A/N: Thank you to DustinW522 who suggested this story ages ago.
It was the knock on his door that awakened him from a sound sleep. He ignored it at first, hoping that whomever had unwisely chosen to disturb his slumber would eventually take the hint and go away. But shortly after the room had fallen silent and he was finally able to return his head to his pillow, he was awakened yet again. And this time he wasn't happy about it.
Annoyed, he sat up and swung his feet to the floor, grateful that his slippers were waiting for him. As he moved his hand across the expensive sheets, the pale moonlight through window enabled him to see the outline of his silk robe that lay on the bed. He slipped it on and cinched the belt tightly around his waist.
That same streak of moonlight provided a pathway to the door and he was pleased to see that he'd forgotten to turn off the hallway light, for it was instrumental in helping him to reach the stairs. He was, after all, still very much asleep, even as he moved about his home.
The knocking continued, a harsh reminder of why he was awake and out of bed in the middle of the night. And he couldn't help the irritation that consumed him.
"Always at the worst times of night!" He muttered, as though the visitor (or rather, the intruder) could hear him.
There he went again, talking to himself. The habit was relatively new, and something he wasn't pleased with. He knew all too well what it was like to be on the other side, to council patients who had issues with talking to themselves. But for a psychiatrist such as himself to have the problem was disturbing. And he realized that it was happening more and more. Still, he supposed that talking to himself was completely normal, as everyone did it at one time or another. And he had to admit that he often felt better after doing so.
There was a reasonable explanation for the habit and as much as he hated to admit it, he had to face the facts. He drank too much, perhaps to the point where some might consider him an alcoholic. But he was fully prepared to argue that case.
He drank wine and sherry purely for the enjoyment of it and nothing more. Besides, what was the purpose of sherry and wine if not for enjoyment? He knew his limit and on the rare occasions that he exceeded that limit, he made sure that he was in a safe place where he could not harm himself or others. He only wished he'd exceeded his limit the night that he sat on Frasier's Cocoa Chanel sofa, sandwiched between Frasier and his father, watching as Daphne gave her heart to another man. At least if he'd been over his limit on that night, he would have no recollection of it. But the sad truth of it was that he remembered it as though it were yesterday.
Oh that night- that horrible night- against Frasier and his father's wishes, he'd driven home. And the moment he walked through his front door, he slammed it shut, tossed his keys aside and headed straight for his collection of wine and sherry. He poured a glass of sherry and gulped it down, followed by a glass of wine, which he consumed in the same manner. He alternated between the two beverages, pouring glass after glass until the room was spinning so violently that he could take it no longer. He collapsed on the Guest Room bed and fell into a deep sleep. He woke hours later, the day half gone, with a horrific hangover. And yet, he still remembered every detail of that night. Even alcohol couldn't dull the painful realization that Daphne was engaged and would never be his.
"FOR GOD'S SAKE, I'M COMING!" He shouted as the knocking resumed, even louder than before. Quickly he cinched the belt of his robe making sure that it was tied securely. And he hoped that whomever was at the door would not recognize it by sight. For even he was not aware, until after he'd purchased it from an online retailer, that it was not a robe designed for men, but rather for women. When he received the robe in the mail, and made the horrifying discovery, he was absolutely appalled and immediately contacted the merchant to give him a piece of his mind.
"You sent me the wrong damn robe!" he shouted into the phone. He was immediately put on hold and his hand ached from holding the receiver to his ear. For the rest of his life he vowed that he would never again listen to any version of the classic song "The Nearness of You". For, in the insane amount of time that he was on hold (which felt like hours), the song played on perpetual repeat until at last someone finally answered. However, he could barely detect her accent, much less fully understand what she was saying. After several moments of arguing with the woman to no avail, he simply gave up. Putting forth the effort to return the robe and wait for a refund was simply not worth his time and energy.
That night, when he reluctantly wore the robe for the first time, he was hit with the shock of his life. It was the most comfortable robe he'd ever worn. The silky satin material was luxurious, but not overly so and the fit was perfect. As he admired himself in the full length mirror that hung in his closet, he realized that it would take a trained eye for anyone to notice that the robe was designed for a woman. Of course he swore that he would never show it to Frasier or his father. They were sure to catch on, even though his father once bought a pair of ladies' glasses and for a while, wore them with pride. As for other people, the chances of anyone else seeing him in the robe were slim to none. And that, oddly enough, was of some comfort.
As though he needed reminding, the doorbell began to ring and ring. Apparently the intruder (or visitor) had grown weary of knocking and for that he was appreciative. But the ringing soon brought on a headache, which reminded him of how angry he was about being awakened in the middle of the night.
He marched to the foyer, his hand poised on the doorknob. "Look Mrs. Bennett, I'm sorry if the ocean noise from my sound machine is disturbing you, but I've told you time and again that I simply cannot sleep unless I-." He thrust the door open and froze, unable to believe what or rather, whom he was seeing. For there, standing before him in his hallway, was not the annoying woman from next door.
It was Daphne.