Monica woke up with a start.
The clock said 2:53 a.m.
She was in her apartment, in her room, in her bed. Her back was to him, his hand over her torso. Her hand covering his.
He'd come back.
"I'm still on London time, does that count?"
She smiled at the memory. They'd kissed and released all the built up tension of the last 24 hours. It had been unbearable, not being able to be with him. And then to see him walk out that door…
But he'd come back and they had both silently decided "to hell with that 'not in New York' rule." They'd broken apart from their kiss long enough for her to say "bedroom." He'd gasped "yes" and they'd made their way clumsily to where they were now. They almost knocked the lamp off the end table in the process. He caught it, she giggled, and they didn't miss a beat heading into her room.
They'd made love with the same fevered passion they had in London - those seven times. Wondering when the other would try to stop it, when it might be over, when the blissful dream was going to end. It amazed her how quickly he brought her to the heights of passion. When they'd both come back down she'd laid her head on his shoulder and he pulled her close.
What happened next left her stunned, confused and completely, utterly overwhelmed.
After several minutes of comfortable silence she had kissed his shoulder. He had kissed her forehead and they'd looked into each other's blue eyes for a long time before they'd started to kiss. And they'd kissed and kissed. Slowly they started to explore each other. For the first time in this new world that had begun just a couple days earlier there was no hurry. There wasn't a rush. They'd taken their time. It had been close to an hour when they finally came together. It had been slow. It had been romantic. It had been loving. It had been sensual. And it had been Chandler.
After they had made love that second, beautiful time that evening he pulled her close and held her back against his chest both resting on their right side. The exhaustion of nights with no sleep, the emotion of Ross' disastrous wedding, jet-lag and lovemaking had finally taken their toll. She'd heard his even breathing and knew he had fallen asleep.
That's when she allowed the silent tears she had been holding back to fall.
No one - not even Richard - had ever made love to her with such…tenderness. By the time they'd finally made love, she felt like she was drunk. She had been so dizzy, so high on the feelings that threatened to engulf her. She was almost glad he'd fallen asleep. She had to sort out her mind, and her heart. This whole tryst had taken on a whole new meaning.
And truth be told, she was scared.
This was why she hadn't wanted to date him last year, because she knew with Chandler it would never just be a little romance and a little sex. She cared about him too much. He cared about her too much. It would be "all in." And she knew from experience that now, especially after tonight, she was already falling.
Suddenly it hit her why she had woken up. Nature was calling. She was naked so she cast a glance around the room for something to wear to the bathroom. Their clothes were scattered everywhere. Resisting the urge to tidy up, she just smiled and then spotted his button down blue shirt barely clinging to the corner of the comforter at the bottom of the bed. She grabbed it, put it on and started buttoning every other button quickly and quietly. She breathed in the smell of him on the shirt and smiled again as she slowly rose from bed and made her way through the moonlight to the bathroom.
Chandler's sleepy eyes glanced at the alarm clock on Monica's nightstand. 2:57 a.m.
She wasn't in bed with him, but he'd heard the bathroom door shut. He looked through the darkness at the ceiling.
"Oh my God," he whispered. He couldn't believe the last few hours, the last few days. Was she really with him? Had they really been together nine times in 48 hours? Would his heart ever beat in a normal rhythm when he looked at her, ever again?
He'd taken such a big risk heading back into her apartment. He just couldn't let it go. He didn't want to let her go, didn't want it to end, but he wasn't sure what she would want. He smiled. It didn't take long to get an answer to his question. He couldn't believe she'd wanted him as much as he wanted her. It was like a dream. And tonight had been fast and furious and unbelievably hot, then slow and intoxicating. He hadn't exactly meant for it to be, but my God it was. It was incredible.
In a way he knew he'd wanted her to know what his heart was telling him but his brain couldn't find the words to say. So he let his body do the talking and drank in every ounce of her the second time they'd made love. He knew the memories of the last three days would be imprinted on his heart forever. He wanted his mind and her body to remember them as well.
He heard the toilet flush and the sink turn on and decided he should avail himself of the facilities as well. He searched in the dark for his boxers. He found them and his white t-shirt and put them on as he made his way into the hall by the window.
Monica caught her image in the mirror at the sink. Her hair was somewhat disheveled (the memory of him taking out her hair clips and running his fingers through her dark hair sent shivers down her spine), her cheeks were flushed and she was wearing his shirt. She hadn't seen herself look that alive in a long time. She opened the door still smiling when she caught his figure coming out of her bedroom and stepping into the moonlight from the big picture window. His hair was sticking up and he was wearing his t-shirt and boxers. He looked so sexy. Then he gave her a shy smile and she never thought he'd looked more adorable.
"I didn't mean to wake you," she said walking over to him slowly.
Chandler had never seen a sexier sight. There Monica stood, with only his shirt - HIS shirt - on, smiling at him, her blue eyes shining through the darkness. He felt his heart speed up, again, and could barely form a complete thought, let alone words. He gave her a sheepish grin.
"You…you didn't," he stammered, pointing at the bathroom door. "I just had to…well…too."
She blushed. "Oh, of course."
She stepped out of the way as he brushed past her and shut the door behind him.
Monica started to head back into her bedroom when a thought suddenly struck her. What if he decided to go back to his apartment now? What if spending the whole night was too much for him? It was understandable that they would fall asleep but to deliberately stay?
So she decided to stay right where she was. She had to know. She wanted him to stay. She wanted him to hold her.
Chandler opened the door and an inaudible gasp escaped his lips. She was looking out the window. She was waiting for him. He stepped out into the moonlight, his eyes silently questioning her.
"I thought you might go…want to go," she whispered, looking down and fiddling with the bottom hem of his shirt.
Go? He thought. God, no. But did she want him to go?
"No, I…" he said, quickly, then in a whisper, "do you want me to go?"
She looked up at him then and just shook her head "no."
He took a couple strides to where she was standing by the window. She looked so beautiful and so vulnerable. He just wanted to hold her.
So he did.
He reached out and cupped the right side of her face. She looked at him and her eyes gave her away. This meant something to her. Thank God, he thought, because it meant everything to him.
"God, you are beautiful," he said in a dreamy voice, searching her face. She smiled as she looked up at him. The light from outside made his ice blue eyes look like clear crystal, How? How had she never noticed how beautiful he was before?
"So are you," she said. He gave her that little lopsided grin she had really always loved and leaned in to kiss her. Soft, slow kisses. When they pulled away, arms wrapped around each other, she laid her head on his chest. Soon she felt like she was sleeping standing up. Chandler stifled a yawn and then whispered " let's go back to sleep."
"Mmmm," Monica murmured as Chandler led her to the bedroom. The clock read 3:18 a.m.
They climbed into bed and settled in just as they had before, her back against his chest, both holding on for dear life. Completely content, they both fell asleep.
It was 8:17 a.m. when Chandler woke, catching the sun come through the window. With the early morning light he moaned a little as he realized he really would have to leave soon. Joey would wonder where he was. And even if Joey wasn't up until noon, Phoebe would be there before too long, wanting to talk to Monica about all the details of Ross and Emily's wedding.
He looked over at Monica and gently ran his hand down her arm. A feeling of calmness came over him. He knew, now, that this was the beginning. This wasn't going to end today. Whatever it was was going to continue and they'd figure out where it was going, together. He smiled. Slowly he got off the bed, put on his khakis and threw his jacket on over his t-shirt. Gathering his belt and shoes. He then knelt by the bed and kissed Monica. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at him.
"Morning," he smiled.
"Morning," she murmured.
"It's about quarter after 8," he explained. "I figured I'd better go back to my place, before Joey wakes up or Phoebe shows up."
She nodded. "We'd have an awful lot of explaining to do."
"Yes," he said, looking into her eyes and wondering for the millionth time how they ever got so blue.
She kissed him. "I'll see you in a couple of hours for breakfast?"
"Yes," he said again. "And tonight?"
She sat up slowly and circled her arms around his neck.
"Yes," she whispered. Oh God, yes.
They hugged and kissed once again before Chandler reluctantly pulled away. "I really better go."
She nodded. "Oh wait," she said. "I have your shirt."
"No," he smiled, stopping her from pulling it over her head. "It looks a whole lot better on you anyway. Get some more sleep."
With a quick peck on her lips he walked out of the bedroom and closed the door. In seconds she heard the apartment door close behind him.
She breathed in the scent of his shirt and smiled to herself. She didn't know where she and Chandler were headed, but she did know now that they were headed somewhere. It wasn't over. He was her best friend and it felt risky and right and exhilarating all at the same time. No, she didn't know where they were headed exactly, but she knew two things for certain - she would never forget London - or last night - for as long as she lived.
And he was never getting his blue shirt back.