He stared at her in shock. Discussing Mel was the last thing he'd planned on doing tonight. But then it hit him; Mel had made it clear on several occasions about her

dislike for Daphne; an idea that Niles simply couldn't fathom.

It was only natural that Mel's insincerity would cause Daphne to feel uncomfortable. But his wife always had to upstage everyone, no matter what the cost. And in

Niles' opinion, Daphne's feelings were worth more than priceless works of art.

"Daphne, I'm terribly sorry for the way Mel treated you tonight. She's... just a little excited about being a newlywed I suppose."

To his horror, she began to cry again. Something was terribly wrong.

"Dear God, Daphne. Did Mel say something else to you?"

He could only imagine what Mel might have told Daphne in his absence. He absolutely hated the way she treated Daphne as though she were a slave. If

Mel had one ounce of compassion, she would embrace Daphne's presence instead of choosing to feel threatened by her.

And still he loved her. They had so much in common and their conversations were always so lively.

"No." Daphne was saying now. "Mel didn't say a word to me. It's just..."

He took her hand, rubbing it's silkiness with his thumb. "You can tell me anything. I hope you know that."

"But Dr. Crane, she's your wife and I just..."

"This is obviously causing you great pain, and as your friend, I want to help you. So just... tell me what's on your mind; anything at all. I promise never to

tell another soul; no matter what it is. And don't worry about hurting my feelings. Mel can be difficult as you know, but she means well and-"

"Dr Crane, I think I'm falling in love with you."

He looked up, unable to believe what he'd just heard; or even if he'd heard her at all. He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out.

"Oh God, Dr. Crane. I've upset you." Daphne said as her voice broke. . "I just... I can't seem to do anything right these days. I knew this would happen! Here

you've just gotten married and I tell you something like this. "

"H-how long have you felt this way?" He asked, barely able to get the words out.

"Ever since your brother told me that you've been in love with me for six years." Daphne said.

Niles was stunned. "Frasier told you this?"

"He-he didn't mean to. He'd been takin' those pills for his bloody back and just blurted it out while I was givin' him a mas-sage."

Once again, Niles was speechless. "I'm sorry, Daphne." He said, not knowing what else to say.

"Dr Crane, there's nothin' to be sorry for. It's me own bloody fault anyway. After your brother told me, I just..."

"You what?" He asked, certain he was dreaming. "I started to think about you all the time. How sweet, caring and kind you are to everyone you meet. I haven't been

able to sleep and I've been a complete mess this whole week. I can only imagine how scary I must look right now."

Niles couldn't help but smile. "You're beautiful."

She reached out and touched his cheek. "Thank you, Dr. Crane. But it's too late now, I suppose."

"What are you saying?"

"Well you're with Mel now and you're obviously in love with her. You couldn't possibly still have feelings for me."

"Nothing could be further from the truth." he said.

"You mean... You really are in love with me?" she asked.

Niles took her hand and kissed it. "Even more so now than I was five minutes ago. Daphne, I wanted to tell you... so many times but... I just..."

"So what should we do?"

"Well, I suppose I should contact my lawyer about getting my marriage annulled." Niles said. "Although I have no doubt that Mel will make things

difficult."

Daphne sighed. "And I should talk to Donny right away. God, he'll never understand this."

"Daphne, I'm so sorry. I never meant to cause you any pain. If I had any idea that you felt the same way, I would have never married Mel. I know my timing

is absolutely horrendous and I should have told you how I felt about you months-even years ago."

"I just don't know what I'm goin' to say to him." Daphne said, staring at the floor. "But I can't marry him now. Not when I'm in love with another man."

Niles' heart soared. "I love you, Daphne."

She ran her hand through his hair and touched her forehead to his. "And I love you. God, I -I can't believe this is really happening."

"I've dreamed about this day my entire life. To have the most beautiful woman in the world tell me that she loves me. A woman I have loved since I first laid

eyes on her."

"Oh, Niles..." She said, holding him close.

After a long while she let go. "Well, I suppose we have a lot of things to sort out with our significant others. God, this is going to be so hard."

"Yes, we do and it won't be easy." Niles said. "But first things first..."

He took her in his arms and kissed her; aware of the tiny sigh that escaped. When the kiss ended, Daphne looked at him and smiled. "Your brother was

right."

"About what?"

"Love really can conquer anything." She answered as she kissed him again.

The End

A/N: This was actually meant to be a one-shot, but it was becoming so long that I divided it into chapters, which is why there aren't very many!

Thank you SO much for reading and especially to those of you who waited patiently (or impatiently) while I attempted to get this finished!

Hopefully it was worth waiting for! *hugs*