A/N: One of the most emotional scenes in 'Something Borrowed, Someone Blue' is when Niles and Daphne are dancing after the rehearsal dinner. I loved how they showed Frasier watching them. A perfectly acted scene without Frasier saying a word. This story is based on that scene.
(The bit with Frasier and Roz's conversation and their meeting up with Niles and Mel is a product of my own overactive imagination).
As some of Daphne and Donny's wedding guests took to the dance floor and others dispersed, I found myself at a table, alone with my thoughts, mulling over what happened over the past few days. It was almost like one of those tragic romances Daphne enjoys. A woman just days from her wedding trying to choose between two men, wondering if she was really in love with her fiancé. The man who changed her feelings (if unwittingly) eloping at the worst time possible.
Maybe things would be all right. Niles and Daphne seemed happy enough tonight, so while Mel took up Donny's friendly offer to dance, my thoughts became less serious. I even laughed when I saw Roz flirting with one of Daphne's cousins. Good old Roz, she never missed an opportunity to enchant another man.
Then I heard Daphne's voice from the bar and was somehow compelled to listen.
"I love this song," she was saying wistfully.
My little brother spoke up immediately, in a warm tone he didn't use even with Mel.
"Well, where are my manners? Do you care to dance?"
I was suddenly riveted on the scene, though I couldn't explain why. They were just two good friends dancing, weren't they? Still, something made me watch them closely. I could just hear their conversation.
"It's been a while since we danced together, hasn't it?" Niles murmured.
"Yes…it has," Daphne answered.
Something in their voices gave me an unsettling feeling. Maybe it was just the wine I'd drunk combined with the romantic atmosphere, but it just didn't seem like two friends simply reminiscing. I heard yearning and regret.
Don't jump to conclusions, Crane, something in my subconscious said, and I was about to chalk my musings to the whirlwind events that had taken place in less than a week—but then I looked at them. Really looked at them. And there was no more denying it now. They were still in love with each other, no matter how hard they protested, even if each didn't know the other's feelings.
There was no mistaking that look in their eyes. My baby brother and the woman who had become like a sister to me both had a look of longing, adoration, and regret. As Niles and Daphne got into the slow rhythm of the music, I couldn't take my eyes off them. They were almost melting into each other's arms. This was not the behavior of two good friends. Niles and Daphne were desperately in love (even if they were unaware of each other's feelings), but both thought that they had lost their chances.
I did not easily get emotional, but the entire scene was breaking my heart. I knew what I had to do, even though anyone with sense would say I shouldn't interfere. I would be breaking up a marriage and an engagement.
I remembered my conversation with my father just hours before, when I'd tentatively suggested that there was more going on with Niles and Daphne than met the eye.
"You can't tell Niles all this," Dad said sternly. "He says he's happy with Mel."
"And she says she's happy with Donny, but I'm not sure I believe either of them."
Dad gave me the stern look I knew too well.
"Just remember, Fras, there are two marriages on the line here. Before you get involved, you better make damn sure you know what you're doing."
Sure, Niles and Daphne said they were happy. Said being the operative word.
Words could fool people, but actions could not. I had learned that in both my own life and in my career.
The song finished and Mel and Donny cut in to dance with their respective partners. As Donny led Daphne away, Niles gave her one last look that spoke volumes before turning his attention to Mel. A moment later, Daphne cast the same look in his direction.
It was then that I knew I had to intervene. Logically, I knew trying to break up two committed relationships was taboo, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that the 'right' thing to do (letting things be) might be the 'wrong' thing to do. I couldn't let my only brother and the woman I knew he still loved (and vice versa) embark on relationships where one tried to forget the other.
If only I'd said something sooner. There were so many times I'd discouraged Niles, told him to wait, even after the divorce when he was free. As guilt set in, I wondered why I'd held him back. Was I worried he'd get hurt? Still convinced it was mere infatuation? Or—could it I was bothered that he could have a happy ending I'd also longed for after two failed marriages? I always had been competitive.
Real nice brother, I thought.
"Hey, Frasier, what are you so serious about?"
Roz's voice startled me and I looked up.
"What happened to that fellow you were after?" I asked, avoiding the question.
"Don't pretend you didn't hear me," she answered, sitting in the chair next to mine.
"Just thinking about the big event. It's strange, isn't it—,"
Roz cut me off.
"I know, right? It's weird that Niles married that awful woman so quickly, and I think something's up with Daphne. I'm not sure why, but ever since that Christmas party when Niles almost broke up with Mel for good—and he should have—I think there's something Daphne's not telling us. She told me that night that she had found out how Niles feels about her, though she didn't say who squealed. And ever since…well, like I said, I can't explain it. And I don't buy that Niles was ready to be married to Mel. Not yet, anyway. Call it women's intuition, but something's off. I think he still loves her."
"Roz," I held up my hand and watched as Niles and Mel went back to the bar. "I just forgot I have to tell Niles about something."
"I'll go with you. I could use a bloody Mary if Her Highness decides to start talking."
"Just be nice to her," I warned.
"Oh, don't worry. I can be fake-sweet too. I've mastered all that 'sweetie' and 'honey' crap," she said.
"Hi, Roz, how's it going?" Mel asked as we approached the bar.
"Can't complain, dear," Roz said with her most sugary smile, and if I'd been in a more lighthearted mood I would've laughed at her condescending tone.
With Mel distracted, I pulled Niles aside.
"Niles, I have to talk to you. Now."
A/N 2: I may do a companion story to this, with Frasier's POV as her talks to Niles.