*****Niles' Nightmare: An Eel-Wielding Englishwoman*****

Summary: After a stressful day at the office, Niles endures the worst nightmare of his life.

*****Author's Notes*****

I do not own the TV show Frasier. This story is written purely for entertainment purposes only. I get no compensation from it.

This story takes place sometime after episode 11x08, "Murder Most Maris."

***** Hard Day at the Office*****

When you practice psychiatry, some days are harder than others. Today was one of those days for Niles Crane. All day long he had scheduled couples for counseling, and the conflicts that he had been privy to had worn him down with stress.

Even his one cancellation during the day added to his stress. It turned out that the couple scheduled for 1:30pm was not going to be coming - ever again. At 12:47pm Niles had gotten a call from a detective with the Seattle Police Department, an old friend of his father's. Earlier that morning, the female half of the couple had tried to run down male half of the couple with a bull dozer at a construction site. The male half countered by hurling around a wrecking ball attached to a crane. Somehow they both survived but neither the crane nor the bulldozer had.

When Niles switched on the television to the local news station, he had seen a reporter standing in front of a smoking, ruined construction site. How the two of them could end up at a construction site was beyond Niles' imagination because both were accountants. Furthermore, neither seemed like the type to know how to operate heavy equipment. Regardless, a prison psychiatrist would be taking over now so Niles wouldn't have to contend with either of them any more. Thank goodness for small favors he thought as he gathered together the patient files for them.

At 6:30pm, Niles switched off his computer and headed for home.

*****Back Home*****

"Would you like something to eat, Niles?"

"No, love. I think I just want to go to bed. If I wake up during the night I might eat something then."

As soon as her husband came through the door, Daphne was worried about him. Niles looked worn out, and she readily agreed with the idea of his retiring early. While he trudged up the stairs to their bedroom, Daphne decided to read for awhile in the living room on the fainting couch.

Niles changed into his bed clothes and dimmed the lights in the bedroom. At first he lay wide awake staring at the ceiling, but finally he drifted off to sleep.

*****Tiny Hands*****

Ahh! Finally Niles felt peaceful and relaxed. In fact he was walking down the street from his office to Café Nervosa for a latte. The sun was shining in a bright blue sky, the temperature was just right, and a slight breeze was blowing through his hair. Oddly, the street was empty of any other people.

"Whoosh."

As he neared Nervosa, Niles heard the "whoosh" sound and looked at a bus stop bench beside him. That was strange. There was something long and slender sticking out of the bench. He bent over to inspect it, and suddenly a second one appeared beside it. That was most unusual, Niles thought. What could they be?

Suddenly, a third one appeared, this time very close to Niles. He reached for it and pulled it out of the bench. It was an arrow! Someone was shooting arrows. But why would someone be shooting arrows and trying to hit a bench in downtown Seattle? It made no sense. Maybe it had something to do with this being a dream.

"Oh, Niles..."

He heard a familiar voice and turned toward it. As soon as he did he wished he hadn't. Half a block away advancing toward him was Maris, and she was carrying the antique crossbow that she had killed her lover with. As she walked toward Niles she was reloading the crossbow.

"Uh, Maris. What are you doing?"

"Trying to kill you, Niles. Will you be a dear and please hold still? I've almost got this thing reloaded."

Niles didn't wait. He broke into a run down the street. Behind him he heard Maris catching up with him, which was strange because no one ever mistook her for an athlete. Soon enough he saw another arrow fly by just inches from his head. He turned and saw Maris loading another arrow while she was gaining ground behind him. Niles reached an entrance way and stepped under its awning. Maris had been so intent on reloading that she hadn't noticed where Niles had gone.

Despite the danger he was in, Niles thought, "Such tiny hands. How is she able to reload a crossbow so fast?"

"Oh, Niiiiiiiiles. Come out, come out wherever you are! This won't take long."

Niles said nothing. Fear gripped him so bad he couldn't breathe.

"If you don't come out Niles, I'll have to find you and that will make things just that much worse."

Niles had plastered himself against the inside wall of the entranceway to make himself as inconspicuous as possible. He tried the knob on the door but it was locked. He heard Maris' high-heeled shoes clop-clop-clop down the sidewalk. Closer and closer the sound came. Niles perspired more and more. Soon he could look over to the street and see Maris' shadow as she came ever nearer.

"There. Now it's reloaded and ready to go. Don't you want to come out and play, Nilesey?"

Clop-clop-—clop. Maris' steps slowed as she neared his hiding place.

"Are you here, Nilesey?"

Clop-clop-clop. She was on the sidewalk right beside the entranceway and she stopped. The rustling sound of fabric rubbing against fabric told Niles that Maris' arms were raising up the crossbow and it was just a matter of time before she moved into the doorway.

A flash of motion appeared before Niles eyes. Maris was standing not five feet in front of him with the crossbow aimed at his abdomen.

"There you are, Niles. You shouldn't have run. It just makes this more painful for both of us."

Niles rushed Maris before she could pull the trigger on the crossbow, and he knocked it down from her hands. It skittered across the pavement, but Maris ran to it before Niles could. As she picked it up he ran back to the door and hurled himself against it. The door gave way as another whooshing sound rang in his ear. An arrow was now sticking in the door beside his head. Niles slammed the door shut and looked around for something to use as a barricade. His eyes locked onto a desk, and with a great deal of huffing and puffing, Niles scooted the desk up against the door. On the other side he heard Maris again.

"Oh, Niles. I'm so sorry that you didn't let me kill you. Well, maybe someone else will."

*****Stained Lapel*****

Niles moved through the building until he came to what looked like a doctor's office. It seemed vaguely familiar, but at this point he didn't care. Walking down the hallway inside the office he came to an examination room. Inside was a table with a thin mattress and sheets on it. Niles was so exhausted from running and the table looked so inviting that he went over to it and laid down. Maybe now he could get some restful, relaxing sleep. As soon as his head touched the pillow at the end of the table, he was asleep. Or so it seemed.

"Oh, Niles..."

Those were the same words but a new voice. Niles opened his eyes and looked around. He was still in the doctor's office, and it still looked vaguely familiar. But something was different. He looked down at his hands and saw that they were shackled in straps. Without success Niles tried to pull his hands free.

"Don't fight it, Niles. That just makes it worse."

Niles focused his eyes above him. Standing over him was Mel! Dressed in business attire, Dr. Mel Karnovsky was leaning over him with a smile on her face. The kind of smile that never meant anything good. And she had - oh no, please no - a giant syringe in her hand.

"Are you ready for my new formulation of botox, Niles? It's something I've been working on myself. Forget what the pharmaceutical companies manufacture. You might call this my own 'home-brew.' I've increased the potency twenty-fold. It'll make your forehead balloon-up to the size of a helium-filled blimp. You'll never have to worry about having wrinkles again. What am I saying? You'll never have to worry about anything again - period!"

She pressed the plunger on the syringe and a small stream of liquid came out.

"Squirt."

A few drips of the liquid landed on the lapel of her jacket and an ugly brown stain started to grow across the cloth.

Despite the danger he was in, Niles thought, "I'll bet her dry-cleaner will have a hard time getting that spot out!"

"Ahh, it looks ready, Niles. Are you ready?"

Niles tried to move his legs and found that they were free. Mel had only tethered his hands to the table. As Mel was bringing the syringe closer and closer to his forehead, Niles brought his right foot between his body and Mel's. He slammed the bottom of his foot against Mel and made her drop the syringe on the floor in the corner of the room. Mel did not like that.

"Oh, Niles. Why do you want to spoil the fun? Now the syringe has dropped on the floor and might have gotten dirty. No matter. I'll still use it. I'm just going to pick it up and get back to business."

Niles took the opportunity to jerk his hands around inside the straps that imprisoned them. He began to feel some play in the straps. Frantic with fear, he pulled back and forth on them as Mel located the syringe and retreived it from the floor. Again she turned to Niles.

"Here it is, little worse for wear. Now where were we? Ahh, yes. We were going to get rid of those unsightly wrinkles on your forehead with my new improved formula. Now hold still, Niles."

As her hand with the syringe hovered over Niles' forehead, he gave one more back-and-forth lunge and the straps gave way. He moved his head to one side and the syringe slammed into the pillow where his head had been mere micro-seconds ago. Mel jerked the syringe out of the pillow and Niles saw a large brown spot expand across the fabric. Just as he refocused on Mel she brought the syringe down towards his forehead again. This time Niles jerked his head the other way. Again the syringe slammed into the pillow and left a brown spot.

Seeing his chance, Niles ran through the open door as Mel trailed after him.

"Come, back, Niles. I want to get rid of those wrinkles in your forehead. No more furrowed brow for you!"

Niles would have nothing of that. He ran into a stairwell and went down and down, around and around, until he reached the first floor of the office building. Exhausted, he made his way out into the street.

*****Sexy Hair*****

Once out on the street, Niles realized that he was just a few steps away from the Montana. At last, his apartment! He could find refuge there, maybe even find Daphne to help him make sense of all that had happened to him.

At the Montana, he climbed the stairs to his apartment, entered it, and bolted the door shut. Once inside, he called out to his wife.

"Daphne, I'm home. Boy have I had a rough day today."

For a moment there was complete silence in the apartment. Then he heard a familiar voice.

"Oh, Niles..."

Niles spun around to see Daphne, only she looked very different from how she had looked when he left that morning.

Daphne wore a form-fitting black leotard. Disheveled, strands of her auburn locks fell across her face. Plastic industrial gloves covered both her hands.

And in her right hand she was twirling an eel. A large, pulsating, neon electric eel.

"Slap."

"I thought you might want eel when you came home tonight, Dear," she said as she snapped the eel like a whip. The end of the eel grazed the door next to Niles and threw off sparks all around it.

Despite the danger he was in, Niles thought, "Wow. Even though she's trying to kill me, I'm so lucky to be married to Daphne. Look at her in that leotard, and look at her sexy hair. She ought to wear her hair like that more often."

Another snap of Daphne's wrist and the end of the eel whistled through the air past Niles' ear. He ran over to the fainting couch and stood behind it.

"Hold still, Dear."

She snapped the eel again and it hit the cloth on the fainting couch and started a fire.

"I asked you to hold still, Niles. You'd do that for your own personal Venus, wouldn't you? It's so hard to hit a moving target."

Niles saw only one chance and he took it. He bolted for the door. When Niles swung the door open, the end of the eel hit the edge of the door. There were more sparks, more flames, and now a awful odor that came from where the eel had made contact with the door. Not even turning around to pull the door shut, Niles ran down the stairs and out the front of the Montana. He looked back in a few seconds. No Daphne. Niles took a moment to catch his breath.

Now when he looked around, Niles saw that he was back on a street in downtown Seattle. A block away was Café Nervosa. He decided to go there.

*****Last Stand*****

When Niles entered Café Nervosa, no one was there except for one employee behind the counter who seemed not to notice him. He approached the man yet still got no recognition of Niles' presence from him. Niles glanced at the counter and noticed the sign that said, "Ring bell for service." So he did.

The man looked up at Niles.

"Can I help you, sir?"

"Yes, my good man. Have you seen an eel-wielding Englishwoman around lately?"

"You mean like the one standing behind you?"

Niles spun around to find Daphne still looking sexy and still twirling the eel in her right hand. The eel pulsated with red, green, orange, blue, and yellow colors that cycled through in a loop. Consumed by fear, he turned back to see if the man could help him but he had vanished.

"Slap."

The end of the eel hit the counter and left a burned-out streak etched on the otherwise smooth surface.

Niles turned back to Daphne and saw that she had quickened the pace of spinning the eel. Again, he had to do something quickly. They were too close for her to miss a second attempt. Niles bolted for the front door.

As he got to it a crossbow appeared in the door frame, held up by two tiny hands. Maris entered and pointed the crossbow at Niles head.

Again Niles spun around and sprinted to the rear entrance of Café Nervosa, the one marked "Employees Only." He decided this was no time to let silly rules about who was or was not supposed to use an entrance stand in the way, he was going to exit the building through there.

But just as he got to the rear entrance, that door opened and a syringe held up by a hand appeared. Mel walked in, the ugly stain still spreading across the lapel of her suit jacket.

Niles backed up until he could feel his back make contact with the counter. No room for retreat remained. To his left Maris aimed the crossbow at his torso. To his right Mel squirted more liquid out of the syringe. Didn't that syringe ever run out of liquid? In front of him Niles saw Daphne spin the neon electric eel faster and faster as she advanced toward him.

Now Daphne was so close he could hear the whirling sounds the eel made as it cut through the air. Now sparks were flying off the eel even without it touching anything. Daphne laughed and the other two women joined in with her.

In a flash Daphne's right arm stretched toward Niles' head and the eel hurtled through the air until it...

*****In the Bedroom*****

Daphne had finished reading her book and went upstairs to prepare for bed. Dressed in her nightgown, she was brushing her hair in the bathroom when she heard it.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Something was wrong with Niles! Daphne dropped her brush to the floor and rushed into their bedroom. Her husband was writhing around on the bed. Daphne dropped onto the bed and began to shake Niles' shoulder.

"Niles! Niles! Please wake up. You're having a nightmare." A tear of worry fell from her eye.

Niles opened his eyes and looked around slowly until he focused on his wife. Did she see a moment of uncertainty flutter across his eyes? Soon enough though he smiled and raised himself up to kiss her. She returned his kiss with passion - and relief.

"Are you alright, Niles?"

"I am now, Daphne. It was just a nightmare."

They both settled down into the bed and Daphne dimmed the lights.

"Daphne, before we go to sleep, there's three things I need to say."

"What, Niles?"

"First, would you hold me close while we go to sleep?"

Instead of answering with words, Daphne pulled Niles close in her arms until their bodies were plastered against each other. Niles grunted his approval and Daphne responded in kind.

"Second, would you ever consider wearing a black leotard?"

She brought her lips next to his ear and spoke in a husky voice.

"I will Niles, but only for you."

Daphne nibbled at his ear, and Niles responded by trailing kisses across her face, down her neck, and onto her shoulder. Despite his first question Daphne knew that in mere moments they would be doing something besides falling asleep. She could tell that her husband was waking up, or at least, well, ahm...

Before Daphne completely lost control, she looked back in Niles' eyes.

"What was the third thing?" She traced her finger around her husband's lips.

"Daphne, I want you to promise me that you will never bring home a neon electric eel."

"You what?"

*****The End*****

*****Author's notes*****

Reviews are always welcome and appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you!