Daphne couldn't help but notice the expression on Dr. Crane's face as she opened the door. The poor man looked sadder than she'd ever seen him. But he had good
reason, especially after discovering that his wife was having an affair… with their marriage counselor!
She tried to be sympathetic about the situation. And she was sympathetic- truly and deeply, in fact. A broken heart was the last thing that Dr. Crane needed. But she
couldn't help feeling angry. How Maris could be so cruel when Niles had done nothing but love her was unfathomable!
Nervousness crept into her chest as she looked into his eyes of blue. In his usual suit (charcoal grey over a white dress shirt) and tie (a blue tie this time-her favorite
one with the tiny yellow dots) He was so handsome- even more so than his older brother. But it was wrong to think such things- especially at a time like this.
"Hello, Dr. Crane!" She made sure to smile and keep her voice as cheerful as possible. But her efforts did nothing to lift his spirits. And when he entered the foyer, he
kept his eyes to the floor.
"I made some tea and I can whip up a batch of biscuits if you'd like, or-."
"No thank you, Daphne. I'm not very hungry. I just came over to see if Frasier was home."
Despite his polished appearance, he didn't look good at all. And something told her that it had been a while since he'd eaten. She tried not to worry, but she simply
couldn't help it. He'd been the recipient of more bad news than anyone had a right to hear. And now she had to deliver even more. Hadn't he been through enough?
But there was no sense in putting it off.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Crane. Your brother's not here. He went on a fishing trip to Canada with your father."
Niles eyes' widened. "Frasier went fishing? With Dad?"
She couldn't help but smile. "Yes, I thought it was rather strange meself. But your brother said that he needed a change of scenery. I guess the dreary Seattle weather
finally got to him."
Niles nodded somewhat absently.
"I suppose we could all use a change of scenery from time to time." She continued. "I know I could."
"Yes, that's true, I-." His expression changed, causing her alarm. She'd seen that look before. And it was only a matter of time…
"Dr. Crane, are you all right?" Her hand went to his forearm and at the touch, he began to cry.
"Oh sod, I've upset you! Come here." She took his hand and led him to the sofa, coaxing him to sit beside her. Once they were seated, she held him close, letting him
cry in her arms for as long as he needed. And while he cried she rubbed his back. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Crane. I know it hurts." She spoke softly, doing her best not to
upset him even further.
After a few moments he drew back and removed his handkerchief from his pocket, pressing it gently against his eyes. She could tell that he was embarrassed so she
made a point not to stare at him. Doing so would only embarrass him further. He certainly didn't need to worry about his appearance. Heavens knew that she'd cried
on his shoulder many times. It was only natural that she be the one to return the favor.
As much as it hurt her to see him so upset, she was relieved that he was letting his emotions out. He and his brother had always told her that it wasn't good to keep
things bottled up; advice she had taken to heart. It always felt so good to unleash her emotions, be it happiness, sadness or just plain anger. Unfortunately she had a
bad temper and she displayed it more than she should. But she was working on it.
"I'm sorry for imposing on you like this, Daphne. I didn't mean-."
Her fingertips gently covered his lips and she felt him shiver from the touch. Or perhaps it was her imagination. "Don't you dare apologize! You've done nothing wrong!"
"I know, but-."
Anger flared inside of her and she rose in one fluid motion. "Dr. Crane, I wasn't going to say anything because I don't want to upset you any further, but I think it's
terrible the way your wife has hurt you like this! I'm so sorry! And I'm sorry that your brother's not home! He's a much better person to talk to about these things!
Perhaps I should call him and let him know that you need him. I'm sure he'd be glad to turn around and drive home or even talk to you over the phone."
But then she had a flash of worry. "Oh dear… what if his phone doesn't work in Canada? I didn't even think about that! I-."
This time it was Niles who stopped her from speaking and she gasped when she realized that he was holding her hand.
"No, don't interrupt his trip. He and Dad need to bond. And I'd just be bothering him, anyway."
"Your brother would never think of you as a burden!" That wasn't exactly true, for she'd heard Frasier complain about his younger brother more times than she could
count but she wouldn't dare mention it. "Your brother would do anything for you and if he knew that you were going through this he'd drop everything to do what he
could to help."
"Thank you, Daphne but I'll be all right. And please don't think that I would prefer talking to Frasier instead of you. He may be trained in these sorts of things, but
you've been an absolute angel."
She gasped and her heart warmed at his kind, yet completely unexpected words. "Dr. Crane... that's the sweetest thing you've ever said to me."
There was a long but surprisingly comfortable silence between them, and she couldn't help noticing that he was still holding onto her hand. She knew that she should
let go, but she felt some comfort in holding his hand. And so she stayed right where she was.
When he finally broke the silence, his voice had a sudden happiness to it. "You know…" he began thoughtfully, "I think that Frasier had the right idea."
"What do you mean?"
"Perhaps I do need a change of scenery!"
She smiled and squeezed his hand. This was the Niles she knew and loved. "That sounds like a good idea."
"Maris has a beach house on the… beach. W-well, it's mine too, I suppose, and I just thought- Well, she never uses it, and..."
She sighed, wishing that she had somewhere to escape. Frasier's condo was nice and it had a stunning view of the Space Needle, but sometimes she longed to see
the ocean, or even the mountains. They hadn't taken a trip in forever and she didn't dare ask when the next one would be. It wasn't her place. "That sounds lovely."
she said, her voice dreamlike. "The beach is the perfect place to get away from your troubles, even if it's just for a little-."
"Come with me."
She looked up at him unable to believe what she was hearing. "What?"
"Come with me. Please?"
Her heart was thundering in her chest as she tried to process what she was hearing-or thought she heard. Surely he hadn't just asked-
"Please, Daphne?" he said again.
She swallowed hard, suddenly overcome with nervousness. She felt like a schoolgirl, asked out on a date by the handsome boy who was not at all her type.
"Look, I know it's sudden and I don't blame you for saying no. I would never make you feel uncomfortable, so please forgive me if I have. I just thought... Well, Frasier
and Dad are gone and... It would be nice to have some company..."
Her hand went to her chest and she rubbed it gently, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. "I-I don't know... I..."
"If you don't want to, I completely understand. . ."
She squeezed his hand once more. "I know you wouldn't, Dr. Crane. And it's so sweet of you to ask, but I-."
"It's a beautiful house." He continued. "There's not much to it, but it has a deck and an unobstructed view of the ocean. The house is on a stretch of beach that's
relatively secluded, so there wouldn't be that much activity or noise. Well, except for the ocean."
"It's just that I…" Suddenly her head was filled with all sorts of images; a beautiful sunset, the sand on her bare feet, the waves crashing against her legs, the salty
smell of the ocean, the beautiful rock formations of the Washington coast, picking up sea shells, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean…
"It sounds lovely." She said, barely aware that she had spoken.
"Yes. It's a nice place. And it will be good to get away. I-."
When he paused, she looked over, gasping when she realized that he was crying again. Immediately she sat down beside him and held him. As before he cried against
her shoulder and she moved her hand gently up and down his back. Oh why did his brother have to go all the way to Canada?
"Dr. Crane isn't there anything I can do for you?"
"No, it's all right. I guess it's finally starting to sink in that I'm really and truly alone now."
When she blinked, she realized that she was crying. And when their eyes met, she understood just how lonely he was.
'I'm here for you, Dr. Crane, whenever you need me. '
It was what she meant to say. But something else tumbled out of her mouth….
"I'll pack me bag."