The living room swayed a bit as she and Niles entered the front door of the condo, but she held onto him, grateful that he was doing his best to keep her steady.
"Hello, all." Niles said in greeting to Frasier and Martin.
"Niles, Daphne." Martin replied.
"Listen you two. I'm glad you're here. You too, Dad. I'm afraid I've got some bad news." Frasier announced.
"Oh? What sort of news, Frasier?" Niles asked.
Frasier sighed. "I could only get two tickets for the spelling bee competition."
"Oh, that's a shame, Frasier." Daphne replied. "But we'll be there in spirit. Frederick will understand."
"Of course he will, Daphne. And I'm glad you're not upset over this. I was afraid that you might be."
"Not at all. Disappointed of course, but to be honest, it's probably just as well, considering how emotional I get, watching children compete. Like the little girl who studies by candlelight while her father's down at the pub drinking away the electricity bill. Or the little girl who pretends not to see her father waving at her from the sidewalk as she's on the school bus, when he's headed for the pub yet again. Or the little girl who stupidly thinks that by doing well in school she can one day buy that bloody pub and turn it into something that is practical so that her father can keep his promise and-."
Her voice broke and she burst into tears. And when she saw the perplexed looks of Frasier, Martin and Niles, she ran into her room; or rather, the study that used to be her room. She sat down on the surprisingly uncomfortable sofa and clutched a throw pillow in her hands, crying into it. But even though she had no idea why she was so upset, she continued to cry. And those cries turned into sobs that didn't seem to show any signs of stopping.
Her head ached; it ached so badly. But still she cried. And the knock on the door felt like a pounding in her head.
The door opened and she looked up through blurry eyes to see him standing there, holding something in his hand.
"Yes my love, it's me." He said; his blurry silhouette moving toward her. She squeezed her eyes and slowly he came into focus. It was a beautiful sight. He was holding a glass of water in his hand.
"I brought you some water. And I thought you might need these."
She looked at his open hand, overcome with love for him. "Aspirin. Well aren't you sweet? That's the sweetest thing you've ever done for me."
"Well, if that's the case, I've been a terrible fiancé, haven't I?"
"No, you're wonderful, Niles. I love you so much."
"I love you too, sweetheart. Here, take these aspirin. I'm sure Frasier will let you take a nap on his bed, all right?"
Dutifully she did as he asked, gulping the water down and then handed the empty glass back to him. "Thank you, Niles."
"It was my pleasure."
"I'm sorry for acting so stupid in front of Frasier and Martin. I don't know why I keep crying about this! It happened years ago."
He sat down beside her and took her into his arms. Immediately she rested her head against his chest, content to listen to the sound of his beating heart.
"It's all right. Memories can be painful, even years after they happened. I'm so sorry that happened to you."
"Promise me something."
He stroked her hair and then kissed her forehead. "Anything my love."
"Promise me you'll never treat our kids the way my father treated me brothers and I."
"Your father's a good man, Daphne. Good people do things that they regret. But I promise I'll be the best father ever, when the time comes."
"Thank you, Niles…" She closed her eyes and sighed. "I'm so tired all of a sudden."
"I'm sorry, Daphne. It was my fault. We shouldn't have had so much wine with our lunch."
"Not your fault…" she said, her words sounding foreign to her own ears.
He slipped his hand into hers and smiled. "Come with me."
In one fluid motion she rose to her feet and followed him blindly through the living room.
"Is everything all right, Daphne?" Frasier was asking. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"She'll be fine." Niles said. "Is it all right if she lies down in your room?"
"She can take my room if she wants to." Martin said.
"Thanks Dad, that's a wonderful gesture. But I think Frasier's bed will be more comfortable. No offense of course."
Martin held up his hands in mock surrender. "None taken."
"Just a nap." Niles said.
"That's a good idea." Frasier said. "I have some things to do anyway. Dad can I give you a ride anywhere?"
"Oh sure, Fras. Let me get my jacket." Martin said.
When they were gone, Daphne and Niles made their way into Frasier's bedroom. The bed was certainly big and inviting and Daphne didn't hesitate to climb onto it.
"Goodnight, Niles." She said, falling asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.
She felt him remove her shoes and pull back the covers to tuck her in. And then seconds later, he removed his own shoes, before he slipped into bed beside her and drew her into his arms. "Goodnight, my angel."