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"…But What We Make For Ourselves"

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Retroactive Justice". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Buffy wakes up from an incredibly disturbing dream and decides what she's not going to let it come true.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredGreywizardFR1828,99157022,33813 Feb 0921 Feb 09Yes

Chapter One

Disclaimer: The Buffy-verse characters all belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME, not that any of them had any real idea of what to do with them and the Harry Potter characters, when they finally do show up, belong to J. K. Rowling, who managed to screw them up, too. Deal with it. I have.

Note: This is primarily BtVS with a bit of a Harry Potter crossover. Kinda dark, but it's most definitely justified.

Spoilers: None. This story begins the Scooby-verse side of my "Justice? No, Just Us" story and begins before either the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie or the series, so it's all going to be VERY seriously AU from anything Joss wrote.

Character Bashing: Well, not a whole lot in my opinion, at least. Some people might not like what I have to say about a couple of vampires in this story, but I can live with that.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author’s Note 1: Many thanks to Lori Bush, Bill Haden and Drake the Archr for beta-ing this story.

As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~~~

"The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."

– John Connor, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

***

Chapter 1


Previously, in "Justice? No, Just Us":


Los Angeles, CA
June 29, 1996
1:45 A.M.


The petite blonde sat trembling in her bed in her Yummy Sushi pajamas, staring hesitantly around her darkened bedroom as she tried to figure out exactly what was going on.

She'd awoken from a nightmarish series of dreams involving hundreds, or possibly thousands, of young women fighting all sorts of horrendous demons and monsters, while an unseen and unrecognized voice informed her that she was now the one Chosen to protect the unsuspecting innocent and helpless from the creatures hiding in the darkness that preyed upon them and told her about a town named Sunnydale that sat on the doorway to Hell.

And she had the strongest urge to punch out her father for being a cold, disinterested and uncaring bastard, too.

And accompanying the dreams had been what appeared to be memories of a life spent growing up as a witch and attending a school for people like her in some ancient, decrepit castle that looked like it had been taken straight out of some Hollywood extravaganza, complete with its own creepy teachers, idiot schoolmates and even its own resident ghosts!

It had to be some kind of hallucination or something, because there was no other rational explanation, the diminutive beauty decided anxiously.

Because why would someone like her – a high school cheerleader who wasn't planning on doing anything more exciting than possibly letting Billy Fordham get *really* lucky next Friday night when they went out – have dreams that she was remembering fighting off some really pathetically-costumed Emperor Palpatine-wannabes, Buffy Summers wondered to herself.

And where in the world had her subconscious ever come up with a name like Hermione Jane Granger to use, either, huh?

~~~

Los Angeles, CA
June 29, 1996
4:50 A.M.


She stared down at the pretzel-shaped crowbar in her hands and tried to figure out what she should do next.

She'd spent the past three hours thinking about the dreams that had woken her up, and about what seemed to be two *extremely* disturbing sets of pseudo-memories (both of which had seemed more like summations of events drawn up by disinterested but brutally honest observers) that had accompanied the dreams and she was only now starting to come to some conclusions.

One set of pseudo-memories had covered the various events that had occurred over the course of about seven years – when she had supposedly been chosen by some unknown group of supernaturally powerful beings to be something called a Vampire Slayer.

A Vampire Slayer – the One Girl (and occasionally two girls – neither one of them were much for following the rules, really) in all the world Chosen to fight singlehandedly against all of the supernatural forces of Darkness, with a capital 'D.' Yeah, that definitely wasn't an idea that sounded like something only a rabid crackhead could come up with, as the best way to fight Evil with a capital 'E,' was it?

But the pseudo-memories were so detailed that she couldn’t just immediately dismiss them as figments of her subconscious mind. They seemed to be basically fairly comprehensive summaries of everything that had happened to her and to some of the people who had apparently become involved in helping her with her fight against evil in the future – sort of like those History Channel documentaries Grandmom Sullivan liked to watch, except the memories were much more detailed, and the memories also typically noted things that the various people involved hadn't known at the time those events were actually going down.

Summaries of pretty much all the major events that had happened to her memory-self over the course of the next seven years, until she and her friends were facing off against some majorly evil monster-thingy and they somehow managed to cast a spell that made a bunch of other girls Vampire Slayers, too, at which point the pseudo-memories stopped.

Man, talk about freaky!

And the other, second set of pseudo-memories were equally as freaky, too, since they seemed to be those of a girl who'd been a witch.

A real, honest-to-god spellcasting witch who cast spells – with a magic wand, no less – just like in the fairy tales she'd heard as a child.

Except that, unlike the fairy tales, this particular witch and her wizard boyfriend had been betrayed by people they trusted and the boyfriend killed and the witch thrown into some magical prison, where she'd stayed until a spell cast by one of her memory-self friends – yet another, different kind of witch! – had let her share in the power of the Vampire Slayer that her memory-self had possessed, and she'd freed herself from the prison and started trying to figure out how she was going to repay all those bastards who'd betrayed her and her boyfriend for their treachery.

And while the witch was plotting and planning, this really freaky-looking broad who called herself a justice demon – and who looked like Freddy Kruger's even-uglier sister – had appeared and offered her a chance to get her vengeance on everyone who had screwed her over.

And the witch-girl had thought things over for a while and then made a wish that she had gotten the Slayer power she now possessed back when she was sixteen, in addition to the girl who'd originally gotten the power – who just happened to be yours truly – as well as getting the knowledge about everything that had happened to her that had led up to that particular point in time, and the justice demon broad had smiled and said, "Wish granted!"

And that was the point where she had woken up from what she had, at first, thought was just a really, *really* strange nightmare.

But the memories from the nightmare hadn't faded, the way they usually did after she woke up – they just stayed there, filling up her head with all of those extremely disturbing images of things that just couldn't and *shouldn't* exist, and she simply lay there in her bed for a while, trying to ignore the nightmare and get back to sleep, only to realize that she couldn't, 'cause part of her was wondering whether the nightmare could possibly be true, and whether she really was this Vampire Slayer she'd dreamed about being.

Which is how she ended up here, in the garage, with the crowbar Daddy occasionally used to pry things apart with all twisted up, by her hands, and with pretty much no real effort, either.

So, since it looked like the Vampire Slayer part of her nightmare appeared to be true, then it was reasonable to think that the other pseudo-memories part of it might be true, too.

Which meant that she had a lot more serious thinking to do.

And talking to either Jennifer or Nicole about it was most definitely so *not* going to happen.

Because telling either of them that she had just been Called as the world's current Vampire Slayer (with maybe another one out there, somewhere, if every part of her dream was actually true) and that she had a pretty good idea of how things were going to be going for the next seven years, at least as far as the supernatural aspect of things here in Southern California was concerned, was pretty much a surefire guaranteed way to get her a one-way, high-speed pass to the local crazy house.

The same way it had happened to her alternate-self in that alternate future.

Besides, based on what she could recall from the additional dream memories she'd received, neither of the two girls was actually her friend.

Not in the way the people who had called themselves the Scooby Gang had shown themselves to be her friends in her new memories.

Uh-uh. Neither Jennifer or Nicole, nor any of the other people she hung out with at Hemery could be called a friend in the truest sense of the word.

Both girls would stab her in the back in an instant if they thought it would help them move up a fraction of an inch on the local social pyramid – Jennifer especially, if she thought it would give her a chance to snag Jeffrey as her boyfriend. In fact, according to those new memories she'd gained, that was almost exactly what she'd done in the old timeline.

None of those girls were anything at all like Willow – well, not like the Willow she remembered in her new memories, that is. The currently existing version of the redheaded computer hacker/future witch living in Sunnydale almost certainly wasn't at all like the one she remembered, either, she admitted to herself with a flash of insight. But she could be – minus the arrogance and magic addition – if Buffy decided to reach out and contact her. Willow could be so much more than she was right now, just like Buffy herself could be.

If she decided that what these memories showed her could really end up being true, that is.

Damn.

This was gonna require a whole lot of thought.

~~~

Buffy's bedroom
Three days later


Thinking was lot more exhausting than most people would ever think it was, Buffy reflected to herself as she slumped back against the pillows piled up behind her and stared up at the ceiling of her bedroom.

She'd spent the past three days lying around her bedroom, after first complaining to her Mom that she wasn't feeling very well and that she thought she was coming down with some kind of flu bug or something, so that she'd be left alone in peace to figure out exactly what she was going to do with all the knowledge that had been dumped on her.

The first thing she'd decided after looking over all of the information she'd had dumped into her brain was she was SO NOT going to be anyone's pawn this time around.

Not for the Watcher's Council, a bunch of old men who safely sat on their asses behind their desks in offices far from the cemeteries and graveyards, quite unlike whichever poor girl who was unfortunate to have been Chosen as the newest Vampire Slayer, and not for whoever these 'Powers That Be,' as they were referred to by that Whistler character who had shown up periodically to toss obscure warnings and essentially meaningless caveats at her.

It was quite clear from her memories that both groups appeared to be control freaks of the worst sort and that neither group cared the slightest about the person cursed with the abilities that they paid so much lip service to, and that they would undoubtedly screw her over at the first sign of any problem that might actually inconvenience them

Neither group did nearly enough to help support their Chosen champion in any of the many ways possible, so she was determined to make sure that none of these self-important bastards got to have any say whatsoever in what she did or how she lived her life.

Although she'd have to be very careful not to let either group realize her true attitude towards them. At least at first, that is.

Once she'd made her situation as secure as she could manage, then maybe she could tell both groups to go screw themselves, but until that point, she'd have to let them think she was the dumb but dutiful little puppet they were expecting to see.

And as far as making her situation as secure as possible, that meant that she needed to locate people who were willing to help out and who she could be sure she could trust, and get them involved.

Which meant that she'd had to review her memories and try to figure out exactly who, out of all the people she'd had to work with over the course of those seven years that hadn't really happened yet, she could really trust to watch her back when the penalties for being betrayed could mean either a quick death at the hands/paws/claws/fangs/tentacles of some unseen or unsuspected demon or, conversely, a very long and extremely painful one at those same hands/paws/claws/fangs/tentacles if said demons decided they wanted the fun of torturing her to death.

An unexpected problem with that review, however, had turned out to be finding herself horrified at the discovery that at the end of those seven years that hadn't yet come to pass, her alternate self had been the major motivating force behind Activating each and every Potential Slayer alive at the time of the spell that her alternate-self's best girl friend, Willow the Super Witch, had cast!

How she – or her alternate self, actually – could have done something that she had complained about so vehemently earlier in her own life to all those unsuspecting young girls was something that she simply couldn’t understand! How could she be such a hypocrite?

It had been the detailed review she had given to the memories and the supplemental information covering that time period and of the months leading up to it that had provided her with an explanation – one that she certainly would have preferred *not* to have found out.

After all, how many people want to find out that not only had they been suffering from an unrecognized case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but that they had also been, first, seduced by a vampire while suffering from PTSD and then unknowingly infected with syphilis by the same vampire that she – a Vampire Slayer, no less! – had been having a fairly long-term sexual relationship with?! Not to mention that the syphilis had then developed into an undiagnosed case of neurosyphilis? It all seemed like something you'd see on some badly-written soap opera! The fact that the rather bizarre changes in her alternate self's personality had been a result of subtle ongoing brain damage and not a voluntary deviation from what she had believed was right and proper had been absolutely no consolation, at all!

And as long as she was on the subject of people her alternate self had dated, just how in the name of sanity could her alternate self have gotten involved with not just one, but two, vampires, regardless of whether they actually had souls or not?!

Leaving aside for the moment the question of why her alternate self hadn't dropped Angel instantly the second she'd realized he was a two hundred and forty year old soul inhabiting a dead body, how she could have ever found his angst and brooding the slightest bit interesting was something else she simply couldn't understand. And even worse, once the whole problem with the 'happiness clause' rider to the soul curse had been explained, Alternate-Buffy had *still* insisted on maintaining a relationship with him! And that had been *long* before the excuses of PTSD or neurosyphilis could have been used!

And in between those times when she hadn't been involved with a vampire, she reflected, she had still somehow managed to choose some of the worst possible candidates available as potential boyfriends, especially while she had been attending college.

Sure, Riley Finn had been a pretty nice guy (if a little on the bland side) but her alternate self had been desperately looking for someone 'normal' to be with, almost certainly as a way to compensate for having previously been with Angel (because having a vampire as a boyfriend was so uberly NOT normal), and she had latched onto him as what she saw as the personification of an Iowa-raised ‘regular guy.’

But, as her alternate self had later realized, dating someone who was one of the primary guinea pigs of a totally wacked-out mad scientist was a major mistake! The fact that it had also taken her alternate self almost a year before she finally realized that Riley had never really accepted or was comfortable with the fact that he was less powerful that she was – his male ego getting completely in the way of their relationship – didn't say a whole lot for her dating I.Q., either, she decided.

And as far as that scumbag, Parker Abrams, was concerned, she still wasn't completely convinced that he was even human despite what her 'memories' said, considering how much like a snake he had acted when she had first met him. Not that it really mattered all that much, since with the knowledge she had now, the smooth-talking, oily bastard wasn't going to even get close to her this time around.

Although she did make a mental note to herself to punch him out the moment she saw him, if and when their paths should ever cross.

And with getting back to the boyfriend thing, even when she had been attending Sunnydale High school, the choices she'd made back then hadn't been all that smart. Sure, Owen Thurman had been completely normal, but he'd definitely seemed to be some kind of adrenalin junky or danger freak, to judge by the way he had acted the one time they had gone out on that date and visited the morgue.

No, what she wanted – and needed – as far as a boyfriend goes, she decided, was to share her life with someone whose loyalty was unwavering and unquestionable, someone that she might be able to share a relatively normal life with, if they could ever manage to figure out the best way to deal with the supernatural problems that was certainly going to complicate her life and the lives of anyone who got close to her.

This time around, she wasn't going to repeat the mistakes her alternate self had made, and she'd choose the road not previously taken. That way, she'd know that any problems that might develop would be the result of her own decisions and that she'd made her own mistakes, and not simply because she'd foolishly done the same things her predecessor had.

So, judging by everything she knew now about that life that was now never going to come to pass, it seemed like the best candidate for a boyfriend of all the people she'd either known or gotten involved with while being the Slayer looked to be Xander Harris.

It was quite clear, judging from the memory of the way that he'd run into that stair railing while riding his skateboard the first time he'd seen her, that he'd been attracted to her from the start, and the way he'd immediately basically forced his way into helping with the Slaying in an effort to help locate and save his missing friend, Jesse, despite her Watcher's clear opposition to the idea had shown that he possessed courage, determination and loyalty.

Of course, the fact that he had been bordering on what looked very much like attempted felony rape while possessed by a Primal Spirit during her first year in Sunnydale was most definitely not a point in his favor, despite the fact that her alternate self had been more than a little excited by his behavior even as it was occurring, she reminded herself. (And that realization, in itself, was more than a little disturbing, too. On the other hand, maybe it was a Slayer thing. She knew from a disturbingly frank sexual discussion her alternate-self had had with Faith – and let’s face it any discussion of sex with Faith was of the graphic – that the Bostonian herself was a fairly big fan of the 'Tie me up, Tie me down, Spank me like a bad girl' school of thought.)

Anyway, getting back to Xander, the fact that he had clearly been ashamed and disturbed by his previous behavior in spite of the fact that he hadn't been in control of himself did help to balance the scales when she considered that incident.

Something else she needed to keep in mind while she was considering things was the fact that he had also never been afraid to speak his mind and let her know what he thought they should be doing about any situation he'd been involved in, despite the fact that he knew her alternate self probably wouldn’t agree with him. The fact that he had lied to her alternate self about alternate Willow's performing the re-souling spell before she had gone to fight Angelus was something she didn't like, but also something she could realistically understand him doing, what with the fate of several billion people at risk should Acathla be activated and a portal to Hell actually opened – the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the one, as she remembered Spock telling Kirk.

Another thing to note in the brunet's favor was that, unlike the aforementioned Riley Finn, he'd never been intimidated or put off by the fact that her alternate self was physically superior to him in pretty much every way, which to her said a lot about his character. Of course, at some point she’d actually have to help find him an ego; she remembered he did quite well for himself with a little positive re-enforcement.

In fact, now that she gave it some thought, Xander had always been attracted to strong women, what with his involvement with her, Cordelia Chase, the second Slayer who'd been Called after her, Faith Lehane, and that vengeance demon returned to human form, Anya Jenkins. None of them could ever, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered either weak or ineffectual in any manner.

Of course, she also had to admit, at least to herself, that the most significant and noteworthy fact she'd learned about Xander Harris had been her coming across the revelation that it had been him who forced Angel to come after her that night when her alternate self gone alone to face down the Master.

Finding out that he had been the one determined to follow her down into the labyrinth of caves beneath Sunnydale, ignoring the virtual certainty that he was facing serious injury or death by doing so, and that he'd then forced his own breath into her and brought her back to life had certainly helped focus her attention on him.

And the moment she had seen that particular 'memory' had sent a thrill of excitement through her, together with a reluctantly acknowledged joy in seeing that the epitome of the typical schoolgirl romantic fantasy – the hero triumphing over all of the obstacles barring his path to the heroine and using the kiss of true love to bring her back to life – had not only actually taken place, but that it had happened to *her*. Well, actually to her alternate self, if you wanted to get all technical about things.

And the additional knowledge that Xander had also, less than a year later, stood between her and the sociopathic and murderous alter ego of her at-the-time vampiric semi-boyfriend (after Angel had lost his soul) had only stood to magnify the youth's possibility as a potential boyfriend in the young woman's eyes.

At any rate, after consciously considering all the prospective players, and especially after reviewing those particular memories, she was now determined to see whether, despite all the efforts Fate seemed to be making, she could actually have something close to a happy and fulfilling life that wasn't completely and solely centered on killing demons, vampires and other supernatural dangers threatening humanity.

Unfortunately, however, before she could head out for Sunnydale and find out whether the potential future love interest she'd chosen was even interested in her (although the admittedly somewhat arrogant aspect of her ego scoffed at the idea that any straight guy wouldn’t be willing to do almost anything for the chance to get together with her), she'd have to deal with the impending meeting with her would-be Watcher and mentor, Merrick – something which she knew she couldn't avoid.

~~~

July 3, 1996


{ Well, that went a lot easier than I thought it would, } Buffy thought to herself, the faintest hint of a pleased grin on her face as she made her way home from the athletic field behind Hemery High's gym.

Drawing on the memories she'd been gifted with the previous week, she'd quickly identified her alternate self's original Watcher in the previous timeline and had modified her usual routine just slightly enough to allow him an opportunity to approach her and allow him to inform her of the reasons behind her suddenly appearing new abilities.

Adhering to the semi-'Valley Girl' behavior pattern that she'd figured Merrick had most likely been expecting to encounter, she'd successfully acted the part of a clueless teenage bimbo bewildered by the sudden appearance of superhuman abilities and had allowed him to explain to her about the existence of dark and malevolent forces that lurked in the shadows of the real world, patiently waiting to spring out and attack their unsuspecting prey.

She'd then agreed (in what she'd thought to herself was a charmingly confused manner) to allow him to tutor her further about the existence of these 'malevolent forces' and to instruct her in the best ways to begin training her 'nascent abilities,' so as to maximize her chances of survival when fighting the vampires and demons he'd spoken of.

After arranging to meet him two days later for further training (pleading the existence of unbreakable prior family commitments occupying her time during the holiday), she'd then headed home, where she'd continued her exploration of her spellcasting capabilities and spent several hours exploring the extent of her current wandless casting ability and determining that there were both positive and negative aspects to the current situation.

She was quite pleased to discover that she was capable of wandlessly casting all of the spells that her Hermione Granger memories had provided her, but it also appeared that, since her magical core was focused around her Slayer aspect instead of an innate magical core like those possessed by members of the Wizarding World, she simply wasn't nearly as powerful as she remembered the muggleborn witch had been. She needed to channel more power into her spells to accomplish the same results she saw in her memories, and while that wasn't in and of itself a bad thing, it was something she definitely needed to keep in mind while performing her magic until using her new abilities truly did become second nature, so that she didn't become overconfident and make a potentially fatal mistake when dealing with a fangy opponent.

Using a wand would help improve her capabilities by enabling her to more efficiently focus her power and extend the range of her spells, so discovering the local equivalent of Diagon Alley was something she needed to do, sooner rather than later, and she noted that on her mental checklist of the things she needed to accomplish while she was still here in L.A., as well as a second note to keep on the lookout for any other items that could help her in her battle against the demons and other things she was inevitably going to end up fighting.

{ Now, if only everything else keeps happening the same way it did previously, then things should be fairly smooth sailing for a while. Lothos had his minions stay fairly quiet for the first week or so after he moved into town, } she remembered as she reviewed some of her newer memories, { so that means I won't have to worry too much about being attacked by hordes of bloodsucking minions when I go to dust him, as long as I arrange to attack his nest within the next ten days or so. }

{ And I also need to check out the nearest Army-Navy store is, so I can pick up some surplus fatigues, some steel-toed Doc Martins and some leather gloves to wear when I go out hunting this time around. No way am I gonna ruin any more Lacoste tank tops or Jimmy Choo's with demon ichor this time around! } she decided. { No matter how good I look in them. }

{ And besides, that way, when I do get dressed up, once Xander sees me, he'll *definitely* be drooling on the floor, } she smirked to herself triumphantly.

~~~

July 8, 1996


It had, without question, been quite a stroke of luck for her to stumble across L.A.'s equivalent of Diagon Alley so soon after becoming aware of her new abilities, Buffy admitted to herself when she finally got home from her trip to the Beverly Center shopping mall, but by her thinking, she was at least as entitled to catching a bit of luck as anyone else, if not more so, right?

It had been the enhanced awareness of her surroundings that she'd possessed ever since her Slayer and magical empowerment that had first led her to notice the unusually large number of people entering and leaving the mall corridor leading to the mall's restrooms by the food court, but it had been her newly gained awareness of the presence of mystical energy that had allowed her to discern the actual entrance to Renaissance Alley, as she'd learned the magical merchants occupying the shopping area referred to themselves.

And checking out all the new stores and boutiques that made up the new shopping mall she'd discovered was certainly a blast, she decided as she looked down at the small bag with the enhanced interior storage space that she'd procured and which was now filled with an assortment of books focusing on spell creation and enchanting items, several robes, a 'Weird Sisters' baby tee and various knick-knacks she'd bought while exploring the new magical mall.

Shortly after finding the arcane shopping plaza, she'd stumbled across the local equivalent of Ollivander's shop, a small shop called Etches' Wands, and after spending the better part of two and a half hours with the owner discussing the advantages and disadvantages of organic versus inorganic magical materials in the creation of magical items (something she credited/blamed on the Hermione memories/logical mind she now possessed) had ended up leaving with a wand with a shaft crafted from a laminated combination of oak and erumpent horn and a core woven from the heartstrings of a thestral, an augurey and the skin of a lethifold – a combination of materials that most British Wizarding World citizens would consider 'Dark' and a likely indication that its user should be watched carefully in the future for any potentially sinister inclinations. Here in California, however, the owner had merely smiled and advised her that the wand seemed to indicate a possible predilection towards charms work, transfiguration, necromancy or even spirit summoning.

Once she'd arrived home and had the opportunity to set out and activate the series of protective ward stones she'd purchased from Malaren's Miscellaneous Mystical Mechanisms, she'd practiced with her wand for several hours and had been inordinately pleased with the almost immediate improvement she'd noted in her spellcasting.

Having successfully acquired her wand, she was now free to concentrate on finding Lothos' nest and verifying that he had, indeed, chosen to situate himself in Hemery's basement, the way he had done in the previous timeline. After all, simply assuming that the vampire hadn't made any changes to his method of operation would be a major mistake, and all overconfidence could do was get her dead very quickly.

Once she had determined Lothos' location, she'd need to watch and make sure that she'd accounted for all of his little minions, since she didn't want to leave any unfinished business behind when she left for Sunnydale and missing even one vampire would allow the bloodsuckers an opportunity to flourish and establish themselves as one of the more powerful demon groups vying to control the demonic underworld.

~~~
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