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     "I'm starting to think you're my bad luck charm." Weevil blinked awake to find Veronica, still seeming like a ghost, staring out the window of his hospital room. When he spoke, her head snapped to him- shaken instantly from whatever thoughts she'd been struggling with. 

     "Bite your tongue." She bit her tongue at him, looking at him for real now, now that he was awake. "How do you feel?"

     She still wasn't used to the look of him- the grown up Eli. Wrinkle lines around his devastating eyelashes, lips even now curved into a more-serious smile than a near-decade ago. 

     "Like somebody shot me for no reason." Weevi- Eli grimaced and deadpanned. He looked at her, this Veronica; she looked almost the same to him. Instantly recognizable with only little differences. She looked sadder, maybe. But maybe she'd always looked this sad and he'd mistaken it for anger.  "Is this a personal or business call?"

     "Both?" Veronica smiled, hopeful.

     "As usual."

      "I just... don't understand  how things could've gotten worse for Neptune." Veronica felt like apologizing; to him, to the whole town. She felt entirely at fault for the colossal mess. "I ran because I could, you know? I didn't want to understand how bad things were gonna get. Anyway, I'm here because I wanted you to know I'm on your side in this. I'm sorry I never called. You know, then."

      Costing her dad the sheriff's election...had been something she just couldn't watch because of what it did to her father. But now she was sitting in a hospital room, seeing what it did to her friends; what it did to the whole face of the town. 

     "Just glad you're back, V." He smiled, thinking about the tiny V in his life now. Tinier and gigglier and probably scared because her daddy was in the hospital. "Is my daughter here? My wife's never gonna let me leave the house again." He smiled again, knowing that wasn't true even as he said it. 

      Mr. Navarro, somebody's dad, Veronica marveled, not for the first time since she'd been back. Not everything had stayed the same in Neptune.