His plan in motion, Niles' heart beat wildly as he jumped into his BMW and sped down Pike Street, en route to the Elliot Bay Towers. Minutes later, he ran into the
elevator, trying to ignore the dizziness he felt as he waited for the doors to open on the nineteenth floor. He knocked on the door, praying that she was there.
Seconds later, his prayers were answered.
She opened the door, looking lovelier than he could remember; even in her faded jeans and KACL sweatshirt and her hair in disarray. It was as though he'd disturbed
her from a sound sleep. The thought of her sleeping like an angel caused his dizziness to return.
"Dr. Crane!" She said in surprise. "What brings you here this time of day?"
"Hello, Daphne. My you look lovely this afternoon." He said.
Daphne blushed. "Dr. Crane you can't be serious! I look like a fright. I'm surprised you didn't turn around and run right back to Mel!"
Niles cringed at the mention of his ex-girlfriend. She hadn't taken their breakup well, but it was the best thing for both of them. And the thought of never having to go
to another Society Club dinner was the best part of all.
Besides, he didn't love her. He loved...
"So, Dr. Crane, come to see your brother?" Daphne was asking.
"No, actually I came to see you." He replied.
She looked at him in shock. "Me? Whatever for?"
"Well, I wanted to talk to you about the other night."
"The other night?" She repeated.
"Oh... well, it was all my fault. I should have never assumed..."
Niles stepped into the foyer. "Is Dad here?"
She looked around nervously. "Um.. no. Your father took Eddie for a walk and your brother is at the station."
"I'll only stay a minute, but I really need to explain about the... misunderstanding."
"Dr. Crane, it wasn't your fault, so there's really no reason-."
She sighed and gave him a sad smile. "All right, but let's go out on the balcony. I'd hate for your father and brother to come in unexpectedly."
Niles followed her to the balcony and closed the glass door behind him.
"Dr. Crane, I'm so sorry I was-."
"Daphne, can I say something? Before I lose my nerve?" Niles asked.
"Well, last night... and the past few nights, I've had these dreams and I realized that..."
"Yes, Dr. Crane?"
"Oh! I almost forgot!" He said. "I'll be right back."
He ran into the living room and turned within seconds.
"What's that?" She asked pointing to the small gift bag and box in his hand.
"Well, I promised you I'd replace your gift, so... here it is." He said, handing her the flat box wrapped in silvery blue paper and tied with a bright blue bow.
She smiled, looking as though she might cry. "Dr. Crane, you really shouldn't have."
He watched with anticipation as her trembling fingers tore open the wrapping. When she lifted the item out of the box she smiled.
"Dr. Crane... this is..."
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"It's beautiful." She said.
Niles glanced at the engraved silver picture frame that she held in her hands.
"It's such a wonderful picture of you, your brother and your father... Oh, and Eddie too! You all look so handsome. But if you don't mind me sayin' so, you're the most
handsome of all."
Niles could feel his face begin to redden. "Thank you, Daphne. That's very sweet of you to say."
She looked at the inscription engraved on the frame. "This is... the loveliest thing I've ever seen, but shouldn't you keep this?"
The question caused a slight hurt to fill his chest. "I-I had it engraved just for you, Daphne. But if you really don't like it, I can-."
"No. I love it. But why does it say My Family if it was meant for me?"
"Because we are your family. Frasier, Dad, Eddie... and myself." Niles said.
Daphne's eyes filled with tears and she returned the frame to the box before reaching out to hug Niles. "Thank you, Dr. Crane. So much."
"You're welcome, Daphne." He said. Then, realizing he still had the gift bag in his hand he smiled and handed it to her. "This is for you as well."
"Dr. Crane, you're spoilin' me! I don't deserve all this! Why, your Christmas gift was more than generous and I feel like I should get you something else to-."
"Absolutely not, Daphne. It's out of the question. I couldn't be happier with the exquisite fountain pen. I'll cherish it forever."
His heart warmed, remembering how excited she'd been when she presented him with the pen. It was a well-known brand ; one that must have cost her quite a lot of
money. He couldn't believe she had gone to such extravagant lengths to buy him something so special. She really was the most wonderful woman the Gods had
ever created. Before he could stop himself, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Thank you again, Daphne."
"Dr. Crane..." She said, as her cheeks filled with color.
"Aren't you going to open your gift?" He asked when he noticed her staring at him.
"What? Oh... yes... of course." She said, grinning shyly.
She opened the bag and removed a small flat box, wrapped in the same paper as the picture frame.
"This is much too generous, Dr. Crane." She said as she began to tear off the paper.
"You're worth every penny." He said. "Oh, I mean..."
Suddenly he felt like a lovesick teenager.
Slowly she unwrapped the box, her hand trembling as she lifted the lid.
Her breath caught in her throat and her hand flew to her mouth as the tears came, one right after another.
"Oh my God..."
For inside the box, an eighteen- inch gold chain was nestled against a blue velvet background. At its' center hung a gold heart-shaped pendant, accented with
sapphires. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.
"Dr. Crane, I..."
"I'm glad you like it." He said, smiling at her.
"Oh God... I love it. It's the most beautiful... but surely this can't be for me."
Once again hurt filled his chest. He knew it was too much. He'd taken a huge risk, buying her something so extravagant. But it would have been an even bigger risk
She swallowed hard. "Are you sure you haven't given me Mel's present by mistake?"
He winced at the mere mention of Mel's name. What had he been thinking, staying with her for so long?
"I bought it for you, Daphne." He said, slightly hurt by her assumption.
"B-but why? I mean... no one's ever bought me something so incredible before."
He swallowed hard, ready to make the biggest confession of his life.
"Because... I love you."
Her mouth began to tremble as tears filled her eyes and slid down her cheeks.
He was only vaguely aware that she'd called him by his first name.
"I know it's sudden, my telling you this. And like you said, you'll need time to get used to the idea, but-."
Before he could finish, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.
The kiss sent his emotions spinning out of control, and shattered every expectation of what it would feel like to kiss her.
After several, blissful, incredible moments of sharing sweet, passionate kisses they moved apart and stared at each other.
"So... does this mean what I think it means?" Niles asked.
"Daphne smiled. "I love you, Dr. Crane."
"Niles." He corrected.
"Niles." She repeated. "But... what about Mel?"
"I don't love her." He said firmly. "I knew deep down in my heart that I could never love anyone but you, so... I ended it."
Her hand went to her chest followed by a sigh.
"What about Donny?"
"Oh... Well, he dumped me. But it doesn't really matter now."
Niles was both overjoyed and angered by this revelation. How dare Donny hurt her the way he had!
"I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" He asked, touching her face.
"I don't love Donny." She said with a grin. "I love you."
He knew he would never tire of hearing those words.
"This is... incredible." He said after he and Daphne shared even more kisses, each sweeter than the next.
"What's incredible, Niles?" Daphne asked.
Niles took her face in his hands and gave her a lingering kiss before answering.
"All of my dreams have finally come true."