Niles took a sip of his latte and sighed.
He looked up, surprised at his brother's question. "What? No, I-Oh… I can't lie to you, Frasier. Yes."
Frasier grinned. "You're right about that, Niles."
"Right about what?"
"Lying to me. You can't do it! Your bleeding nose always gives you away!" When Frasier chuckled at his own (very lame) joke, Niles was even more depressed than before.
"Doesn't anyone take me seriously anymore?"
"I'm sorry Niles. What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? What isn't wrong? Something is very wrong!" Niles rambled.
"Oh? Well, what is it? Remember, I'm listening."
Niles rolled his eyes at his brother's annoying catch phrase. "Well, if you must know, it's Daphne." Just saying the name of the woman he loved in such an unflattering manner made him feel ill at ease.
"Daphne? Oh Dear God, she's not sick is she?"
His brother's concern made him smile. "No, there's nothing wrong with Daphne, Frasier. In fact, she's perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I love her so much."
Frasier smiled. "I know you do, Niles and you know that I couldn't be happier for the two of you. I hope you find true happiness together, although it looks like you've already found it.""
"I have, but…" Niles shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Well, if you must know, it's those damn piano lessons! I just don't understand it! How could she have possibly taken eight years of lessons and still play so dreadfully?"
"I mean, think about it Frasier, Eight years! That's… well, let's see… If it's one lesson a week for two hours, that means…"
"Frasier, I'm trying to calculate here! Can you please let me concentrate?"
"Fine, you can concentrate by yourself! As far as I'm concerned, our date is off for tonight!"
Niles looked up in horror, when he saw Daphne standing before him, tears in her eyes. Oh Dear God….
"Daphne… Daphne wait!" He called to her as she ran out of the cafe. But of course, it was too late. She was never coming back.
Daringly he looked at his brother, who merely shrugged. "Now what do I do?"
"I tried to warn you, Niles."
"Well, next time can you warn me a little better? What am I supposed to do now?"
"Oh, I don't know… apologize?"
"But what do I say?"
"Well how about I'm sorry for starters? You'll think of something. And while you're thinking, think about this… did it bother you the previous eight years when you didn't know that Daphne couldn't play the piano?"
"The previous eight years? But I haven't known-"
"Oh for God's sake, Niles… think about it!"
Realization set in then and Niles wanted to kick himself. "You're right. Damn... I'm a fool, Frasier."
"Yes, you are, Niles. But that's beside the point! Just… go apologize to Daphne and get on with your lives, all right?"
"But I don't know what to-." he stopped, looking around in confusion when he realized that he was alone. That was certainly odd. But when he turned and glanced at the table by the window, his heart shattered. For there in front of him sat his angel, and she was crying…, no, sobbing into her hands.
Without a moment's hesitation he rose from his chair and went to her. She was bound to discount him, even throw him out of the café. But it was worth a try. He stood before her, until he was so close that he could smell her perfume.
"Go away, Niles."
The words stung, but he deserved them, and then some. "No, not until you let me apologize."
"So what are you waiting for? Apologize!"
Without waiting for an answer, or asking permission, he sat down beside her and daringly put his hand on her back. "Daphne, I'm so sorry, I-."
"No, I'm the one who's sorry, Niles!" She shouted, causing a few heads to turn. But she averted her eyes. "I'm the stupid one who endured eight years of lessons and not a thing came out of them!"
"Daphne, you're not stupid. Far from it."
"But you told Frasier…. Are you ashamed of me, Niles?"
He couldn't lie to her either. "I was at first, but then I realized that it was myself that I'm ashamed of. Not you."
"I'm sorry.." She said beginning to sob yet again.
He moved closer to her, surprised when Daphne didn't pull away, and allowed him to hold her close. She cried onto his shoulder and he rubbed her arm. "I'm sorry." She said again and again.
"Daphne don't cry. And don't apologize. The fault is mine. I guess I let my ego get the best of me. I'm so sorry. I'll never criticize you again."
"But you're ashamed of me!" She sobbed.
"I can never be ashamed of you."
"You should be."
"What kind of a moron takes piano lessons for eight years and-."
He kissed her cheek. "You're not a moron. You're beautiful, sweet, loving and the most wonderful angel I've ever seen. I love you so much. I don't care if you can play the piano or not. All I care about is the fact that you love me and you love so many others. And if you really want to learn to play, I'll get you the best teacher that money can buy."
She lifted her head and smiled. "Really? You're not just saying that?"
"No I mean it.… and if anyone's a fool here, I am."
"You're not…" she said, pausing to kiss his cheek, his chin, and his lips. "Thank you, Niles…"
"For the piano lessons. I'm, sorry they were a disaster."
"It's okay. But we never did finish our lesson, did we?"
"What lesson was that?"
"The naughty student who didn't do her homework. Remember?"
He grinned sheepishly. "Oh, that's right. Roz came over, didn't she?"
"Yes, but she's not here now. And it's still early. Why don't we go back to Frasier's and finish our lesson?"
"That sounds wonderful, my love. And I really am sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. I wish I could explain…"
"You can…" She whispered into his ear. "And we've got all night."
He opened his mouth to speak but no words came. And before he knew what was happening, he was being led away from the piano toward her bedroom. He couldn't help but grin mischievously. He could hardly wait for the lesson to continue. And then perhaps they could start a new one.