Let's Play Again
By Laura Schiller
Based on: The Nanny
Copyright: Fran Drescher
Episode 1 – Pilot
CC peered around the kitchen door.
"Yes, Miss Babcock?"
He was standing with his back to her, cutting a bread roll, and barely bothered to glance over his shoulder as she spoke.
"Niles," CC repeated, approaching him slowly with her hands clasped and her best attempt at a smile. "I know we've had some minor differences in the past … "
He shot her a look of boundless incredulity.
"All right, major differences. But Niles, listen … what's the one thing we have in common?"
"Ye – No!" Drat the man. "I meant Maxwell!"
Niles turned back to his roll, splitting it in half and spreading butter on both with maddening precision. "What about Mr. Sheffield?"
"His future's on the line, that's what!" She put a hand on his arm and leaned into his space, too irritated to deal with the butler as calmly as she'd intended. "Pay attention, Hazel – do you realize your boss just re-hired that Queens woman to look after his children? The same one he'd fired after only one day, for dragging the children into a backer's party against his express orders?"
"And that disturbs you because … ?"
"Are you serious?" CC yelped. "Did you see her – drooling over Maxwell and his mansion, prancing around dressed like a hooker, parking her polyester bum on Sara's own chair? We've got a common enemy here, Niles, and I need – you've got to help me drive her out of this house!"
There. Her case made, she took a deep breath to wait for Niles' reply.
"Yes, I've seen her," he retorted, with unflappable calm. "Just as you describe. I've also seen her transform Miss Margaret from caterpillar to butterfly, put a stop to Master Brighton's staged suicides, cause Miss Grace to act her age instead of years above it, and make Mr. Sheffield smile again."
"I can make him smile!" she exclaimed, angry and hurt in equal measure. "We've been getting so close lately, I really thought … "
Was it really only two days ago that Maxwell had let her massage his shoulders in the office, complimented her on planning the party, and told her with a smile how handsome she looked?
"You thought he'd finally give you a collar and take you to the vet? No such luck, eh, Babs?"
"Get away, Toilet Brush!" She flinched away from Niles' attempt to pat her on the head.
Niles drew himself up with fierce dignity (quite inappropriate to his station, CC thought, ignoring the beating of her heart) to meet her eyes.
"That Queens woman, as you call her, has more wisdom, humor and heart in one painted fingernail than the rest of this household put together. If you intend to drive her away, you'll have to go through me."
CC felt his declaration like a punch to the stomach, which surprised her. It made sense to be disappointed at losing a potential ally, but … really … couldn't he at least stop to think first?
"A truck couldn't go through you, Goodyear Blimp. Tch - one pretty pair of legs walks in, and all you men lose your heads. I didn't expect this behavior out of you, Niles."
"Jealous, Miss Babcock?" He leaned towards her, his blue eyes taking on a peculiar gleam.
"Ye – No! Well, yes, for Maxwell's sake! Youcan gawk at your Nanny Fine as much as you want to. You're both servants anyway. I just assumed you were gay, that's all."
With a pointed glance at his apron and oven mitts, she turned to exit the room in a sweep of beige skirts.
"That is not the nature of my interest in Miss Fine," said Niles, stopping her in mid-sweep. For the first time, it was his turn to sound annoyed. "And I'm not gay either."
"Oh, really?" she drawled, in her deepest tone of irony.
"Good afternoon, Miss Babcock," he said, with the subtle intonation that turned the phrase into a British code word for 'get lost' . Miss Babcock took the hint, smiling crookedly, not half as disappointed as she'd been a moment before.
Not that interested in Nanny Fine, is he? Thank God, that makes at least one man in this house. Maybe he'll come around eventually.