2008

"I'm back," Megan called, setting her purse on the kitchen counter in the darkness. "Keith?"

No answer.

Megan picked up the roll of tape she'd abandoned when Mr. and Mrs. Pedigreed had shown up, pushing it over her wrist like a bracelet and looking around.

She taped up a box, saying a silent prayer of thanks for Keith's insistence on packing his own things. He had a precise method, involving bubble wrap and foam peanuts and colored stickers. Megan's own packing style -- which had never failed her in the past -- was far more simple.

Wait until the night before, and stuff everything into garbage bags.

Keith's boxes were already neatly piled by the front door, sorted by destination: kitchen, bathroom, art room, etc. He'd even made a floor plan for where everything went in their new place.

He'd shown her photos of their new apartment on the Internet; she'd smiled and been secretly horrified. White carpet, white walls, blank white cabinets, ninth-story view of a palm tree embedded in concrete.

So far, California looked a hell of a lot like A Clockwork Orange.

The great thing about it was -- almost nothing of theirs was hers. She'd had some home stuff when they'd gotten married -- dishes, towels, that sort of thing -- but it had all been old and weird and ended up, over the years, going to live in her mother's basement.

A couple Heftys full of clothes, a few boxes for CD's and books, packing up her computer... and she'd be done.

She picked the box up and ran the length of the mostly empty bookshelves, tossing in the remnants. The three DVD's that belonged to her. A handful of CD's, her photo albums...

She smiled, balancing the box between her knee and the bookshelf and flipping the album open, running one finger down the photo it opened to.

Becca's Halloween party, two years ago. Keith hadn't wanted to go, and she'd ended up going with Chandler at the last minute, who'd been right in the middle of 'Lowdown' and barely knew what year it was, let alone that it was a major holiday.

They'd ended up scrounging in the attic and finally going as Nora and Charles, playing it up to the hilt. They'd sent a copy of this picture to Charles, who had it framed in his dressing room.

That'd be one nice thing about California -- she'd be closer to Charles. Maybe they could hang out, talk about Chandler...

She shut the book in sudden disgust. Begging Charles for Chandler stories, just like she had at thirteen. Yeah, you've come a *long* way, baby.

She threw a handful of comics on top of the albums and violently taped the box shut.

"Looks like you're almost done here."

She jumped. "Rachel??"

Rachel walked further into the living room, sliding down the hood of her soaked sweatshirt. "I hope you don't mind me stopping by."

"No... um... not at all... can I get you some, uh, tea or something?"

"That's okay. I'm not staying long. I actually just came to say something."

"Oh, uh. Okay. What... what is it?"

Rachel raked her hand through her hair. "I came to tell you that I'm miserable. I came to tell you that I wake up every morning and regret what I did to myself. I came to tell you that I married the friend I felt obligated to, instead of the friend that I loved, and that it was the worst decision I ever made. I came to tell you that I moved with that friend away from everything, and locked my cage even further."

Rachel took a deep breath, voice shaking. "I came to say that when you try not to hurt anyone, you end up hurting everyone. And I came to say that Chandler loves you."

"What?"

"And I came to say that if you don't *do* something about that, you're as big of an idiot as I am."

Rachel put her hand on the doorknob. "That's all I came to say."

"Rachel, I'm -- I'm *married*."

Rachel smiled gently. "I know. So am I."

***

"What was that all about?" Joey asked, as Rachel climbed back into the truck.

"I just needed to tell Megan something. Let's go, we'll miss the movie."

***

Megan stared in shock at the door Rachel had just walked through, death grip on her box, mind whirling.

"Hey," Keith said, leaning against the doorframe. "Who was that?"

"T-that was Rachel, C-Chandler's friend," Megan stammered. "Where have y-you been?"

"In your office, using your computer."

"Oh."

"I made you something," Keith said, passing her a stack of stapled papers.

She set down the box and took them with unsteady hands, her blurring eyes struggling to focus on the type.

"Keith Paulson Clark vs. Megan Mitchell Clark." She looked up at Keith, her face a mask of disbelief. "Keith... what... what are these?"

"You should know... I used the disk you used for Joey."

"You're... divorcing me?"

"I was never married to you, Megan. Not the way I wanted to be, anyway. And I don't think I ever will be."

He extended a pen, and she took it.

"I gotta go pack," Keith said gruffly, turning around and walking towards the back of the house.

***

Chandler stared into the unblinking white void of Microsoft Word, finally pushing himself away from the computer with a groan.

Wonderful. Writer's block. Because he needed something else he loved taken away from him.

He wandered into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, closed it again. Opened the pantry, closed it again. Turned the TV on, turned the TV off. Sat on the couch, tapping the remote against his chin.

What was Megan doing right now?

Packing, probably... throwing things into garbage bags in a way that would give Monica an aneurism. Maybe out on the porch they built, saying goodbye to her plants.

The doorbell rang.

"It's open, guys," Chandler called.

It rang again.

"I said, it's open..."

Storming too hard to hear him, probably. He crossed to the door, pulling it open.

"That was a short movie..." he blinked. "Megan?"

She stood, shaking violently, on his doormat, water trailing down her hair and dripping off her nose, her arms wrapped tightly around herself.

"What are you... get in here!"

She stayed rooted in place, pulling a sheaf of papers from inside her jean jacket and holding them up for Chandler.

"Oh..." he sighed, taking them gently. "Joey forgot his divorce papers?"

"T-those a-aren't J-joey's d-divorce p-papers," she said through chattering teeth.

"They're not?"

"T-they're m-mine."

Chandler froze, staring in shock at the rain-dotted printout.

"So, I, um... c-came to tell you. I t-thought you'd w-wanna know, uh... so, um..." she searched his catatonic face anxiously, wiping a stream of rain off her eyes. "I g-guess I'll g-go... u-unpack and s-stuff..."

She turned to go. Chandler tossed the papers inside the dry safety of the house, stepping out into the rain and grabbing her by the wrist. "Wait. Megan, wait." He looked up the pier towards the road. "Where's your car?"

"I-it... um... b-broke d-down. B-back a w-while. S-so I, um, r-ran the rest of the w-way."

"You... you ran?"

She nodded, rain coursing down her cheeks.

"Why?"

Megan reached up, fingertips tracing his temple, her eyes full of him. "I wanted to be with you."

Years of wanting burst inside Chandler's head as he captured Megan's lips with his, his hands burying themselves in the wet silk of her hair, each freezing prick of rain amplifying the warmth of her as she wrapped her arms around him, her mouth opening under his, her hands rising to his neck, their bodies pressing together, moving in a slow dance to the drumming of water hitting the deck.

He broke the kiss and chuckled. "You wanna go inside, so we can break stuff?"

She laughed and opened her eyes, reaching up to cup his face in wonder. "No... that's okay... this is good."

"Just good, huh?" he laughed, picking her up and setting her on the deck post. She wrapped her legs around him. "I've never written *that* dialogue before. 'Golly, *this* is mediocre.'"

"Mediocre my ass," Megan grinned, moving a piece of his hair away from his face.

"Hey, that's right, your ass... do I get to bite it now?"

"*And* see my tattoo," Megan smiled before cutting him off with a kiss.

***

"No-no, don't," Rachel whispered, putting her hand over Joey's on the gearshift. "They're down there. Can't you see them? Don't stop."

"So where do we go?"

Rachel looked down at the deck, a smile of happiness and envy stretching her face. "Just keep driving, Joe. Keep driving."

***

"So this... this is a *very* nice tattoo," Chandler grinned, tracing it with his thumb. "Can I keep it?"

"It and everything attached to it," Megan laughed, poking him in the stomach.

"So... are we old and uncool because we ended up coming inside?"

"Doin' it in the rain may be more of a summer thing," Megan smiled, rolling over and kissing him. "You might want to modify your standard love scene to account for the reality of goosebumps."

He let his hand run the length of her forearm. "Noted."

"Besides... as many nights as I spent in this bed, wishing *this* were what I was doing in it... the bed deserved a little consummation."

"Me too. And hey, we broke something."

"And you're pretty scratched up." She trailed her fingers over the rising red marks on his back.

"Hey," he said, going up onto one elbow. "There's something I haven't said yet."

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

"So, um... will you marry me?"

"Nope."

"I mean after you get divorced, obviously..."

"Even then, Chandler. I want to wake up every day and know that you're with me because you want to be, that day... that the only thing holding you to me is love."

"Hey, that's pretty. Marry me anyway."

She laughed.

"No, seriously. That's nice and all, but see, okay... I want my ring on your finger, and my last name slapped on yours, and maybe 'Property of Chandler Bing' stamped, right here..." he traced her forehead with a finger, "And here... and here..." he let his hands roam, "... and, I dunno, maybe rig you up with some kind of car alarm."

"That's going to make gynecologist visits interesting."

"That's okay! 'Cause I can go, and sit in the little plastic chair, y'know. With my gun. In case he gets fresh."

"I think getting fresh is the point."

"Overly, non-Hippocratically fresh."

"Yeah, okay... I'll marry you."

"Really? I thought maybe I'd gone overboard with the gun bit."

"Well, yeah, but... I kinda like the idea of having 'Property of Chandler Bing' stamped all over me. Although Becca, Becca would argue I've been that way since I was five."

"You can stamp me, too, you know."

"Awesome... 'cause I have this cute one that says 'Merry Christmas', and it'd look really good on your butt."

"Hey, now, that's just silly."

"Oh, no," Megan said in mock horror. "I'd hate it if we were silly."

***

Joey closed the door silently after them, hanging Chandler's keys back up on the little peg. Rachel walked ahead of him, shaking water out of her hair in front of the fire, and Joey pulled down a handtowel.

"Hang on," he whispered, coming up behind her and raising the towel to her head, rubbing gently. "I gotcha."

A burst of laughter came out of Chandler's bedroom, and Rachel turned to Joey wistfully. "They made it."

"Yeah, they did."

Rachel reached up and took one of Joey's hands away from her head, entwining her fingers in his. "Think they know how lucky they are?"

Joey kissed the back of her head. "Yeah, I think they do."