I hope – maybe – there is some plot eventually… if not, enjoy the fluff. This is dedicated to each and every insomniac out there.
Niles noticed the subtle hostility. His father was nice enough to let him stay in his room until suddenly, he practically threw him out.
"I thought you and your brother would maybe like to share a room. Like when you were children!"
Of course Niles knew his father just wanted to get him out of the room. He was a nuisance. Deep down Niles realized that he was. Then again he wasn't different from how he'd always been. The only difference was the having to share an apartment now. Grown up men should never have to share an apartment. Having Daphne close by was definitely a plus, despite everything. Until Niles noticed that she seemed to be annoyed with him, too. Just because he'd thrown away that rancid smelling English food! Niles tried to feel at home while he was well aware that he wasn't and no one in his provisional home really wanted him there.
There was another realization on Niles' part: no matter how difficult it was to stay with Frasier, it was better than any alternative. He didn't have the money to live in anything resembling the luxury of the Montana. Frankly, he didn't want to live anywhere that wasn't as luxurious. It wasn't his style. For the moment he didn't see the need to leave his family's home. After all, what was family for?
After the first night in Frasier's room, Niles was given rules. As it turned out it was very much like when they were children, because ever since then Frasier tried to get things his way. Niles, as the guest, realized he had to comply. So he dialed down his evening routine to 15 minutes instead of his usual 20. No more de-humidifiers and breathing exercises were to be taken outside of the room. Niles agreed on all of these conditions afraid to be thrown out otherwise. By accident, he had overheard Frasier talk to Roz about an apartment complex named Shangri-La and just the name gave him chills. No, he would be a wonderful brother, a true help to Daphne and an obedient son to his father.
That was the plan, anyway. The second night in Frasier's room was terrible. Niles missed the sound of his rainforest and most of all he needed his de-humidifier. The cot was uncomfortable and no matter how he tried, he couldn't relax. He closed his eyes and tried to count sheep, but all he saw was Maris throwing away money that he couldn't catch. Niles opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. After what felt like an eternity, he looked at the time and sighed. He needed to sleep. So he rolled to the other side and tried it again. No luck. Niles rolled around and around like a fish looking for water.
"Niles, is there a problem?" Frasier's voice was calm, but dangerously so. Niles knew that voice; his brother was close to exploding with rage.
"I think I'll just have a glass of water." Niles exclaimed and got up. No need to keep Frasier up just because he couldn't sleep. With exhausted legs, Niles walked into the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of water and drank all of it. The sound from the fridge reminded him of his de-humidifier. It was beautiful.
Niles decided to stay in the living room for a while. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep and he wasn't in the mood to be yelled at. He wondered if he should turn on the TV, but decided against it. He picked a book at random and sat down. His hope to be lulled to sleep was shattered; the book was far too interesting! Niles forgot the time, forgot that he had to get up in the morning and go to work and just reveled in the written words in front of him.
"Dr. Crane?" Daphne's voice brought him back to reality. For a moment he wondered if it was already morning.
"Daphne! I hope I didn't wake you."
"No, not at all. I have trouble sleeping. I guess you do, too?" There was almost a streak of hope in her voice as if she was desperately searching for someone to share her insomnia. Well, she had found him.
"I do actually. I didn't want to keep Frasier up – again. So I thought I'd read, but the book got interesting." He smiled sheepishly. To his greatest surprise, Daphne sat down next to him.
"It's not easy living in someone else's apartment, is it?" she asked quietly. Niles realized that she, too, was living in someone else's apartment. She considered this place her home naturally, but in the end it was Frasier's. All she could call her own was one bedroom. Niles didn't even have that anymore.
"No, it's not. I'm sorry I'm such an intruder here. I guess the apartment was full even without me."
"But you're family." Daphne said with a frown.
"I am, but it can be hard for family to live together."
"I guess… I know I can't imagine living with me brothers or me parents ever again!"
"I need to find my own place." Niles said as if to himself. Daphne caught the sadness in his voice and misinterpreted it.
"You miss your wife, don't you?"
"My wife? No, I don't miss Maris. I miss my life. Not her. Not at all." Daphne chuckled.
"Why is that so funny?" Niles asked somewhat irritated.
"Oh, I'm sorry Dr. Crane. It's just I think maybe it's the first time I've heard you be so sure about the divorce. You deserve someone better than Mrs. Crane." Daphne told him with a warm, honest smile. Niles almost melted seeing it. In the dark, sitting so close next to him she looked radiant. He wasn't so silly as to tell her so though.
"Thank you, Daphne. So what do you usually do when you can't sleep?" Niles needed to change the subject. The dark and quiet atmosphere might give him more courage then he wanted and he didn't want to ruin the beautiful moment they were having.
"Maybe a movie? There are these silly romantic movies on at night, I noticed. They give me a warm tingly feeling and when I can't sleep – oh, you must think it's stupid, Dr. Crane." Daphne blushed, but Niles didn't notice.
"Not at all. I think a romantic movie would be perfect just about now. Would you mind if I join you?" Instead of an answer, Daphne turned on the TV and snuggled close to him. She felt warm and for the first time since staying here at Frasier's, Niles felt like something was right. He put his arm around her and enjoyed the feeling as some black-and-white romance unraveled on the screen.
"You know Dr. Crane, as long as you here, and if you find you can't sleep… maybe we could do this more often." Niles didn't answer right away. He was afraid she would catch the joy in his voice, or maybe she already heard his elevated heartbeat.
"I'd love that." He finally answered and felt her relax against him.
It was Niles who fell asleep first. Daphne watched him for a moment, then covered him with a blanket and gently kissed his forehead. She wasn't sure if she wanted him to remember in the morning, or not. All she knew was at that moment he was too cute not to kiss. As she dragged herself to bed, she hoped to see him again at night soon.