Frasier did a double take when he saw the white shape lying on the island in the middle of Niles' gourmet kitchen.
Surely it wasn't-
But when he took a second glance, he cringed... For, in fact... It was.
There, on the island with Daphne standing behind it was Niles' pet cockatoo, Baby.
Dead as a doornail.
"What happened?" He asked from the doorway.
Daphne's eyes held a look of utter fear.
"She must have eaten some of the hors d'oeuvres."
Aghast, Frasier moved closer to the island.
"Dear God, you mean the ones I've been serving to Niles' guests?"
Before she could answer, a familiar voice floated into the kitchen, causing Frasier to cover Baby's lifeless body with a white dishcloth.
"Frasier, I am so sorry that I over-reacted when I saw those appetizers of yours." Niles was saying.
Amazingly he smiled, obviously now in a much better mood than he'd been in earlier. He'd been so worried about his dinner party and wanted it to be nothing less than perfect.
"You know, I think the Niles Crane party curse has finally been laid to rest." He continued.
It was then that he noticed the horrified expressions worn by Frasier and Daphne.
But neither of them said a word, causing Niles to become even more apprehensive.
"Will someone please tell me what happened?"
Frasier spoke first. "Niles, I-." He stopped short, as though gathering his thoughts.
It was nothing new, for Frasier Crane was certainly a man of words. And finally he spoke again.
"Um... I'm going to let Daphne tell you."
Daphne's mouth fell open and at that moment, she almost wished that it were Frasier lying under the dishtowel instead of Baby. It would have made things a lot easier.
She took a deep breath, hating herself for what she was about to do.
"Dr. Crane, I don't mean to alarm you, but I think something's wrong with the hors d'oeuvres."
Niles' eyes widened in horror.
"What are you talking about? What could possibly be wrong with them? "
Daphne swallowed hard. "Well..."
Unnerved, Frasier glared at her. "Oh for God's sake Daphne, just show him!"
With trembling fingers she lifted the towel, revealing the dead cockatoo.
Niles walked woodenly into the kitchen and stared at Baby in disbelief. "W-what happened?"
"We think it must have been the mayonnaise or cranberry sauce or perhaps the pâté." Frasier said. "But we should get this thing out of here before someone sees it! God forbid one of your guests suffers the same fate at this... feathered nuisance! Daphne would you dispose of this-."
"Certainly, Dr. Crane." Carefully Daphne wrapped the towel around Baby's lifeless body and lifted it off the island.
"NO!" Niles yelled, startling her so badly that she released the cockatoo, cringing when it landed with a soft thud on the counter.
No one said a words as Niles moved closer and touched the bird's smooth feathers.
"For God's sake, Niles! What are you doing? You have guests to take care of!" Frasier yelled.
But Niles continued to stare at Baby as though in a trance.
Finally he blinked and was brought back to the present.
"You're right, Frasier." He said in a voice that Daphne barely recognized.
She watched in confusion as Niles walked out of the kitchen, leaving Frasier and Daphne alone.
Annoyed, she turned to her boss. "Well, that wasn't very nice!"
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"You know very well what it means! Can't you see how upset he is?"
"Dear God, that's preposterous! No one gets upset over a ridiculous bird!" Frasier argued. "If anything Niles should be upset over the way this ignominy of a dinner party is turning out to-."
But Daphne was no longer paying attention. She was in the living room, looking for any sign of her friend.