The ride to the restaurant was quiet, save for the baseball game that floated out of the radio, and Frasier's bickering about having to listen to it. Daphne stared straight ahead, holding tightly to Niles' hand, but yet unable to look at him. Never before had she been so ashamed.
They arrived at the restaurant and went inside, Niles' hand on the small of her back. They were escorted to their table almost immediately and were seated in a circle. Wordlessly Daphne picked up her menu, making sure to hold it upright in order to hide her face from view. She glanced at it, having no idea what it said. The words blurred by the tears in her eyes that she was trying so hard to hold in.
"So, what looks good?" Martin asked. "Oh, look! They have a prime rib special for only $9.99! This is my kind of place! Comes with a baked potato and everything!"
"Does that include fixin's, Dad?" Frasier quipped.
Martin wasn't amused. "It sure does, wise guy! And if we'd gotten here earlier, we could have had dinner a long time ago! I had to listen to the damn baseball game on the car radio!"
"Dad, please! Enough about that ridiculous baseball match!" Frasier yelled. "Now, I'm starving, so why don't we just order? What are you going to have, Daphne?"
And that was all it took for Daphne to burst into tears.
The waiter appeared at the table, looking dumbfounded. "I-I can… come back later." He stammered.
Niles put his arms around Daphne and let her cry on his chest. "I think that's a good idea." He said to the waiter.
The waiter then nodded and left.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Niles asked, brushing the hair from Daphne's face.
She lifted her head from Niles chest and looked across the table at her boss. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Crane! I didn't mean to break your tape! I know how much it meant to you and now you'll never get it ba…" Her voice trailed away, replaced with sobs.
"Damn it, Frasier will you let this thing go? It's a tape for crying out loud!" Martin yelled. "Now you've upset her!"
"Well, Dad what did you expect me to do, take this lightly?"
"If you were a normal person, yes!" Martin said. "But since you're not, I figured you could be just a little bit compassionate! Accidents happen and you can get another tape! It's not the end of the world!"
Niles' gentle hand was on Daphne's back, rubbing in small circles. "It's all right, Daphne. Frasier knows that you didn't mean to do it."
But she continued to cry until she couldn't stand to be at the same table with her boss any longer. Against Martin and Niles' protests, she rose from the table and fled to the ladies' room. At least there she would be able to sulk in peace.
How could she have been so stupid? It was just a bloody cassette tape and although she loved Hall and Oats, she wasn't sure that she'd ever be able to listen to them again. The thought of listening to them after what she'd done was just too painful.
In the small space, she stood staring into the mirror. She should have been appalled at the way she looked; her face started with tears, her eyes red and puffy. But her appearance was nothing compared to the way she felt.
A soft knock on the door startled her and she brushed the tears from her cheeks. Some people were so bloody impatient. "Just a minute, I'm almost finished!" She shouted. She ran a hand through her air and looked into the mirror, just in time to see her tears return. "Bloody hell…"
The knocking came again and she sighed irritably as she yanked it open. "You could at least be a little-." She froze, startled to find herself staring into her boss's eyes.
"Daphne, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten so angry.""
"But it was your two hundredth show and I've ruined it forever!"
He smiled and took her hand. "Nothing is ruined forever, Daphne. And I realized that there are more important things than my radio show. "
"Well, at any rate, I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry."
She bowed her head. "I'm sorry too."
He opened his arms and she filled them, taking comfort in his embrace. "Thank you, Frasier."
"Now, why don't we go and enjoy our dinner? I think someone wants to escort you back to the table, so I'll go and meet up with Dad."
Niles handsome face appeared before her and she fell into his embrace, kissing him tenderly. "Niles…"
"Are you okay, Sweetheart?"
She smiled and nodded. "I am now. Thank you."
He put his arm around her and together they walked back to the table, as though nothing had happened.
The waiter appeared, smiling as though nothing at all had happened. "What can I get you?"
She glanced at the menu. "I'll have the Chef Salad and an iced tea."
"All right, I'll be right back."
When the waiter left, she glanced at the Crane men." I'm sorry for making such a scene."
The men spoke almost in unison:
"You didn't, Daphne."
"It's okay, Sweetheart."
"Daphne, it was my fault."
She smiled and rose from her chair once more, hugging and kissing each Crane man. She loved them all. But it was Niles whom she loved the most.