise movement once you’re there. It looks like the attacker is trying to make Brittany go in circles.” Train explained. The two boys could hear their guide typing something over the computer. “Activate the tracking device on your Dream Diaries, so I know where you are.”
Yoshii placed his hand in his pocket and flipped the tracker switch at the side of his PSP. Teito, on the other hand, swiped his hand over his watch, which activated the tracking device. The two continued running towards the direction of Brittany’s neighborhood.
Upon arrival at the neighborhood, the two search around for any signs of struggle— none.
“Head straight then take right at the first street.” Train said, which the two complied to right away. “One you turn right, turn left at the second street and you’ll run into Brittany.”
The two turned right on the first street like Train said. They quickly ran to the second street in order to take a left. Upon turning, Brittany ran into them. She looked haggard as she was running with her stuff. Her powers were being used with cat ears giving it away. She was panting in Yoshii’s arms as he placed her down.
“Yoshii! Needles.” Teito demanded. Yoshii brought out a pack of needles in mid-air. Teito quickly hurled needles towards the attacker who was attempting to run away from the mess. To the attacker, having two people protect the girl was a disadvantage, so it was better to retreat. Two needles were able to graze the attacker’s arm. The attacker took a left at the first street it reached.
Teito ran ahead and left Yoshii to make sure Brittany returned to a semi-relaxed condition. As Teito rounded the street, he saw the attacker looking at the person in front. The attacker was a girl who had a power that allowed her handheld weapon to phase into her skin. Teito saw the girl ball her hand into a fist— contemplating whether to attack the mysterious entity in front of her, but to Teito, that mysterious entity wasn’t mysterious. No. He knew all to well who the person was— the person who brought a silver coin out of the utility belt perched at her hips. What made him wonder was why?
Why was Ailia there? She was assigned to be on stand-by because the case wasn’t a grave on that needed her. “She had a gut feeling.” Train mentioned over the earpiece.
“Gut feeling? Should’ve known.” Teito said with distaste.
“Yeah.” Train’s voice trailed. “She didn’t believe Matt was the suspect. She was expecting a girl— looks like she was right though.”
Ailia’s arm was outstretched with the coin balanced on her index finger with the thumb just below— ready to flick it at any time. Teito was that sure of what Ailia was planning to do. He knew Ailia’s power and the potential it had. Hey, she was a level 6 for a reason. The girl ran towards Ailia, who looked at the moving girl sternly in the eye, readying her stance. As Ailia was about to flick the coin, Yoshii ran past Teito, which Teito noticed.
“You idiot!” He pulled Yoshii back using Yoshii’s collar. Yoshii fell right on his butt, but when he was about to shout at Teito, he was shouted at once more— this time an order. “GET DOWN!”
A cackle was heard then a ball of light engulfed the street, which Yoshii and Teito had managed to avoid. The two hid at the corner of the street, so the whatever that ball of light was missed them. When the light faded, the two peeked around the corner. They saw the girl lying on the ground— her hands shaking as she read what was on her phone. The girl relaxed a bit when she realized nothing would happen to her. Ailia walked towards the girl as the two hurriedly went towards the body to make sure Ailia wouldn’t do anymore damage. Ailia went down to the eye level of the girl— the girl behind the Nightmare cases. The girl she figured out created the mess. She closed the phone of the girl while maintaining hold of a coin in her other hand.
“P-please… spare me.” The girl’s voice croaked.
“Just answer me, Lizzie. Why’d you do it?” Ailia asked.
“Because I love Matt even when he ignores my existence.” The girl coughed. “I’d go lengths to help achieve his dreams.”
“And that’s why your dream is to be close to him, am I right?” Lizzie gave a small smile in reply, which Ailia knew was a yes for someone struggling to avoid pain. “Rest.”
With that, Ailia walked away. Of course, she was halted midway by Teito who called out to her.
“Ailia! Stop spoiling my ‘effin fun. Also, stop making me your clean up person!” Teito shouted with annoyance. Ailia simply threw a happy-go-lucky smile and dance at Teito before running off.
“How’s Brittany doing?” Teito inquired. It was standard operating procedure (SOP) to ask how collateral damaged were doing. He was hoping Yoshii would simply say she was still alive or disoriented. A simply answer— not a descriptive one that involved how close the two were in that span of time or how Yoshii was able to find Brittany’s weak spots when in Feral form.
“Happy to be alive.” Yoshii stated. Teito was about to inwardly rejoice that Yoshii answered in the simplest manner. “Though she’s embarrassed that someone saw her feral form.” Boom. He stood corrected. Teito didn’t even know what was Brittany’s power and it was only that night when he found out— what made it worse, he found it out along with his rival. Things weren’t going for him in terms of patching things up with Brittany, which meant lower chances of getting her back. “But was it necessary to pull me back a while ago? My ass hurts.”
“Yes.” Teito said flatly. “It’s Ailia’s power. What else?”
“What about it?” Yoshii asked. “Not a lot of people know about it, like me. Care to share?”
“Didn’t you date her?!” Teito exclaimed. Oh no, he was getting himself heated up at the cluelessness of Yoshii.
“I did!” Yoshii attempted to explain. “She just never told me. She keeps things to herself— guarded you may say.”
Teito was taken aback. Ailia became guarded? The girl, who was so open to him when they were together, has become apprehensive. “When did she become like that?”
“Um…” Yoshii searched through the inner part of his mind for the answer. “Ah! Third year during the third quarter.”
Oh. That’s all that ran through Teito’s mind after hearing the time period. He knew that time period all to well because that’s when he changed. It wasn’t as if his change was bad. He got to find out what sport he was good at and that he wasn’t destined to learn a decent instrument. He also got closer to Brittany around that time period— actually, that’s around the time their relationship developed. He knew he became more mature in attitude and mindset— you can say he learned what a relationship was. All that started from that time period— one that Ailia surely doesn’t want to remember— at all. Teito couldn’t help but think that Ailia had become that way because of him. Wait, what was he thinking? Was he feeling sorry for Ailia? They both agreed on it. It looked like she moved on anyway. Teito quickly threw what he was thinking of towards the back of his mind— not to be touched ever— for now.
“AILIA KIRA!” Chief Dalv shouted, which rung through the whole HQ. The people knew that she was going to get a reprimanding even after helping out in the end. She broke orders, which meant she’d be punished for them. Of course, that’s what Ailia seemed to want. She knew the punishment for going against orders— a punishment she desperately needed.
She appeared before Chief Dalv with a smile on her face. “Here!” She exclaimed.
Chief Dalv discerned her appearance and the look on her face. She didn’t show fear like most people would— then again, she got into that mess too often. She knew the punishment— one that can’t be changed in a mere whim. Chief Dalv knew what Ailia wanted. He didn’t want to give it to her, but SOPs must be followed.
“While I applaud you for solving the case albeit in the most unethical manner, you are suspended from Dreamless duties for one week.”
Ailia took a look at her music player upon the announcement of the order. Grail attained. Ailia couldn’t be any happier with the outcome. As she escorted herself out, she passed by Teito, who looked sternly at her.
“Was that necessary?” Teito implied the whole intentionally suspending herself from work.
“Truly.” She smirked, waving her music player as she exited HQ.