Chapter 26:

026 – No Silver Apple

Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World

Gin Sakato has finally recovered all of his memories in the day nineteen, or rather, seventeen years after his birth, and Eijiro Kurogane's death.Bookmark here

Untold if his death was a striking memory that made him recover everything, or if it was from an entirely different reason. But even if it was or was not the case, it's as if he surfaced from the depths of the earth, growing as a tree that bears bountiful fruit. He has, for the very least have undergone a change.Bookmark here

He came back to reality… and came to back to his house with an outstandingly high fever which in the human's standards, it is just absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, such things surely can't happen.Bookmark here

That is, Gin still tolerates his condition as a "fever", despite of the fact that an ordinary human will have a dangerous illness with that.Bookmark here

But considering the fact that his illness is not communicable, he can still safely join Rin and Yuna with lunch although he's pretty much equal to a disabled person due to his inability to walk. With that said…Bookmark here

They unanimously decided to make hotpot in Gin's room for lunch and most probably for dinner. It was getting comfortably warm inside.Bookmark here

It is still the same day. Silence surrounded the bedroom with the subtle sound of boiling and the satisfying feel of the steam on their faces.Bookmark here

"Here, open. Say 'ahhh~'" said Rin as she carefully raised a spoon towards Gin who is also sat on the floor with a thick blanket on his back. He has his own set of utensils but Rin suddenly raised hers towards Gin's face.Bookmark here

"You know, don't spoil me like this, Rin. I-"Bookmark here

"I've been in your care for so long; I pretty much owe you so much."Bookmark here

I can't say that. She went all the way to tell me that she will nurse me as paying back my taking care of her when she was sick.Bookmark here

"Yeah, yeah. Little brother is right, Ringo." Yuna butted in.Bookmark here

"Nom."Bookmark here

"Why did you even bother telling that when you just allowed yourself to be fed?!"Bookmark here

"Mmm… Now I'm starting to get why Dad said that earlier."Bookmark here

"My answer is still no."Bookmark here

"Pff… yeah. Don't take that too seriously."Bookmark here

"I say that, but sometimes Dad can really trouble me with thoughts like that."Bookmark here

"By the way, how long is the break going to last? You know, I'm so out of the loop I don't even know the small things."Bookmark here

"Well… it's the 27th today so there are ten days allotted to this break. Are you sure you can be back to school by the 5th?"Bookmark here

"I suppose so. I'll be fine though. But I'm just worried about the things I missed.Bookmark here

Also, Rin. You haven't been to school right? I should be asking you the same thing."Bookmark here

"Like I said- Ah.Bookmark here

I'm pretty much good in terms of school works, though Tenth pleaded to minimize it since he knew that I'm all eyes on you. I was sending my things to the school's mailbox when we were still in the base.Bookmark here

Sis, don't steal my mushrooms."Bookmark here

"Aww."Bookmark here

"So I guess you'll be going home soon, huh."Bookmark here

"Oh… I haven't actually thought about it."Bookmark here

"That's bound to be talked about, little sister."Bookmark here

"You bring that up now, Gin… I hope you'll be okay once we go back."Bookmark here

"I'd be lying if I tell you that I won't be sad or lonely. It's been a while since the last time I lived with others.Bookmark here

Actually, Jean lived here last December, huh."Bookmark here

"Don't think much about it. I guess I'll stay until the next Sunday."Bookmark here

"I see. Let's go out some time then."Bookmark here

"Yeah…"Bookmark here

"I hope you'll feel less lonely if I were to tell you that I'll stick around."Bookmark here

Gin and Rin, who was satisfyingly drinking their soup from the bowl stopped as their eyes opened wide after hearing what Yuna said.Bookmark here

"Huh… Sis?" he displayed astonishment while slowly turning his head.Bookmark here

"Oh…" while Rin's head lowered hiding the gloominess on her face.Bookmark here

"They'll have to talk to you sooner or later. Even if you can forgive Mom and Dad without hesitation, I don't think I can do that yet.Bookmark here

You two… you've been through a lot because of that.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Mmf…?"Bookmark here

"Have that chunk of beef," Gin pressed a piece of meat into Yuna's mouth with his chopsticks. "I don't know much of the details, but I can at least understand how you feel, Sis.Bookmark here

And you still won't catch my cold, so all's well.Bookmark here

On the bright side, Rin and I are together more than just by a coincidence."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I guess you have point."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Two days later.Bookmark here

FULL RECOVERY…!Bookmark here

Actually, no. My body is still feeling extremely stiff and flimsy. I need to be back in shape.Bookmark here

"I'm going out, Rin."Bookmark here

It was around 1 o'clock in the afternoon that I dressed up with exercise clothing.Bookmark here

"You're going for a run in the middle of winter? Seriously, what's with your body's surreal endurance?" she somewhat worriedly asked as she stood behind my back while I was tying my shoes.Bookmark here

"I'll be making dinner today so I'll probably be back by around 4. I think I'll do 20km."Bookmark here

"Huh… Keep your stamina in check though. You've been like an idle slime for a month so I'm not expecting much."Bookmark here

"Hahaha. I hope I'll go back without catching my breath. Thanks for following up the reference, though.Bookmark here

Well, off I go."Bookmark here

"Be careful, then. Don't let people see much of your head."Bookmark here

"I'll keep that in mind," and so he started his exercise with a job going out of his yard.Bookmark here

The scenery however had brought more life compared to that grey day. The clouds are a lot more scattered, instead of completely hiding the blue skies, and the sunlight subtly passes through the earth.Bookmark here

The snowfall has stopped long ago but the whiteness of the streets is still visible, not coming to melt any time.Bookmark here

Thus, he really did catch some attention. But not due to his silver hair covered by his cap; instead, because of seeing someone as foolish as Gin to take a run in the middle of subzero.Bookmark here

But not even getting far from his house, thoughts already came to his mind.Bookmark here

"Hmm… I swear we'll be missing out a lot.Bookmark here

I wonder how the others did when Rin and I were away…"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Even if there's a flashback incoming, I still wouldn't know. Hahh…"Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

A few weeks earlier, at school.Bookmark here

It has been already eight days since the beginning of the breakdown.Bookmark here

The Art Room is occupied in the start of the week, but it was different… or weird.Bookmark here

Mori and Yuuga have been already aware of the gloomy mood. While Ginji on the other hand has finally become suspicious of the problem that Gin and Rin haven't been in school.Bookmark here

As someone who knows more than an ordinary person, the assumptions have been most likely right. By pure coincidence that he found out about the current existence of code 019 and 027, it was the only matter he can deduce. But he himself is aware that he can't predict an exact future.Bookmark here

"Geez… What the heck is up with those two. Ringo hasn't been attending classes for a week now," Nagi disconcertingly voice out.Bookmark here

"I've been asked by Mato-sen just earlier, but even I can't answer him since I don't know," Jean then followed up with his concern.Bookmark here

"What's weird is that she hasn't even submitted a form of absence. That is the usual case, but that's not happening up to now."Bookmark here

"Nacchi, granted that Gin has matters of his own, but also Ringo? It just doesn't sit right."Bookmark here

An idea came to Shiro but immediately paused after almost slipping her tongue.Bookmark here

"Come to think of it, it has been five days. Don't you think that-Bookmark here

Nevermind…"Bookmark here

She was thinking about how Gin was away for a week… or two years. But the idea was voided since they should be back by the next week, or today. But it did not happen.Bookmark here

"Then, why don't we go visit them after school?" Jean suggested.Bookmark here

"I suggest not," a familiar voice countered Jean's suggestion from the doorway. There stood was Akira.Bookmark here

"Akira…? It's unusual to see you roaming around here."Bookmark here

"There's something I need to talk about.Bookmark here

Mr. Ayame, Mr. Inari and Mr. Satoshi… am I right? Can I ask you guys to step out of the room for a moment?"Bookmark here

Although surprised that a stranger called them out, they nodded and went out of the Art Room.Bookmark here

Akira was being careful to avoid suspicions, so he calmly turned things to his side without showing any tension.Bookmark here

The four of them remained. Akira closed the door which he then twisted a knob on the wall beside the light switches.Bookmark here

"Turning the soundproofing on? What is up really, Akira?" Nagi asked as he was trying to analyze the situation.Bookmark here

"It's about the other two. Especially Gin."Bookmark here

"…!Bookmark here

So you knew something."Bookmark here

"Even if you try to visit them in their house, you won't find them there."Bookmark here

"T-They're not there, Akira…? But they…" Shiro tried to word out what was on her mind.Bookmark here

"Shiro? Do you know something?"Bookmark here

"Remember when I sent Ringo home when she caught a cold? Because of Gin's condition, Ringo and her sister had to move to his house since he can't be left alone."Bookmark here

"What?!" Jean and Nagi exclaimed in surprise.Bookmark here

"B-But hey. I guess that's good for Gin, you know?"Bookmark here

"I know right, Nacchi. Surely Ringo is doing the cooking since all Gin can do is sleep. Man, what a letdown of a future husband."Bookmark here

"If all you do is think about cooking, then that won't suffice if you're trying to catch Ai-san's heart."Bookmark here

"Oi, you two. I know you're envious but keep it at the minimum."Bookmark here

"Huh. You're still single right, Akira?"Bookmark here

"Ugh. Shut up and don't get ahead of yourself, Jean! You're also single! You should think of it as a good thing while you do not have a girlfriend yet! It's a treasure that may or may not happen again!"Bookmark here

Akira got ahead of himself.Bookmark here

Eventually, they came back to the main issue and Akira explained everything he knows.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"As much as I want to let you guys visit, I can't. Even Gin can't control himself as we speak.Bookmark here

Jean's the only one who hasn’t been in the base, right?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. I couldn't come at that time since I'm with Ai."Bookmark here

"But then, they could have at least left a message or something," Shiro suggested.Bookmark here

"Well, the thing is that he comes back to his consciousness very seldom. But I guess you can keep in contact with Ringo."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Is his childhood really something we can't comprehend? Just what in the world happened when he was in the middle of that program…?"Bookmark here

"All we know is that there is an event that… a killing happened. But there's more to that?"Bookmark here

They all fell to a pit of fear as they tried to imagine the suffering of a five-year old, but it was grim wherever route they go to.Bookmark here

"I just remembered that I need to work with Dad for a while so I will be around most of the time. I sadly won't be able to check up to those two for quite some time.Bookmark here

I suggest you sweep away that negativity. Well, I'll be going now."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

‹Ginji›Bookmark here

I am still wondering what could the person that came to talk with the other members of the club said a few days ago.Bookmark here

It seems that his name is Akira. Akira Juushiro. He is the same age as me but he is not a student. I speculate that he is the principal's son and he's always seen entering the admin office.Bookmark here

He was however a student of Blue Ink High until last school year.Bookmark here

Regarding last year, it seems that things have happened in their class… like a case of murder. The A class batch of Gin from first to fourth year had a pretty wild history, all to change with a classmate dying. Still, can people really not change without losing something or someone?Bookmark here

I guess it's also the same case for me. But in the end, I didn't see them change one bit. Saddening.Bookmark here

But back to the main point. That guy Akira immediately opposed Nacchi's thought. I do know about Gin's condition as it was disclosed to our class, and somehow, about Ringo and her sister living with him too.Bookmark here

'I suggest not,' he said. Could it be that they are somewhere but their house?Bookmark here

Well, that's why I'm here in front of his door as I hear the extreme silence around his house. It seems as though there are no one in the house even at this time in the afternoon.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Ginji slowly raised his forearm with his exposed knuckles ready to knock on the door. It was just a few millimeters away until a sound will be made, but he unexpectedly leaped up to a small space he can step on the wall of the second floor, only to instantaneously push himself up to the roof.Bookmark here

Being able to pull off an acrobatic as if it was as easy as breathing, it tells the possibility of a display of physicality and agility.Bookmark here

Making a noise when he landed on the roof, a pair of ears heard something on the roof.Bookmark here

"Huh… It's rare to hear cats playing on this roof."Bookmark here

It was Yuna's ear that heard the noise as she momentarily raised her head up from being stooped on the table while her eyes happened to open only halfway. She realized that she was still wearing her eyeglasses as she just nodded off and took them off. With the pair of glasses being placed on the table, she went to bed with her sleeping pattern ultimately ruined.Bookmark here

The window of the room showed the skies turning orange, and an upside-down half of Ginji's face looking through inside.Bookmark here

"I better move away…" he whispered.Bookmark here

He went to the opposite side of the house to find another window. Thus, he also poked his head to peek. There was also a perfectly aligned window facing one another, both without the curtains closed. He first checked up on the window of the house next door.Bookmark here

"This is Ringo's place right? I wonder who uses that room."Bookmark here

And then he looked back to Gin's house.Bookmark here

"Now I remember. This one is Gin's room. Looks like he isn't here."Bookmark here

"Hahh…" he sighed and jumped down from the roof to the ground with such ease. Even a height like that is not an easy landing for an ordinary person. But there truly are people that can do the same, although out of his knowledge.Bookmark here

"I wonder how that masked Exile will react if he ever sees me doing this. But still, I can never hold a C4 and throw it in mid-air. That's just insane."Bookmark here

Failing to have any clarifications, he went home but with the assumption that Gin is away has started to become concrete.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

12th of October.Bookmark here

The orange leaves continue to separate from the branches of the trees. The blowing of the wind is weak, but the coldness of the air has increased.Bookmark here

Fall has been almost over. Any time soon, the snow will start to fall for the second time in the history of the country.Bookmark here

The steam coming from the heaters rose up until it vanishes to the air. It was inside a cozy looking cafe with a peaceful vibe. No music was playing, and sounds of the cups, utensils, and occasional chattering were only heard.Bookmark here

The cafe has the usual setting that one sees everywhere. Meaning that it was not out of the ordinary. The wooden door was painted dark green, it has no large glass windows and not an open or close sign is hanged on it. Beside that is a big pane of window where the sign is hanged. The glass had subtly fogged up because of the vapor coming out of the heaters. But that heat has successfully eliminated the extreme cold inside the building. It was a comfortable place to sit and drink a piping hot coffee on a very cold day.Bookmark here

And just by the foggy windows, two students of Blue Ink High with different uniforms sat there, drinking a cup of latte in unison. In unusual cases, Jean and Ai are seen together outside school.Bookmark here

It has been three months since they have reunited, although from a very short time of being far from each other. In this duration and continuing, Jean is making the effort of trying to get the hearts of Ai's parents before hers, but it is already evident that they are both seeing eye to eye.Bookmark here

They could perhaps start a relationship if they decided to, but they clung to the words of caution from Gin and Rin, who impulsively got together. And there is also Nagi and Shiro, who will mark their one year in eight days.Bookmark here

Thus, they decided to move slowly.Bookmark here

"You know, Jin. I never had the chance to ask until today but, how come I'm not seeing Gin-senpai and Ringo-senpai lately?"Bookmark here

"Uhh," Jean flinched, slightly averting his eyes. "Well, yes. They've been absent for a long time now. They just have things to deal with on their own.Bookmark here

I guess they just don't want us to be involved with their own issues," he gave a rather dry smile and took a sip from his cup.Bookmark here

"Did something happen between them?"Bookmark here

"No. That's not it. They're fine the way they are, but I don't know if they're both fine with the way things are," he has lost thought of trying to hide the concerning expression.Bookmark here

"Jin… what happened, really?"Bookmark here

Thinking that there is no use of trying to lie, he vaguely answered.Bookmark here

"All I can say is that it's something very important."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Is this something related to their families? Naru-chan and I have been observing Anna-chan for a while, and she doesn't look lively lately."Bookmark here

"Well… it doesn't affect their ties, but I guess it's something that involves both their families at this point.Bookmark here

I'm very sorry, Ai. Even if I can or can't say something, I have so few information about their situation. I will admit that I'm a little disappointed that they didn't tell us their problems nor did they rely on us more. But in the end, it's reasonable why they are still keeping quiet about it.Bookmark here

One thing is that Ringo has become very special to Gin, so she very well knew what is going on. And second…Bookmark here

Ai, I don't think what they are going through is something we can swallow. It's not something our will can probably take."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I… I hope they will be okay, whatever it is…"Bookmark here

Soon, they finished their cup and left the cafe after a chime. The cold has come back, crawling up to their spines.Bookmark here

And so, they wore their jackets along with scarfs that they gifted each other and started walking the suburb street.Bookmark here

"Ai, since it's Friday, can you be a bit late?"Bookmark here

"I think it's fine. My parents know that I'm with you.Bookmark here

Why though?"Bookmark here

"I have something to show you."Bookmark here

With that said, Jean walked the opposite way together with Ai. They walked a good distance until they reached an opening of a spacious grassland—which is the entrance to Zen Park.Bookmark here

The trees around the park are almost bare to the branches. There were less people as it got colder. Just like in the past year, the park loses the crowd at this time of the year.Bookmark here

Rustling of the grass sounded continuously as they walked until they got to a paved pathway in between an array of trees on both sides. A romantic scene had happened in this very place almost a year ago, but they never took notice of it. Nonetheless, they crossed the path and went through the trees, revealing a big lake at the scene.Bookmark here

"Jin, this is beautiful. I thought this was straight out of Bob Ross's painting."Bookmark here

"So you have an artistic sense, Ai.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Aaahhhh… it's cold here isn't it."Bookmark here

"Yes… definitely," she said as she whirred to the freezing wind.Bookmark here

"Too bad, the lake's not yet frozen."Bookmark here

"Oh? Does this lake freeze when it's winter?"Bookmark here

"I guess? We haven't had our second winter so I can't say but this place sure became cold last time. It was…Bookmark here

It was that day. Gin's turning 19 soon, huh."Bookmark here

"Ah, I forgot about that. Why is senpai still second year even with his age?"Bookmark here

"Hmm… How should I put it…Bookmark here

It's a weird reason… like, it was supposed to be a very long story, but ended up being very short."Bookmark here

"You're being vague again. I don't get it."Bookmark here

"This time, it's something that I can't say, Ai. I'm sorry."Bookmark here

Pouting a little, she sighed. "I understand. I won't try to dwell on it."Bookmark here

"But well, I have a feeling that you will get to know at some point."Bookmark here

"…?"Bookmark here

"Shall we go now? It's kind of getting late."Bookmark here

"Ah, yes."Bookmark here

"But now that I've shown you this, you could expect me to bring you here once I ask you out officially, whenever it might be."Bookmark here

"Fufu… I'm looking forward to the future now."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

At some other day, Mato, or Mato-sen, or Martin Arlo is seen walking down the White Street. His eyes rolled in whatever direction as he was reminded of the time when he used to live on the quiet street.Bookmark here

Before he became an educator, he was a college student who had friendly relations with the Sakato family in his time of residence in the street. He had interacted with the family many times, and even with the lifeless stares of their second son. Gin was a very unnoticed person beyond the shyness. He honestly thought that he was a scary child, but he saw him change little by little. And as he was admitted to Blue Ink High as per Mato's backing, he made much more changes.Bookmark here

He did not know why Gin grew with that character and he was astonished with so many changes that happened to him with reasons unclear to him.Bookmark here

Up until this point, Mato still does not know about the relationship between Gin and Rin.Bookmark here

But all of those things came to his mind due to the issue that Gin has not come to school for weeks without notice. Being near the area, he wishes to talk with his parents, and while he's at it, he also decided to have a visit to the Akanami family, which their daughter have been absent with the same duration as the Sakato lad.Bookmark here

But as he was getting near the Sakato household, he saw Shuu and Sumi Akanami coming out of the said residence. He tried to call out but it seems that it did not reach them. Thus, he came to the Sakato residence nevertheless.Bookmark here

"Oh, Martin. What brings you here?" he was received by Amano, who opened the door in surprise with the unexpected guest.Bookmark here

"It really has been a while, Mr. Sakato."Bookmark here

"Yeah, I don't really see you at school whenever I come there.Bookmark here

So… you came here to check up on Gin, I suppose?"Bookmark here

"Yes. He has been absent for more than two weeks because of his condition, so I want to talk to him. Is he in his house?"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Sorry, but he's currently away. With how things are, you're probably going to the Akanami family too?"Bookmark here

"Yes…? But why bring that up?"Bookmark here

Senna came to the living room with a tray of three cups of coffee served to the guest and for them, and sat beside Amano.Bookmark here

"For the meantime, please allow us to speak on their behalf. Unfortunately, they can't entertain guests right now. I have a fair knowledge with their conflict."Bookmark here

"Then… please do."Bookmark here

"Well then…Bookmark here

Our son has been ill for the duration of his absence, apart from his sleeping disorder. But now, he's finally stabilizing… for the most part. Regarding Ringo, he's currently helping in taking care of our son. Really, that girl is so lovable."Bookmark here

"I see… wait. I didn't know that they are that close? I know that they have a good friendship at school together with the ones in the club…"Bookmark here

"Wait… Martin. So you didn't know?"Bookmark here

"Didn't know what, Mrs. Sakato?"Bookmark here

"Martin, they have been dating for a year now."Bookmark here

.Bookmark here

.Bookmark here

.Bookmark here

"WHAT?!"Bookmark here

"Pff… Hahaha. So you didn't know until now?" Senna chuckled.Bookmark here

"But rest assured, Martin. Your students are in good hands. Although I don't know when they will come back."Bookmark here

"Then, can I know what Gin’s illness is?"Bookmark here

"Hmm… I can't really say that. But the least I can say is… that Gin has lost his memories.Bookmark here

Please understand."Bookmark here

He was left dumbfounded with the words that came out of Amano's mouth. It is not something that he hears normally, let alone in a very nonchalant way.Bookmark here

"I-Is… Gin really okay…? Will his memories return…?"Bookmark here

"Don't worry too much. He's old enough to know what he's doing even without his memories. I'm quite sure that you also have seen him grow over the years."Bookmark here

Mato stayed silent, almost to tears for some reason.Bookmark here

"If you have this much faith in him, then I guess there's nothing to worry as his teacher.Bookmark here

If they ever come back, please tell them I said hello, and I want to say my congratulations to their relationship personally.Bookmark here

Man, that plain guy got a girlfriend ahead of me, huh. What a guy."Bookmark here

"Also, try to ask the principal about those two. I am very sure he knew their circumstances… or maybe his son?"Bookmark here

"So Sir Juushiro already knew? Wow, the principal is really amazing when it comes to information gathering. He's so trustworthy."Bookmark here

"Well, that's Take for you. He's actually a friend even before he became the principal."Bookmark here

"Now that's surprising in its own way."Bookmark here

Having an adequate knowledge of the circumstances of his students, he left the house. He came back to school without visiting the neighboring family.Bookmark here

"I guess I'll go easy on them when they come back."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

"I'm home."Bookmark here

"Welcome back, Potato."Bookmark here

Accomplishing the twenty kilometers of running, he came back home with bags with him from shopping on his way back.Bookmark here

"Ugh… I was too late to buy our stock of rice."Bookmark here

"Oh, too bad."Bookmark here

"Well, it's winter. I guess I'll go look somewhere tomorrow. I don't want to be deprived of rice."Bookmark here

“I wish I could’ve run with you if it isn’t winter. I gained a bit of weight and I haven’t been exercising a lot. Hahh…”Bookmark here

“Sorry. It’s my fault for needing to be taken care of.”Bookmark here

“…" Rin tilted her head to the right while closely staring at Gin, removing his cap.Bookmark here

"Is something wrong, Rin?"Bookmark here

"You're seriously going to school with that hair, huh," she nonchalantly changed the topic.Bookmark here

"Well, I can't do anything about that. I don't want to cut it for a while and I don't want to dye this black. I guess this will grow to black again at some point.Bookmark here

Hmm… I think I'll have Onee-san (Shiina) think of a hair style for me."Bookmark here

"I can lend you the hairpin you gave me."Bookmark here

"Stahp."Bookmark here


Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That does it for 026!Bookmark here

I wish I am joking but I missed to release a chapter yesterday because I was busy making a Minecraft concrete block. Take the Minecraft bit with a grain of salt but I was literally making a cube that could may well be in the Transformers. For that, I apologize.Bookmark here

Thank you for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

027: Gin Sakato, bouncing back.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.