It’s late and she’s exhausted. After the shift at KACL she still had to shoot the promos at her place, and do some paperwork. It was one of those days where she cursed at herself for taking that damn job.
The doorbell rings, and she’s not surprised to see Frasier at her doorstep. She had told him to stop by so they could shoot the damn promos quickly, before he went on a date. She was surprised, though, as she sees him holding a pizza in one hand and a coke in the other. She smiles, thinking how odd it is to see Frasier in such a casual way. They had been working for almost three years, and she could count on her hands the number of times she had seen him without a suit. Roz greeted him looking at the pizza. “I thought you had a date”, she commented casually.
“I did, but I felt bad by leaving you with the hard work, so I cancelled.” He said, simply. “So I brought pizza. I’d bring beer too, but I just can’t stand the taste.”
She was really touched by that small gesture. Frasier was a good guy. They sat, and she opened the box: pepperoni, her favorite. She took a piece, as he sat comfortably on her couch. She sat by his side, legs crossed. Roz took a bite, looking at him amused, with a smirk on her face.
“What?” he says, smiling at her.
She takes a sip of the coke he had brought. She can’t stop smiling at him, and it makes him smile at her back, in a childish way.
“She cancelled on you, didn’t she?”
He looks down. “Oh Roz, let me have this one, will you?”
She laughs, totally relaxed. His companionship is easy and comfortable, and familiar in a way she had never experienced before. Their connection didn’t need so much work. They could spend time together quietly, and it wouldn’t be awkward.
It was the first time she had noticed how good it felt to have Frasier around. She really appreciated the friendship they had built over the years. He was, at the time, her favorite person to talk to, or be around with, she realized.
She offered him a toast, still smiling. “I’ll let this one go. But just this one.” She winked at him. He nudged her shoulder with his own, and drank.
It wasn’t that bad of a day, after all.
Just like Gil’s gingerbreads or Bulldog’s holiday harassments, it had become a tradition. The only difference was that this was only theirs, like a dirty little secret, shared in the dark radio booth, forgotten for the rest of the year.
His lips were sweet, and tasted like the eggnog that got them there in the first place. There was nothing pompous in the way Frasier grabbed her by the waist, shutting the door from the booth with her body, exploring her mouth with his tongue. She can’t breathe, and she wants more.
Part of her craves for the christmas party at KACL just for those moments, where they could have their hands all over each other without any prejudice. She laughs, without any particular reason. It feels so good and so right, and yet so unreal. Like a blurry dream.
She touches his cheek, still plastered with a dumb smile, probably caused by the alcohol involved. Or maybe she’s just legitimately happy with this.
“Hmmm. You smell like sherry.” she pronounces it slowly, laughing drunkenly. “and ink.” She slides her finger across his face, making an invisible painting. His electric blue eyes have a different shine, and they study her for a moment, before bursting into laughter. She follows him.
Frasier then gets really close, touching her face with his nose. They stop laughing, suddenly serious, and stare at each other for a second, his blue pair gazing at her dark one, before his mouth met hers once more, eagerly consuming it.
Her hand goes to his hair, messing it lightly. They stay that way for either a minute or an hour, until he breaks the kiss, breathless, before either of them was really ready to pull apart. He goes in a different direction, then, as his lips start to caress the soft skin of her neck, driving her crazy. He knew her soft spot. Moments later he’s back, crawling to her mouth, kissing her with a burning passion.
She could explode. She wanted him, right there, completely. She pushes him into the desk and sits on it, scratching his back from the outside of his now dented, loose shirt. He put his hand on her tights, lifting her skirt a little. She moans in his ear, looking for his belt with quick hands, without realizing when someone knocks at the door. Frasier does, though, and quickly straightens himself up.
They share a look and she knows that their thing is over, at least for that year. Wiping off her mouth with her fingers and pulling down her skirt, she made a move with her head indicating Frasier could open the door now.
“This is Doctor Frasier Crane, wishing you good mental health.”
Thank god, she thought to herself. That had been a long day, with especially annoying people calling. Carrying a seven month old fetus inside her, she didn’t have a position that could keep her comfortable for more than 5 minutes.
Maybe the callers weren’t that annoying, she thought. Maybe it was just her bad mood.
Frasier opens the door, mumbling something about an wine meeting of the cork suckers, or operas or any other boring stuff that rich people do on Thursday nights. God, he was annoying.
And that wasn’t just the bad mood speaking.
She gets up with difficulty, and goes to the tape wall. She notices he’s still talking, and she feels like screaming at him, when something hits her from the inside like a lighting, almost taking her breath away.
Frasier stops what appears to be his Pagliacci speech for a second, and realizes she’s in real pain. He runs to her, and helps her sit in her chair. She’s scared and he notices.
“Roz, what is it?”
“God, Frasier, I don’t know, it came out of nowhere and it just hurts to breathe now and…”
She squeezes his hand. It couldn’t be it. It was way too soon. Her head spun as she started to think about premature babies and complications. Her stomach was sick just thinking about it.
He’s on his knees in the booth, trying to calm her. “Roz, tell me where it hurts.”
While still holding one of his hands, she used the other to point to the area between her breasts and her waist. He lifted up her sweater, and gently put his hand right where she pointed. He made slow circles around what appeared to be a elevation, til the pain started to slowly fade away.
“What was that?” She was still pretty terrified.
“Oh, Roz, the little Doyle inside of you just kicked your ribs while adjusting to her new position” he said in a calm voice, smiling to her while still making the little circles, massaging her belly. “He or she is quite strong, to knock this Doyle out.”
She felt like crying. Of relief for not being anything bad, of shame for reacting like that in front of Frasier, of fear for being so naive and unprepared for all of that. She hugged him, fighting tears. Those goddamn hormones were killing her.
“Roz, it is okay.”
“I feel so stupid, God.”
“Hey, this stuff is pretty scary. Frederick did this to Llilith a couple times, it is normal.”
“Thank you, Frasier. God, i’m sorry. These hormones and these changes are just making me crazy and paranoid and I worry all the time and I don’t feel good about myself and basically I’m a mess. I’m sorry.”
“Roz, its okay. I’m here.” He brought his mouth to her belly and whispers “Hey, little Doyle. easy there. You’re gonna have a lot of time to scare your mother once you get out of there!” he placed a soft kiss in the spot.
It was the first time someone had talked to her belly. She always thought it was silly, but Roz was actually moved by him doing it. The baby kicked the spot where Frasier’s mouth was about ten seconds ago.
“He or she likes you”, she told him, smiling. He stands there for some minutes, feeling the kicks with a radiant look on his face.
Kenny opened the door, looking worried. “Hey, is everything okay around here?”
Frasier got up. “Everything’s fine, Kenny. We’re just finding out how great Roz will be as a mother.”
He smiled at her, and left with Kenny. She secretly wished for him to stay there with her forever. He could be annoying, but he could also be wonderful sometimes.
The most wonderful, she added when the baby kicked again.
“Okay, your turn. Most embarrassing sexual memory.”
She sipped the scotch, waiting for the next Crane story. The hall was almost empty now; you could only see some couples and one of Daphne’s brothers, God knows which, with a bottle, chasing one of the bridesmaids.
“Well, being with Bebe for a night is enough of a embarrassing sexual encounter, isn’t it?”
She laughed loudly, clearly drunk. “Oh, c’mon Frasier, a real story, one I’ve never heard of. I told you about the library story!”
“Oh, Roz, you don’t exactly feel embarrassed about that, do you?” She nodded, gesturing with her hands. Frasier looked in the direction of the stairs. “God, I’m worried about Niles and Daphne.”
“Relax, they’re gonna be fine.” She finished her drink. He made sure she didn’t ask for another one; she had been drinking since she got there. “What is supposed to happen will happen eventually. Or something like that.”
“You really think so?” He looked at her, surprised by words of wisdom coming out with such alcoholic breath.
“Sure. Look at me: I tried to show my ex-boyfriend that I was with a great guy, but of course that’s not supposed to happen. So instead I showed him Simon, which is clearly... well, you know. Do I make any sense?”
“Not really, no.” He smiled at her, while she chuckled, looking at the empty glass in her hands.
“In the end, I made a fool of myself. Look at me. Pathetic, drunk Roz for a change” She mumbled, not very audible.
“You can double check the drunk box. Good God, how many drinks have you had?”
“You don’t wanna know, Fras.” she sighed. “Will we be alone forever?”, she asked, looking at him. The happy drunk was gone, as she got teary eyed.
“Oh, c’mon Roz, of course not.” he affirmed, though not sure himself.
“I feel like in the end everyone gets their happy ending while we… we stare from the background.”
She put her hand on his shoulder, trying to find a way to getting up but failing. “We’re really not lucky on love, Fras.”
“Okay, let’s get you to bed.”
Frasier helped her getting up, holding her by her arms and guiding her through the now entirely empty hall. She was dizzy from all the scotch she had earlier, mixed with vodka and champagne. Before she even realized it, he had brought her to her room.
“Hmm?” he mumbled, without paying much attention, looking for her key in her purse.
“Maybe you should... come in.”
He stopped, almost dropping her purse on the floor. He took a moment before answering. When he finally opened his mouth, she shushed him with a finger, throwing her arms around his neck, almost falling with her lack of balance.
“Maybe that’s it. Maybe we’re so out of luck with other people that we should just settle down.”
He opened her door, and helped her sit down on her bed. Frasier sat next to her, and took one of her hands.
“You’ve had one bad, terrible, humiliating…”
“Oh, please go on”, she cut him off, sarcastically.
“Okay, okay. You had one bad experience, but tomorrow bring new possibilities. You can’t give up like that. And you can’t make a choice in this condition, either.”
She looked away, trying to think. He had a point. God, Frasier always knew what to say, she thought.
“Plus, you were the one who said everything that is supposed to happen will happen eventually”, he added, smiling.
She put her hand on her face, feeling the first symptom of a hangover coming. She felt embarrassed.
“You’re right. God, I’m sorry, I’m just… tired.”
“Wasted would be a better word for it.”
He helped her get into bed, while she chuckles. He was about to close the door, when he came back, with only his head in the room.
“Not that I’m not flattered, Roz.”
She smiled, while he closed the door. In the back of her head, she knew he did the right thing. Frasier always knew what to do, too. She made a mental note to never forget what a true gentleman he was. He could have taken advantage of her state, but instead he took care of her.
“Everything that’s supposed to happen will happen eventually”, she whispered to herself in the dark, smiling, wishing that that sort of mantra bullshit was true. But more importantly, she secretly wished that when Frasier said it, he had meant them.
He closed the door to the room as soon as she walks in. She’s radiant.
“Frasier, I think this was the best night of my life!” she smiled at him. “How can I ever thank you?”
He smiled, too, crossing his arm around his chest. “Oh Roz, you don’t have to thank me. It was fun.”
“It was, wasn’t it? God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Denise so miserable. I love her, but it feels so good to be on top for a change.” He nodded, a bit nervous. She noticed. “iI should’ve told her the truth, though. I’m sorry. I really thought they wouldn’t suggest us to be in the same room.”
“As they said, Roz, they know you.” He laughed, she joined him.
She can read him better than he gives her credit for. He looked around the room.
“Roz? We’ve never really talked about.. well.” She sat in the bed, waiting for him to finish. “What do... what are we... well, what happens now?” He said, sitting next to her.
She bit her lip, trying to think. They were friends before anything, she had made that clear earlier. He sat down next to her.
“Frasier... I’m too fucked up.” He tried to say something. “No, let me finish. I’m fucked up, things don’t end well for me. Never have. The one thing that has been right all this time is you, and I don’t want to step into something unstable, only to look back in the future and see it as a mistake.”
“I agree. Let’s make this a special memory, rather than a hurtful one. Like Freud would say..”
She punched him lightly in the shoulder and smiled, “This is why we would be a mistake.”
He laughed, putting a hand on her thigh. They stayed like that for a moment. Then he got up.
“Well, I’ll sleep on the floor tonight, and you can take the bed.” He took a pillow in his hand.
“Frasier, don’t be stupid. You’re not going to sleep on the ground after having dinner with my family. One torture at time, geez!”
“I don’t wanna make things weird, Roz, I really don’t mind…”
“Stop it, Frasier. You’re not sleeping on the floor. I’ll go downstairs, and tell Denise the truth. Then I’ll find somewhere and...”
She got up, and started walking through the door. He took her hand, gently, stopping her.
“No, Roz. You tell her tomorrow. Let yourself have this night. I really don’t mind sleeping on the floor.”
She smiled. Part of her wants to take back everything she said five minutes ago.
He took the pillow while she went to the bathroom to change. When she’s got back she saw Frasier trying to find a way to lie down comfortably on the floor.
“Oh, Frasier. What the hell, we’re adults! C’mon, get in here.” She looked at him; he still seemed uncomfortable. She knew he didn’t want to cross the line again. Roz appreciated his caring. “Frasier, nothing we’ve never seen before, right?” she winks.
He smiled, shyly. It took him a minute before he finally agreed. They got in bed and she turned off the light. Silence.
“Thank you. For last night.” They’re both quiet for a moment, staring at the ceiling. She closed her eyes, remembering the previous night. His lips and his hands making her crazy, but also making her feel loved. She continued, “and for tonight. Thank you.”
Roz wasn’t quite sure what to say next. She could almost feel his brain working on her left side. She then took his arm, and put it around her. She needed his warm body, giving her a feeling of security. She also needed to be reminded what it’s like to be in his embrace, before it fades away. They had an agreement, but she still felt sad for letting it go without giving a real shot.
She feels his breath on her neck. He adjusted himself around her, fitting perfectly; Frasier kissed her cheek, with the same tenderness he had shown the night before.
“That’s what friends are for, Roz.”
“Thank you Julia, I think I’ll have some cake.”
She was perplexed. Mumbling a weak, almost inaudible “fine”, she rushed through the room. As Roz slammed the doors behind her, she started whispering in a nonstop frenzy,
“what did I do? what did I do? what did I do?”
She pushed the elevator button franticly. She needed to get out of there. That hall was intoxicating, like a dense smoke of humiliation running through her lungs, making it impossible for her to breathe.
What was she thinking? Giving him a ultimatum, like a spoiled child, in front of her. Not being chosen, in front of her. Being profusely humiliated in front of her.
She pressed the buttons again. Julia’s face was printed in her mind. Her little smirk. Her condescending tone.
“You’re in love with him?”
The sentence that kept repeating in her head, like a broken record, sounding more stupid every time, making her dizzy.
The elevator doors opened, and Roz soon got in. Her head was spinning. How could he? He barely knew that woman, and suddenly, he throws away ten years of… “of what?”, a voice said in her head. She shook her head, trying to clean her mind.
“You’re in love with him?, The broken record started again. She cared about Frasier. “You’re in love with him?” He was her boss. “You’re in love with him?” More than that, he was friend for a long time. “You’re in love with him?” He was the most important person in her life.
“You’re in love with him?”
Frasier was hers, and the fact that Roz wasn’t his anymore made her sick to her stomach. “Was I ever his?”, she asked herself.
She hated him. She hated being so dependent on his words, his comfort and his presence. She hated being needy of his attention. She hated how he made her open up and let him into her life. She hated him for throwing her away like he did.
“You’re in love with him?”
She found herself staring at the elevator door, now open. Walking through the lobby for a few moments, she suddenly realized.
What now? She obviously couldn’t go back to her job as his producer. “God, you fucked up, Roz”, she whispered, feeling her legs suddenly weak. She finally sat in one of the benches near by. Her head hurt.
“You’re in love with him?”
She hated him for making her fall in a way she swore she would never do again. She hated him, but she hated herself more for loving him.