Note: This ficlet collection was inspired by two excellent predecessors: dontbesojaded's "Little Known Facts" and SamandDianeOTP's "Things You Didn't Know". I hope I do the standard set by those two excellent writers justice.
The second story, by the way, is something of a sequel to a "moment" in my tale "The Whole Night Through", when Diane remembers calling Woody to let the gang know she's going to L.A. (The fourth story also refers to an event in that tale. Christopher, of course, is from "Stepchildren".) The third story's a mini-crossover with Frasier, of sorts.
First—Crying, Baby, For You
A significant part of Diane Chambers completely understood Sam Malone's reluctance to openly enjoy anything that didn't "fit" with his jockish persona. The truth was, she held a few "guilty pleasures" of her own—not the least of which involved her fondness for certain genres of music that arguably didn't fit with her own persona of a refined, literary-minded "lady and a scholar". But then again, she would always argue, whenever someone discovered these tastes, that there wasn't really a conflict…though often, as in the case of "Our House", she had little excuse aside from it appealing to her "inner child". Surely no one could blame her for that.
She was quite an admirer of Bob Dylan, Elton John, and the like. There was a certain poetic quality—and at times a particularly deep insight—in many of their respective songs, to be sure…which is how she always defended it. She had a liking to Don McLean's "American Pie": she enjoyed music with many layers, and the ambiguous symbolism of the lyrics certainly didn't hurt. Of course, she drew the line at vulgarity of any kind, and always flinched or squirmed at music implying aggressive machismo.
She deeply adored The Supremes, and the sense of joyful Romanticism which so often filled their work, regardless of how sad or dismal the lyrics may technically appear to be. Still, after leaving Cheers following her near-wedding, she as a rule found herself unable to listen to them…at least, not without streams of tears running down her cheeks.
Four years after moving to Los Angeles, a friend had invited her over for a sort of "sleepover". All was going well, and they decided to indulge in music. Eventually, the friend decided to play "Come See About Me".
Diane couldn't make it through the first chorus—and rushed into the guest room, burying her eyes in a pillow.
Second—Promises Are Promises
Woody kept that last call from Miss Chambers in his heart, making sure to remember his promise to her, on the off chance that Sam would visit Boston, again. He made sure to remember—he was good at that kind of thing. He knew the serial numbers on his big bucks by heart. He remembered.
It was around five months after the call when Sam came back, and got the job as a bartender at the place he used to own.
Woody tried to tell him, but didn't get far: "Hey, uh, Sam?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"When you were gone, Miss Cha—"
The look in Sam's face as he turned to him in reaction wasn't angry…but there was something in it that made Woody stop, and hesitate before trying again. But Sam rushed off somewhere before Woody could say anything.
Still, a promise was a promise. So finally, Woody wrote a note, and put it in one of the front pockets of Sam's coat:
Sam, it's Woody. Sorry if it makes you mad, but I promised I'd tell you. Miss Chambers called, when you were off on your boat. She says she's off working in Hollywood—writing for TV and movies. She wants you to know she still loves you, and always will. And, she wants you to know she's sorry.
Hope you don't get mad—I promised her. If you do get mad, though, I understand.
Sam never told him if he read the note, but for the next few days, it seemed to Woody as if Sam was making a point not to look at him.
Third—Father Knows Best
Martin Crane rarely found himself approving of the women Frasier brought home. Diane Chambers was no exception. Well…he liked her well enough—she was cute as heck, and considering how similar her tastes were to both his boys, she might as well have been the daughter Hester had always wanted. Martin didn't know what his wife hated about her so much. Except for being super eager-to-please, Diane kind of reminded him of Hester herself, when he'd first dated her. Kind of….
Diane certainly showered him with respect—launching over and over into what might as well have been mini-poems about the honor due to "those who patrol the streets for the sake of those who never could"—earning a constant tired "Aw, geez…" from Martin.
Still, as a possible wife for Frasier?
"You're out of your mind, falling for that woman," he said when he and Frasier were alone.
Frasier froze. "I beg your pardon?"
"You're not deaf. You heard me."
"But…Dad, what's wrong with her?"
"Nothing, except she's not in love with you."
Frasier scoffed, "Oh, that's absurd! Of course she's—"
"She's not, and you know it. Don't tell me you don't, Frasier—if you really don't, I don't know what that means about all that Harvard fluff—"
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Look! Maybe I'm not Mr. Brilliant Psychologist, here—but I'll be darned if I don't know how to read people. Now, every time she talks about how much she loves you, she flinches. A little bit, but it's there."
"Oh, come on, Dad—that could mean many things. It—"
"Okay, how about this: when she goes on about it, she either breaks her gaze, or she overcompensates like she's defensive about it—"
"She's in love with another guy, okay?! She doesn't want to admit it—she wants to love you, but her heart's another guy's. She's telling herself it isn't—and that means it's probably an ex."
Frasier stiffened. "Dad—"
"Frasier, you're my son. I don't want to see you get into something stupid. Is she a nice girl? Sure! Would she be a good daughter-in-law? Well, she's a heck of a lot better than that walking ice pick your brother's seeing, I'll tell you that—"
Frasier smirked for a second.
"But is she the woman for you? No."
"Dad, if you'll give her—"
"She's another man's, Frasier—and until you see that, you're one step away from getting raw omelet all over your face when she finally sees it."
Frasier said nothing. Martin wasn't sure, but if he was a betting man, he'd have wagered a few chips that his son had a pretty good idea who "another man" was…even if Martin personally didn't have a clue.
Nearly five years after leaving Boston, Diane was burning the proverbial oil of midnight, typing a vital scene in her script for The Heart Held Hostage. When finished, she headed to the kitchen, to pour herself a cup of tea.
Christopher leapt up onto the counter, looking up at her, a pleading look in his eyes.
Diane smiled, and shook her head, "Oh, no—tea is not for you, young man. And you had your dinner already."
"Mew!" Christopher replied.
"No…and that's final."
Christopher paused for a moment, and jumped down to the floor.
When the tea was brewed, Diane filled a cup, bringing it outside to the deck, looking out over the California beach. Hearing the roar of the tide, smelling the salt in the air…feeling the wind on her face…the night was beautiful, and almost perfect.
Oh, but it is perfect! How can I tell myself otherwise? All around me is pure tranquility, with the right hint of excitement in the crash of the waves. It's a perfect night to share with another—
She stiffened for a moment, wondering why on Earth her thoughts would lead to that. Some things were best enjoyed alone…aren't they?
She shrugged, and lifted the cup to her mouth—
Diane gasped at the sudden jolt—and the cup shattered against the deck.
She took a second to gather herself…and blinked, looking around. What was it? It wasn't only a shudder—it was like a jolt of electricity surging through her body, as though she'd touched a frayed cord plugged into the wall.
She sighed—it probably was only a chill. She looked down at the teacup—or what remained of it, anyway. She shook her head, "I don't believe this…."
Diane froze. She knew that voice.
Oh, my—oh, Sam! But—how in heaven's name—?
She whirled around, peering about. Nothing…not in the house, not on the sand—and not on the deck.
But she knew that, somehow—and suddenly, she realized why. The moment she had heard his voice, she has seen him, for a flicker of a moment—right in front of her, on the ground, reaching weakly to her.
She shook her head quickly, rubbing her brow.
No…it wasn't like before, the last time this happened—I don't feel as though he's in danger.
Still, as she looked out into the sea, she sighed, and shook her head. A perfect night…to share with another.
Over a year later, when she and Sam were all-too-briefly reunited, he told her of a moment when, "just over a year ago", he'd gotten himself zapped trying to hot-wire a car during a road trip—and for a brief moment, he could've sworn he'd seen her standing there before him. Diane had shared his chuckle, at this…but within, her head spun and her heart beat ever harder.
Fifth—A Bet To Remember
As they walked from Melville's to Sam's place for "dessert", Sam and Diane found themselves talking. They were both getting restless—impatient to get there, and satisfy one another as they so often had—and it was the best means available to keep their passions from exploding on the spot.
In particular, they discussed the fact that, after six years, they'd failed, over and over, to find an acceptable substitute for one another. Still, they had their lives—Diane had a successful career as a writer of "indies", as they were called (and an occasional studio project, usually for television)…and Sam, of course, had the bar.
Sam didn't know what made him think of the idea—no…actually he did. It was because, looking at Diane—a little older, a little more reserved, but no less beautiful and sexy—he found himself looking for a way.
"So what do you say to a bet, huh?" he said, as they walked up the steps to his floor.
Diane turned to him, amused. "A bet?"
"Yeah, it's been six years, and we're on opposite sides of the country. So…what do you say? Give us another six years: If neither of us finds anyone by then…"
They'd reached the door, and Sam put his key in the lock.
Diane paused, staring at him, wide-eyed. "Sam…! Are—are you suggesting…?"
Sam shrugged, as he opened his door, pocketing the key. "I dunno. I guess, if it takes that long, it's pretty obvious…"
Diane said nothing, as she stood there, facing him.
Sam frowned, "Honey?"
Diane rushed into his arms—pushing both of them inside. And she threw her arms around him, and kissed him—again, and again, on the mouth. And then she smiled in his arms, her face glowing as he remembered and loved.
"So, we have a bet?" Sam chuckled.
Diane shrugged, "If you like. Only…"
Her voice trailed off. Sam frowned a little. "Sweetheart?"
Still smiling, Diane looked as though her eyes were about to well up in tears.
"Must we wait that long?" she whispered, as the door closed in behind them.