"I really can't stay," Monica said, sadness heavy in her voice as she started to pull away from him.
"Come on, Mon, one more drink," he said, his tone low and husky, heavy blanket tossed over his bare left shoulder as he sat on the floor in their little makeshift nest in the middle of his apartment.
His hair was sticking up in all directions, left that way after she'd run her hands through it over and over as they made love underneath the little Christmas tree he'd plugged in alongside the boxes Ross had scattered about in his living room.
Monica didn't know how he could stand so much clutter, but when she came home from work late on Christmas Eve, she was met by her secret boyfriend in the hallway, wearing a Santa hat, the aforementioned blanket and not much else. She'd smiled, sighed and fell into his warm arms in about five seconds, having been freezing on her way home. It was a blustery holiday night and she knew both his roommates were gone for the evening.
He'd pulled her into the living room, the twinkling lights from the little tree splashing color all around, and somehow the clutter faded from view as he took off her coat. Chandler handed her a hot toddy with a little grin and she took a couple sips, looking into his beautiful, sparkling blue eyes as the hot liquid warmed her insides.
She knew she was completely in love with him, but she also knew he wasn't ready to hear that yet. So she just smiled above the rim of her mug at the adoring, yet anxious look on his face. Before long she could taste the toddy on his lips as she melted into his kiss, barely noticing as he pulled her blouse out from its neatly tucked place inside her slacks. Eventually his naked body covered hers atop the blankets on the floor, and she wasn't cold anymore…
"Honey, I can't," she said, reaching for her blouse and pulling it over her shoulders. "Rachel will be suspicious…"
"…half a drink more?" he asked.
"…and her mom…" she said as Chandler ran his palm over her arm, sending shivers down her spine. Rachel's Mom was staying at their place that night, so Monica said she'd sleep on the couch when she got home late. But, if either one of them so much as got up to use the bathroom they'd wonder why she wasn't there.
Yet, the imploring look on his face was making her heart hurt. So she reached over and ran a hand down his cheek, he kissed her palm, his eyes still locked with hers.
"But, baby it's cold outside," he said, with a little smirk.
"Chandler, I live across the hall," she said with a matching smile.
"The hall's chilly," he said, scooting closer to her then adding in a whisper as he brushed his lips against her cheek. "I'm not."
"Oh…umm," she moaned, circling her arms around his neck, her lips locking once again with his. Their kiss broke but his grip stayed firm.
"Chandler…" she breathed, again vaguely trying to pull away from him.
"Don't go," he whispered, his arms tightening around her, laying his forehead against hers. "Don't do this to me, just stay a little while longer. It's Christmas Eve…"
Monica pulled back slowly and looked into his soft eyes. He looked so vulnerable, and yet so completely in love she almost gasped out loud. No, she couldn't leave him. Not now, she thought. Not ever.
She searched his eyes, knowing how much she felt for him was shining brightly from hers. And she almost said the words she'd tried for weeks now to hold inside. She was in love with her best friend and the depths of her feelings scared her and calmed her at the exact same time.
Moments from those three little words escaping her lips, her brain caught the panic that suddenly came over his face. She almost giggled. Early on in their romance she thought that look spelled doom for their future. Now she knew it only meant he was a little scared and that she had to be patient.
So, she smiled at him.
"Maybe half a drink more," she said softly.
Chandler's smile lit up the room and he let her go, jumping to his feet, pulling on his pajama pants and practically skipping to the kitchen to get her another drink, which actually did make her giggle.
"You're going to your parents in the morning?" Chandler asked, cocking an eyebrow as the steam rose from her mug when he filled it.
"Yeah," she sighed, looking a little sad, before she quickly brightened up as she walked over to the other side of the counter. "Aunt Monica has to be there when little Ben wakes up."
Chandler smiled warmly at her and leaned over the counter, handing her the mug then picking up his. They leaned towards each other, elbows on the countertop gazing at one another. The glow of the tree and the steam were reflecting in each other's eyes.
"You'll enjoy it," he said softly, before taking a sip.
"Yeah," she said, somewhat unconvincingly.
"What?" he asked, furrowing his brow. Monica studied him a moment and almost told him what she was thinking, then decided against it.
"Nothing," she finally whispered. Running a finger down his arm then shrugging. "I just…I hate that you'll be alone."
Chandler lifted his eyebrows at that, then smirked.
"Oh, it's OK," he said, shaking his head a little. "We'll all be together tomorrow night."
"Oh, I know," she said with another nod as she took a few more sips from her cup, diverting her eyes. Chandler frowned.
"Hey," he whispered, straightening up and walking around the counter to her. He set down his mug and took her free hand in his. She put down her drink and held his other hand in hers.
"Santa doesn't have to bring me a thing," he said softly, kissing her forehead. "A few months ago I got the best present I'll ever get in my whole life."
Monica felt tears sting the back of her closed eyes as she sighed and smiled, leaning against him. He smiled gently down at her and brushed her lips with his. She threw her arms around his neck and held him close, kissing the breath right out of him, smiling against his lips as their kiss broke.
"Me, too," she whispered, beaming up at him. He smiled again, then peeked down into her mug.
"Your half a drink is gone," he whispered and her face fell.
"I'm sorry, Chandler," she started. "With Rachel's Mom staying over and…"
"Nah, it's OK, I understand, " he said with a grin. "Christmas Day might not be the best time to come out of the 'non-gay' closet, as Joey says."
She stifled a laugh.
"Probably not," she said, then she glanced over his shoulder at the clock on the microwave. She looked back at him and with a seductive little grin whispered, "Merry Christmas, Baby."
Chandler quickly glanced over his shoulder and saw they were half-past midnight, then turned back to her with a big smile on his face.
"Merry Christmas, Baby," he whispered, tears glistening in her eyes as he leaned down and kissed her softly one more time. Then she gathered up the rest of her clothes and he walked her to his apartment door. She turned around, her stomach unexpectedly tied in a knot. How could she already miss him when she hadn't even left yet?
"You'll have a great time tomorrow," he said as cheerfully as he could when she hesitated at the door. "I'll see you after."
"Yeah, OK," she said, a little forlornly. He reached out a hand and buried it in her hair as he pulled her in for one more hug. She held onto him tight, then gamely smiled up at him.
"Goodnight," she whispered.
Chandler watched her walk across the hall, then softly closed his door with a small grin after she'd opened hers. Monica took a step inside and closed the door. She looked around at her large, tidy, festive apartment - dark and quite except for the lights shining from the big Christmas tree in the window. She placed her coat and purse on the kitchen table. She took a deep breath and turned back around, deciding to tell him what she wanted to after all.
Chandler had just unplugged his little tree when he heard her apartment door open again. He plugged it back in, his eyes scanning the dimly lit, crowded living room for any trace of what she may have forgotten. Then he heard a small tapping on his door.
"Yes?" he asked with a grin when he opened it, but he quickly became concerned at the uncertain look on her face. "Mon?"
"I want my Christmas present," she said quickly, and Chandler's eyes grew wide.
"Ah, now?" he asked, running a nervous hand through his hair. She nodded and walked past him into the living room.
"Well, I, uh, I haven't, um, wrapped it yet, but…" he said, his eyes darting towards his bedroom as he closed the apartment door, "but if…I mean…"
He started to walk past her and Monica had to fight a smile as she grabbed hold of his arm.
"You don't even know what I want," she said as he turned back to her. Chandler shot her a confused look.
"What do you want?" he asked.
Monica looked at the clock, then looked back at him, taking a deep breath.
"I want to wake up with you on Christmas morning," she whispered, a little breathless, a slight blush coming to her cheeks, "right here (she pointed) next to this little tree."
She looked up at him adoringly as his face turned soft and his smile grew wide. He pulled her to him, holding her close.
"I'd…love to wake up with you on Christmas morning," he whispered, his voice full of an emotion she knew he wasn't quite ready to put into words.
She breathed in deep and wrapped her arms tight around him.
"What about the Green ladies?" he asked, and he felt her shrug.
"We can set an alarm," she said, and he nodded, "or we can be a Christmas surprise."
She looked up with a smirk and brushed her nose with his.
"I'll set an alarm," he said and she nodded, whispering, "OK."
He began gently rocking her back and forth in his arms.
"What changed your mind?" he asked as he kissed her cheek and stroked her hair.
"Well, baby," she said softly, stroking his back and floating in the feeling of the moment, "it's cold outside."
Monica heard him chuckle as she lay her head on his chest. She grinned softly as the now blurry lights in her watery eyes swayed right along with them.
NOTE: An early holiday surprise. ;)
I am still working on Seasons Change, so don't despair, but I heard "Baby, it's cold outside" and got this little idea for a S5 cannon snippet. Hope you enjoyed and have a wonderful holiday season :)