Daphne looked around the Crane apartment. As much as she enjoyed the holiday season, it always made her miss her family. Though she often complained about her mother and her rowdy brothers, there was something about Christmas that had to be shared with family. But she was lucky, because the Cranes had done their best to make her feel welcome. Especially the younger Dr. Crane. He'd given her a beautiful pair of earrings. Daphne was reluctant to accept them at first, but he'd insisted. But now it was the day after Christmas, so the elder Dr. Crane was busy undecorating the apartment. He was determined to erase all signs of his father's over-the-top Christmas display. Though she'd never tell Dr. Crane so, she sort of liked some of Mr. Crane's decorations. They reminded her a little of her home in Manchester, which helped ease some of her loneliness.
"Daphne? You look like you're a thousand miles away. Something on your mind?"
The younger Dr. Crane's voice brought Daphne back to the present. It was just like him to pay attention to her this way. "Oh, I was just thinking about me family back in Manchester."
"That's understandable. This time of year seems to make everyone long for familiar things. Have you had a chance to talk to your family lately?"
"I called me mum on Christmas Eve," Daphne said. "Of course me brothers were out drinking, just like any other day. And Mum started going on about how she'd love to come and spend the holidays with me and my family, only I don't have one." She rolled her eyes with obvious annoyance.
Niles hated seeing Daphne so upset. He tried to think of something to talk about that would cheer her up. "Do you have plans for New Year's?" he asked.
"One of me girl friends is throwing a couples-only New Year's Eve party. Of course I haven't got anyone to go with. Me friend said I could still come, but I don't think it would be much fun."
Niles thought about offering to go to the party with her. It was obvious she was lonely and hurting. But before he could say anything, Daphne spoke again. "I read in the paper that there's going to be fireworks over Elliot Bay on New Year's Eve. Since your father's going out with his friends, and your brother has a date, I thought I'd sit out on the balcony and watch them. I'm sure they'll be beautiful."
"That sounds lovely," Niles said immediately. He was glad when she smiled at his comment.
"Would you like to come over and watch them with me?" she asked. "I mean, unless you have plans for the evening, too."
"I'd love that!" He'd been planning to spend the evening at home, watching Dick Clark on television. But the chance to be with Daphne was something he could not pass up. For the first time in recent memory, Niles had a reason to look forward to another year.