It happened as they were driving down Spring Street. The store, when it came into view, was so unexpected that she literally gasped and she was as excited as a
"Oh Niles, look!" she shouted, catching him off guard.
From his position in the driver's seat, Niles turned to her, clearly confused by her sudden delight. "What?"
She thrust her finger toward the window, momentarily blocking his view. "Over there! Don't you see it? Oh my God, I can't believe it! Pull over, Niles! Hurry!"
His eyebrows rose as he tried to maneuver the car to the right. "What? Here?"
"Yes, hurry up, Niles! I don't want to miss it!"
"But Daphne, the traffic-."
"Please Niles? For me?" She grinned sweetly, giving him a look that she knew that he couldn't resist. And sure enough, he slowed the car to a crawl and began looking
for a parking place. But even on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon, cars seemed to fill every available spot along the busy street.
"Daphne, do we have to do this now? There's no-."
The car jolted to a halt, sending them flying foreword. Luckily they were both wearing their seatbelts. Even if it hadn't been a law in Washington State, Daphne knew
how important car safety was-especially after being forced to ride with Simon when she lived in Manchester. But her seatbelt suddenly felt too conforming, as though
she was trapped inside the luxurious BMW.
Her fingers trembled as she struggled to unfasten the belt, but once she was free, she scrambled out slamming the door so hard that the car moved back and forth.
Niles, however, was unperturbed by the unexpected motion, and continued to stare at her in disbelief. "Daphne, what's wrong? Where are you going?"
"Just… Go find a parking place, okay? I'll be all right."
"Just go, Niles!"
"Everything's fine! Just hurry!"
"But what are you-."
Without bothering to give him an answer, Daphne rushed down the sidewalk. But she'd barely moved away from the car when she froze and turned around. Niles still
sat in the same position, bringing a rush of guilt over her. What was wrong with her, getting excited over something so silly?
But it wasn't silly. It wasn't silly at all. It was wonderful. Still, she couldn't just leave Niles alone to worry about her. And she knew full well that he would worry about
her, since she hadn't bothered to tell him where she was going or why.
With a sigh she ran back to the car and opened the door. He was watching her so intently that she didn't notice the black pickup truck that narrowly missed hitting her
as it sped past.
"Daphne, look out!"
The events that happened next blurred before her eyes and she barely noticed the sound of the horn, the driver's unpleasant gesture or the string of curse words that
came out of his mouth. And it was only then that she realized that she was practically sitting in Niles' lap. He'd pulled her to safety, her knight in an Armani suit.
His breathing was labored and he was holding her as close as he could, given the small space between them and the steering wheel. When the coast was clear, he
gently let go of her, making sure she was safely on her feet.
He climbed out of the car and wrapped his arms around her. And his voice quivered when he spoke. "Are you all right?" And then he was almost hyperventilating, which
was never a good sign. "Oh my God, oh my God…"
"Niles, what is it? What's wrong?"
He put his hand over his chest, making her eyes widen. "Oh God, is it your heart? Niles, I-."
"I'm… fine." He said between breaths. "Or at least I will be. I-I was worried about you! That truck nearly hit you!"
"Y-yes…" He breathed. "And-and I…"
She smiled at the concern on his face. She did love him so. She touched his cheek with her hand, wanting so much to kiss him. But there would be plenty of time for
kisses. At that moment she was on a mission.
"Are you sure you're all right? Let me take you home."
"I'm fine, Niles, really. I'm sorry I frightened you, but-." Forgetting all about the near-accident, her attention was once again focused on the sight that had turned her
world upside down. And the feeling of excitement returned. "I just can't believe it's really here! Oh Niles, this is a dream come true!" "Daphne, are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine, Niles. But… Oh, Niles can we please park somewhere right now?"
His eyebrows rose. "Park? But why? Daphne, you were almost killed! I really think we should get you home."
"I keep telling you I'm fine!"
"Obviously you're not fine, Daphne! You're acting very strange! What's going on? You're talking about dreams coming true and all of that nonsense."
She smiled and touched his cheek. "You're my dream come true, Niles Crane."
He grinned and was just inches away from kissing her but then he drew back. "No. No, this is not happening. I-I have to take you home."
"No! You can't!"
"But Daphne, if you'll just tell me what-."
"It's a sign, Niles! Don't you see? And here I never thought it would happen!"
"You never thought what would happen?"
She turned toward the sight and sighed. "It's so beautiful, isn't it?"
"What's beautiful? Well, aside from you of course. What's going on?"
"Don't you see it?"
"Daphne you know I love you and I always will, but I have no idea what you're talking about!"
But she was already walking away from the car, leaving Niles standing there, staring at her in disbelief.
"Where are you going?"
"Find a parking space! I'll meet you in front, okay?"
"In front? In front of where?"
"Over there! Don't you see it?"
His eyes searched the street. "I-No, I have no idea what you're talking about but, I'll find a parking place. I just-."
When he was safely in the driver's seat, she leaned through the window and kissed him.
He was trying, she could tell, to deepen the kiss. And it was tempting-oh so tempting. But she pulled away with reluctance. They were, after all, on a busy street and
as she had learned a few minutes before, cars on Spring Street were not kind to romance. Reluctantly, she pulled away and walked slowly and carefully across the
street. She knew that she had hurt his feelings by not telling him what she had seen, but she'd tell him everything when he joined her.
She watched as Niles moved the car forward and slowly made his way down the busy street. As promised she headed to the store with the big red neon letters,
wading through the sea of passersby on the sidewalk. Normally she would have enjoyed the opportunity to people watch, but now she was much too excited.
Her enthusiasm growing, she peered into the window like a child gazing into an elaborate Christmas toy display at the local department store, using her hands to
shield the sunlight from view.
Inside it looked like a magical place; a thought that made her laugh out loud. Who ever heard of a store being magical? But when she looked through the window
again, she realized that, in a sense, it was. Through the window she could see rows and rows of shelves containing the thing that she'd been searching for, for what
seemed like ages…..
He was out of breath when he reached her and he only stared at her for a moment before rushing toward her, engulfing her into a hug.
He could not have cared less that people were staring at them, nor did he care what they were saying. All he cared about was the woman in his arms. The fact that
he'd almost lost her in the blink of an eye shook him to the core. He held her for a long time, breathing in the scent of her hair. To think that he might never have been
able to smell her hair again-
"Niles? What's wrong?"
He drew back and looked at her, fully aware that his eyes were filled with tears. He tried to ignore them, but when she reached up and brushed them away, he
"Sweetheart, you're crying. What's wrong?"
"Nothing, I just-I was worried about you."
She smiled and drew him toward her for the sweetest kiss imaginable. The kind of kiss that left him unsteady on his feet.
"You're wonderful. Did I ever tell you that?"
His cheeks flushed. "Well…"
"I love you so much, Niles Crane."
"I love you too, Daphne."
She took his hand, lacing her fingers through his. "Then come with me."
"What? Wait! Where are we going?"
She dragged him to a store that was unlike any that he'd ever consider setting foot in. But he did it because he loved her.
"What? Where are we?"
"Just look around, Niles!" She spread her arms and twirled around, as though she was Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.
His eyes scanned the store, but he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Why would Daphne be excited about something as ridiculous as odd-looking shoes?
"I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be-."
"Muckabees, Niles! Don't you remember Muckabees?"
"Your father wore them all the time and once he was walking Eddie who dragged him through every puddle in Seattle. You know because it rains so much here, he just
Niles gently touched his fingers to her lips in a subtle reminder to keep her stories short and to the point.
"Right, well anyway, his shoes were soaked so I put them in the microwave to dry, only I left them in much too long and they-."
"Well, basically they cooked, and believe me he wasn't too happy about it.""
Niles wanted so much to laugh but he didn't have the heart. "Ah…"
"So when I saw the store, I figured I might as well go in and by him a new pair."
"Daphne, I'm sure he's long since forgotten about it by now."
"Martin never forgets anything, so do me a favor, Niles."
He smiled and brought her hand to his lips in a gallant gesture. "Anything for you, my love."
"Find out what size he wears, and hurry!"
"His shoe size, Niles! I need to know what size to buy!"
"Daphne it was an accident, your baking his shoes. I'm sure he understands."
"No he doesn't. He's never let me live it down! Please, Niles? Do this for me?"
Niles sighed. "All right. Just go on in and look and I'll give him a call."
She threw her arms around him and kissed him. "I love you, Niles Crane."
"And I love you, Daphne Moon."
When she disappeared down one of the narrow aisles, he smiled, realizing that he'd do anything for her. He waved to her and then stepped outside and pulled out his
phone. He quickly dialed Frasier's number and listened to it ring and ring.
"Frasier, it's Niles."
"Oh Niles! I was just thinking about you! We really should catch the new production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the University of Washington. It's supposed to be
wonderful, all of those up and coming Shakespearian actors and-."
"I need to speak to Dad right away!"
"Well, all right but what about-."
"I can't think about Shakespeare or the University or anything else right now, Frasier! I need to speak to Dad right now!"
"Fine, here's Dad. But I'm telling you, Niles, this production is not to be missed and-."
"Yeah, what is it?"
His father's gruff voice caught Niles off guard. "Dad-."
"Yeah, what did you need? I'm right in the middle of my ball game."
Niles grinned. "Really? I didn't know they had phones on the playing field, Dad!"
"Very funny, Mr. Smart Guy! Look, I'm missing my game so what is it?"
"Well, I need to know your shoe size."
"Your shoe size!"
"What the hell for?"
"It's not for me, Dad. It's-well, I can't say exactly, but I need it."
"Not till you tell me why!"
Through the glass door, he could see Daphne inspecting each and every shoe. He wasn't sure how long ago this shoe fiasco with Dad had taken place but he could see
that she was determined to make it right. And that made him love her even more.
"Dad, please. Just tell me what it is so you can get back to your game."
"Oh all right. But I still don't see why-."
As his father chatted on and on, Niles quickly scribbled down the information on his notepad. "Thanks, Dad. Thanks a lot. This means so much, really. Thank you."
"You're welcome Niles, but why-."
Niles shut his phone before his father could ask any more questions and then he walked into the store. Daphne was holding up a surprisingly nice looking pair of shoes
similar to the ones that Niles had seen his dad wear.
"How do you like these?"
"They're very nice."
"Really? The brown or the black?"
Niles took the shoes from her and inspected them carefully. They were shoes that he wouldn't wear in a million years, but just looking at them reminded him of his
father. And that made him smile. "Oh, I'd say the brown. That's definitely more Dad's style."
"Did you get the size?"
"Yes, here it is." He handed her a piece of paper and she grinned.
"Do you have these in this size?" she asked the sales associate.
"I'll be right back." He replied
When the associate was gone, Daphne wrapped her arms around Niles. "Thank you for doing that."
"I'm sorry I frightened you earlier. I guess I just got so excited that I couldn't help myself."
Niles swallowed hard. "Yes, well, seeing you almost get hit by that car was-."
"Oh dear… that really happened, didn't it? I'm so glad you saved me."
"I'll always save you." He said. They leaned toward each other to kiss, but the sales associate returned, causing them to draw back.
"Here you are."
Daphne opened the box and grinned. "Oh this is so exciting! Your father's going to love these!"
Niles looked at the shoes. "You know, the black is nice, too."
"You really think so? I thought he liked brown."
"Well, he does, but it wouldn't hurt to have two pairs."
Her eyes brightened. "Really?"
"Sure, why not?"
"But I don't have that much-."
"Don't worry about money. I'll pay for it."
"Niles, no. I couldn't ask you to do that."
"You didn't. I offered." To the sales associate he said "If you have this size in black we'd like those too."
"Very well, sir."
The sales clerk disappeared and Daphne pulled Niles toward her for a kiss. "You're wonderful Niles Crane. Did I ever tell you that?"
"Actually yes you did, not that long ago, but I don't mind hearing it again."
They kissed again but were interrupted by the return of the sales associate. "The cashier will ring you up."
"Thank you, sir. You've been very helpful." Niles said, placing a five dollar bill discreetly in the man's hand.
"Oh, I can't take-."
"Please, take it. You've earned it, believe me."
The sales associate smiled and slipped the money into his pocket. "Thank you so much."
When they had paid for the shoes, Daphne was grinning from ear to ear.
"I can't wait to get these to Martin. I hope he loves them."
"There's no reason in the world why he shouldn't. But there's also no reason why they shouldn't be gift wrapped."
"How am I supposed to wrap them at home without your father finding out?"
Niles looked around and smiled when he spotted a greeting card store. "Why don't you go to the car and I'll be right back?"
"But I don't know where-."
He pointed to the black BMW parked down the street. And unlocked it remotely. "I'll be right back."
She kissed him once more and he rushed into the greeting card store where he bought a roll of wrapping paper in a lively baseball pattern. His dad was sure to love it.
And then he bought colorful ribbons to put on top of it. The sales associate was more than happy to wrap the shoe boxes for him and he thanked her profusely,
insisting that she take the ten dollars that he offered her as a tip.
His purchase in hand (complete with a huge matching gift bag in red, white and blue), he hurried to the car.
Daphne squealed with delight when he showed her the gift and together they hurried over to Frasier's.
She was oddly nervous when they stepped into the elevator of the Elliott Bay Towers. It had been her home for years, after all, but she and Martin had never brought
up the Muckabees incident again. She had no idea how he would react. Niles was under the impression that Martin had forgotten all about it but Daphne knew better.
Martin never forgot anything.
Niles slipped his hand into hers and together they crossed the hall to her home. She slipped her key into the door and opened it.
"We're back." She announced.
"Niles, I can't believe you cut me off like that!" Frasier snapped. "I was trying to tell you about-."
Niles held up his hand. "Hang on a second, Frasier. Dad? Daphne wants to talk to you."
Martin looked up from the television. "Oh yeah? It's not about my shoe size is it? Because I still can't figure out-."
Daphne slowly walked over to him, carrying the colorful bag. "Actually it is."
"What? Wait, what in the heck are you talking about?"
"What's going on?" Frasier asked.
Daphne said nothing, but the look that Niles gave her spoke volumes. He nodded, giving her the courage to say what she needed to say. She picked up the remote
and lowered the sound, bringing Martin out of his trance.
"Hey! What's the big idea?"
"Martin? I-I know that what I did was wrong, and I'm so sorry. It will never happen again. I just-." When her voice broke, the two elder Crane men were looking at her
in confusion. But Niles was simply holding her hand.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I just-I want to say I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
She held out the bag. "This is for you in the hopes that you'll forgive me."
He took the bag and his eyes moved from Niles to Frasier. "What is this? It's not my birthday or anything."
"No, I just-I want you to have it."
"Well, gee. Thanks, Daphne. I can't imagine what this could be."
"Open it." Niles said.
"All right." Martin agreed. He opened the bag and pulled out one of the boxes, carefully tearing off the paper. The excitement Daphne felt the moment she first saw the
store was replicated, watching Martin open the gift.
He started slowly and then increased his speed, his eyes lighting up like a Christmas tree.
"My Muckabees!" he shouted. "Oh my God, I never thought I'd see these again! Where did you find them?"
"Daphne spotted a store on Spring Street." Niles said.
"My God, these are perfect!" Martin announced, pulling the brown shoes out of the box. He took off his old shoes and slipped on the new ones. "Wow, they fit great!"
"There's more!" Daphne said barely able to contain her enthusiasm.
He reached into the bag and pulled out the second box, tearing off the paper. "Whoa! Look at this, Frasier! Black ones!" He took off the brown shoes and put on the
black ones, proudly parading them across the living room. "Wow, these are great! Thanks Daphne, but I don't understand-."
"Dad, I've told you time and time again, never look a gift horse in the mouth!" Frasier scolded.
"I'm not, Frasier! I'm just… curious. Can't a guy be curious when someone gives him a gift out of the blue?"
"It's not out of the blue." Daphne said softly.
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about when I ruined your shoes."
"My shoes? I-"
"The ones I put in the microwave when you got them all wet. I'm so sorry, Martin! I'm so sorry and I'll never do it again." She couldn't help herself. She started to cry.
"Hey come on, you didn't have to do this." Martin said.
"She really wanted to, Dad. I've never seen her so enthusiastic about anything." Niles said.
"Well…" Martin rose from his chair. And then to everyone's surprise he hugged Daphne. "Thank you so much."
"You're welcome, Martin." Daphne said, pressing her cheek against his soft flannel shirt. "I love you."
"I-well, you know."
She smiled and kissed his cheek. "I do know."
"Well, I think we should go out to celebrate so that you can wear your new shows, Dad!" Frasier announced. "Anywhere you want."
"You know, I've never been to that restaurant you like so much." Daphne said. "What's it called again?"
"The Timbermill. Boy that place is great! Baked potatoes with all the fixins!"
"Sounds wonderful." Daphne said. She saw the disgusted looks of Frasier and Niles, for they would clearly rather go to Le Cigar Volante, but quite frankly she knew
that they would always have a soft spot for Martin's favorite restaurant.
As they walked out of the condo, Niles turned to Daphne and kissed her. "Thank you, Daphne."
"For this. For today. For the shoes."
"You bought the shoes, remember?"
"Yes, but you've made Dad so happy. And now his favorite restaurant."
"I'm sorry, Niles. I know it's not your type of place."
"It'll be perfect. I'll make sure of it."
She leaned against him and sighed. It was perfect. All was right with the world-at least for the time being.