Niles Crane was so engrossed in his work that he barely noticed the door of his home office open.
"Dad?" the timid voice said.
Niles looked up, grateful for the distraction.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite son!"
David Crane rolled his eyes. "I'm your only son, Dad!"
"Ah, precisely why you're my favorite!" Niles said with a smile. "What's up?"
Nervously, David looked at the piles of folders and papers that filled his father's desk.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I shouldn't have come in here and bothered you while you were busy. Please don't tell Mom, okay?"
With a sad look on his face, David turned to leave but was stopped by his father's hand on his shoulder.
"I'm never too busy for you, David. What's on your mind?"
David sighed and looked around his father's office, which was filled with family photos; his parents' wedding, baby pictures and school pictures of his son, his Uncle Frasier, Cousin Frederick and still more pictures of his mother.
"Dad, how do you know if you're in love?" He asked, plopping down on the sofa.
Niles almost choked on his coffee. He prided himself in anticipating the questions his son might someday ask, like the strategy for becoming president of the chess club, or how to pretend to be a sports enthusiast. (That one was easy; "ask your grandpa"), but he never expected this.
"Are you okay?" He heard his son asking.
Regaining his composure, Niles smiled at his son. "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you."
"So... what's the answer?" David asked.
Nervously Niles rubbed the back of his neck.
"Da-ad! I need to know!"
Niles swallowed hard, knowing that this was the hardest question his son could possibly ask. But now was as good of a time as any.
"David, you're a teenager now and it can be extremely awkward and confusing. You're going through changes and experiencing new feelings that you may not understand. And even girls will become different to you. You'll begin to look at them differently. Sometimes these feelings can get out of hand and-."
David rolled his eyes. "Dad, get real. I know about all of that stuff! We learned about it in Health class."
Relief flooded over Niles. "Thank God! I-I mean, I'm glad to know that the school system is teaching you valuable lessons about life."
"Dad, I'm just trying to find out what I should do about Elizabeth Fielding! I mean, I like her... A lot! But I don't know if I should tell her how I feel."
Niles looked at his son in surprise. "Well, what's this girl like?"
David smiled as a dreamy look came over his eyes. "Oh Dad, she's way cool! Red hair, blue eyes and she wears dresses! Most of the girls in my school wear jeans and pants. Talk about boring! Oh, and guess what? She has an accent, just like Mom!"
Seeing his son so happy warmed Niles' heart.
"She sounds wonderful, David."
"So should I tell her how I feel about her?"
Niles guided his son to his sofa and sat down beside him.
"David, did I ever tell you about when I told your mom I loved her?"
"The first time I saw her, she was at your Uncle Frasier's house, and she was doing the laundry." Niles sighed.
"Yeah, yeah I've heard this part like a million times before. You fell in love with her at first glance, right?"
Niles smiled dreamily. "Yes..."
"Okay so what happened?"
"Well every time I saw her, I wanted to tell her how I felt, but I just couldn't. I kept wishing and praying that I could get up the courage to say something, until I almost lost her forever."
"Really? What happened?"
Niles cringed, remembering. "She fell in love with someone else." He said quietly. "In fact, she was going to marry him."
David jumped off the sofa in surprise. "Are you serious? Mom was going to marry someone else?"
"Yes, but fortunately your Uncle Frasier intervened."
"What did he do?"
"The night before the wedding, your Uncle Frasier told me that your mom knew how I felt about her and that she felt the same way about me."
"You freaked out, didn't you?"
"Well, I was surprised." Niles said, praying that his nose wouldn't bleed.
But his son wasn't fooled. "Dad, come on! I've seen you hyperventilate; like that time I told you that I wanted to play football."
Niles shuddered. "Don't remind me."
"Well, after I found out that your mom knew about my feelings, I decided that we needed to talk about it. It took a while for us to get some privacy at the hotel where she was going to get married. But when we were finally alone in your Uncle Frasier's hotel room, I told her that I loved her. And then I asked her how she felt about me."
"Wow, what did she say?"
"Well, actually I think I made her angry."
"Why would she be mad that you loved her?"
Niles grinned at his son's innocence. "Well, she wasn't mad at me but at your Uncle Frasier because she told him not to tell me."
"But you were glad he did, right?"
Niles smiled. "I thank him every day of my life, David."
David sat down on the sofa, anxious to hear more. "So what happened?"
"Well, we went out on the balcony so that we knew nobody would bother us. I stood there waiting for her answer, and as you know when I get nervous I talk incessantly about nothing at all and-."
"Kind of like you're doing now?" David smirked.
"So what did Mom say? What was her answer?"
"Actually she didn't say anything."
David looked at his father in confusion. "Well if she didn't say anything, then how did you know that she loved you?"
"She threw her arms around me and kissed me." Niles said; grateful that he was sitting. For had he not been sitting down, his knees surely would have given out.
"And that's how you two fell in love, right?"
"Not exactly." Niles said with a sigh.
"What are you talking about?"
"She told me that she loved me but that she didn't want to hurt Donny's feelings."
David scrunched up his face. "Eww! My dad's name could have been Donny?"
Niles couldn't help but chuckle.
"I told your mom that we could work it out but she told me that since we hadn't even been on a date, it was crazy to think that we could make a relationship work."
To Niles' surprise, David put his hand on his dad's back in comfort.
"You were sad, weren't you?"
"I was completely distraught. I couldn't even attend the wedding. I quietly slipped away and sat in your grandfather's Winnebago."
"Did you cry?"
"Actually, I was pretty close to crying, yes." Niles admitted.
"Wow, you really were sad! I'd be sad, too if I lost Mom."
"But then something extraordinary happened." Niles said, his smile returning.
"Someone knocked on the door. I thought it was your grandfather or your Uncle Frasier, but it turned out to be someone else."
"It was your mom."
A grin spread across David's face. "Really?"
"She was... wearing her wedding dress and was the most beautiful goddess I'd ever seen."
"Then what happened?"
A pair of arms slid around Niles shoulders from behind.
"I asked him if he was free for a date." Daphne said.
"Hello, my love." Niles said, turning to kiss his wife.
"And he said yes, right?" David asked.
"He certainly did. And the fact is that I wish I had told her how I felt about her long before that day." Niles said.
"But I'm glad it happened the way it did." Daphne said, kissing Niles on the cheek.
"I'm sorry if I interrupted your heart to heart talk, David."
"David was just asking me how to tell if he's in love."
"Da-ad!" David said, clearly embarrassed.
"Oh, how lovely! Who's the lucky girl?" Daphne asked with interest.
"He says her name is Elizabeth Fielding." Niles said.
"Well you must be psychic like me because there's an Elizabeth Fielding on the phone for you right now." Daphne said.
David's eyes widened. "What? Are you serious?"
Then he turned to his father in horror.
"Dad, what do I do?"
Niles smiled knowingly. "Could you give us a minute, Daphne?"
"Certainly." Daphne said. "I'll tell Elizabeth that you'll be with her in a few minutes. She has the most beautiful accent!"
"Really?" David asked, feigning surprise. "I-I never noticed."
"Don't keep her waiting too long." Daphne said, closing the door behind her.
"Dad, what am I supposed to say to her?"
Niles thought for a moment and then smiled. "Just say what's in your heart, David."
"On the phone? But what if she doesn't feel the same way?"
"What if she does?" Niles countered.
"Are you sure about this?"
"David, it took me seven years to tell your mom that I loved her and I wish I would have told her the minute I laid eyes on her. You don't want to go through life loving someone from afar, knowing that you might miss out on something wonderful. And if she doesn't return your feelings, then you'll be free to move on when you're ready."
David smiled and hugged his father tightly. "Thanks, Dad. I love you."
"I love you too, David." Niles said. "Now I believe a young lady is waiting to talk to you on the phone."
Before Niles could blink, David rushed out of the office.
"What a wonderful son we have." Niles said to his wife.
"I couldn't agree more, but his father's pretty wonderful too." Daphne said as he pulled her onto the sofa for a kiss that left them both breathless.
(The next day)
The door opened, momentarily distracting Niles from the book he was reading. He glanced at Daphne and seconds later David walked in, holding hands with a beautiful young girl. She had red hair, blue eyes and was wearing a flowered dress, much like the ones that Niles had seen Daphne wear.
"Well, who's this?" Niles asked.
David smiled and took a deep breath. "Mom? Dad? This is Elizabeth Fielding... My girlfriend."
(Several minutes later)
"Mom? Dad? Is it okay if I take Elizabeth to the movies?" David asked.
"Of course you can." Daphne said. "Just don't come home too late, okay?"
"We won't. Thanks Mom."
David hugged his parents and walked out the door with Elizabeth.
When they were alone, Daphne grinned at her husband. "You know... we should go to a movie."
"That sounds wonderful." Niles said. "But is there anything good playing?"
"Hmm... How about "Evening of Passionate Romance?"
"I don't believe I've heard of that one. Who's in it?" Niles asked.
"You and me." Daphne answered.
Niles grinned. "And where is this passionate movie playing?"
"Right upstairs in our bedroom." Daphne said, taking his hand as she led him up the stairs.
They stopped on the landing for a series of kisses when the door opened again and they looked up in embarrassment to see David standing in the doorway.
"David, what are you doing here?" Niles asked, coming down the stairs to greet his son. "I thought you were taking Elizabeth to the movies."
"I am. I just... wanted to tell you something." David said.
Daphne kissed David's cheek. "I'll just be upstairs so you and your father can have some privacy."
Niles smiled at his son. "What did you want to tell me, David?"
"Just thank you." David said.
Niles was touched beyond words and hugged his son tightly.
"Oh... David, that means the world to me. You're most welcome and I'm so happy that things worked out so well with you and Elizabeth. She's a wonderful girl. Now, you'd better go because women don't like to be kept waiting."
David laughed. "Okay, Dad. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, David." Niles said watching his son walk to the door. Just as Niles was about to turn to go up the stairs, he heard;
"I'm glad Mom found you in the Winnebago." David said.
At that moment, Niles heart was filled with overflowing love.
"I'm glad she did, too."