Niles sighed deeply, watching his angel from the doorway. He wanted to go to her so badly, but he didn't dare disturb her. She looked so deep in thought. But there was something else. She looked completely depressed and he couldn't understand why. What could have possibly gone so wrong during their trip to Belize? Was it something he'd done? Something he'd said?
He feared the former more, since the only thing they'd really done was spend their days and nights making love. And then a horrible thought crossed his mind. Had he disappointed her? Was she having second thoughts about their relationship? No. He refused to think it. They loved each other and that love was evident; especially in the throes of passion. Daphne was an independent, outspoken woman and if something was troubling her-even something as personal as the context of their intimacy, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would tell him.
Suddenly he had to know. He had to know what he'd done to hurt her so badly. Without hesitation he went to her where she sat at the kitchen table and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her cheek.
She looked up at him and smiled. "Niles…"
His heart warmed at the sight of her, but nearly shattered when she burst into tears. "Oh Niles!"
He coaxed her out of the chair and into his arms, content to hold her for as long as it took to calm her as she cried against his chest.
"Daphne, I'm so sorry, my love. I'm sorry for whatever I've done-or didn't do. I've been trying so hard to make you happy and I can't stand to see you like this. So please… tell me what I can do to make it right. I'll do anything, my angel. Anything at all."
"It's not you." She cried; her sweet voice muffled against his chest.
Somewhat relieved, he kissed her forehead and stroked her back. "Then when is it?"
She lifted her head, revealing her tear-streaked cheeks. "You'll think I'm daft, but I miss Claire."
Niles' eyebrows rose. "Clarrie? As in -?"
"Your brother's Claire, right. I miss her, Niles! She'd become the sister I've never had!"
"She's not gone, Daphne. You can still see her." Niles pointed out.
But Daphne shook her head. "No I can't Niles, don't you understand?"
"No, actually, I don't."
"It wouldn't be right. Isn't that what you're always saying? That ethics are important?"
"Well, yes… they are, but-."
"H-how can I possibly still be friends with Claire when she and your brother-."
Niles sighed deeply and gave her a gentle hug. "Is that what you're worried about?"
She looked at him in all seriousness. "Wouldn't you?"
He paused for a few seconds. "Come to think of it, yes. But-."
"It wouldn't be fair to your brother, Niles. I mean, if Donny-." She stopped and her expression told him all he needed to know.
He swallowed hard and nodded, finally understanding her position. "I suppose you're right."
"Yes." Daphne said, lowering her head.
"But that was different, Daphne. I like Claire and so does Dad. And she and Frasier didn't part on bad terms. Frasier is just-torn between Claire and Lana, although I can't imagine why he'd pick Lana over Claire anyway. She was… well... in high school-."
"I get it, Niles!" Daphne said: the irritation thick in her voice.
Quickly he changed the subject, content to never mention Lana's name again. "Hopefully one day Frasier will realize that Claire is perfect for him. But in the meantime go ahead and call her. Go have lunch together. I'm sure she'd love to see you."
"I'll talk to Frasier."
He smiled and brushed a fallen lock of hair from her forehead. "Don't worry. Friendship is important. Frasier knows that. Everything will be all right."
Her arms went around him and she drew him close for the most wonderful hug imaginable. And it was accompanied by even more wonderful kisses.
Dare he hope that the kisses would soon be followed by a re-creation of the passionate lovemaking that would put their lovemaking in Belize to shame?
He didn't have to dream about that happening. He'd make certain that it would become reality. And he could hardly wait.