Cheerful

Daphne Moon was walking through the streets of Seattle, one arm hung her handbag, the other arm hung a grocery bag. She was walking, humming merrily to herself, glancing at all the apartments she passed. Then, out of nowhere, a hand grabbed her and pulled her into a dark alley. The grocery bag ripped and the cans inside rolled onto the wet ground.

Daphne found herself face to face with a tall man with long black hair. He was badly shaven and dressed. He looked as though he had not eaten in days.

Daphne was about to offer him the cans of food she had bought. Frasier and Martin would be sure to forgive her for coming home empty ended. However, the man pushed her against a wall before she had the chance to even open her mouth.

He stared into her big brown eyes, which were filled with confusion and fear.

The man pressed his lips to her neck.

"What are you doing?" She shrieked.

"Shut up!" He spat. "You're beautiful."

Daphne was unsure what to say. It was barely a compliment in this setting. The only way it was a compliment is it if it were said with genuine softness, like the way Niles says it.

The man gently stroked her cheek and pushed her hair behind her ears. He reached for the buttons on her blouse and managed to unbutton two of them when Daphne shrieked louder than ever and smacked him with her handbag.

Daphne always kept stuff in her handbag that would help her in situations such as these. She only wished she hadn't been in this type of situation.
The man staggered and fell onto the ground, giving her enough time to scurry away.

The man followed her.

Daphne ran through the alley, not daring to look back. She couldn't believe what had just happened.

She ran and ran and eventually found herself in front of the Montana, Niles's apartment complex.

She didn't think about it; she immediately ran into the Montana and into an elevator to Niles's apartment.

She banged loudly on his door.

"Yes! Coming, coming!" She heard him say. He opened the door. "Daphne? What are you doing here?"

"Please, let me in!" She cried.

"Oh, well, of course," he said, letting her inside. He shut the door. "Daphne, what's the matter?"

She didn't say anything, and only paced his living room, panting heavily.

Then, came another loud bang on his door.

"I know you're in there!" The man yelled.

"Who could that be?" Niles asked himself; he started towards the door.

"NO!" Daphne shrieked. "Don't…answer it…"

Niles stared at her. "Daphne, what's wrong?"

"I was at the supermarket, and I was grabbed into an alley. There was a man. And he… he tried to…" She couldn't say it. Tears spilled out of her eyelids and slid down her cheeks.

"No," Niles whispered. "No."

"He's banging on your door."

"LET ME IN!" He screamed.

"Daphne, you sit down. I'll handle this."

Thinking that Niles was going to try and face this man himself, Daphne didn't sit down. She stayed close to him; Niles didn't protest.

Niles took out his cellphone and dialed 911. "Yes, police. There is a man trying to break into my apartment. He is banging on the door at the moment. However, this is not the reason I am calling."

"And what is your reason for calling, sir?" The woman on the other line asked. She had a flat voice, probably thinking it was some sort of prank.

"The man is banging on the door for a reason. He is after my friend. He tried to…" He glanced over at Daphne and had to take a deep breath. "…rape her."
"Where shall we be, sir?"

Niles told them where his apartment was, and they said there would be there as soon as possibly. Niles put his phone back into his pocket and looked at Daphne.

"I'm so sorry if I'm disturbing you," she said.

"Daphne. Why are you apologizing?" Niles cried. "You are not to blame. That man is! That sick, twisted man!"

"Hey, what are you doing?" The man asked. "Get off me!"

"That must be the police," Niles told Daphne, heading over to answer the door.

The man was struggling on the ground while three police officers were holding him down.

"This is the man, correct?" The officer holding the man's legs asked.

"Yes," Daphne said quietly, but loud enough for them to hear.

"Can you hold on, please?" Niles asked, stepping forward. He knelt down next to the man and glared at him. He raised a fist and with all the strength he could muster, he punched him hard in the face, drawing blood. "Forgive me for that, officers," he said, getting up and straightening his tie. "I had to do it. And if you're thinking of punishing me for my actions, my father is a retired cop. The name Martin Crane ring any bells?" He asked hopefully.

"Oh, yes, we know old Marty!" They laughed.

"How's his hip?"

"Getting better, thanks to this miracle worker," Niles said, looking over at Daphne.

"He's a stubborn old sod," Daphne spoke up.

"That's the Marty we know!" They said. "You take care, sir."

They nodded at Niles and Daphne and took the man away.

Niles turned to Daphne and ushered her inside.

"Your hand," Daphne said, reaching out for Niles's bloody hand. "It's not yours, is it?"

"Fortunately not. It's his."

She took out a tissue from her bag and wiped his hand clean.

"You're lucky you got away," he told her. "How did you manage?"

"I hit him with me handbag," she said. "I keep a brick in there!" She laughed.

Niles chuckled. "Really?"

"I always keep stuff in me bag that can help me if trouble arises. I only wished I didn't have to use it."

"You said he tried to. Does that mean he didn't…?"

Daphne shook her head. "He only got as far as taking off two buttons of me blouse; nothing more."

"Oh, thank god," Niles whispered, pulling Daphne into an embrace. "I'm so glad you're alright. You must've been scared."

"I was," she said, hugging him back. "But, I feel a lot safer now, being with you."

"Why don't you go upstairs and take a nice hot bath? I think that would do you good right now," Niles said.

"Yes. Thank you."

She pulled out of his embrace and went upstairs.

"You're welcome to go through my drawers and pick a shirt to wear to bed if you'd like. I know it sounds kind of strange, but I'm afraid I don't have any female clothes for you to wear. And…" He trailed off, blushing.

Daphne giggled. "Thank you," she said again, retreating to the bathroom.

Niles gazed for a long time at the same where she had been. Then, he brandished his cellphone and quickly called Frasier.

"Hello?" Frasier asked.

"Hello, Frasier."

"Niles! Have you seen Daphne! She left about half an hour ago, and I didn't think it would take this long to get a few groceries."

"Um… she's actually here. Upstairs taking a bath."

"Niles!" Frasier barked.

"It's not what you think!" Niles yelled. "She came into my apartment, her whole body trembling. She told me that some man in an alley tried to take advantage of her, but she managed to escape using a brick from her handbag."

"She carries a brick? Well, would I expect anything less from the woman who kept a small broom in her bag?"

"Anyway, the man followed her here. I called the police, and he was taken away. But… I punched him," Niles added giddily. He knew he shouldn't be giddy at a time like this, btu he actually punched someone!

"You punched him?" Frasier asked. Even over the phone, Niles knew that Frasier's eyebrows were raised in disbelief. "Did it just bounce off him?"

"No! I drew blood. Oh, don't give me that, Frasier," he snapped when Frasier made a snorting noise. "You wouldn't believe the stuff a person could do to for the one he loves. So much anger and hatred was building up inside me when I heard what he had tried to do to sweet Daphne."

"I'm glad you did that. Daphne does not deserve that kind of treatment. Hold on; I've got to tell Dad this," Frasier said. .

Niles waited patiently on the other line while Frasier told Martin everything that happened. He heard Martin yell loudly when he mentioned the man, and then he heard him yell excitedly when he told him that Niles punched said man.

"Niles!" Martin cheered. "Did ya really?"

"Yes, I did," Niles said, growing slightly pink in the face. "But, please, don't praise me for it. I only did it because he hurt Daphne."

"Still, I'm proud that you stuck up for her. You must really care about her, then."

"Oh, yes."

"Dr. Crane?" Daphne asked.

Niles glanced up, seeing Daphne by the stairs wearing one of his nightshirts. He felt his heart constrict tightly; his nightshirt fell just short of her knees.

"I have to go, Dad," Niles said to Martin. "Daphne's out of the bath…"

"Alright, then. Good job tonight, son," Martin said, hanging up.

"Daphne! Wasn't there anything larger in there?" He asked, going up the stairs. "It's cold outside; I'm sure you'd much rather prefer something a bit…" His eyes traveled down her body to her legs. "…Longer?"

"This is the biggest you have," Daphne said, looking down at the length. "It's… not a problem, is it?"

"N-no, no! The important thing is that you're comfortable. Are you comfortable?"

"Yes, very."

"Good, good! Would you like a glass of wine?"

"Yes, thank you," Daphne said, following Niles down the stairs.

She smiled at him as she sat down on his fainting couch.

Niles retreated to the kitchen and came back with two glasses of wine and a bowl of hot soup.

"I'd figured you'd want something warm to eat," he said.

"Oh, how very kind of you, Dr. Crane!" Daphne took a spoonful of soup and lightly blew on it before eating it. "It's delicious."

"I'm glad."

"So, how was your day?" She asked.

Niles looked up. "Uh… good. Lots of patients today."

"You would never believe what happened with your father and Eddie," Daphne laughed loudly. "Your father was sitting in his chair, minding his own business, a bag of pretzels in one hand, the remote in the other. Well, little Eddie has his eyes on those pretzels. He leaped up and grabbed the bag with his teeth! He pretty much flew over the chair. Your father got all mad and started chasing him. Of course, he hurt his hip doing that, so I had to put him through double exercises, which he hated, but he had to do it since he hurt his hip chasing Eddie. Then, Dr. Crane was complaining about a recent date he had."

"Doesn't he always?" Niles said grimly.

"Hahaha, I guess so. But, his problem tonight was that she didn't think 'Hamlet' was one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written."

Niles gasped. "Well, he was right to complain! 'Hamlet' is one of the greatest pieces of literature! Have you read it?"

"Yes, I have. And I must say, it is a brilliant piece of work. Dr. Crane was going off and off about his date. Then, he saw Eddie, munching on his pretzels on the couch. Well, he freaked out. Oh, your brother. I just love working for you Crane men!"

"We love having you," Niles said before he could stop himself.

Daphne blushed at his words. "Why, thank you. Everyday's an adventure living with your brother and your father!" She laughed again.

Niles stared at her. How could she so remain so cheerful after what happened to her tonight? He would think she would be in tears, shaking, trying to understand why this had happened. But, no, she was sitting next to him, laughing. Her face had not lost any color, and it would've been impossible to guess what had happened to her unless she straight out told somebody.

"I envy you, Daphne," Niles whispered.

"Envy me? But, why?"

"You can remain so jubilant even after tonight's incident."

"Oh, well, it was terrifying. But, I can't let that get me down! I've got to keep my head up high!"

Niles smiled. However, he thought she was holding her emotions in. He didn't want her to suffer alone.

"Daphne," Niles started to say, but he was interrupted by a loud sob.

Daphne had started to cry. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed loudly.

"Daphne?"

"I don't understand! Why would someone do this?" She cried. "I didn't do anything to him."

Niles scooted closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. "Daphne, it's okay."

"No, it's not. If I hadn't been prepared… something much worse could've happened."

"Well, let's be thankful that you were prepared," Niles said. "There are just some twisted people in this world. It's my and Frasier's job to decipher the human nature. Some are twisted, some are desperate."

"Maybe he was desperate," Daphne said.

"No, no, he was twisted." He wasn't just saying that because it was Daphne who had been hurt. "Only a twisted person would do something as treacherous as this. A desperate person robs in order to feed his or her family. A twisted person robs in order to feed his or her selfish needs. A desperate person would never rape someone. What's that going to do for him? It's not going to pay the bills; it's not going to feed the family. He's twisted because he was so determined. He chased you all the way here and tried to break into my apartment to get to you. I only wonder how he got past the doorman."

"He was determined," Daphne agreed. "So determined I think he ran past the doorman to get to me."

Niles reached out and held onto her hand. "It's okay," he said again. "You needn't go through this alone. I'm here for you. Not as a psychiatrist, but as a friend." At this moment, he didn't have to tell how he truly felt about her. She was vulnerable, all she wanted was a friend in which she could confide, and he wanted to be that right now. More than anything else.

"Thank you for being there for me," Daphne said. "You're such a good friend."

"I aim to be," he said. "Now, why don't you tell me some more of your adventures at the Frasier Crane household?"

Daphne giggled, snuggling up closer to Niles. "Well, last week, your father used one of Dr. Crane's expensive china bowls to eat his chili. Oh, that fight had me in stitches! Your father was telling Dr. Crane that bowls were meant for food, didn't matter what kind of a food it was. And that it was going in the dishwasher anyway. Well, Dr. Crane said he will always be haunted by the fact that there was chili in his bowl!" She laughed. "And…"

Niles listened to her as she talked and talked. He laughed with her and even provided some of his own stories.

And Daphne never felt safer in her life.

The End