In this story, Ross and Rachel's wedding is planned for May, and currently it's about March.
After Monica said goodbye to Don, she hung up the phone and returned to the fight in the living room.
Phoebe still argued about fate and soulmates, while Chandler said, "I'm sorry, but we can't just stay together for Danny's sake. It would be just like my parents' marriage."
"And this isn't?" Ross asked. "You've lied and sneaked around."
Rachel glared at Phoebe too. "And you hatched this awful plot to make Monica cheat."
"It wasn't like that!" Chandler insisted, and he turned to Monica. "It had nothing to do with custody or shifting the blame. I just didn't want you to be hurt. I wanted us to still be friends, like Ross and Carol are."
"Friends?" she scoffed. "I don't need friends like this." She turned to Phoebe and gave her cell phone back. "Fine, so you didn't call Don again. But you should have never called him in the first place or set up that date. You've wrecked everything."
"I don't wanna hear it. Just go!" She gestured to a messy pile of Chandler's stuff and added angrily, "Just take your stuff and go away!" Then she cried and turned away to sit on the window seat.
Before joining her, Ross scowled and said, "You guys can forget about being at our wedding too."
"And Joey can take his damn present back!" Rachel furiously threw the wedding present at them, which Phoebe caught.
As Phoebe looked at Joey's card from months ago, she frowned. For Rachel to return a gift, but not exchange it for store credit, was really bad.
Chandler realized that too, and he reluctantly gathered up his belongings from the floor. All of his clothes had been dumped out, along with many CDs that had been further smashed out of spite. Chandler's laptop was there too, along with some embarrassing stuff that Chandler used to keep in the back of the closet underneath his gymbag. Chandler hurriedly tossed everything into his gymbag and left with Phoebe.
They walked down the stairs with a sigh. "I guess it was no use trying to apologize."
"No, but don't give up hope about Danny yet," Phoebe said. "You may not get joint custody, but no court is gonna say that you can't see him at all, unless you're like abusive, or crazy, or drugged out, you know. Danny needs a father."
Chandler shrugged. "Yeah, I mean, I still had to see my dad in Vegas for the summer, no matter how much my parents hated each other. Or how I hated them. I just wish it could be better than that, Phoebe."
"I know. We'll get you a good lawyer too. I'll give you the number for my guy."
Chandler looked confused. "You have a divorce lawyer?"
"Sure. Not for me and David, of course, but I was married twice before, to Duncan and my Vegas husband. Plus my mom had to get a divorce from my birthdad so that she could marry my stepdad. They can do that uncontested if somebody abandons you, and you don't hear from them long enough."
"Oh. Wait, you really had a husband in Vegas? I thought you were kidding, Pheebs, 'cause you never mentioned it again."
"No, I just took care of it quietly, 'cause I didn't want to admit that I was catching up to Ross in divorces."
As they loaded Chandler's stuff into Phoebe's taxi, they considered going across the street to see Daniel while he was with Emma's nanny. However, knowing that Monica, Ross, and Rachel could see into that apartment from the window, they didn't want to risk infuriating them and making the custody battle worse.
Chandler looked forlornly up at the apartment as they drove away.
When they returned to the Frinks' apartment, David told them that his friend Max would let Chandler stay in his spare room for a while. "Just until the divorce is over, or you and Joey decide where you're gonna live. But he said that he doesn't want you to bring the birds with you, so we'll keep them for now."
"Maybe you can take the big white dog with you?" Phoebe suggested, not wanting him to be lonely.
Chandler thanked them and spent a little time with the birds, before going to move in with Max.
As he unpacked and put down the rejected present, Chandler called Joey to let him know where he was staying, and to tell him how things went with Monica. "They still thought that it was all some selfish custody maneuver. Then Ross and Rachel dis-invited us from their wedding, and Monica kicked us out."
"It sounds awful. I don't want the gang to break up." That was what Joey had been trying to avoid all along, by moving to L.A.
"I know, but it would be really uncomfortable right now being his best man and Phoebe being Rachel's matron of honor. They're already struggling to get Rachel's family to get along for the wedding, and I don't want to spoil it further. I just... I hope they miss us, and can maybe forgive us eventually."
"For now, I guess we're just gonna have to hope that Phoebe's lawyer is good."
"Yeah." Joey then told Chandler his concerns about tabloid rumors possibly arising from their goodbye kiss at the airport. "I mean, I haven't heard anything yet, but maybe it would show up later and make the divorce even worse."
"Oh. I hope not, 'cause this is already about as bad as I can take. I'd rather just keep this as private as possible, you know, and ignore any gossip. I mean, it's none of their business, no matter what."
"I know." Joey sighed. "I guess what I'm really worried about is how to tell my family about this. They're gonna call me a home wrecker."
"Then why do I feel like I am?"
"The home was already wrecked, Joe. You're no more to blame than Susan was for making Carol realize she was a lesbian. If it hadn't been Susan, it would have been somebody else. Besides, your dad's had a mistress for years now. Is cheating somehow okay as long as you stay married?"
Joey said, "Yeah, I could probably say that to my parents. But it's gonna be tougher making, like, my grandmothers understand, and all the old aunts and uncles..."
"Oh, I see what you mean now. Well, I guess we can try to explain it together, when you come visit next week. But since your family's so big, maybe we should take only some of them at a time. Like, we could start out with your sisters first. But not Cookie." Cookie had punched Chandler once, and shot her husband.
"Yeah, we'll take it slow. Mostly I want to see you and apologize to the gang too."
"I know. I miss you, Joe."
"Me too." Then Joey added, "Hey, I've been talking to Sarah about the adoption thing, but she's afraid that I might decide to move back to New York, and then she wouldn't be able to see Maddy much. She really seems to be having second thoughts."
"Oh. I-I guess we do have to figure that stuff out, but so much depends on how the divorce goes."
"Yeah. I told her I'll still babysit, but I'll understand if she wants to keep Maddy."
"That's okay, right? I mean, it was never guaranteed, Chandler. I think you should concentrate more on keeping Danny, you know?"
"Yeah, you're right. We can't give up on him."
So they tried to stay positive and comforting, then made plans for Joey's visit next weekend.
Finally Chandler joked about how he couldn't afford rambling long-distance calls, if he was going to hire a divorce lawyer soon, and he said goodbye. "I love you."
"I love you too. I'll call you tomorrow, Chandler. Bye."
On Sunday, Chandler worked up enough nerve to call his father in Vegas.
"So that's why Joey moved to L.A. I did think it was odd that he suddenly left your group, and didn't keep in touch. Plus, you hardly ever wanted to talk about him anymore."
"Yeah, well, I-I didn't know how to talk about it, or admit that maybe another one of us Bings had turned gay."
"I wish you had told me, though. Perhaps we could have talked Joey out of his 'home wrecker' fear earlier, without Phoebe's intervention. I certainly would have told you that you shouldn't stay with Monica purely for the baby. I learned that with your mother."
"I know. I tried to tell Joey that, but he said that I'd be better off without him and that I belonged with Monica, just like Ross and Rachel ended up together again. And he felt so guilty too. That whole stupid triangle really messed up the gang."
"Yes, I-I do have some experience with such things. They can be hell." Charles changed the subject without further elaboration, "You know, when you told me that Joey had moved to get away from all you couples, I did suspect that he might be pining for you, consciously or unconsciously. I mean, I've only met him once at your wedding, but he did seem devoted, and you've told me how close you were over the years; I got an impression of something deeper than friendship, but I wasn't certain enough to bring it up. I hadn't realized that he'd actually confessed and kissed you."
"Joey said that I was just temporarily confused by his kisses, and that I'd forget him. I think he thought that I would just phase him out, like Kip. That it would be quick and easy. Anyway, I've convinced him now, and we're in this mess. I guess I wondered if you had any advice? Mistakes not to repeat?"
"Well, no matter how desperate you get, don't try kidnapping your son from Cub Scouts, just to get back at your wife."
Chandler laughed weakly at the joke, and at the very real childhood memory. He wondered whether he should call his mother too, for her side of the divorce, but then again, he'd heard plenty from Nora whenever she got drunk and complained to her new boyfriends about her ex-husband.
Starting on Monday, Chandler spent much of the week meeting with Phoebe's divorce lawyer, and getting his laptop repaired. The lawyer recommended arbitration by a neutral third party, to avoid a nasty court battle, but they needed Monica to agree.
Monica on the other hand met with Ross's old divorce lawyer Russell, and she resisted David's attempt to sway her toward arbitration, because she still wanted to punish Chandler severely. However, Monica didn't tell her parents about the divorce yet, dreading her mother's reaction, so she compulsively cleaned the apartment. As she did so, she came across the flowers that Don sent her. She called him again to talk, and he even offered to send her some gourmet cheese. "Now that he's out of the house, the smell won't matter, will it?"
"No it won't." Monica accepted the gift and thought about making more changes, since Chandler had gone.
Meanwhile, Ross and Rachel tried to adjust their wedding plans, and find replacements for the best man and matron of honor. Monica wasn't in the mood for organizing a wedding, and Ross couldn't decide among his paleontogy friends for his best man. They did miss Joey, Chandler, and Phoebe a little, but would not admit it out loud.
Joey frequently called Chandler for any news on the divorce, and to discuss how they should talk to Joey's sisters. "I told my parents that I was coming to town for a few days, and of course I'm gonna have to go see them, after not visiting in so long."
"Sure. But then you'll come see me at Max's?"
"Right, and I should drop by Phoebe's while I'm at it, to see the baby and the birds."
"Yeah, we should have dinner with them."
Finally, Joey flew to New York on Friday, and Chandler picked him up at the airport. Because they were still nervous of tabloids, they didn't kiss, but merely hugged and behaved like old friends. Even during the cab ride to Manhattan, they just made small talk.
At Max's apartment, Chandler introduced Joey to Max before they took his bags into the bedroom. Instead of unpacking, Joey kissed Chandler intensely, unable to restrain himself any longer.
Chandler ached for him too, and could barely keep his hands off him. Between kisses, he whispered, "I missed you," and they fell to the bed together. They had time for a quick and dirty fumble before they needed to dress again and meet Phoebe and David for dinner. Max had evidently heard them in the next room, so he closed up his book and said, "Uh, take your key with you, because I'm going out on a date tonight. See ya, guys."
"Okay. See ya." They left and visited the Frinks.
Joey hugged Phoebe warmly and thanked her for helping Chandler out. Then he excitedly greeted the birds, and David brought out Frannie.
"Come on, meet your Uncle Joey." David handed the baby over.
Joey was touched by the words "Uncle Joey" and he looked sad for having missed Frannie's birth. He had missed so much of his friends' lives by moving away, and he still hadn't met Danny yet. Joey rocked Frannie in his arms, and said, "Yeah, I'm--I'm your uncle Joey. Hi."
They bonded for a while, before putting Frannie to bed. Over dinner, the old friends chatted like they used to, except for the fact that Ross, Rachel, and Monica weren't here.
Then after leaving the Frinks' apartment, Joey and Chandler walked back to Max's with their arms linked.
Chandler said, "You really do want to move back here, don't you?"
Joey nodded. "Yeah, I do. I miss everybody so much. God I wish we could go see Monica, Ross, and Rachel now."
"So do I." He shrugged and squeezed Joey's arm. "I-I guess we just gotta keep hoping that they'll forgive us."
Back at Max's, Joey called his parents and confirmed that he would visit them in Queens tomorrow. "Yeah, I remember which train to take. Bye, Ma."
After he hung up, Joey and Chandler got ready for bed. They kissed each other comfortingly and undressed slowly, taking their time now. They made love and tried to forget their troubles long enough just to be happy.