Why So Blue?

CC leaned her shoulder against the frame of the French doors as she stood and watched the rain. The weather was gray and dismal - a perfect match for her mood. As the slow and steady rain continued, her thoughts became heavier and heavier, almost physically oppressive, pushing her down deeper into a dark funk. Her express train to depression derailed slightly as Niles came whistling through the office door in an irritatingly good mood.

"Well, hello there, Babs, I thought you'd already left. What's cooking?" He tossed off merrily as he crossed to Maxwell's desk.

"Your balls on a spit if you don't leave me alone." She replied evenly, without bothering to turn around.

Niles eyebrows shot up and he chuckled softly as he began to gather the dishes from the afternoon's tea. He continued his work, not wishing to disturb the man-beast, until CC's heavy sigh drew his attention. He turned around and leaned back against the desk. "What's the matter? Depressed because your broom can't fly in the rain?"

"Seriously, Niles, I am in no mood to be tormented today." CC continued her uninterrupted study of the rain.

He walked over to her, his right hand raised in pledge. "I swear on my swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated that I will not torment you." This brought a slight glance of disbelief from her. "Today," he said with a devilish smile.

She turned back toward the rain, her hair obscuring her face. Her lack of response fired a spark of worry in him and he moved closer to her, brushing her hair out of the way with his finger, tucking it behind her ear. "Seriously, kiddo, why so blue?" he asked softly.

Turning slightly to look at him, she inwardly battled between her desire to release the feelings that were gnawing at her and her innate need to protect herself from ridicule. Seeing nothing but concern in his eyes, she made her decision.

"All right, I'll tell you." then quickly added, "But I swear, Niles, if you give me any crap, you WILL lose a testicle."

Niles took a half step back, crossing his hands protectively in front of him. "Understood."

CC let out a deep sigh before she began. "It's… Max and Nanny Fine. Ever since they started 'dating' they have been absolutely nauseating."

Niles chanced a step closer. "How so?"

"They're always kissing and touching each other and giggling and just being revoltingly happy all the time. It's enough to make me want to retch!"

"Sounds like somebody's jealous." Niles said, his heart breaking a little as it always did when she pined after their employer.

"Well, why wouldn't I be jealous?" She snapped, turning her attention back to the steady downpour that continued to beat against the window panes.

"Because she has him and you don't." It was more of a statement than a question.

"Surprisingly, that's not it," she sighed, running both hands through her hair.

"It's not?"

"No. My pursuit of Maxwell has been more of a habit really. One that's been difficult to shake, given the way I was raised. He's wealthy, successful, handsome… everything a Babcock is supposed to want. But he's just so damned BORING. If we were together, I'd probably kill him or kill myself, just for something interesting to do."

"If that's not it, what is it, then?"

"I want…" She had to clear her throat to continue. "I want what they have." Her voice was so small that he could barely hear her.

"What do you mean? What do they have?" Niles asked gently, leaning his shoulder against the glass, trying to get a better look at her face.

CC stared intently ahead and rubbed her thumb absent-mindedly over a non-existent smudge on the window pane as she formulated her answer. "Oh, Niles, you know. You've seen the two of them. When they're together, the rest of the world disappears. Max's face absolutely lights up when she walks in the room. I haven't seen that look in his eyes since he and Sarah were first married. I want someone to look at me like that. I want someone who scans a crowded room until they find me. I want someone who can't live without me. I want someone I can belong to. I want someone who…," her voice dropped to a whisper as she turned further away. "…loves me."

It was all Niles could do to keep himself from taking her into his arms. Instead, he softly assured her, "There is someone who loves you. Someone whose day doesn't really begin until he sees you. Someone who would do anything just to see you smile. Someone who wakes up in the morning and goes to sleep at night with thoughts of you. Someone who wants to spend his life making you happy. Someone who not only loves you but desperately wants you…." his voice cracked, thick with emotion. "…to love me too."

After a moment, the meaning of his words started to sink into her mind. "Niles?" she wondered. She turned to look at him. The moon, having broken through the clouds as the rain subsided, bathed them both in silver light. CC looked at him, standing before her with his eyes downcast, nervously clasping his hands in front of him, and she felt as if she was seeing him for the first time. He was so handsome, the moonlight shining on his hair. He looked like something out of a fairy tale. A prince. No. A knight.. come to rescue her. At first, she didn't trust herself to respond. After a moment, she spoke. "Niles, what are you saying? You… love me?"

He dared to look at her and the surprise and wonder in her eyes gave him the courage to continue. "Yes, I do, with all my heart. I've been too afraid to tell you up to now. But when I see you hurting… hear you longing for what I so much want to give you…" He reached up and gently cupped her face in his hands. "Oh, CC, I will spend every day showing you I love you in so many ways… if you'll just let me."

The warmth of his hands on her face and the depth of devotion shining from his deep blue eyes enveloped her with something she had never experienced before. Love. Complete, unconditional love…. just for her. It called to her, begging her to take a chance. Her arms slid up around his neck, pulling their bodies close. "Oh, Niles…" she breathed softly into his ear. "Show me."