Note: This story is set during the Frasier episode "The Show Where Diane Comes Back"—shortly before the Café Nervosa sequence, where Niles watches silently while Frasier carries on a one-sided conversation about Diane. Frasier's inner conflict in that sequence, I felt, deserved some exploration—as did the implicit conflict within Diane in the episode, especially when you recall her implied "interaction" with the "Stan" actor….
It is the inner conflict of each of them that sticks in my mind, somehow, when listening to the song that shares a title with this tale, performed by The Main Ingredient.
"Until then," the good doctor said, "This is Dr. Frasier Crane, wishing you good day…and good mental health."
And with that, he pressed the control, taking him off the air as the station ran its affairs, as it always did. And with that, the doors opened from Roz's cubicle, and Diane Chambers stepped into the broadcast studio, Roz Doyle in tow.
"Frasier, what a wonderful broadcast!" Diane said, with such a beam that Frasier remembered all too well, from all those years ago.
Frasier smiled as he rose, purring his headphones to the side on the table. "Oh, it was nothing—simply…two, nearly three years of fine-tuning—with the assistance of perhaps the finest producer I could ask for."
"And he'd better not forget it," Roz muttered to Diane, with a smirk.
Diane smiled back, "Oh, I'm sure he never could. After all…as dear Frasier, of all people, knows full well, 'No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea…'"
Behind her, Frasier looked off with a tired smile.
Diane went on, "…Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were—'"
Roz glanced at Frasier, eyebrows raised. Frasier gave a silent sigh.
"…any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore…" Diane paused for dramatic effect, "…never send to know for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for thee."
She sighed in contentment, smiled at Roz, and said, "Donne."
"I hope so," Roz smirked.
Diane blinked—and laughed. "Oh, I did it again, didn't I? I'm sorry—forgive me, I know I can…go off on a proverbial tangent, on occasion. A bit of a nervous habit, I suppose."
Roz snorted. "Oh, trust me, sister—you're nothing. You should see when he gets going—"
"All right, Roz—" Frasier began—but before he could finish his remark, the door from the hall slammed open, and, rolling in that infernal gong and accessories—
"Hey, Doc—beat it, I'm claiming the doghouse—or you need a little brain-jog—?"
That horn—that honk-honk spewing from it—
Frasier turned to the Napoleonic force of nature and began, "Yes, Bulldog, I'm—"
And Bulldog Briscoe froze in his tracks, straightening up at the sight of Diane Chambers. "Whoa," he said.
Diane stiffened. Frasier hung his head, rubbing his brow.
"Hey…Doc, who's the broad?" Briscoe said, eyes never leaving the poor woman. Diane was clearly struggling not to squirm.
"No one in your league, buster," Roz shot back.
Frasier straightened up, "Yes, well—Diane Chambers this is…Bob 'Bulldog' Briscoe, our…sports commentator."
Diane nodded, eyes bulging wide as she took in Bulldog's equipment. "And I believe it!"
"Bulldog, this is Diane Chambers—formerly of Boston, an old friend of mine—"
"Whoa—back up here, Doc," Bulldog turned to Frasier, still tossing Diane a glance once every few seconds, "Are you—you saying you and the bombshell, here—?"
"That…" Frasier narrowed his eyes at Bulldog, smiling, "—is a little too presumptuous, even for you."
Bombshell? Diane mouthed to Roz, who just sighed.
Bulldog gave a theatric gasp, grabbed Frasier by both arms, staring into his eyes—and then threw his arms around him, moaning, "Oh, I'm so proud of you, man!"
Diane turned to Roz again, "What on—"
Roz rolled her eyes, "Excuse me—down, mutt! You're guy's in there, and I'm pretty sure you're on in…one minute, forty-two seconds."
"Right on!" Bulldog shot to work, setting everything up…but not without adding, "Hey—D.C., right?"
Diane frowned, "Those…are my initials, yes—"
"Great—so, as long as you and the doc here aren't going for more fondue, what say you and me—?"
"Bulldog!" Frasier and Roz shot back in unison.
"Fine, hey, whatever's you're thing…but sure can't blame a guy for trying—HUHRF!—HUHRF!—HUHRF!" he barked at Diane…who just stared at him, frozen in place, her face positively ashen.
"Yes," Frasier muttered, "Well…we'd better be going along…."
"Yeah, sure," Bulldog sat down, as the three approached the door—but he whirled to face Diane once again, "Hey…Angel Face: change your mind, I'm not too hard to look up. Think about it."
Diane cleared her throat, and forced a smile, "Well, I'll certainly give it all due consideration, at that."
"Yeah, you do that, babe," he said as he reached for the headphones—in the wrong direction. "Hey," he frowned, whirling to see, "Where's my—?"
Frasier and Roz braced themselves. Here it comes….
Bulldog pounded the table—bolting up: "THIS STINKS!—THIS IS TOTAL B.S.!—THIS IS—" as he turned and saw the headphones behind him, "—oh, here they are…."
Frasier, Diane and Roz rushed out into the hall, as Bulldog donned the phones, plopping back down in the seat as the light came on: "AND—you're in the Doghouse, with Bulldog Briscoe, KACL, 780—HUHRF!—HUHRF!—"
And thankfully, the rest was cut off by the closing of the door.
Diane stared at it, again frozen, "What…on Earth…was that?"
Roz shook her head, "Trust me, sister: You're better off not knowing."
"Yes," Frasier sighed, "The man is a tornado with a Casanova complex."
"And clear and simple testosterone poisoning!" Diane muttered.
"Tell me about it," Roz said.
Diane tilted her head—and added, "I wonder…"
Frasier turned to her, smiling, "Something on your mind?"
She shrugged. "Hmm—perhaps." She turned to Roz—and suddenly she cleared her throat, and looked as though she could barely contain herself, "You don't suppose, perhaps, he's compensating for s—"
And she burst out laughing before she could finish—Roz joining in almost immediately.
Frasier just shook his head, smiling. As always, Diane's laughter was something to behold: when she "got going", it was like a dam bursting with frivolity, nothing held back.
When the two women finally managed to get it under control, Roz shrugged, "Well, somehow, I actually doubt that. He's sure got enough conquests to say otherwise."
"Con—" Diane blinked—and her mirth vanished, replaced by a dark bewilderment. "Con-quests?" she asked with a low voice and wide eyes.
Roz nodded, her eyes almost as wide. "Believe it or not, he's got quite a few."
"Indeed," Diane dryly muttered. "At any rate, I find it astonishing that any human male could be that shamelessly primordial, and expect a positive response from any woman higher than mindless bimbi."
Roz shrugged, "Trust me, I don't know how he does it, either—but he does." Turning to Frasier, she added, "Oh—Frasier, I gotta go. I'm…" she grinned, "Going out, tonight. All out."
Frasier nods, chuckling. "Of course—well, good luck, anyhow."
Roz snorted. "As if I'll need it—see you around, Diane!"
"Rosalinda," Diane nodded, and the other woman headed down the call, confident and sure.
"I see the two of you are getting along quite nicely," Frasier smiled, as they walked side by side.
Diane returned the smile, "Oh, I shouldn't find it surprising—she's a competent, intelligent woman with a very pioneer sort of spirit…"
"And a gender-reversed lothario passion," Frasier found he couldn't resist adding, with a smirk. "I'm surprised you didn't find that a little off-putting, at least."
Diane blinked, and shrugged, "Yes, well…no one's perfect, I suppose."
They shared a chuckle, and Diane sighed, "Still, in her defense…I suppose one can easily argue that—well, she's looking for that one man…that—lifetime partner, with whom to share one's hopes, and dreams…"
"Yes…" Frasier nodded, looking off, "And achieve them together, no matter the obstacles of life."
Diane smiled at him for a moment, but looked off, pondering something. Finally, she said, "Frasier…might I ask—well, I hardly want to impose, least of all on you of all people, but…"
"Oh, it's all right," Frasier smiled, "I'm listening."
Diane chuckled at this, and added, "Well, I was wondering—again, this is only if it wouldn't impose too much on your route, but…you see, today, rehearsals begin for my play, and, well, I was wondering if you could drive me there—again, if it's not too much trouble."
Frasier's smile grew. "Of course. You know I'd love to."
She returned the smile. "Thank you, Frasier."
"Think nothing of it. It's all my pleasure, Diane."
And as they walked together, Frasier suddenly found himself wondering what on Earth he thought was going to happen between the two of them.
Oh, I know exactly what Niles would say: "Funny…a week ago, you were so dead-set on achieving emotional retribution against Diane for leaving you at the altar and thereby 'mistreating' you, as you so eloquently put it. I wonder what's changed, Frasier: I don't suppose you are falling for her, again—?"
Oh, really, Niles! I thought you'd wanted me to achieve closure with her—repair the proverbial gulf, that sort of thing. Well—what do you call this?
"Yes, indeed—what do you call this?"
As he found himself looking at her again…waiting eagerly for her next smile and sideways glance in his direction…he suddenly realized that even he did not have much of an answer to that question.