The Joey/Chandler scene in the last chapter was used to resolve Chandler's seething resentment and suspicion of Kate, which he's shown since chapter 4. They've moved on now, but I don't think it's wrong to show the depth of their friendship and affection. The show itself did lots of scenes and plots about their special bond in seasons 1-4, in the Joey/Chandler clip show in season 6, in Joey crying about Tulsa, and even in the brief "six moves" scene in season 10. It's always been there.

Anyway, the following theory about the Gellers' Jewishness is just my own speculation. I would call them "half-Jewish" or "part-Jewish" as Ross described Ben once, but Jewish tradition is that you're only Jewish if your mother is. So I'm guessing that it's more about their cultural and ethnic heritage, than religion.

All through December, Kate made more time for Monica and helped with the Christmas shopping, the gift wrapping, and putting up decorations. "So you celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah?"

"Um, yeah. Technically me and Ross aren't Jewish because our mother's not, but we were raised kind of half and half by our parents. We did have bar and bat mitzvahs, and Ross taught Ben about Hanukkah anyway. He hopes that he can talk Carol and Susan into letting Ben have a bar mitzvah too. He's got to start learning some Hebrew and studying soon."

"Have you thought yet about how you and Chandler will raise your kid?"

"Well, neither of us are very religious, but I think I would like to keep up some Jewish traditions for my dad."

"Yes, I like your dad. He was quite a hoot at Emma's birthday party!" Kate imitated him and chuckled. "'They thought it was a hate crime!'"

Monica laughed and was glad to have Kate cheering her up.

It was harder when Joey and Kate went to L.A. for Christmas. Chandler and Monica missed them both and called often during the week that they were gone. Joey and Kate had left Christmas presents with them before leaving, though, so they opened those along with the other presents under the tree.

Kate thoughtfully gave Monica a book with inspirational stories about supposedly barren women who still had babies, including the Biblical story about Sarah giving birth to Isaac. Inside the cover, Kate wrote a note, urging her to "Make good use of that mistletoe with Chandler!"

Phoebe also gave Monica some fertility and good luck charms, predicting again that Monica would have a baby soon. Ross and Rachel gave some used baby stuff for the nursery, but they could not stay long at the party; they planned to take Emma over to spend Christmas with Carol, Susan, and Ben. So far, Ben had been rather jealous of his half-sister, but the parents were trying to get him to like her and play with her.

Monica felt rather relieved to not have Emma around as much; so they got through the week of Christmas without incident, then she and Chandler picked up Joey and Kate from the airport.


"Welcome home!"

They all hugged warmly, then retrieved the luggage and exited together. On the cab ride home, Joey and Kate chatted about their pleasant time with Kate's brother Adam, the pharmacist. He had a wife and two kids.

"You should meet my family soon," Joey said.

"Sure, but we should do it a little at a time. I think I'd feel too overwhelmed and intimidated by all the Tribbianis at once."

Chandler remarked, "His seven sisters are very hard to tell apart!"

"I know," Joey said with a pout, remembering the incident with Mary Angela. "You've still got three years to go, you know!"

Chandler blinked, and Monica said, "Joey! It's been seven years now."

"No, it'll be seven years on my birthday."

Kate squeezed his arm and changed the subject. "Honey, we should start making plans for your birthday. Do you want a party, or maybe just a dinner with your parents?"

Joey smiled, and they cheerfully discussed the possibilities, while Monica and Chandler relaxed.

At home, they greeted the rest of the gang, who thanked them for their presents. Then Chandler gave Joey and Kate the remaining boxes under the Christmas tree.

"Yay! It's like a second Christmas!" Joey grinned as he opened his presents.

At New Year's, when each person was saying his or her resolutions, David said that he resolved to spend even more time with Phoebe this year. He asked her, "Can we move in together?"

Surprised, she happily said yes, and gave him a big kiss.

When it was her turn, Monica wanted to make a resolution to have a baby this year, but she ended up crying because it didn't really seem within her control. The fertility idol hadn't worked yet, nor had they heard from the adoption agency in a while.

Everyone hugged her, and Phoebe said, "Don't worry! You'll definitely--"

Monica asked in frustration just how soon was "soon," and whether she meant that they would adopt a baby or have a miracle baby as everyone kept saying.

"Um, well, it's not entirely clear," Phoebe dodged her question. "I-I can't be more specific than that it'll be after the holidays.

"Which holidays?" Monica demanded. "It's already New Year's! Martin Luther King Day? Chinese New Year? Valentine's Day?"

Phoebe gulped and looked apologetic. "I'm--I'm sorry, Mon, but babies can really throw off psychic intuition sometimes. Like, my psychic predicted that I would have triplets, but she also said one of them would be black!"

Monica rolled her eyes and groaned.

Kate said, "Honey, just wait until tomorrow when the agency will be open again. You might get a call then. Also, you can take another pregnancy test soon, right?"

Monica sighed and nodded, trying to calm down as she mentally calculated her ovulation cycle again. "All--all right. I'll wait."

Chandler hugged her and brushed her tears away.

While Monica was anxiously awaiting the result of her home pregnancy test, the adoption agency called, saying that a birthmother was interested in them. Monica screamed and jumped for joy, nearly dropping the test stick.

Kate was still home across the hall and heard her, so she came across and listened with excitement as Monica made an appointment to meet the birthmother. Still gasping, Monica thanked the agency, then hung up and hugged Kate. Finally, she called Chandler to tell him the great news.

Kate called Joey too, who was thrilled, and they passed the news onto the rest of the friends.

So in another week, at the same time that Joey was having a birthday dinner with Kate and his parents, Monica and Chandler went to their first interview with a birthmother. Her name was Conchata Diaz, and she lived in Brooklyn.

The interview went fairly well, although Conchata seemed somewhat worried, asking them what religion they would raise the baby as. She really wanted the baby to get baptized and to know a little about its heritage.

"Oh, um, heritage is important to us too." Monica briefly told her about her Jewish background, but emphasized that they'd still celebrate Christmas.

"We have a Catholic friend too," Chandler added. "He's going to be the godfather."

Conchata smiled and felt better then. Saying goodbye, she told them that she would probably schedule a second interview with them in a month, because she had other candidates to interview also.

On the way home, Monica asked Chandler, "Why'd you tell her that Joey would be the godfather? What about Ross?"

"Hey, Ross already has Ben and Emma, without worrying about our kid too. Besides, remember when he said that I wouldn't get the baby if they died and you died too? He made me godfather to Ben years ago, when I was single, but suddenly I'm not good enough to raise Emma now?" Chander still resented that. "Besides, I think it will mean a lot to Joey, and Conchata seemed reassured when I mentioned him, too."

Monica sighed. "Well, I guess so, but we'll have to explain things to Ross, if it comes down to that."

For a few months, life was much more cheerful and hopeful for the gang. Monica and Chandler went on more interviews with Conchata, getting to know her. Phoebe and David were happy living together, while Joey and Kate celebrated their six-month anniversary with a trip to Atlantic City.

Ross made strides in improving Ben and Emma's relationship, while Carol and Susan agreed to let Ben study Hebrew, though they were still not sure about the bar mitzvah part yet.

Rachel was definitely improving as a mother, and she started looking for work at another company that would give her flextime or other benefits. Unfortunately, Rachel was at a restaurant with Gucci when she suddenly noticed her boss Mr. Zelner at a nearby table. Panicking, she was unable to discreetly hide or cancel the interview, so Mr. Zelner caught her and fired her.

She tried to talk him out of it, and say that she just was looking for a bargaining chip to get more flexible hours at work. Mr. Zelner would not budge, citing Rachel's inappropriate behavior with Tag and Gavin at work, and saying that she was not a team player.

Rachel went home and was very upset. Ross hugged her and said, "Don't worry, Rach. You'll find a new job soon. Is it possible to salvage that Gucci interview at all?"

"I don't know. I'll try."

The next day, when they packed up the last of Rachel's stuff from Ralph Lauren, they ran into Rachel's old co-worker Mark Robinson. He was working at Louis Vuitton now, and he knew of a job opening in Paris that Rachel could interview for.

Ross was torn. He did want Rachel to have a great job, but moving to Paris would be a huge change. He worried that Ben and Emma wouldn't get to see each other much anymore, and also, NYU had recently given him tenure. If he quit and moved, he would have to start all over at another university.

Rachel interviewed at Louis Vuitton anyway, just to see if they were interested and to figure out what kind of commuting deal she could negotiate. Maybe she could get something like Chandler's company had offered to him about Tulsa. She did not accept the job offer right away, of course, going home to discuss the options with Ross first.

Ross was still worried and unsatisfied, because they also had to take into account the long transatlantic flights and the jet lag eating into their time and energy. He asked Rachel to see what Gucci might offer first.

In the midst of this wrenching decision, there was more bad news. Conchata had picked another couple to adopt instead of Monica and Chandler. The other couple had a house in the suburbs, and the wife didn't work as long hours as Monica did at the restaurant.

Monica got very upset and said that they should buy a house too, but Chandler told her that there was no way they could afford a house right now, especially if Monica intended to cut back on her work hours. They didn't have enough savings, and Chandler still had a pretty low salary because he was only junior copywriter. He promised her that he would try to get a promotion and/or raise soon, but they would have to wait for another birthmother to get interested in them.

Devastated, Monica even yelled at Phoebe about her prediction being wrong, but Kate tried to calm her down. She said that maybe Joey could loan them some money or that Mr. and Mrs. Geller could give Monica and Chandler the beach house; maybe that would be a way to convince Conchata that the kid would have plenty of time away from the city. Monica didn't think she could get her parents to do that, though, and Kate said she would try to help.

The next morning, Monica realized that she was late for her period; she sometimes skipped periods when she was under stress, so she hadn't noticed it before. But now she decided to take another pregnancy test. And there it was, her miracle baby saying hello to her via the color on the test stick.

Everyone was wildly happy for her, but Ross had a bigger surprise for Rachel. He had convinced NYU to sponsor a paleontology dig in France, and he was going to be in charge and on location. Also, he had convinced Carol and Susan to let Ben spend the summer with Ross in France. Realizing that she could accept the Paris job now, Rachel kissed him and thanked him profusely. She was so excited that she even blurted out, "Marry me!"

Ross was stunned, then happy. "Well, you beat me to a proposal at the planetarium, Rach, but um, how about we still have our wedding in Barbados?"

"Yes!" Rachel smiled and chuckled.

Monica was somewhat annoyed that Rachel was stealing her thunder again, so they apologized and dropped the subject for now. Everyone went back to congratulating Monica and Chandler on the baby.

Later, while Ross and Rachel were packing to move to Paris, Ross surprised her with an engagement ring to make it official. They set the date of their wedding for next year to give Rachel enough planning time and to see whether they would stay in Paris longer for than a year, or try to get a transfer back to New York. Either way, they knew they would be together.

The End

This is the last non-slash story I will write; I don't need the hassle from knee-jerk Mondler fans. This is not a Mondler story and never has been. Read the story summary again.