A/N: If you like to see Nancy with Ned, don't read this.

Disclaimer: I own nothing except Sarah, who is just a random name, anyway.


I couldn't help but notice when you entered the room, clad in that velvet green dress with your beautiful strawberry-blonde ringlets brushing over your shoulders—I'm sure half the eyes in the room turned to stare at the two of you.

I envy him.

Of course he's the one whom girls would turn to look at. Dark hair, chiseled face, warm brown eyes. Handsome, unlike—what was it you called me? Homey?

You two look so happy together, content, your head on his shoulder, his arms around your waist, swaying from side to side or moving your feet to the beat. Heck, he even dances better than I do. The gentleman in every sense of the word—how could I possibly compete?

-

I knew I was losing you that night, the night you came home from Egypt with a smile on your face, a faraway look in your eyes.

"What're you thinking about?" I'd asked.

"It's nothing really. Just reviewing the case, looking back over what happened and such." You were so painfully vague…

"It's Frank, isn't it?" You didn't answer because you knew I knew.

I shouldn't have blown up then. I know that now, but now it's too late.

-

It's hard to believe that you aren't mine anymore…but who could compete with him? You said yourself—brilliant, sensitive, kind, handsome, and so much like you.

-

You were sprawled on the sofa, scanning the newspaper, so typical. You smiled when I walked in, bouncing up to give me a hug. I allowed myself that. "Nancy…"

"Mmm?" You looked at me with those luminous blue eyes, so beautiful, so loving.

"Nancy, we need to talk."

"About what?" So innocent, so confused. Your arms tensed, held me tighter, closer.

"Nancy, I can't…I can't compete with Frank." There. The words were out…

"Ned, don't be so silly! How many times do I need to tell you? Frank and I are friends, nothing more. We're both happily in love with other people. We can never forget that…we're just friends."

No matter how much you denied it, the attraction was clearly there. "If we were both out of the picture, Callie and I…would you be with Frank?"

"What kind of question is that? One doesn't think about things like that. It's not right. That's not the way things are."

"You would, wouldn't you? If I were out of the picture…if I weren't here to hold you down, you'd go straight to him!" Why did I have to accuse you—what was I thinking?

"Ned, stop it! I love you, don't you know? Can't you tell? What do I have to do to show you that?" Tears were beginning to form at the corner of your eyes. I don't know why I didn't stop then, why I didn't drop it… "I love you, Ned. You're the only one I love."

"You know that's not true." I was angry now. "You love him, too. I saw the way you looked at him at the airport. You two whispering, laughing conspiratorially like there was no tomorrow. As if you don't love him!"

You sighed sadly, almost exasperated. The tears had left your eyes, were running down your cheeks. "Frank is very dear to me—we've solved cases together, we've been through life-or-death situations. I love him, but only as a friend. You're the only one I love…stop, please, Ned. Be reasonable."

"Be reasonable? You ask me to be reasonable when you're giving your heart to another man? Very dear to you, indeed!" I spat the words out. I didn't mean to be so angry… "Go, then. I'm removing myself from the picture. Go, find Frank. Stop feeling obligations toward me, I'm sick of it."

You froze, and your mouth opened slightly, as if in shock. "Ned, what're you saying? You can't possibly mean that…" The tears came faster, streaking your cheeks.

I wiped them away—I couldn't help it. The sight of you broke my heart. "Nancy," I'd murmured, softly. "It's better this way. You can do what you love, chase after cases, be with Frank without guilt. And I…I want to start a family someday, Nan. But I can't live like this, always wondering whether you'll come back alive. I want my children to have a mother, a mother who'll be there to take care of them all the time, who's not always gone half-way around the world. I need stability, Nan."

"Why can't we start a family, someday?" You were sobbing, torn, so sad… "Isn't our love worth it, Ned? Isn't that what holds us together—not all the worries about cases and guilt? We still love each other! We can get through anything…our love…" You buried your face into my chest, your tears soaking my shirt.

"No, Nan. It's time that we grow up. We don't live in a world of fantasies. Love...love doesn't conquer all in the real world." You clung to me, but I slowly disentangled myself.

"I'm sorry."

And I walked away, so simply, from the love of my life.

You left the next day. When I returned to apologize, your dad told me that you were in Bayport.

-

Sarah asked me out a week after that, did you know? Did you even care? You'd see her dancing with me here, in my arms, if you bothered to look. But you're so absorbed by him…did I ever pull you into our own world like he does?

It's at these times that I doubt: Had I been a good enough boyfriend? Couldn't I have been better? If I'd been better, would you want me? Would our bond have been stronger than yours? Would you…would you still be mine? But I take another look at you two, wrapped up in one another's arms, talking animatedly, grinning like children.

And as I look, I already know the answer. And I'm glad I let you go; your happiness, your brilliant smile—it's worth it.

I can't be Frank. You two were meant to be.

I envy him.


Reviews, anyone? Something constructive...please do not tell me that you don't like Frank/Nancy together.