This is a short story based on a fantasy created by Anne McCaffrey. It is fiction and no reference to any person living or dead is intended nor to any of the characters in McCaffrey's novels about Pern. I have used only the concepts created by McCaffrey and I apologise if it impinges on her copyright too closely. It is by way of tribute rather than imitation and is a measure of the enjoyment I have received from her novels over many years. It may contain descriptions of gay sexuality (b/b and M/b).
HERE BE DRAGONS
Can You Say It In My Mind?
Daniel stretched and and slowly opened his eyes. And closed them quickly. A bright ray of sunlight peeked through his curtains, shining directly onto his eyelids. He moved his head slightly, shifting out of the blinding light, and smiling gently, opened his eyes again. He felt warm and comfortable – until he moved. Looking towards his bedside table, he strained to see the time registering on his alarm clock, but his vision was still blurred from sleep. He levered himself up onto his left elbow, carefully avoiding the sunbeam angling in through his curtain, and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, squinted at the clock.
“Oh, God! Nine am! Mum is going to kill me!” He stretched, yawning, and struggled to free himself from his bedclothes.
“Daniel!” he heard his mother shout from downstairs.
“I’m awake, Mum!” he shouted back.
“Daniel, for heaven’s sake, get yourself down here,” he heard her shout. “You have a telephone call.”
He groaned. “Who on earth is calling me now?” He wriggled towards the edge of his bed. “Probably Will.”
Standing up, carefully, because he still felt half-asleep, he hunted around for his boxers, eventually finding them on the floor just under the edge of his bed. He bent, painfully, and pulled them on. “Must have had an awful night,” he thought. “My body feels stiff and sore.”
He slowly and stiffly staggered across to his door, still feeling sleep drugged. As he opened it, he heard another call from his mother. She was beginning to sound irritated.
“Daniel, if you don’t get down here I’ll have to hang the phone up!” She sounded grumpy.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” he shouted. He thought “Don’t get your knickers in a twist!” but didn’t say it out loud. He wasn’t that brave.
Carefully making his way downstairs, both hands rubbing his eyes, he wondered why it was he felt so tired. He’d had a good sleep – he thought. But then, had he? He thought about it as he reached the bottom of the stairs and padded, barefoot, to the kitchen. Maybe he hadn’t had such a good night. He seemed to think there had been some disturbance, but he couldn’t quite remember what. Something nagged at the back of his mind. Dragons? Now why did he think that?
“Morning, Mum,” he groaned as he picked up the phone handset. His mother just looked at him, her expression carefully neutral. Daniel thought she was probably mad at him but didn’t want to show it.
“Oh, Will, its you?”
“Yes! Well, who else did you think it would be?” Will sounded excited, and a little breathless. But then Will often was.
“Daniel, did you have a funny dream?”
“Daniel, are you awake yet?” Will sounded a little frustrated.
“Well, then, think.”
“Did I what?”
“Did you have a dream last night?”
“I don’t know!” Daniel thought. “Well, I might have. Something seems to have happened, but I’m not sure what.”
“Oh, Daniel, please think.” Will sounded really frustrated.
Daniel hesitated. “I think....” he hesitated again. “I think I may have dreamt about dragons.”
“Yes!” breathed Will. His excitement seemed to be building.
“I think it may have been more of ‘my’ dream....” Daniel’s voiced tailed off into silence.
“Yes?” Will whispered. “And?.....”
Something clicked in Daniel’s mind. Suddenly his mind was filled with images of a dragon and her rider and the son of a Harper. But why was Will asking these questions?
“Dragons.... Pern!” Daniel suddenly stopped. A flash of intuition passed over him like a tidal wave.
“Will? Did you have a dream too?”
“What was it about?” Daniel’s heart quickened. There was something here – but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it yet.
“I dreamt about D’nel and Farth, Daniel.” Will’s voice started to rise in pitch. He was clearly excited about it.
Daniel thought about that. Was it about what they had been discussing the other day, when he had shown Will his descriptions of his dreams about Pern? When Will asked him about green dragons and their riders? When he spent the night and.....
“Was Oran in your dream too?”
“Yes, but it was sort of funny,” Will sounded a little hesitant.
“Well, it was almost as though Oran was really me. You know? Sort of like first person in English.” Will gave an embarrassed little giggle.
“Yeah,” Daniel drawled. “ I know, Will. That’s how I dream about D’nel. Its sort of like he is me.” Daniel paused. “No, that’s not quite right. Not ‘like’. He is me – or I am him!” He giggled.
“What happened in your dream, Daniel?” Will’s voice quavered a little.
“I remember flying on Farth. Oran – you – were with me.”
“Where did you go?”
“I think.... um.... I’m not sure, but I think I remember sand.”
“Was it a beach?”
“Um....” Daniel hesitated. Then with great clarity he remembered. It was a beach. The sun was shining brightly and waves were crashing in on bright white sands. The sea was a startling blue and he thought he could see dolphins sporting in the water just beyond the breakers.
“Daniel? Was it? Was it a beach?”
“Yes, Will, it was.” Daniel was beginning to get a strange feeling.
“What was in the water Daniel?”
“Uh... Will, did you see it too?”
“I think so. What did you see?”
“Will – stop! What did you see in the water?” Daniel’s excitement was beginning to rise.
“Dolphins, Daniel. I saw dolphins!” Will’s voice was squeaky with suppressed excitement.
“Will, I think we need to talk.” Daniel had suddenly remembered some other aspects of the dream. Aspects that definitely involved Oran – oops! Will.
“You saw them too, didn’t you?” Will hesitated. “Do you remember what else we did?”
“We need to talk,” he repeated.
“You had the same dream, didn’t you?” Will’s voice was suddenly quiet. “You did, didn’t you?” he repeated in a whisper.
“I think so,” Daniel whispered back.
“Can you come over today?” Will asked.
Daniel lowered the phone, looking over at his mother.
“Can I go to Will’s?” he asked.
“What is going on with you two?” she asked him.
“I’m not sure, but its something we need to talk about.”
“Mum! Its just that.... well we seemed to have had a funny dream and they were kind of similar. We want to talk about it.”
His mother looked at him. He thought the expression on her face was a bit strange.
“Seems to me you two spend too much time reading those fantasy books!”
Daniel grinned at her.
“But you know how much I like them,” he said. “Can I, please?” Pleadingly.
“Yes, I suppose so. But don’t forget we are going out this evening.”
“Ok, thanks Mum.” Holding the phone back to his ear he said “Did you hear that Will. I’ll be over as soon as I’m dressed.”
“Great,” said Will. “Please hurry.” He hesitated and then said, “I’m on my own! Everybody’s out!” Daniel could almost hear the wicked grin on Will’s face.
“See you in a bit. Bye”
“Bye,” Will replied, and Daniel heard the click as he disconnected.
Daniel turned the phone off. His mother looked at him, pensively.
“I hope you know what you are doing, Daniel,” she said.
“What do you mean, Mum?”
“You look strangely disturbed. Almost as though you have had a shock.”
“Well, it is a bit ‘strange’, isn’t it?” Daniel chuckled. “Will and I having the same dream, don’t you think?”
“Maybe not quite as ‘strange’ as you think.” She looked at him intently.
“What do you mean?”
“Close friends often experience similar thoughts and emotions,” she smiled. “And you and Will are very close friends, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I suppose we are,” Daniel smiled back.
“Well, just be careful,” she said, mysteriously.
Daniel didn’t quite know how to respond to that. He wasn’t quite sure to what she was referring. His mother could be a bit obscure at times. Probably because she was a lawyer, he thought, grinning to himself. But he did wonder. Was she aware of just how close he and Will had become over the last few weeks? Since that night that Will had stayed – the day he asked him about green dragon riders. The day that Daniel realised he had a special affection for Will, and that it was reciprocated. The day that he realised that Will was actually a major character in his dreams.
He stumped up the stairs, his body still feeling sleep laden, although his mind seemed to be working at supersonic speed. He walked into his room, grabbed some clothes and stepped back out into the hallway, heading for the bathroom. Hanging up his clothes, he looked at himself in the mirror, noticing his red-rimmed eyes. What else happened in that dream? Why did he feel so tired? Strange! He stripped off his boxers and without really thinking about it, rubbed his hand over his belly and penis. And noticed a crusty deposit on his belly and pubic hair.
“Must have really been some dream,” he thought. “It was a wet one – a really wet one!” he giggled. “Wish I had been awake. It must have been a really great one!”
He turned on the shower and let the water warm while he hovered over the toilet bowl, relieving himself. Feeling the relief in his abdomen, and the sensation he delighted in as he finished, he moved over to the shower, and adjusting the water, walked under the cascade, ducked his head into the spray, and turned around like a slowly revolving top. Grabbing soap and face washer he lathered himself, feeling his penis respond to the stimulation as he washed himself. He thought of Will, and stopped before it progressed too far. “Later,” he thought, and smiled to himself. He had no doubt about what Will was implying with his final comments on the phone.
Several minutes later, fully dressed, and reasonably dry, Daniel slipped back into the kitchen and kissed his mother on her cheek.
“See you later, Mum,” he said, bolting for the door.
“Don’t forget tonight,” she reminded him.
He rushed out the door, barely stopping as he dragged his bike from its place against the garage wall, and raced out the gate and down the driveway onto the road. Still strapping up his helmet, he pointed his bike in the direction that would take him to Will. Pedaling hard, his mind kept returning to the dream. “No!” he thought. “THE dream!” Something about it told him that it was important. A sense of awe was rising in him. He could feel it. It was very, very important. “But what is it?” he thought.
As his legs pumped the pedals, he cast his mind back, trying to capture details of the dream. D’nel had picked up Oran on Farth and they had flown between. Yes, between! That was right. But to where? He knew it was a beach somewhere. Could it have been the Southern Continent? Or was it a beach on the south of the Northern Continent? Must have been Southern though, because Will talked about dolphins. Well, not necessarily, but “The Dolphins of Pern” was about Southern. Wasn’t it?.......................................
D’nel struggled out of his doze, looking around him. The sun was bright and the sands on the beach were warm. He could hear the crash of the waves. It was a comforting sound – really soporific! He yawned and, propping himself up on his elbows looked around. A short distance from him Farth was sleeping, eyelids twitching occasionally. D’nel got little flashes of images from the sleeping dragon, but he couldn’t quite manage to interpret their meanings. Idly glancing the other way he caught a flash of white, and peering more closely, shading his eyes against the glare of the sun with one hand, realised the flash was caused by Oran’s buttocks as he ran down the sand and into the surf. D’nel levered himself to his feet and shucking off his shorts he too ran towards the surf. He giggled as he thought of his appendage swinging in front of him, and wondered what it would look like to Oran.
Oran turned back to look towards D’nel, and when he saw his friend racing towards him his face split into a wide grin. Which gradually gave way to laughter as he watched how the bits in front of D’nel wobbled around, accentuated by D’nel’s slightly limping gait.
“What?” D’nel gasped as he came to halt in front of Oran.
“Your thing!” Oran choked, trying to suppress his laughter.
“What about my thing?” D’nel asked.
“Oh, D’nel, you have no idea how funny that looked,” Oran had started to laugh again. “It was swinging every which way as you ran.”
“Hmph,” grunted D’nel. “Just as well it wasn’t hard! That’d give you even more to laugh at!”
Oran gave a great howl of laughter.
“I can fix that, if you’d like?” His laughter subsided and he chuckled more quietly. He looked his friend over, noticing just how much browner than himself the young dragon rider was. And how much he had grown in the few weeks since they visited the lake on Farth’s first trips between.
“I think you’ve grown, D’nel,” he said. “Down there, I mean. You’ve got a lot more hair than you had at the lake.”
“Yes, well, you’re not exactly so little anymore either,” D’nel smiled at his friend.
“But not as much as you.” Oran looked a little miffed.
“Why, are you annoyed or something?” D’nel sounded concerned.
“Nah!” Oran smiled. “Probably just jealous. “I bet you get more opportunity to exercise it than I do!”
“Dunno about that,” D’nel laughed.
“More opportunity than in the caverns. There’s always someone around.”
“Yes, Oran, I do remember. But what about that room we found in that deep passage?”
“I go there from time-to-time, but I’m always scared someone will find me,” Oran sounded sad. “I don’t know what I would do if I was caught playing with it. I don’t know what others would say. At least you don’t have that problem in the Weyr.”
“That’s true,” D’nel said. “I suppose it doesn’t really matter if someone were to see me. Well, I know it doesn’t – we often play with ourselves when others are around. Even the girls!”
“What! You jerk off with girls around?” Oran sounded horrified.
“Oh, yes,” D’nel was amused. “But not often. Its just that we’ve been caught a couple of times, and we just didn’t bother to stop.”
“Did they keep looking until, well, you know, you, um.. came?” Oran stuttered.
“Yes, but then they just giggled and went away.”
The conversation was having an effect on the boys and they felt themselves hardening. Oran reached forward and stroked D’nel’s hardness. D’nel felt a presence jolt in his mind, and realised that Farth was responding to his growing excitement.
“Oh,” he moaned. “I’m not sure you should keep doing that Oran, you are disturbing Farth.”
Oran hurriedly stepped backwards, looking startled.
“I didn’t say stop!” D’nel laughed.
“Farth doesn’t mind, Oran.” D’nel laughed again. “Don’t be scared of her. She likes you.”
You don’t have to stop, Oran. I like it when you make D’nel happy. The rich fruity tones of the dragon’s ‘voice’ sounded in both boys minds, startling Oran as it always did when Farth ‘spoke’ to him.
“Whew!” Oran sounded relieved. “I thought for a moment you meant that Farth was angry with me.” He heaved a sigh.
I could never be angry with you Oran, the dragon rumbled. Not when D’nel loves you so much.
D’nel gave an embarrassed giggle and reached down to take Oran’s hard member in his hand.
“Do you, D’nel?” Oran looked at his friend.
“Yes, I do Oran.”
“That’s good,” the Harper’s son said, looking into the eyes of his friend. A cloud drifted across his expression. “But what about A’van?”
“What about him?”
“Well, aren’t you and he?.............” there was a long pause.
“I’ve told you about that Oran. He and I, well, we are very special friends, and, well, you know, if Moranth flies Farth, we’ll become even more than special friends. But we haven’t done anything yet. And whatever happens I will always love you. You are very, very, very special to me.”
“But you do love him too, don’t you?” Oran looked at D’nel carefully.
“Yes, I do, but that may be because he is a bit like a big brother. You know he’s the only adult that has shown me affection, don’t you?”
“I know that. I am grateful to him, too. Because he has been so kind to you.”
D’nel looked at his friend.
“I don’t mind that you love him, but will we change when Moranth does fly Farth?” Oran stared down at the water swirling around their legs.
“I don’t think so,” D’nel sounded a bit pensive. “It might, a little, but not a lot, I think. A’van doesn’t think it will.”
“You and he have talked about it?”
“We didn’t have much choice.”
“Two dragons got into the act and wouldn’t leave it alone.” D’nel laughed.
“Oh! I sort of forget just how you guys and your dragons interact.” Oran smiled at his friend.
“Not all lightness and laughter,” D’nel chortled. “They can be a pain at times.”
Hmph! Both boys heard the dragon grunt.
“Lovable, but pains...” D’nel chuckled again.
I am never a ‘pain’. The dragon sounded a bit miffed.
“Only when you think that I should be doing something that I am resisting,” D’nel said, looking across the sand at his life soul mate. “And when you and Moranth get together, you are unstoppable!”
We only do what we think is in your best interests, the dragon responded, pompously!
Oran was still quietly massaging D’nel with his fingers. D’nel was about to pull his friend into an embrace when a strange sound penetrated into his conciousness.
“What’s that, Oran?”
“Do you hear a strange sound – a sort of squeaking?”
Oran looked around, listening hard. And then, pointing out beyond where the waves were rolling in to the beach, he turned to his friend.
“What are those?”
D’nel looked to where Oran was pointing.
“They look like a fish of some sort.” He felt the dragon reach into his mind. “Farth, do you know what they are?”
“Dolphins?” both boys asked simultaneously.
Look like fish. Live in water. Breathe air. Mammals. The dragon spoke in clipped tones.
“Don’t you like them?”
Yes, we like them. We can talk to them. And do. The dragon was quite relaxed.
The ‘squeaking’ was getting louder, and closer, as the dolphins approached. Gradually the boys found that there seemed to be a pattern in the squeaks and chirps and other sounds they could hear. They couldn’t quite distinguish what the sounds meant, but it certainly wasn’t random. The dolphins were now only a short distance from them, seeming to play on the waves as they curled and broke. The boys could see the great fish looking at them as they swam along the crests of the waves. D’nel thought it strange that although he could see fierce teeth in the jaws of the dolphin, he felt no fear. Looking at Oran he could see only wonder in the boy’s eyes. No fear there, either.
It was almost as though time stood still. And then, suddenly, both boys could understand the noises coming from the strange animals.
Daniel stopped. Suddenly. He was at Will’s gate. Lord! He couldn’t remember getting here. “Must be careful about that,” he thought.
“Daniel,” he heard Will shout. Will must have been waiting at the window for him.
“Hi Will,” he called, waving.
Daniel pushed his bike up to the door, and left it leaning against the wall. Bounding down the steps, Will grabbed him, then with as much force as he could muster, dragged him up the steps and in through the door, kicking it shut behind them.
“Daniel,” he gasped, “Isn’t it incredible about the dream?”
“Wait, Will,” Daniel said, trying to slow things down. He felt excited too but Will was acting too frenetically to make too much sense.
“But why, Daniel? This is really exciting. Perhaps.....” his voice tailed into silence.
“We don’t really know if it was the same dream, Will.”
“Of course it was.”
“Not necessarily, Will. We both like the same stories, and you’ve read my descriptions of my other dreams.”
“Yes, but..” Will interrupted him.
“No ‘but’.” Daniel looked at his friend. “We have to test it properly.”
“But how,” Will looked a bit perplexed, some of the excitement disappearing from his expression.
“I think I know,” Daniel said slowly.
“You remember you said there were dolphins?”
“What did they say?” Daniel spoke clearly and forcefully.
“Will! What did they say?”
“Ah! Um....” Will sounded a bit bashful.
“Will!” even more forcefully. “What did they say?”
Will blushed, looked at Daniel. The blush grew even stronger.
“Boys love...” he whispered.
Daniel looked thunderstruck. His expression clouded. He looked away from Will, out the window. He was thinking of his day dream as he rode over. What were the last words he heard as he stopped at Will’s gate? Will looked at the expression on his friend’s face. He felt a chill descend on him and he wondered how Daniel was reacting to his whispered reply.
“Daniel,” in a small voice. “What is it Daniel?”
Daniel looked at his friend. Will watched in wonder as a smile started to build on Daniel’s face. He felt himself smiling as the chill departed.
“Will, I think we did dream the same thing.” Daniel’s voice was tinged with wonder.
“Did the dolphins say the same thing in your dream, Will?”
“Yes! And I had another day dream about it on the way over.”
Will looked a bit worried.
“Like when you spaced out that day at your home?”
“Yes – really, just like that.” Daniel grinned.
“Oh, Daniel, I wish you wouldn’t do that?”
“Well, its OK while you’re lying on your bed, but what if you didn’t see an accident coming when you’re on your bike?”
“Yes, well, nothing happened did it?”
“But it might!”
“Stop worrying Will. Right now we’ve got more important things to think about.” The wonder had left Daniel’s expression, and Will stopped worrying, the impact of the dream beginning to excite him again.
Daniel sat down, taking Will’s hand and pulling him down beside him.
“This is extraordinary Will. It really does look like we both dreamt the same dream at the same time.” He thought about it for a few moments. “Does it mean we can communicate in some way we haven’t thought of yet?”
“You mean like the dragons and their riders?”
“Well, sort of. I wonder if it is more like telepathy – you know, like Peter Reidinger in ‘Pegasus in Flight’?”
“Maybe,..” Will hesitated. “What if we each had an oob at the same time and in the same place?”
“Out of body experience. You know, like Peter when he first visited Rhyssa?”
“Oh, yes, I know.” Daniel thought about that for a while. “No. I don’t think that’s it.”
“Pern is a hell of a long way away for an OOB,” Daniel giggled.
“Oh, yes, I see what you mean,” Will gave his own chuckle. “But that would mean that we each know what is going on with the other. Well, at least when we are asleep.”
“Maybe,” Daniel paused, and then went on, “Perhaps it is more than that. Since that day, you know, when we first, well,.... oh. You know?”
“I know!” Will blushed.
“Do you get the feeling that sometimes you know what I am thinking?”
“Like when I know you are pissed off in geography?”
“No, not like that – you know I’m always pissed off in geography.”
“OK, like when you are feeling randy, then?”
“NO!’ Daniel blushed. “Of course not – you always know when I’m randy ’cause I get a stiffy! And you can see it!” He paused.
“No, Will, its more than that. Sometimes I get a feeling about how you are feeling, and often when you are not around.”
Will stopped laughing. He suddenly went quiet and then in a very small voice said, “Like when you fell down the stairs at home and hurt your ankle, last week?”
“How did you know about that? I didn’t tell anyone? Have our mothers been talking?” Daniel looked stunned.
“No.” Will hesitated and then said, “I just knew. I knew you were hurt, and I could feel you limping.” He laughed. “For a while I thought I was thinking about D’nel with his game leg, but then I knew it was really you.”
“And,” Daniel started to say, and then stopped.
“And when you were crying in bed Monday last week, because your mother told you that your grandfather was in hospital.”
It was Will’s turn to look stunned.
“But we didn’t say anything to anybody about that.....” he peered at Daniel, and shivered.
Daniel reached over to him and pulled him into a hug, squeezing his friend.
“I’ve been thinking about some of these things, Will. But I didn’t know what to say to you.” He paused. “I think I’ve been a little scared of what I have been feeling.”
Will laughed a little laugh. “You don’t have to be scared of what you’re feeling about me, Daniel.”
It was Daniel’s turn to give a little laugh.
He pulled Will even closer to him and resting his forehead on Will’s forehead, smelling the scent of the boy who was his best friend he thought to himself “I love you Will Harp”
“I love you too, Daniel Green,” Will said aloud.
“What?” Daniel yelped.
Will looked stunned.
“I said I love you too, Daniel Green.” Will shivered. “Is there something wrong. You said you loved me.”
“But I didn’t, Will.” Will looked as though he’d been punched. “I didn’t say it out loud, Will. I thought it. In my mind. Silently.”
Will looked at Daniel, apprehension dawning on his face.
“You didn’t say it out loud?”
The boys had drawn apart but Daniel brought them back into contact, pressing their foreheads together again.
“Can you say it in my mind?”
I love you Daniel Green.
Copyright© 2004 ilb3000.
If you wish to reproduce part or all of this story please contact the author at email@example.com for permission. All credits should be retained in any reproduction.
“Here Be dragons” was originally a one-off short story. I did not intend to create a series, and certainly not a serialised story. But these things kind of grab hold, and, at least for me, have a life of their own. I have long been fascinated with science fiction and, later, fantasy, having been introduced to Robert Heinlein when suffering through an enforced 12 months more-or-less on my back as a result of a back injury when I was a young teenager in the 1950s. The first sf book I read was “Space Cadet” and I will be eternally grateful to Heinlein for his sf novels, particularly those he wrote for younger readers. “Space Cadet”, “Between Planets” and “The Red Planet” still occupy pride of place on my bookshelves and I reread them now as avidly as I did when I first encountered them. The same is true of most of the novels of Anne McCaffery, particularly the Pern series and the Talent/Tower and Hive series, the latter commencing with “To Ride Pegasus”, “Pegasus in Flight” and “Pegasus in Space”. I guess I had a certain sympathy with Peter Reidinger, although fortunately my injuries never resulted in any paralysis. It is only in my later years that I have given any thought to exploring some ideas based around those novels that have so enchanted me. And there are many more: Asimov, Cooper, Tolkein, and Card, to name but a few.
These short stories result from thoughts I have regarding the emotions and desires of boys in fantastic circumstances, and of those who might love them. No doubt Freudian analysis would suggest that I am playing out my own fantasies, and I make no apology for that. There is a certain amount of eroticism, and some explicit sex may arise, but I doubt that raw, pornographic descriptions will emerge. It is of course, up to readers to decide whether this will satisfy them. If it does, I am very happy. If it doesn’t, well, its not really my problem, is it?
Given that the first two short stories were really about the day dreams of a boy (of me perhaps) I am not certain how Will Sharp emerged. It was probably the meanderings of my mind exploring the sexuality of D’nel and the relationship he has with Daniel. I sense a parallel development between the dreams and the reality. But who knows what will emerge? I don’t! Whatever the case, there will not be a consistent storyline come out of these short stories. The sole reason for that is that I cannot see a plot. I have only the characters and situations in my mind, and where they lead me you will have to wait and see. I hope the wait is worth it.
Ilb3000 February 2004