"Of course, as the new president of the wine club, Maris was the first into the stomping vat, but to her dismay and embarrassment, she could not squish a single grape."
As Niles finished his story of Maris' harrowing experience at her wine club, Frasier's thoughts slowly meandered around the perfect weekend at Rattlesnake Ridge. He was going to have such a jolly time in the realm of his father's brethren.
"Frasier, are you okay? I know you rarely listen to my stories, but… you look upset about something."
Frasier snapped his head up at the sound of his younger brother's concerned voice. He glanced at Niles and sighed in contempt. "I have to drive Dad to Rattlesnake Ridge this weekend," he spat.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Niles replied consolingly. He genuinely felt bad for Frasier, remembering his experience from last year.
"Yes, thank you Niles. Is it as bad as it sounds?"
"Well, it will probably be easier for you because of your bouncy little radio program, but your high road of celebrity won't shield you from everything."
Niles' pot shot at Frasier's radio show was to be expected; it seemed essential to make some fun at his profession at least once a day.
"Well yes, thank you Niles," Frasier curtly remarked, "But I'm getting something in return."
He leaned in with excitement to whisper to Niles as if he didn't want anyone else to hear.
"Doorman Morrie's a good friend of Dad's, so he gave him a bottle of wine he didn't want anymore… and guess what it is? Shatow Petris!"
Niles' mouth silently opened to form a large o. "What!?" He gasped excitedly like a fanboy. "I've never even SEEN a Shatow Petris!"
"I know, and it's gonna be mine, ha!" Frasier chuckled menacingly. "So I'll just eat up your envy."
"I'm not envious," Niles stubbornly announced. "I have rare bottles too."
"Not as rare as mine!"
"Oh, I know," Niles conceded. "It's gonna be great watching you brag to the wine club," he sarcastically remarked as he sighed with exasperation. "I can't wait."
"And I can't wait to watch you watch!" Frasier giggled excitedly.
"Ugh. I know."
Just then Daphne happily walked into Cafe Nervosa that was by now teeming with customers. Frasier waved her over, the young woman brimming with excited energy.
"So, how are you Daphne?" Frasier asked.
"I just got off the phone with me friends," Daphne squealed. "Apparently, they're bringing a guy! Cliff! Plus, apparently they've also sent him pictures of me and they said he's interested!" She gushed. "Isn't that wonderful? Maybe we can get together! Plus he's real handsome too, or so my friends say."
Frasier could immediately sense Niles' disdain, so he shot him a disapproving look. "I think that's wonderful Daphne!" he added, only feeding to his brother's ever-increasing contempt. But he hid this from his angel.
"Wow, yeah, that's great," he played along as he feigned a smile. "So… what do you know about this Cliff?"
"Not much," Daphne replied. "But, hell, how much do you know at a blind date?" She giggled. "Ahhh, I can't wait for this weekend."
"Well, I have to go," Niles said quickly as he left a check and headed to the door. He then turned back.
"Frasier, I'll see you tonight for dinner? Maris has had a tough day-"
"Which equates to her not wanting you around? I'll see you tonight."
As Niles stepped onto the sidewalk with the breeze flowing through the air, he realized just how much he didn't want Daphne from hooking up with this Prince Cliff.
The bright Space Needle glowed with brilliance, acting as a lighthouse for the lake behind it. It also aided in creating a dazzling backdrop that Frasier loved to gaze at from his balcony.
Niles would be coming soon, and he was just who Frasier was worried about… and thinking about. Whenever Daphne had the possibility of gaining a boyfriend, or announced that she had one, he never took the news well for good reason. He had become enticed with her immense beauty since the moment he first saw her, and, apparently she instilled a passion in him that he had never felt before. His intense longing for her had also carved out a place in his heart for envy to reside whenever she gained a lover. Well, this was one of those times. Frasier just hoped that Niles wouldn't try to manipulate either one of the parties to give up on pursuing the other. And as the older brother, he instinctively knew that his job would be to make sure Niles wasn't trekking out of line and into dangerous territory. Niles also probably knew he would be on patrol, so maybe he wouldn't try as many tactics tonight. He wouldn't even have that much of a foothold, considering he had no way of knowing Cliff or contacting him.
But he couldn't be sure. His mind traveled back to that day when Daphne met Joe. Niles almost jeopardized the future of their relationship, but his morals and a nosebleed put him in place. He reversed the situation, and Daphne and Joe became a promising couple… until Joe dumped her for no apparent reason one night. But Frasier had to remind himself that Niles did have his set of morals, as well as a filter. Love could only take him so far. He couldn't even pursue Daphne while she was single because of Maris, so the chance of him ever getting his girl was next to zero. But anything could happen.
He perked up at the shrill ring of the doorbell. Finishing his sherry, he reentered his apartment to get the door when the delicious aroma of beef brisket hit him. His mouth watered at the scent; at least Daphne was cooking up something good tonight.
He opened the door to reveal Niles.
"Hi Niles. Sherry?"
"What happened with Maris?" Frasier asked worriedly as he went to pour his brother a glass of the fortified wine across the room. Martin then emerged from the kitchen, his usual can of ballantine in hand.
"Hey Dad. And as for Maris, Frasier, well she was upset from that Wine Club incident, as you know. So, as she usually does, my Maris took a walk in her serenity garden when she came upon the koi pond. Well, she ran her hand through the water when one of the koi attempted to nip at her fingers! And of course, with her figure, they would be able to rip it right off," Niles stated matter-of-factly while the rest nodded in agreement. "Well, Maris would have none of it! So, she ordered Yoshi to put poisonous pellets in the water." He sighed. "I miss the koi."
"Well, I'm sorry Niles," Frasier remarked as Daphne walked out of the kitchen carrying the brisket and setting it on the table. Niles' face lit up immediately when he saw her. "Hi, Daphne."
"Hello, Dr. Crane," Daphne cheerfully greeted him.
"You need help?" Niles offered.
"Well, it would be nice if someone could set the table," she answered sheepishly.
"Of course," he immediately obliged, following Daphne into the kitchen with a lovestruck look in his eyes.
Frasier rolled his eyes. "It's amazing she doesn't see it," he muttered.
"I know, right?" came a quiet response from his father.
The delicious dinner was only tarnished by Daphne's loquaciousness. This was usually a trait of hers that Niles adored, but tonight it only brought him more torture. All she would talk about was Cliff, how her friends raved about him, and his personality, and how lucky she was to meet him. But what angered him even more was the fact that his brother was stealing glances at him all throughout her one-sided conversation, as if he was afraid that Niles would jump onto the table, bend down and ferociously kiss her. As much as he would love to do that, the fact that Frasier thought that he was mindless drove him crazy! What does he think I am, an animal!? He thought. This, combined with Daphne's Cliff fad that felt like he was being shot every time another word escaped from her voluptuous lips, he just couldn't take it anymore. Everyone had a breaking point.
He stood up abruptly, to everyone's surprise, interrupting Daphne's speech. "Where are you going?" she asked. Her quaint accent tantalized him, which made the whole situation even more aggravating.
"I have to go to the bathroom," he announced forcefully. "And Daphne, I suggest you rethink this whole obsession with Cliff. There are a lot more men out there, you know, men that are probably a lot better than him. So many better men for you." He slammed his napkin on the table next to his empty plate. "Cliff this, Cliff that- it's starting to get boring."
With that, he stalked to the bathroom and slammed the door shut.
"What's wrong with him?" Daphne asked nonchalantly. She appeared to not be the least bit scarred by his outburst, and was, of course, completely oblivious of his little secret.
"Uhhh…" Frasier struggled to find a reason. "His koi died. He's a little on edge."
Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Niles stared at the African erotic art adorning the small room. He immediately felt guilt and shame, but he was provoked.
He took deep breaths. But they didn't seem to help. Why was this potential boyfriend causing a blow so much more forceful than the rest? Well, Daphne did unknowingly flaunt it in his face, but there was something more.
And that was when he pinpointed it.
Her descriptions of the man… tall, strong build, an athlete...
He sounded like the exact opposite of Niles.
And then her mention that that was her type of man, the man she wanted, took the cake.
Before he even knew it, Niles was bent over the sink, sobbing.