The One At The Laundromat

By: Jana~

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--He couldn't take his eyes off her. She was easily the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he carefully watched her, peering over top of his magazine as she sorted her laundry into three separate piles before placing each in one of three washers.

He quickly ducked behind his reading material as she glanced his way, her hand struggling to retrieve change from the pocket of her tight fitting jeans.

She was way out his league, and he knew it instantly upon seeing her. There was no ring, so she likely wasn't engaged or married, he theorized, but still, she had to be dating someone. How could someone that beautiful not? But even if she was single, she would never go for a guy like him, he told himself.

Average looking, average intelligence, a little too sarcastic at times, according to his friends, but Chandler didn't have a very high opinion of himself. He considered himself datable, but had limited success in the dating arena. Janice had been a disaster, Kathy cheated on him with her hunky co-star, and besides a few first dates, that was it for him.

His lips pursed, his heart racing… he wanted to ask her out, but the fear of rejection weighed heavy on his mind. She would reject him, wouldn't she? He couldn't take the chance. His ego was far too fragile. Instead, he watched her from behind his magazine, the monthly publication offering just enough cover to obscure him from view when her eyes would casually scan the room.

The short buzz of the washer told him his load of laundry was complete, and he knew he had no choice but to leave the security of hiding to tend to it. He dropped the magazine into his chair, saving his seat, then averted his eyes from the beautiful woman's gaze as he headed for his machine.

He collected his clothes in short time and quickly found an empty dryer, threw them in, shoved the quarters in the slot, and flung the door shut as he started the machine. The noise and hurried movements caused attention to be brought to him, and he offered an uneasy lopsided smile as an apology before retaking his seat.

He pretended to be very interested in his magazine for a few minutes, waiting to be sure all eyes had left him before peeking back over top at the beautiful woman who had captured his heart.

She seemed bored as she thumbed through some abandoned sale papers, left by someone who had already departed the busy laundromat. Never having seen her before, he determined she must be new. Maybe not new to The Village, but new to the laundromat at least. Or maybe she just usually had a different laundry day than he did.

He quickly raised his magazine as her eyes fell upon him, silently cursing himself for getting caught staring.

Now she thinks I'm a perv or something, he chastised himself, vowing silently to stay hidden for the remainder of his time there, lest he look foolish.

***

--He flipped the pages of the magazine like he was reading it, but his mind was far too busy to focus on the words in front of him. With her only mere feet away, he could hardly concentrate on… he read the name of the article the magazine was opened to.

'How to turn your man's head'. He scowled, What the hell magazine is this?

He flipped it closed and looked at the cover. 'Blush'. Oh, that's just great, he berated himself. She wasn't far enough out of your league. Now, she probably thinks your gay! What happened to my magazine, he wondered?

His eyes darted about, trying to locate his magazine, or anything else he could hide behind.

A newspaper, he spotted in a seat nearby. Good enough.

Grabbing it quickly, he shook it open and hid once again.

How long does a dryer take to dry clothes anyway?

--"Is that a ladder in your stockings, or the stairway to heaven?"

The crude come-on caught Chandler's attention, and he peeked out from behind his newspaper to see who had said it, and to whom it was said.

"Hi, I'm Mr. Right. Someone said you were looking for me."

Chandler scowled as he realized the man responsible for the ridiculous pick-up lines was directing them at the beautiful woman he had been gazing at all evening. She seemed uncomfortable, and she kept inching away from him as he wiggled in closer.

"Does your ass still hurt from when you fell out of heaven?"

"Look, I'm not interested, alright?"

The beautiful woman spoke, and her voice was just as amazing as the rest of her. Chandler continued to watch the scene before him, noticing how not one person in the entire laundromat even glanced up to see what was happening.

"Aw, don't be that way, baby," the crude man purred. "You know, if it's true what they say, about how you are what you eat, then I could be you by morning."

The woman rolled her eyes, and again inched away as she folded her clothes quickly, Chandler assumed because she was anxious to leave.

The guy matched her movements. "You know, if I were you, I'd have sex with me."

Chandler saw the woman shudder, and that was the final straw. He couldn't sit there and do nothing.

His approach was to the back of the man, slightly facing the woman, and he threw her a sympathetic look as he walked around the washers and to her side.

Nervously, he wrapped his arm around her waist, hesitantly kissing her temple.

"Hey, hun," he addressed her with the endearment, not knowing her name. "There a problem?"

The man, who was now in front of Chandler looked horrified for a moment, then offered an apologetic smile. "Sorry man, I didn't know she was with anyone."

"Maybe that's because you never asked," the woman snipped, then wrapped her arm around her rescuer.

With a brief nod, the 'pick-up man' walked away and out of the laundromat, leaving Chandler and the woman with their arms still around one-another.

Slowly, Chandler removed his arm and smiled. "Sorry. It just looked like you could've used some help."

She smiled in return, putting Chandler a bit more at ease.

"Chandler," he introduced himself, extending his hand.

"Monica," she replied, shaking his outstretched hand. "And thanks."

"You're welcome."

After a moment of silence, he felt himself losing his nerve, fidgeting as he grew increasingly anxious.

"So," she spoke up, sensing his discomfort. "You live around here?"

"Yeah," he answered with a relieved smile. " About 3 blocks down on Grove. How about you?" he asked. "I haven't seen you around."

"Yeah, actually, I live on Grove too, near Bedford."

"Over by Central Perk," he offered as his knowledge of the area.

"Yeah. My building has a laundry room, so I usually use that, but it's being fumigated at the moment."

"Lovely," he quipped sarcastically, getting a chuckle in response. "Look," he changed to a serious tone of voice, "I have a confession to make."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." He paused before continuing. "I've kinda had my eye on you all evening. You're the most beautiful woman I have ever seen before in my life."

"You're a flatterer," she returned with a smile. "And I know," she added. "That you've been watching me, I mean."

"You knew?"

She laughed, "It wasn't hard to notice, especially with that woman's fashion magazine you were pretending to read."

He smiled awkwardly. "Yeah. It didn't even dawn on me what was in my hands until some time later--"

"Which is when you switched to the newspaper," she interjected, and the look on his face made her chuckle. "I've been watching you, too," she admitted.

"Really?" He sounded surprised. "I thought maybe you thought I was gay."

"Cause of the 'Blush' magazine?"

He nodded sheepishly. "Yeah."

"Nope," she assured him. "I didn't think you were gay. I knew you were hiding. That was explanation enough," she added with a snort.

"Now don't I feel foolish?" Chandler murmured, embarrassed.

"Why?" she questioned. "I didn't find your actions foolish! I found them to be sweet."

"Really?"

She nodded. "Mmm-hmm." She touched his arm, a sign of affection as she smiled her best flirty smile. "Listen, I'm about done here. Would you maybe like to go get some coffee?"

A grin exploded across his face. A woman so far out of his league wanted to have coffee with him. "Absolutely."

--He quickly grabbed his clothes from the dryer and stuffed them into his laundry bag, quickly returning to her side as she finished neatly folding her clothes, placing them with care in her basket.

She smirked at the difference in their laundering style. "Ready?"

He nodded, flinging his bag over his shoulder, a smile of pure happiness on his face.

***

--They entered Central Perk, the place bustling with customers, Monica walking with determination towards the centerpiece of the establishment: a ratty orange couch.

"I want you to meet some people," she whispered to Chandler, then turned towards the 4 people sitting on and around the sofa. "Guys, this is Chandler. Chandler, this is…"

THE END

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