A/N: Although I write mainly Niles/Daphne stories I decided to try something different. It just came to me out of the blue!
"Thank you so much, Roz," Niles said fervently. "Daphne's just about going out of her mind and I'm on the verge, too. When he trashed the living room after Manchester lost to Surrey in the last game…she looked murderous."
"I'll keep him out of your hair for a few hours," Roz promised as she turned to leave Niles and Daphne's apartment. "But what about Mrs. Moon?"
"She's out with Dad," Niles said. "I got him to agree by getting him season tickets to the Mariners, though I still don't get the appeal of watching a bunch of men hitting balls with clubs."
"Bats, Niles. They're called bats," Roz said, giggling.
Daphne appeared at this juncture.
"Wait up, Roz!" she said quickly. "I just wanted to thank you. You're the best friend in the world if you're willing to put up with Simon for so long!"
"Well…" a sly note crept into Roz's voice, "I hope you and Niles your time wisely."
The comment went by Niles, but Daphne grinned knowingly.
"Oy, Rose! Are you coming or not?" a drawling voice called.
Simon was waiting for Roz at the elevator. She cringed when she saw his getup, a faded, button-up blue flannel over a t-shirt with garish red and yellow stripes (for Manchester United, no doubt), well-worn jeans, and the ugliest shoes she'd ever seen on a man. She could have tolerated Simon just a little more if he ever thought to dress decently. He'd still be a boor, but at least he'd be a well-dressed boor.
"There you are, Rose," Simon said boisterously. "Where shall we go?"
'Rose' had spent a good bit of time thinking about this. Where could they go where they had less of a chance running into her friends or coworkers from the station?
"I thought it would be nice to visit the natural history museum," she said with practiced enthusiasm. She'd brought Alice there several times, and most of the visitors were families and students. Never had she run into anyone she knew.
The elevator doors slid open to reveal a sharply dressed couple; as they stepped off, they naturally spotted Simon. The look they exchanged with each other was one of absolute distaste. Roz hastily shoved Simon onto the elevator and pressed the button for the lobby before anyone else could come along.
"A museum? Excellent. I do admire a cultured woman," Simon said, trying to sound suave and failing horribly.
Minutes later, as Roz drove toward the museum, she wondered what had possessed her to flirt with Simon on the night of Daphne's surprise wedding shower so long ago. He was slumped in the passenger seat, feet on the dashboard, going on about accomplishments that were obvious lies, with an occasional leering comment about attractive women they drove past. By the time Roz pulled into the parking lot of the Burke Museum of Natural History, her head was aching, and she wondered that she hadn't pulled over and pushed Simon into oncoming traffic.
But that was only the beginning…
"Look at me! I'm a T-rex!" Simon exclaimed before a skeleton (partly a replica) of the prehistoric creature itself. He pulled his arm ins so it looked like he had T-rex 'hands', and paraded around with exaggeratedly heavy steps.
"Right, a T-rex," Roz said, grimacing.
They were almost out of the paleontology exhibit when Simon spied a pretty curator who was talking to a little girl.
"Don't listen to what those kids at school say," the curator told the girl. "There are lots of women who study dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are really cool, aren't they?"
"Yeah!" said the blond-haired child. "Thank you, Ellie!"
"Then you should keep studying them," the curator said.
The girl trotted off to her father, and Simon made a beeline for this Ellie before Roz could stop him. She saw the look in his eyes and groaned quietly. Here we go. Simon is going to turn on the 'charm'.
"Sooo, Ellie, is it?" Simon said casually.
"Y-ees…" Ellie eyed him carefully.
"Have you worked here long, babe?"
"About two months," the curator said, cringing at the leering way in which he said 'babe'.
"Good for you. It's nice to see women interested in science," Simon said in an excessively flattering tone. "I was telling my buddy, Rose, here, it's really hard to find a quality woman these days."
Roz's face turned hot at the uncomfortable look on Ellie's face. Looking down at her watch, she feigned surprise as she spoke to Simon.
"Oh, dear! We'd better hurry if we want to see the whole museum before I have to…to…get back to Alice!"
"I thought she was having a sleepover!" Simon protested.
"Just come on," Roz snapped.
Roz hurried Simon away; when they were out of earshot and out of sight of Ellie, she dragged him behind a model of a blue whale and glared furiously at him. Simon wilted visibly, for bolder men that he had backed off at Roz's smoldering gaze.
"Stop hitting on women like that! You're about as smooth as sandpaper. Didn't you see she wasn't interested?"
"Aw, you're just jealous," Simon bellowed.
"Shut up. Now, come along!"
They went through an exhibit of Northwestern Native American tribal art; Simon looked incredibly bored, which was a relief to Roz, for he fell silent. She felt a little more confident; perhaps he was running out of ways to be obnoxious. Never had silence been so welcome, so amazing, so…
"Oy, Rose! That dude looks just like you do when you're angry!" Simon shouted.
"Wh-what?" Roz's fantasy of a quiet afternoon was shattered.
"See, that statue thing with the funny face!" he exclaimed, pointing at a totem pole.
"That's called a totem pole, sir," a cool voice spoke up behind them, "and if you can't be more respectful toward the art of the native people, I will have a curator escort you out—Roz? Is that you?"
Roz wished the floor would open up and swallow her. She knew that voice, though it was usually more cheerful; it was Alice's science teacher—and a very good-looking teacher to boot. Gerald Karshner glanced between her and Simon. The slightest flicker of a disapproving look crossed his face until he regained his composure.
"Out on a date?" he asked stiffly, in an obvious effort to break the awkward silence.
"He's not…" Roz began, but Simon cut her off.
"Now, now, no need to hide our relationship now that we're both unattached," he said in a bragging voice, putting his arm well beyond Roz's waist. She could have punched Simon, but she wanted to avoid further embarrassment.
"Well…I'm about to speak at a Washington geology seminar," Gerald said uncomfortably. "Say hello to Alice for me."
"That's it! We are out of here!" Roz hissed when the coast was clear.
"We're not going back yet, are we? Stilts has got an attitude problem and I could use a break."
"Well, she does have two uninvited guests," Roz snapped. "No, we're not going back…yet. Why don't we go hit the beach for a while?"
Several moments later, Roz had taken her 'charge' to as remote a beach as possible. She picked up hamburgers and fries on the way and they sat on a large rock. The food kept Simon quiet for a while, and she gazed idly over the water and listened to the surf, happy at this respite. Thank God she didn't have to live with Simon and Gert. Niles really did love Daphne, she thought humorously, if he tolerated her atrocious family.
"Hey, Rose! Something's happenin' down there! Let's go see what it is!"
Before Roz could object, Simon was scrambling over the slightly rocky beach toward a flat section of sand where two people were gathered around a large object, talking. When Roz and Simon drew closer, they saw that the object was a brown pelican. The poor thing's beak was wrapped in fishing line and it was thrashing miserably. ]
"I can cut the line but I can't get the bird to stay still, Jim," a woman said mournfully.
"I don't know what to do, Wanda," Jim intoned. "Parks and Wildlife won't be here for twenty minutes. By then—,"
"I know what to do," Simon said in an unusually serious voice as he stepped forward.
"Simon…" Roz objected.
"I can handle this," Simon said curtly and then turned to the other woman. "Can I borrow that blanket?"
He nodded at a beach blanket at Wanda's feet.
"Of course, but, why?" she asked.
"We need to disable the wings. If you two can hold the bird still, I wrap him up."
Without further ado, and with assistance from the couple, Simon used the blanket to pinion the bird's wings to its sides; for good measure, he lightly tied his flannel shirt over its eyes. Roz watched in amazement as the pelican calmed; she could see it shaking, but it was no longer frantic. Her indignance over Simon's behavior gave way to something she'd never thought she'd feel toward him: a trickle of respect.
While Simon made sure the bird stayed tightly wrapped up, Jim and Wanda went to work untangling the bird's beak. By the time the Fish and Wildlife warden arrived, the pelican was completely free. Officer Stone checked it over carefully and declared that the bird had suffered no harm aside from a few shallow cuts on its pouch. The animal was unwrapped, its makeshift blindfold removed, and in one swift movement the great brown bird took off on graceful wings, flying out over the sea where it belonged.
"You did everything right," Officer Stone declared to the couple.
"No, he did," Sarah said, indicating Simon. "He knew how to keep the bird still."
Praise was showered upon Simon but, for once, he brushed it aside and turned to Roz.
"Our work here is done," he said. "And I think we can head back now."
"I agree," Roz replied, and soon they were heading back to the city.
To make conversation, and out of curiosity, Roz asked Simon how he knew what to do about the bird.
"Mum took me and Stilts to the coast one summer—we didn't go much because we were so far north, of course. We saw some big injured bird that looked sort of like a pelican. Stilts was almost in hysterics when she saw it and went running for help. A wildlife rescue team came out. We watched how they wrapped up the bird and kept it calm."
"Well, it was good work," Roz said.
"Wasn't it? How do you feel about me now, Rose?" Simon answered, the boastful tone coming back into his voice. "Now that I've proven I'm not just some sexy piece of muscle?"
"Sexy? Get out!" Roz hooted, unable to control the laughter in her voice. "I don't feel anything about you, Simon! Give it up! You did great today, but I'm just not interested!"
"Betcha wouldn't say that if that Frasier Crane bloke wasn't in the picture!" Simon declared.
"What? No! I'm not interested in him, either!" Roz snapped.
"Now, now, I know you think he's too good for you, but if you're good enough for me, you're good enough for anyone! Not every woman can pass Simon Moon's high standards!"
Roz ignored him this time, but that didn't stop Simon from hitting on her for the next half hour, bragging about things that obviously didn't happen, complaining loudly when she wouldn't take him to a bar, and only lapsing into a sullen silence when Roz said she was a Liverpool supporter (she wasn't; in fact, she didn't watch British sports, but she had found the one way to silence Simon Moon).
When they were at last at the Montana, she was already making plans to hole up in her apartment for a hot bath and a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. With Alice at the sleepover, Roz would have the entire night to herself. Blissful, sweet silence…
"So, you bought him back in one piece," Daphne teased when she greeted them; she seemed very cheerful even though her brother was back.
"Look at that smile on me little sister's face," Simon chuckled. "I guess you got yourself some, ay, Stilts?"
"Shut up, you old prune," Daphne fired back, fixing him with a deathly glare. "Mum already made a similar crack. If you don't shut up I can make you vanish and make it look like an accident. God knows I've got plenty of brothers to spare…"
Simon fled on the spot.
"Thank you so much for your help," Daphne told Roz. "You and Martin. I owe you both."
"Thanks. I'll take a Mercedes and a trip to Australia," Roz jested weakly before making a beeline for the elevator—and a Simon-less evening.
"I've survived a day with Simon Moon!" she told herself as she headed home to her apartment on the marina. "Braggart, boor, sports fanatic, bird rescuer…"
A/N 2: I have not been to the Burke museum, but some of my four older siblings did when they were kids. We grew up in Washington state [in a town named Pullman which most outsiders never heard of] but my parents moved us all but my oldest sister to Florida when I was four years old. Long story short, that's where I got the idea of Roz taking Simon to a museum. (I love natural history!)