A Picture of happiness
A picture gets Monica and Chandler into trouble. Set early season 5 when no one knows about them. Oneshot.
A/N – Thank you to you amazing people that read and reviewed my last fic. I took a break from writing some really angsty ones that I have on the go and this was the result…not quite what was planned but nevermind...
Chandler glanced up at the knock on his office door, "Ms Buffay," he kept a straight face.
Phoebe waited a beat before she broke into a smile and walked further into the room; she always enjoyed playing 'serious' when she was here, "you ready for lunch?"
"Sure," he grinned, grabbing a few yellow files, "let me just dump these on Greg's desk…then they won't be my problem anymore."
"Ok," Phoebe shrugged easily.
As he left his office Phoebe looked around. Not much had changed since she was there last. She walked over to his big fancy desk, smiling at the random bits of crap and toys that littered the surface. His attempt no doubt to prove to himself that he wasn't fully a grown up just yet; so much for 'Boss man Bing'.
Eyeing his comfy-looking exec chair, she quickly walked over and jumped into it. It was comfy! She leaned back, arms on the armrest and used her foot to gently kick off. She spun slightly as she watched the door, waiting for him to return.
Mid-spin something on his desk caught her eye.
A photo. A photo of Monica and Chandler. Together.
Why would Chandler have a framed photograph of him and Monica on his desk? If he was going to have any photos why wouldn't he have the whole group…unless…
She frowned, picking it up and bringing it closer to her for study. Judging by their looks and hairstyles it must have been a fairly recent photo. They were outdoors somewhere and dressed casually. He had his arm around her shoulder, which wasn't unusual for the two of them; they'd been touchy feely since the start.
What really caught her attention was the look of pure love captured on Chandler's face. Monica was smiling, looking at the camera oblivious but Chandler was looking down at her with such a soft endearing expression on his face. This wasn't how you'd look at a friend, even your best friend. This was how you looked at someone you were in love with.
Hearing footsteps she quickly threw the photo back on the desk and sprung up from his chair.
"All done!" Chandler announced walking back into his office, "Greg wasn't around so I sneaked them under a pile of papers that were already there. He won't find them for a good few days," he grinned mightily pleased with himself. "Let's get out of here!"
"Sure," she agreed quickly, following him out of the room and away from the scene of the crime.
As they walked to the elevator she couldn't take her mind off that photo…
As 3am struck, Chandler snuck across the hall and tried the girls' door, delighted to find it unlocked. With months of experience he quietly crept past Rachel's room and softly pushed open Monica's bedroom door, closing it gently behind him.
"Hey," he whispered in a hushed voice, climbing under the covers into her warm waiting arms.
He loved these moments.
"Hey lunkhead," she whispered back, placing a quick kiss onto his confused lips.
Maybe he didn't love these moments.
"Huh?" he frowned, "did you just call me a 'lunkhead?'" he couldn't decide if he should be insulted by the term or make fun of her for using it.
"Well," she placed another kiss on his lips, staying wrapped tightly in his embrace, "I thought it was deserved. You see, I had to spend the entire afternoon listening to Phoebe go on and on about your secret crush on me."
"What?" he pulled back slightly panicked.
"Turns out some 'lunkhead' left a secret photo of their secret girlfriend on their desk in their office and then invited their friend into their office to see the photo."
"Oh crap," he winced as realization dawned. He loved that photo. Monica had given him the picture a couple of weeks ago and helped him pick out a frame. He spent many an hour at work looking at it and thinking just how lucky he was. "I didn't even think of that," he admitted, "so she knows about us?"
"No," Monica shook her head, "she thinks you have a major crush on me. One that's so bad you have this photo on your desk so you and your co-workers think I'm your girlfriend."
"Oh," he frowned again, trying to decide which was the lesser of two evils. He did have a major crush on her but was it better Phoebe thought it was one-sided? "What did you say?"
"I panicked, I was put on the spot," she admitted, "I just went along with it…so, if she says anything weird to you tomorrow…well, anything weirder than normal anyhow, just go with it. Hopefully she won't even mention it."
"Great," he muttered pouting slightly.
She couldn't resist placing a little kiss on his pouting lips. The pout turned into a smile so, she rewarded him with another kiss, then another. He groaned and a moment later he rolled them so he was on top of her pinning her to the mattress as he deepened the kiss.
All he could focus on was her. The feel of her body under him, her smell, the taste of her lips. With all his blood rushing South, like her hands, he decided he'd worry about photos and Phoebe tomorrow…
Monica's head shot up when the front door slammed and Chandler marched in.
"No," he muttered, "you wouldn't believe the day I've had. Is anyone here?" She shook her head, so he leant down and placed a light kiss on her lips in greeting, before going back to his rant. "Phoebe told everyone! Everyone! And they've all had something to say about it!"
"Really?" she winced, watching as he started to pace, his hands gesturing wildly.
"Uh huh, let's see, Joey thinks you're hot and I made a good choice but you're way outta my league. So, he wants to take me to a strip club to see lots of naked women in order to get over you," she winced letting him continue. "Ross told me I couldn't think about you like that because you're his sister and there are rules, and if I did try and act on it, he'd kick my ass."
"You can handle Ross," she tried but he shook his head clearly not finished.
"Rachel kept looking at me sympathetically and called me 'honey' a lot as she broke the news to me that someone like you wouldn't go for someone like me. That you like more mature men but it's ok because she'll happily fix me up with someone from her work… someone more suited to someone like me. She wants me to go on a lunch date next week with Marjorie."
"Who's Marjorie?" she asked frowning.
"Does it matter?" Chandler shot back, "oh, then of course there's good ole Phoebe herself wanting to help. She thinks the quickest way to get over you would be one of her unrequited love rituals…which she looked up especially. She wants me to bring the photo over to her place so we can cover it in honey and lavender, then we get to hold hands and chant whilst we set it alight."
"Not one of them even considered you could like me back Mon," he said quietly and she swallowed, "not one."
Monica sighed, she knew he had low self-esteem but they'd been working on it together. He was such an amazing person and such a good boyfriend. He was so attentive and caring and treated her like a princess. She told him over and over how much she cared for him and even though they hadn't used the 'L' word yet, she'd thought it had begun sinking in and he was starting to believe it. His confidence had been growing…
Without meaning to their friends had undone at least some of that hard work. She needed to do some damage control.
She pulled him into a tight hug, "they don't know what they're talking about Chandler," she promised, "you make me the happiest I've ever been and I can't imagine my life without you."
"They don't think I'm good enough for you," he confessed miserably into her hair, "and maybe they're right."
"No," she said firmly pulling back enough to look into his honest blue eyes, forcing him to keep her gaze, "they have no idea what they are talking about, so don't you dare start believing them. You're so amazing Chandler, you're everything I could have ever hoped and more. They haven't seen us together and they haven't seen the side of you that I have. You're more than I deserve and I feel so grateful that we found each other and took this step."
He swallowed, a cute shy smile tugging at his lips, "really?"
He wanted to believe her.
"God, yes," she confirmed, her hand coming up to gently caress his cheek. "I just hope I'm good enough for you."
"You're more than good enough, Mon," his smile widened as he gazed at this amazing woman. His amazing woman.
They stared at each other a moment longer before closing the gap between them, their lips meeting. They shared a loving tender kiss. It lingered before turning more passionate.
"What time's Rachel due back?" he whispered in between kisses, although he was already walking her backwards towards her bedroom.
"I don't care," she replied, eager to show him without words just how much he meant to her.
Their friends could wait. Hopefully it would blow over soon...
The next morning Chandler viciously stabbed his fork into the unsuspecting pancake. He was fed up with all the pitying looks he was receiving from his friends and didn't know how much more of this he could take. He hated being center of attention at the best of times.
Monica noticed of course, and didn't even comment when she heard his knife scraping across his plate hard enough to no doubt leave a mark. She knew he was pissed and understood why. It was annoying her too.
She was confident that she'd reassured him yesterday evening…and early this morning. She hoped he felt secure again in their relationship and realized how much she loved him. However, she was starting to worry that their friends' reactions could undo all that.
Suddenly, she had an idea. One which admittedly she should probably run past Chandler first, but there wasn't time. Not if she was going to reassure him and silence their friends.
She just had to wait for the right moment.
She didn't have to wait long.
Chandler stood, his chair grating against the floor as he stomped over to the sink, dumping his plate none too gently. She had to do this. Making her move, she quickly approached him coming to stand in his personal space. He turned to face her, shooting her a questioning look. Ignoring it, she grabbed his head in both hands and planted a firm kiss on his lips.
He instantly put his arms around her to steady himself from the force. He was shocked, unprepared for the attack but within moments his lips acted on instinct knowing what they should be doing. He returned her kiss with passion, sinking into it. They could hear the surprised protests coming from the kitchen table but neither cared. Instead both enjoyed the moment, kissing openly.
Eventually they pulled away and met each other's eyes. He smiled at her in thanks and she beamed back happy that he hadn't minded her tactic...in fact, he looked like he fully approved. It was time to face reality though and see what the others made of it. Running a hand through her hair, she turned to face their friends. Chandler kept his arms over her shoulders as she hugged his waist. They leant against the sink waiting for the onslaught to begin.
"What's going on?" Rachel asked first.
"Phoebe got it slightly wrong," Monica informed her, tightening her grip on her no-longer-secret boyfriend, "Chandler does have a crush on me, but I have one on him too…see we're in a relationship."
"What?!" Ross asked frowning. "You're…dating?"
She nodded squeezing Chandler harder, grateful to feel his arm tightening around her in silent support. They were in this together.
"Since when?" Rachel enquired.
"A few months," she supplied, not wanting to mention London just yet. That was for another conversation.
"Dude!" Joey was smiling hugely, "this is great! Congrats." He was up out of his chair giving them a massive hug.
"Thanks," Chandler smiled.
"Way to go…this is great!" Joey grinned before suddenly looking very serious. "Does this mean we don't get to go to the strip club now?"
Chandler looked hopefully at Monica who raised a challenging eyebrow.
"No," he said quickly, "besides Monica's way more beautiful than any women there."
Monica's expression softened at his corny line and pulled him down for a quick kiss. All forgiven.
"I still can't believe it," Rachel frowned. "You?" she pointed to Monica, "and you?" she pointed to Chandler.
"Uh huh," Monica nodded smiling as she looked at Chandler again, her eyes sparkling, "Believe it, it's real, very real. It's the best relationship I've ever had."
Chandler smiled pleased, somewhat proud at her praise.
"Wait!" Rachel's eyes got wide, Monica's words bringing back a recent memory. "Is Chandler the secret boyfriend? The best you've ever had, secret boyfriend?"
"Oh yeah," she blushed, ducking her head into his shirt as she fought the blush, very conscious her brother was in the room.
"Wow," Rachel frowned, "really?"
"Yes," she insisted, annoyed that Rachel thought that impossible. "I won't go into details as Ross is here-"
"Thank you," Ross didn't miss a beat.
"But," Monica continued, "let's just say he's very good with numbers, especially the number seven."
"Wow," Rachel nodded in understanding whilst the others all looked confused. She wasn't explaining this one.
"I can't believe you guys are together," Ross said, desperate to move the conversation away from his little sister's sex life. Still frowning he studied them, they were wrapped in each other's arm and looked so natural together.
"Yeah, I know," Chandler said sincerely, trying to convey to Ross just how important his sister was too him. "I wouldn't do anything to hurt her, Ross," he promised.
Ross looked at him then and finally smiled, "I know," he nodded, "but if you do, that's when the ass-kicking will happen."
Chandler smiled relieved, "not gonna happen," he said simply, placing a kiss on the top of Monica's head, "she's the best thing that ever happened to me."
"And he's the best thing to happen to me," Monica promised. "Chandler's such a perfect boyfriend. He's romantic and cute and he's everything to me. I know yesterday none of you could imagine us together but I've gotta tell you that I'm the lucky one here, not Chandler. He has too put up with all my OCD crap and moods and he does, he's never tried to change me, not once. He just accepts me with all my quirks...and I'm the happiest I've ever been."
"It shows," Phoebe said with a large smile. "I'm so sorry I got it wrong, guys. Monica, if you'd been looking at him like you are now, then I definitely wouldn't have been able to mistake that for anything. You guys are sooo in love."
As Phoebe approached them Monica shot a look to Chandler to see if he was freaking out about the 'L' word but he didn't appear to be.
"I'm so pleased it's not unrequited love," Phoebe smiled hugging them both, "when I saw the photo and how much Chandler obviously cared for you I felt so bad for him. but now I know it's mutual, it's such good news. I'm so excited!"
Monica and Chandler look at each other and smiled, thrilled that their friends knew and there'd be no more hiding. It had been pretty painless.
"We should celebrate!" Joey announced looking excited at the possibilities.
"Fine, but no strip clubs!" Rachel warned despite his pout.
"Dinner tonight?" Ross suggested to which they all agreed.
"Ok, but we're having a girls' night real soon," Rachel insisted.
Phoebe nodded eagerly, "oh yeah!"
"Sure," Monica smiled, excited to share some of their relationship with the girls. She loved girly chats and it had been hard not talking about this, she was desperate to confide in them about just how fantastic he was.
"You won't tell them everything right?" Chandler whispered into her ear.
She giggled shaking her head as she hugged him tighter, "no, although they are definitely hearing about the night of seven times."
His eyes darkened slightly just thinking about it and he couldn't resist leaning down and claiming her lips once more. As amazing as it was to be out in the open, right now he desperately wished it was just the two of them so they could continue this.
"I don't wanna see that!" Ross complained pulling a face.
They broke apart looking slightly sheepish but stayed in their embrace.
"You know," Chandler whispered low into her ear, causing her to shiver deliciously against him, "as everyone is over here, my apartment's free…"
She nodded and swallowed quickly, not needing to be told twice. Breaking out of their embrace just enough to grab a hand she pulled him towards the front door.
"Where are you going?" Rachel protested.
"To do some math," Monica shot over her shoulder, not even looking over at them as she led Chandler out of the apartment.
As they closed the door behind them, the others heard her giggle before they heard the boy's door close.
The four remaining friends stared at the closed door for a moment.
"Wow," Phoebe commented.
"I know," Ross replied.
"God, I feel so stupid!" Rachel confessed, "I talked to him about Marjorie for like twenty minutes yesterday."
"Who's Marjorie?" Joey asked frowning.
"Does it matter?" Rachel shot back. "I just can't believe this. Monica and Chandler? A couple? And did you see how happy they looked? This is crazy."
"You should have seen the photo on his desk," Phoebe mused. "It captured such a tender moment between them, he was looking at her as if she's his whole world."
"I think she is," Ross murmured.
"I just can't believe this is Chandler we're talking about," Rachel admitted, "he's usually the screw-up, terrified of any kind of commitment."
"My boy's all grown up," Joey smiled proudly.
"He's right," Ross realized, "Chandler's not the same guy he was a few years ago. He's changed, matured lots and…I don't think Monica couldn't have found a better guy. They're perfect for each other."
"So…you're ok with them?"
"Yeh, of course," he shrugged, "although, even if I wasn't, I don't think that would change anything."
They all nodded in agreement.
"I better start thinking of wedding gifts," Phoebe thought out loud, to which the others looked at her in surprise. "Oh pluhease, you're telling me you don't think they've found their 'one'. He's her turtle dove."
"Uh, don't you mean lobster, Pheebs?" Ross asked confused.
"No, turtle dove."
"Turtles or doves?" Joey asked confused.
"No, Joseph, turtle doves…love doves, like mourning doves," she corrected, "they're in the twelve days of Christmas, even inspired Shakespeare's poem 'The Phoenix and the Turtle.'"
He looked blankly at her while the other two stared at her, surprised by her random knowledge.
"Why not lobsters?" Rachel finally asked.
"Because," Phoebe didn't want to admit she had been wrong about lobsters, "turtle doves are so sweet and cute and they always hang out together in pairs. They look out for each other and are loyal and faithful…it's just them."
They nodded, Phoebe actually making sense to them all. That was scary in itself.
"I can't remember when I last saw either of them that happy," Ross admitted, happy that his sister and best friend had found love.
"Yeah," Rachel agreed still somewhat shocked by today's revelations, but pleased for her friends "they looked really in love. Really happy."
The friends smiled with each other as they realized just how huge this revelation was. Life in their little world had just changed...for the better.
"A picture of happiness," Phoebe smiled quietly, "Just like the photo."