Sam was joking around with his friends, laughing like he hadn't a care in the world. It was a nice July day, business was booming and his dating life was beginning to pick up again. It had been two months since it, since the blowup, and he hadn't heard from or Diane ever since the day he called it quits with her. It was better that way, he'd decided. He picked up the phone once to call her, just to see how she was doing, but her phone had been disconnected. Maybe she couldn't find work. After all, she only took the job at Cheers because they both agreed she wouldn't be good at anything else. But Sam managed to brush all thoughts of Diane aside, and had begun to pick up the pieces of his life. Yes, life was good these days.

No fights, no bickering, no one telling him how to act or what to say. No one to grab the mirror from his hands even if it was the twelfth time he'd picked it up that day. No one to criticize his every thought and move. Come to think of it, why was he ever with her to begin with?

"Come on, Sam, you're starting to get all Gloomy Gus on us. What's going on? We're all having a grand old time with the game. You're not getting all misty on us are you?" Carla yelled as she placed her order.

"Yeah..the game. That's it. I guess I was just looking back and thinking about what might have been," he lied. Sam knew it was a lie but he also knew that was what Carla was wanting to hear. If she knew that he was thinking of Diane Chambers, she'd give him a tough time, and that's not what he needed today.

"Well cut it out. So you made a few bad plays. Who hasn't? I have five kids. You wanna talk about regrets? "

"Well since you asked…"

"Cut it out. Coach, talk some sense into him."

"Sam, you were the greatest relief pitcher the game ever saw, and I saw a few great pitchers in my time."

Sam smiled. "Thanks, Coach. You always know what to say. How do you do it?"

"Do what?"

Sam chuckled. Good old Coach, he thought to himself. Maybe he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he had a heart of gold, and there was no one he'd rather have as an assistant bartender than Ernie Pantusso.

"Hurry up with the beers will ya? Norm over here is actually talking to Clavin now. You know what I'll do if that Neanderthal gets going?" Carla barked.

"Sorry, Carla. You're right. We have the game on, I have my friends and my hair, what more could a guy want?"

"Howabout a night with yours truly? That's what all the guys I ever met wanted," Carla leaned against the counter and smiled at her friend.

"Maybe one of these nights, Carla. You never know."

Just as Carla was about to make her comeback, the phone rang. Laughing, Sam answered it.

"Cheers."

There was a pause from the other end. "Hello, my name is Dr. Frasier Crane. Might I speak with a Sam Malone?"

"You got him. Who did you say this was anyways?"

"Dr. Frasier Crane. I'm a psychiatrist. Maybe you've heard of me? I've published several papers that have drawn attention to my work."

"Sorry, buddy, never heard of you. Is there…is there something that I can help you with?"

"Actually, yes, there is something you can help me with. I'm calling regarding a patient of mine, perhaps you know her. Her name is Diane Chambers."

Sam turned around and placed his hand over the receiver, afraid to give away any reaction at the sound of her name. Diane…a psychiatrist..what was going on here?

"Let me take this in the other room. Hold on a minute, will ya?"

"Of course."

After a minute Sam went to his office where he picked up the phone. "What's this about Diane? Is she using you to get back at me for something?"

"Is there something that you have done that she would like to get 'back at you'?"

"No, no don't do this. I know how all of you psychiatrists work. I ask a question, I get a question in return. Don 't do that to me, Dr.."

"Crane. Dr. Crane."

"Listen, Dr. Crane, I don't know who you are or what you want from me, but my days with Diane Chambers are over. We have nothing left to discuss. So I don't know what all garbage she is telling you, but believe me, it's over between us."

"I was afraid you would say that. You see, Diane is in trouble…I really don't know why I called. I suppose I was hoping you would help me get to the bottom of things…"

"What do you mean bottom of things? What kind of trouble is she in? She didn't go loony did she? Man I hate when chicks do that …"

"Sam, Diane Chambers did not go loony. I am rather limited as to what I can reveal about her condition, but I can assure you that I am not calling to place blame on anyone. My goal is to help Diane recover and to become well. And although I don't know much about you or your situation, I was hoping that you would also care about her well-being," Frasier added.

"This sounds serious, Doc. What's wrong with her?"

There was a quiet pause from Frasier before he started to speak. Although he never was one at a loss for words, how could he possibly tell Sam what he needed to say? Her condition was hard enough for anyone to comprehend, let alone a mildly educated bartender? He thought about his approach.

"Sam, have you ever noticed anything particular about Diane's eating habits?"

"Yeah, she eats like a bird. Drives me crazy. We would go to a hoighty toity restaurant and then she would pick at her meal. I usually wound up finishing her meal for her. What's this got to do with anything?"

"I was afraid of that. So this has been a long time coming. But I need to understand what happened that pushed her over the edge, if you will. Would you mind my coming to Boston to discuss things further with you?"

Sam wanted to make a joke, as he usually did at times like this, but he refrained himself this time. "Yeah, sure. Come to Cheers. It's in the book."

"Okay, Sam. We'll see you in a day or two."

"That soon?"

"This really can't wait. I'm sorry. Thank you for your help."

Sam hung up the phone, suddenly feeling the urge for a drink. He couldn't do that, now that Diane needed him. What was it about her that drew him in, even when they were apart?

TBC