You never asked me to fall in love with you. Never asked me to break your heart, probably more times than I would like to count.

All you ever asked was that I accept that what you do, nearly every day, is who you are. And I struggled with that. Because, frankly, I was always afraid of opening the paper to learn you had died. And I don't think I could have lived with that.

It's funny. I always thought my continuous worrying would bring you closer to me, instead of the opposite. I thought that you would be a little more careful, a little less excited when a new case came up.

But it didn't work. And I realized that when I watched the two of you together. You had been friends for so long, but all of a sudden something seemed different. I don't know quite when it was. I think I noticed on Padre Island, but I'm sure it existed before then.

At least you tried to prevent it, both of you. I could see that. You were both still attached to other people, and I'm willing to bet that you may have still loved us then.

But the pull of someone so like you is hard to resist, isn't it? Just like the pull of girls who led safer, normal lives was hard to resist for me. I hated that you didn't always need me, and that sometimes you went to him. That you could need him more than me.

You never knew this, but I talked with him once, after one of your cases. In fact, it was right after you guys went to Egypt. I called him two days after you arrived at home, because you seemed so jittery around me. I was afraid something worse than usual had happened.

So what did I talk to him about? You, of course. It started off fairly simple, just my asking what had happened in Egypt to make you so nervous. But that disappeared when he sighed into the phone.

"I don't know that it's entirely my place to say, Ned."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that...things happened in Egypt that you and Nancy should talk about."

"Something more than the usual danger?"

He laughed at that, but it sounded a little bitter. "Yeah, more than that. Listen, Ned. You have a great girl. Don't let her go."

"I don't plan to, Hardy." My voice had hardened some, but after all, he was practically admitting that he found you attractive, and that worried me.

A sigh. "Ned, look. I won't take Nancy away from you. I promise you that, even though you don't seem to trust me."

"How do I know that she won't go to you after this case?"

"You don't. And I won't guarantee her actions."

I hung up on him then. How dare he imply that you would think of leaving me? But then again, he knew what had happened in Egypt, and I didn't.

I should have talked to you about it then, like he suggested. But the chemistry between you two seemed to lessen after that case, so I thought I had nothing to worry about.

But then you went to college. And I lost you. And I wasn't surprised. You and he fit perfectly. Similar personalities, interests, everything. Heck, he even looks better than me.

All I know is that I can hear you laughing in the background as he picks up the phone. And I wish that you were laughing for me.

"Hardy."

"Ned." You've stopped laughing, all I hear is silence in the background as he waits for me to speak.

"Take care of her." Simple enough, though I can hear him sigh in relief. Before he can reply though, I've hung up the phone. I can't trust myself to say more to him right now.