Daphne was shocked when she stepped off the elevator on the 19th floor of Elliot Bay Towers. The door to Dr. Crane's apartment was wide open. The usually-immaculate living room was now a mess. There was foam everywhere, and a distinct smell of smoke emanating from the couch. Had there been some type of break-in?
Then she looked down and noticed Dr. Crane's brother, Niles, lying there unconscious. Immediately she bent down, examining him. He had a pulse and was breathing. She was grateful for that. "Can you hear me?" she asked. Oh, God, she thought. Please don't let him be dead. His father and brother would both be devastated, and she didn't even want to contemplate how she would deal with the loss of her friend.
Fortunately, she didn't have to wonder for long. His eyes began to flutter open as she repeated his name over and over. "Daphne," he whispered.
Daphne smiled, thrilled that he was coming to. "Yes, it's me, Dr. Crane. I'm right here." She made her voice sound as soothing as possible. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Niles looked at her, desperately trying to focus. He couldn't seem to make sense of all the details.
Clearly, whatever had happened, it wasn't good. Daphne knew she shouldn't move a victim, but he didn't seem to be hurt at all, other than having been knocked out. "Can you sit up?"
Niles sat up, feeling the room begin to spin as he did. "I'm afraid I'm rather lightheaded, Daphne."
"You poor thing," Daphne said. "Just try to stay still and tell me what happened."
Niles took a deep breath. His dizziness began to subside a bit. "I was getting ready for my date. But I found a wrinkle in my pants, so I went to iron them. And then I noticed a loose thread, and when I tried to cut it with a scissors, I cut my finger instead. Then I fainted from the blood. I landed on Frasier's couch, and got blood on it. I know how Frasier loves that couch, so I went to get some cleaning solution to take care of the stain. By this time, I had forgotten about the iron, which started a fire. In a panic, I threw the pants onto the couch, which was now covered in a highly-flammable chemical. I ended up throwing the dinner I was making onto the couch in order to put out the flames. And when I opened this door to air the place out, I once again noticed my bleeding finger. That's the last thing I remember."
Daphne's heart broke as she listened to Niles recount his ordeal. "I wish I'd been here, instead of out with your father."
"Actually, Daphne, I'm glad you weren't. I made such a fool of myself. I not only ruined my own Valentine's Day, but I also destroyed this apartment. Frasier's going to kill me!"
Daphne squeezed his hand. "Your brother won't be happy, that's for sure. But I'm sure he'll forgive you. After all, it's not like you did this on purpose!"
Niles sighed. "I hope you're right, Daphne. Because, if Frasier decided he didn't want to speak to me ever again, I don't know what I'd do!"
"Oh, Dr. Crane, your brother wouldn't do that. Me own brothers used to fight all the time. But they always made up. Your brother loves you. Are you feeling any better now?"
Niles thought for a moment and was surprised to find that he actually did feel a bit better. "Yes, I think so. It was just the shock of seeing that blood that made me faint. But look at this place!"
Daphne looked around. "Well, let's start cleaning it up, shall we?"
Niles looked at her and sighed. Any other person would've blamed him for all of this. Frasier was sure to be livid whenever he returned from his date. She was truly an angel. Then he remembered what he'd been dreaming of just moments before. "Daphne...can I tell you something first?"
"Of course, Dr. Crane."
"While I was lying here, I had the most wonderful dream. It was about...you." He blushed as he spoke the word, suddenly feeling shy.
"You had a dream about me? I'm very flattered!" Daphne said, wondering why on earth he would be dreaming of her.
"Yes. We were walking along the beach, admiring the moonlight over the Pacific. And then I turned to you and kissed you. It was the most wonderful kiss I could've imagined."
Daphne couldn't help sighing. The dream seemed like a scene straight out of one of her romance novels. "That sounds lovely. But I'm afraid things like that never happen to me. At least not in real life. Just in those books I read, the ones your brother says are no better than soap operas."
"I know it sounds a bit unusual, my having a dream like that about you. But, Daphne, I have to admit that you're on my mind almost all the time. No matter what I'm doing, I'm usually thinking about you. I guess when I was having that dream, and then you showed up, I figured it was some sort of sign."
Suddenly, Daphne felt a bit lightheaded herself. Was this really happening? She felt torn. Part of her knew that this might all be a side effect of his fainting. But her heart was telling her otherwise. Her powers had taught her that there were things that couldn't always be explained. Like why her visions were often wrong...but sometimes they were shockingly accurate. As she sat there, looking at this man who'd had a far worse Valentine's Day than she had, she began to feel something. He'd been through so much lately, with his divorce, moving into that awful apartment, and now this. It wasn't fair. He was such a sweet man, always paying her compliments, smiling at her, making her laugh. Until now, she'd always taken it as his way of being friendly. But...what if it was something far deeper than that?
Daphne took another look around the room. Cleaning it up would take a very long time. But she didn't think Dr. Crane would be coming back here tonight. Not if his date had gone as planned. So, really, there was no reason for them to rush to start on the job right now. "Dr. Crane, if you're feeling up to it, maybe we could get a bite to eat. You must be starving by now."
Niles grinned. "Yes, I'd like that. And it seems only right that I should pay. After all, this is your living room, too."
Daphne touched his cheek gently. "Let's not think about all of this for right now. I think we should just try to enjoy what's left of this Valentine's Day. After that, we'll just take things one step at a time."
Niles let out a contented sigh. He knew that he and Daphne had a long way to go in whatever new relationship they were about to begin. But he had a feeling he would enjoy every moment of their journey.