:wow, people haven't forgotten about this fanfic! I'm surprised about it, considering how long it has took me to get to this point. I am very pleased that readers are still interested. As you can see, I'm back from my holiday. I had a nice time! I've come home to a job offer (finally!) and with a refreshed head to start updating again!:
TOW the Reunion
The letter was long, and Rachel was surprised about that. Kip didn't write his feelings on a bit of paper. She looked at the date, and with a pang in her heart, she realised he had only wrote this letter three months ago.
Um…how's things? Not a good way to start a letter, but there you go, I'm not the sort of person to write them, am I?
Rachel paused and smiled. Kip was right; he was not a good letter writer. She glanced down again and continued to read.
If you're reading this then that means I'm not around in your life anymore. It means I was too chicken to tell you all the things I wanted to say face-to-face. Now it's too late. Please don't cry; I know that's what you're doing right now and I want you to stop it, understand? You have all your whole life ahead of you, and I don't want you to stop living it just because I'm not…around…anymore.
I don't think you need me to write how I feel about you, because I think you already know that. It would be too hard for you to read, and this paper would have a lot of tear stains on it from my silly uncontrolled emotions.
I'm sitting in my apartment right now, alone. Don't worry, I'm fine, I'm not alone all the time, but I just got to thinking about you…and our friends. I've thought about trying to track you guys down, but I didn't want to intrude on your new lives. It's been five years and a lot can happen in that time. For example, I'm in Chicago right now and up until two years ago I had a roommate going by the name of Joey Tribbiani. Wild, huh? I was rooming with a future Hollywood star! He's in L.A now, and famous. If I remember correctly, you had a fetish for soap operas in college, so you're probably screaming right now. Maybe it's just as well we're not face-to-face, I don't want to go deaf! Anyway, I'm planning a trip to L.A next month to visit my old buddy; it's going to be a surprise.
How are the others doing? Do you still see them? I hope you do, I'd hate to think of you just with Barry and no-one else. You hated his friends…I remember. I miss the old gang. They were like family to me. I bet my whole inheritance that Ross is still obsessed with dinosaurs, am I right? Ross never goes back on a deal…I bet he's a fully qualified palaeontologist by now. I owe that guy twenty dollars if he is. The cash is in the diary, on the page dated 'October 24th1987'. Can you make sure he gets it? Also, please tell him I'm sorry for the things I said to him before he went to China. He'll know what I mean. I was insensitive and stupid.
Has Chandler finally swallowed his pride and told Monica about his undying love for her yet? If he hasn't, tell him he's an idiot and that Monica is the best thing that's ever happened to him. I didn't set up all those slow dances at the parties for nothing! Also, tell him to quit his dead-end career if he's still doing it. I know he is; Chandler would never quit data processing because he still has the 'fear'. You ask him about his 'fear' and see what reaction he gives you. I laughed my arse off when he told me. You would too, believe me.
Is Monica still a cleaning-freak? God, don't tell her I said that! She would kill me for it, but she knows it's true. Just give her these words please: Monica you are a dear, dear friend. Don't ever change, because you are the sweetest, most generous woman I have ever known, and for Gods sake marry Chandler! I have my reasons other than the fact I know they're made for each other. You probably know the reason, and I bet you're all shocked. I hope they have a wonderful life in that house.
I bet you're wondering why I gave you $1,000,000. The simple answer is because I wanted to. You would put more use to that money than I ever would. I would blow it on parties and drink, but you have so much more going for you than that. Start a business, buy a car, be successful, do whatever you like with it. Tell Ross the same. Never give up on your dreams. I didn't have any dreams, I had no future, but you guys still have.
The way I'm writing this, you probably think I wanted to die or something and I'm just finishing up the last pieces of my life. I don't know what to say to that really. I'm young, but I have no life. At least the parts that are supposed to count anyway. You know, having a girlfriend, wife or kids. To clear up one thing: this isn't your fault. It's not your fault that I could have been a top lawyer if I had paid attention to my teacher, it's not your fault I failed all the exams. I guess I was too much of a party animal to think about all that stuff, not to mention living on a large allowance from my Grandmother's inheritance.
Anyway, I guess I should stop all the rambling – I don't want to turn into Chandler, I may have no future but at least I don't have a weird lilt in my speech! Could he BE anymore unique?
Be happy doll, live life to its fullest, because if you don't, it could end up sucking a hell of a lot. If you're all happy, I'm happy, and that's what means most to me.
Love Michael Kip Granger
P.S Tell Chandler that I did NOT shave off his damn Seagulls haircut no matter what Ross says! He actually did it, not me. I've took the blame for it ever since the end of freshman year, but not anymore! I hope to god he got rid of the new cut – the last time I saw him, he still had that style from senior year. He looked like that guy from that cops show, remember? And that is not a compliment. It's too 1988.
Rachel came to the end of the letter and wiped her eyes. He was still the Kip she knew and loved, but maybe a more serious and wiser Kip. His words had a sad and maybe bitter tone to them, but he was still Kip. She was relieved he didn't reveal his feelings to her directly. She would rather not know for definite; that would finish her off.
Rachel wished Kip knew the truth about the state of everyone friendships today, that they were reunited in grief, ironically because he wasn't around anymore. She wished he knew Joey was coping ok and had the support of Chandler. She wished he could see how they were together as a gang again; a little older, wiser but still the dependable group that Kip loved. He would be pleased to see Chandler and Monica united again, in more ways than just friendship.
She wished Kip knew that she was now divorced from Barry and could have been free to join him.
They were useless wishes of course, and Rachel knew that. She had a feeling that Kip giving her the diary was encouraging her to read it, and then forget about him and move on with her life.
She intended to show the others this too. Maybe the diary would reveal things about a side of Kip's personality they never knew. It was part of the grieving process, and Rachel was glad Kip had given them the opportunity to get over it.
The gang was gathered in Chandler and Monica's living room, including Phoebe who was ever the curious about her new friends' past. It had been an hour since Rachel had made her visit to the bank and now they were all looking through Kip's safety deposit box.
"I never thought Kip was an idiot," Ross said sadly, "I hope he knows that."
"I'm sure he does Ross," Chandler said softly.
"Hey, look at this," Joey said, lifting up a scrap of paper from the box. "It's an old Knick's ticket. 1986 playoffs Knicks versus Lakers. He would have just been finishing high school when he went to see them."
"I remember that game," Chandler piped up, grinning reminiscently, "The Lakers were forfeited from the game because their coach abused the referee too many times. That obviously amused Kip greatly."
"Yeah, he's written on the back, The Knicks rule all!" Joey smiled proudly, "yeah they do!"
"Look at this diary entry after Thanksgiving 1987," Monica said; studying the little book, "'Monica and Ross have done nothing but fight about their holiday. Monica still maintains her parents favour her brother, and in some ways she's right, but not in other ways. I just wish they could appreciate what they have, instead of fighting over what they don't have.'"
Monica smiled sadly at Ross who nodded reassuringly. "Another thing Kip never saw," she said quietly, "we get along great now."
"Does anyone else feel him in the room?" Phoebe asked suddenly, "I've never met him, but it's like he is present right now."
Her friends looked at her weirdly and shuddered. "Don't do that," Ross begged, "you're giving me goose bumps."
"You don't believe in the afterlife?" Phoebe demanded.
Ross shrugged uncomfortably, "well…no," he admitted.
"Oh my god!" Phoebe exclaimed, "You can't seriously suggest this is all we're going to have?"
"I just find it a little hard to believe," Ross explained, "my work involves studying the organism of a creature and how it evolved through time then died."
"But it doesn't really die," Phoebe insisted, "it turns into something else."
"Phoebe, you're trying to make me change my whole belief system," Ross said, frustrated, "and it isn't going to happen! Organisms change into living things and then when their time is up, they're gone…finito. Understand?"
"Why do you keep saying the sensations a woman has when she's having sex?" Joey asked, staring confusedly at Ross.
"Oh dear god," Chandler mumbled.
Ross blinked hard and stared back at Joey in disbelief, "Joey, I'm talking about organisms." He stated meaningfully.
"I know! And I'm confused!" Joey said, "I thought we were talking about the afterlife! And now we're talking about sex? What's that about?"
"Please tell me you're kidding," Ross pleaded, wide-eyed.
"Joey, sweetie…" Monica took Joey's hand, biting her lip to keep from laughing, "you're thinking of something else."
"What do you mean?"
"Maybe you need to take a look at one of Ross' old evolution books, and then one of my old books." Chandler told him, smirking slightly.
"And what books are those?" Monica asked teasingly.
"Never you mind," Chandler shot back, his cheeks turning a light crimson.
One Month Later
Joey looked out over the dock, trying to avoid the looks on the jury's faces. His eyes roamed over to the press corps, some of them writing at a frantic pace, others just flashing their cameras at him. It was make or break time.
The trial had barely lastly a week. There wasn't much to say; Joey knew he had done wrong, but he hadn't counted on the prosecution relentlessly pressuring the jury and judge to think he was an evil man intent on crashing the car on purpose to kill his friend so he could get the $1,000,000.
The defence had objected to that of course, they said Joey had not known about the contents of the will in which the prosecution immediately pointed out that Joey must have known something. After all, as the prosecution said, Kip and Joey had been roommates for three years. Then there was the huge cover-up afterwards. If it had really been an accident and he had nothing to hide, why did Joey run off after?
"I was scared of what it would do to my career," Joey had replied truthfully. It was all he had to say really. In his opinion, any reply he came out with would not earn any sympathy votes with the jury, so he just told the truth.
Now, after two days of deliberating and arguing over the case, the jury was ready with their verdict. Joey's lawyers tried to assure him that it was a good sign; it meant they were seriously considering everything; all the pros and cons; every fact and every piece of evidence.
It didn't comfort him at all.
"All rise for the judge," a man called from the corner of the room. Every one rose. The judge indicated for a member of the jury to stand.
"Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the unlawful conduct of letting the victim drive drunk?" the judge prompted.
"Guilty, your honour," the juror replied.
Joey had expected that one, there could be no other verdict. He waited for the next two verdicts.
"Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the Class A misdemeanour of leaving the scene of an accident?"
"Guilty, your honour," the juror replied.
Joey looked down at his feet, tears filling his eyes; the biggest question was coming up.
"Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the murder of Michael Kip Granger?" the judge prompted.
"Not guilty, your honour," the juror replied in clipped tones.
A sigh of relief came in the direction of his family and friends, and Joey closed his eyes in relief. It was over, it was all over. The most he would get now is community service, or, if worst came to worst, a suspended jail sentence meaning a permanent criminal record.
"You have come across to me as a remorseful man who has been deeply affected by the death of a close friend," the judge now said to him, "it could be said that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the fact never changes you still unlawfully left the scene of an accident you were involved in. Therefore, I am handing you a year's suspended sentence in which you will do 90 hours of community service. You may leave the court room."
Joey left the court room in a midst of flashing cameras, frantic reporters shoving microphones in his face, and the support of his friends and family.
"It could have been worse," Chandler comforted him, as they walked home, "the judge was fair, others might have gone to jail under a different judge."
"Yeah, but it still doesn't change anything," Joey said quietly, "Kip is still dead."
"Yeah, I know, but at least you can begin to move on now, right?" Rachel asked, linking her arm through his. Joey looked at her and smiled.
"Maybe," he replied, squeezing her hand. He glanced nervously at Ross, who was watching this little exchange.
"Feel free man, I've got Julie," Ross whispered in his ear.
"Thank you," Joey whispered back, leaning his head against Rachel's.
Nine Months later
Chandler looked out over a crowd of hundreds of faces, and he swallowed nervously. He looked down in the very front row, seeing Monica, Ross, Joey, Rachel and Phoebe smiling encouragingly. He grinned back at them and looked down at the piece of paper in his hand.
"All of you are here today because you knew Kip, or knew of him," Chandler began, gazing around the hall, "some of you shared a room with him, some of you worked with him, dated him, or just had a one night stand with him, which I gather happened a lot during sophomore year…" he paused, listening to the ripple of laughter spreading through the room.
"I hear it happened a lot to you too!" someone yelled from the back of the room, causing Chandler to blush and the room to fill with laughter again.
"Um…anyway," he continued, grinning bashfully, "Whatever the reason, you're all here tonight because of a man who touched your hearts. A year ago today, this man was taken away from us in the most tragic way. He died in a car accident. And we're all here today to remember Kip, but not to cry for him. Kip would not have wanted that; most likely he would love something like this to make him the centre attention, and most of all, he would love to see you all smiling.
Two years ago, I watched a movie that gave me a few lessons in life. It basically told you that life comes down to one simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying. I would like to think that was Kip's way of seeing things in this world. There have been a few rumours lately that Kip wanted to die and that he wasn't happy. I don't think that was true; Kip loved life, and there may have been times when he thought 'to hell with this' but he was still living, and busily doing it. He enjoyed being with his friends…" Chandler paused to smile at Joey, Ross, Monica and Rachel, "and seeing them happy was what kept him going. Ross Geller and I had the pleasure of being his roommates through college; he made us laugh, sometimes he made us angry, and on one memorable occasion when he lost his balance on the college rooftop and broke his leg, he made us cry.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that while Kip wasn't perfect, after all he didn't get the 1600 in his SATs which could have got him into Yale instead of NYU, he didn't pass his degree in law, and he wasn't great when it came to relationships, but he was still a fun loving guy who was just doing what we all do…making it through the ups and downs of life in his own unique way.
I regret not seeing Kip before he died, and I wish he could see his friends right now. Rachel is the happiest I've ever seen her, and is engaged to Joey, who is picking up on his acting career and can still eat two large pizzas in one sitting. Ross is married to a lovely woman called Julie, and they live just a block away from Monica and me. One of Kip's life long wishes was to see Monica and I live happily ever after…" he smiled softly at his new wife as the crowd cheered, "and that wish has come true, partly because of him and partly because I finally swallowed my pride – or maybe we both did – and finally saw what he was talking about. The love and closeness we share is unique, that's what Kip wanted for us, he wanted it for himself too and he wants it for all of you too. Live life to it's fullest everybody, and lets try to remember the guy who started it off."
The crowd of reunited college students, colleagues and friends of Kip's stood up to applaud Chandler for his speech. He grinned down at them from his tiny platform and his lip trembled a little from the warmth and enthusiasm coming from this group of people who had all been touched by one man.
He stepped down and kissed Monica on the lips and squeezed her hand. He gazed at the rest of his friends. Joey, who had gone through so much in the last 12 months, was smiling wistfully but happily all at the same time. Ross, the anxiety had finally left his face after so much grief and guilt had gone through him. Finally, Chandler's eyes rested on Rachel, who was holding Joey's hand tightly, her eyes shining with tears. She smiled gratefully at him, mouthing a silent 'thank you.'
"A lot of people loved him," Monica whispered as they all walked outside into the sunshine. They walked past Kip's graveside.
"Yeah, that guy pulls in all the women," Chandler joked, watching a couple of women lay down a few flowers. Monica smacked him playfully on the arm. "Hey! I was kidding!" he exclaimed, wincing, "you know I only have eyes for you."
Monica smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "You're such a romantic," she said, giggling.
"We'll never forget you Kip," Joey said wistfully.
Rachel hugged him, "No, never," she agreed.
"I wish I knew him," Phoebe commented, "how cool would that have been?" she smiled.
"It would've been really cool Pheebs," Ross said, linking arms with her, "really cool."
Chandler grinned and linked arms with Monica and Rachel. Joey hung on to Rachel's arm on the end. Ross linked arms with his sister and Phoebe. Together, united at last, the six friends walked home.
: I've really enjoyed writing this series, even if it did take me 7 months to finish it! Please review, I want to know your reactions to the end.
I did think about writing a kind of sequel to this fanfic, concentrating on the days when Kip was still alive. So, you know, it would have Chandler, Ross, Kip, Monica and Rachel in the story, but then I thought about how Joey and Phoebe wouldn't appear that much, unless the story just flashes to them every now and then leading their then separate lives. It would basically go into more detail to all the stuff they got up to. Anyway, I didn't think it would be a good idea. I'll be concentrating on my other two unfinished fanfics for now.: