Disclaimer: Me no own!


I was still wondering about Nico Petit's future, and what lay ahead of him in the life he had built on a foundation of sand, when my cell phone rang. It was my default tone, I Gotta Feeling by the Black-Eyed Peas, so it was someone that wasn't on my contact list.

Pulling my EnV touch-screen out of my back pocket, I flipped it open and examined the caller ID. It said 'Restricted' which was a little scary, but I had to tell off whoever it was. Besides, I was a little curious.


A voice I thought I'd never hear again came through the phone, crackling with the bad connection. "Nancy? Nancy Drew?"

All signs pointed to him. Thick Italian accent, that is. In my mind's eye, I could see his iridescent emerald green eyes again. I could see his dark chocolate brown hair, shifting with the wind, and I could almost hear his voice.

I must be dreaming.

"No, you're not," he said.

Oops, I must've said that last line aloud. "I must be," I said.

He let out a bitter laugh. "That's what I used to think. Daily." Nico started to say something else, but he was interrupted by a loud, deep voice that barked something about three minutes.

"Where are you?"

"I'm making my call," he said. "All I've got is three minutes to explain everything, and then the phone automatically shuts off."

"Jail," I said simply.

"Naturally, Ms. Obvious," he joked. I was surprised that he was in the mood for joking.

"So…what happened after I left? Did Sophia get everyone? Are any of the Phantom Ring still out there?"

Nico heaved a sigh. I could picture him grabbing a fistful of his hair and tugging anxiously at it. "I wish. Nancy, me and Samantha Quick…we're the only ones. We're the only ones that got caught."

I let out a little gasp. "No way!"

"Unfair, I know," he said, chuckling blackly, "but that's the way life is. Anyway, I…I had a choice back there. I know that Tazza and Fango and Beaumont, or rather, Baxter, deserved to go to jail. They deserve to be here for the rest of their stupid lives. But I couldn't do it." His voice cracked, and he added, "I couldn't do it."

"Do what?" I asked curiously.

Nico continued over the loud voice that shouted something about one minute and a half, "I couldn't let them be condemned for the rest of their lives. I don't wish that upon any person, Nancy, any person at all."

I felt weak at the knees. Nico had changed, and he had changed for the better. That was what I'd been aiming for. "Nico," I choked out, "good job. You did a good job, man."

He snorted softly. "Thanks, Nance."

That was the first time he'd shortened my name. The first time he'd called me anything other than Nancy or Drew. I began, "Nico, is there anything I can do? Any way that me and my dad can help you? He's a lawyer, you know -"

"No," said Nico automatically. "I deserve this." Then came that irritating voice, calling out that there was less than half a minute left. "I deserve this for everything I've ever done."

I bit my lip, tears filling my eyes. "Nico -"

"Goodbye, Nancy Drew," he said, "forever."

"Nico!" I shouted again, into the phone: but the line was dead. My last words died on my lips, died on my tongue, as I sank sobbing to the floor.

I love you.