:so I have a LOT of passionate Chandler and Monica fans out there hehe duh obviously. I am still overwhelmed by the amount of reviews I get for each chapter, (wow 149!!!) and I'm pleased you've all 'coped' with the plot twists. Anyway, on we go with the next chapter!

Second Chance

Chapter Twelve – Irritatingly Loveable

October 9th

Monica and Richard? Monica and RICHARD?! That was the only thing running through Chandler's head right now. It was the day before her wedding to Pete and she was sleeping with her ex-boyfriend!

Chandler had to blink twice at the date on the calendar, he hadn't been keeping track on the dates thanks to his marathon week sitting on the barker lounger. He only had one day…not three.

Tomorrow was going to be the day when he would declare his love for Monica again and she was supposed to say it back. Not much good when he couldn't get Cynthia out of his head and Monica was engaged…but what was she doing with Richard of all people?

That moustached S.O.B couldn't seem to make up his mind whether he wanted to be with Monica or not, and she didn't need that right now.

"Oh the suave guy has got her wrapped around his little finger," he muttered, drinking his coffee and sighing deeply.

"What's up?" Gunther asked, cleaning the coffee table.

Chandler looked up at Gunther, startled at his voice. It wasn't often the blonde headed waiter spoke to him; he was usually speaking to Rachel. "Ahh, it's nothing," he said now, "just my life is pretty much screwed right now."

"Want to talk about it?" Gunther offered, sitting down next to him on the couch. "I serve coffee to your friends every day. I pretty much can tell whose life is screwed and whose isn't."

Chandler smiled wryly. "Ok, but you don't know everything," he pointed out.

"I know that Monica is getting married tomorrow morning, that she doesn't love the man that she's marrying and the guy she does love is too blind to notice." Gunther told him, smiling knowingly.

"Do you mean Richard?" Chandler asked, scowling, "because that man knows exactly what he's doing, no way is he blind."

"I also know the man whom I'm actually talking about is so jealous of what is happening around him right now," Gunther continued, ignoring Chandler's interruption, "and that for the past three hours he's been so dense as to why he's jealous and is convincing himself that he's in love with someone else – and I'm sure he does but not in quite the same way – and not doing anything about the person he really loves because he's in denial."

"Ok, not making any sense whatsoever," Chandler said, eyebrows rising, "Who are you talking about?"

"He's sitting in front of me, his hand with the coffee cup in it shaking like crazy because he knows exactly what I'm talking about," Gunther replied, standing up and walking over to his counter without another word.

"You're talking about me?" Chandler asked in amazement, "Are you telling me I'm jealous of Richard?"

"You're jealous of Pete too," Gunther pointed out, wiping his counter, "I'm just pointing out the obvious."

"There is nothing 'obvious' about it!" Chandler exclaimed, "And I was jealous of Pete but not anymore! That was when I was in love with Monica, couldn't stop thinking about her all the time, couldn't stop imagining being with her, touching her and holding her and…and…" he stopped and stared into space.

"Not obvious huh?" Gunther asked, smirking.

"But I love Cynthia," Chandler whispered.

"Cynthia is your back-up," Gunther explained, "And your friend. She was your source of comfort when you thought Monica didn't love you. Come on, you would not have even met her if you hadn't been so down on yourself about Pete being back."

"Oh god," Chandler moaned, burying his head into his hands, "This is not good… this is not good at all."

****

"You bet it isn't!" Bob said furiously. He turned to Ernie, "I told you there was still something there didn't I?!" he yelled, "but no…you thought it was 'two friends finally understanding each other'." He mimicked, putting on a mocking-Ernie face.

"Ok, so, Chandler is jealous of Richard being with Monica," Ernie said, shrugging his shoulders, "it doesn't make his love for Cynthia any less…he'll have to choose when the time is right."

"I knew from the very start Chandler loved Monica," Bob grumbled, "Cynthia is just a rebound to get Monica out of his head."

"Does this change our plan?" Ernie asked now.

"No, as you said, Chandler will just have to decide who he wants to be with when the clock strikes 10.04am tomorrow." Bob said, sighing, "And if he can't decide, we've always got our stage 4 to convince him to think harder."

****

"Monica, what's wrong with you?" Rachel asked desperately, "you're getting married tomorrow! What on earth possessed you to sleep with Richard?"

"I…I don't know," Monica said dully, staring at the TV screen.

"Mon…I'm worried about you," Rachel continued, sitting down next to her on their couch, "do you actually want to get married?"

Monica didn't reply and the tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

"Oh god," Rachel moaned, "why didn't you say anything before?" She paused and studied Monica's face. "Do you love Richard, is that it?"

Monica violently swivelled her head in Rachel's direction, almost colliding heads with her. "No…that was stupid! It was a mistake!" she wailed, "Richard was supposed to leave hours before any of you guys woke up! But then Chandler of all people sees him…" she paused, avoided Rachel's curious eyes.

"…Chandler 'of all people'?" Rachel repeated slowly, "Why are you so concerned about him knowing about Richard?" Her eyes widened, "oh my god…"

"Rachel, it's nothing, really!" Monica interrupted; eyes also wide.

"You're in love with Chandler?!" Rachel shrieked, "Since when?"

"Since forever," Monica whispered; her eyes downcast.

"I think this is a pint of ice-cream moment," Rachel muttered, walking to the refrigerator.

****

"I give up," Bob said, rolling his eyes, "I will never understand the behaviour of young Americans in this day and age."

"I thought you said you were only 30 years old?" Ernie inquired, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes…in 1939," Bob grumbled, "we never had problems like this back then, did we? In 1939, I was getting ready to marry the love of my life until that maniac started the war. I was struck down as a fighter pilot flying over Germany… what a great way to die."

"Wow…and you had to assess him six years later?" Ernie asked in awe, "no wonder you refused to let him fulfil his dreams of a second chance!"

"Yes, and now I see this group of friends with a great chance at life but screwing it up in every direction they go. The geeky scientist and his beautiful ex-girlfriend who love each other secretly but openly pretend to hate each other; Joey - who appears brainless but is ironically the smartest out of his friends in many ways; Phoebe - the strangest masseuse I've ever studied who secretly likes to eat meat and even wear fur in private when her friends are not around, just to save her pride; the complex Chandler Bing who won't admit he wants the woman he's been in love with for ten years. Then there is that same woman who is too scared to commit to someone who isn't quite like her in personality and opinions, but is her perfect match in other ways. This group is useless, dysfunctional but irritatingly loveable. You could write a best-selling novel about them and the readers would be queuing up at all hours to get the first copy...eat your heart out J. K. Rowling."

"It will work itself out in the end Bob," Ernie said helplessly, trying to comfort him.

"I sometimes wonder why I bother." Bob continued, "What's the point in helping these people if they don't even want to help themselves?"

****

"Cynthia is perfect for me, we share the same tastes, humour; she got me addicted to coca-cola ice-cream. We are a great match in every way and I love her unconditionally. So why can't I stop thinking about Monica?" Chandler asked Joey desperately.

"Ok, um…when you were making love to Cynthia, did you feel that connection?" Joey prompted.

"God yes, I've never known it to be like that! I was the best."

"Um…Chandler?" Joey raised an eyebrow.

"Ok, second best," Chandler corrected himself, rolling his eyes, "You are the best."

"How did you feel when you were with Monica?"

"Well, it's a need we both had for each other, and it was just…amazing." Chandler smiled briefly and then frowned, "but it's different with her. It was just crazy…when we were having our 'thing' we couldn't keep our hands off each other. We were after our needs and wants, and we both saw something in each other we had never seen before…does that make sense?"

"Sure, it's called 'falling in love'," Joey said simply.

"I have that with Cynthia," Chandler said firmly.

"Yeah you have a great connection with Cynthia and would make a great couple but I don't think you're in love with each other. She's like…like…"

"The comedienne," Chandler whispered, "she's the one who makes me laugh and makes me feel good about myself."

 "You two were always great friends…but Monica…"

"Monica is like Wham." Chandler realised, "she's the one I have secretly always wanted."

"She wakes you up before you go go," Joey sang, chuckling. "You two were never meant to be just friends and I think you know that now."

"Cynthia will die," Chandler moaned, "I can't do this to her."

"Cynthia will understand, she's your friend and always will be," a voice told him reassuringly, "She's not going to stand in your way."

Chandler spun around in his apartment and saw Cynthia standing in the doorway. Her facial expression, while sad held a wide sense of relief.

"Cynthia…I'm sorry." Chandler whispered.

"It's ok," Cynthia told him, smiling, "I always knew it was Monica you really loved. I knew you went to see her that night we were first together in the bath tub…you two have always had a connection that I couldn't compete with." She walked over to him and stroked his cheek. "Can we start over? I can't imagine life without you as a friend."

"Cynthia, we will be friends forever," Chandler reassured her. They embraced each other, burying their heads into each other's shoulders.

A few minutes later, Cynthia left, after promising Chandler she would come to see him the next morning. Chandler just hoped he would still be around to see her again.

"Joey, you are without a doubt the smartest guy out there," Chandler said now, giving him a huge hug, "You have just solved a ten year dilemma in about 15 minutes."

"Not quite," Joey said, suddenly frowning, "you're still going to die tomorrow if Monica goes through with this wedding."

"I know." Chandler swallowed hard. "Bob, help me. I can't do this myself."

****

"Sorry Chandler," Bob said, watching him, "it's up to you now."

"Stage 4 will make him do it for sure," Ernie reminded him, grinning.

"Hang on let's make sure stage 3 works first…calling off the deadline." Bob stated, flipping through a file, "stage 2 – getting Monica back with Richard - wasn't quite a success but at least it triggered her off about something else…falling in love with Chandler… who surprisingly got jealous about Richard, making him fall out of love with Cynthia and back in love with Monica. That Joey is a genius. When he dies in years to come, I want him an assessor, can we arrange that?"

"Yeah, sure…and Stage 1 worked a treat by the way - Phoebe and Joey are happy together unconditionally now." Ernie added. "No chance for Ross and Rachel at all? We kind of left them out."

"I'm not helping them," Bob said, horrified, "haven't we got enough on our plate without dealing with the lobsters as well?"

****

October 10th 9.50am

"So, you're going to go over there soon right?" Joey asked worriedly at breakfast, checking his watch. "You're running out of time."

"Yeah, but are we absolutely sure she loves me?" Chandler muttered; his face ashen, "I could get shot down here."

The door of their apartment burst open and in walked a furious looking Rachel. She slammed it closed behind her and pointed a finger at Chandler.

"Do you have any idea what that woman is doing right now?" she demanded angrily.

"No…what?" Chandler whispered.

"She's putting on her wedding dress. She has not got one feeling in her bones right now, and that's because I just fed her about three or four pills of Valium."

"Valium?" Joey asked, wide-eyed, "why did you give her those?"

"She cried all yesterday afternoon, evening and night. She was crying earlier this morning and she was still crying up until half an hour ago." She glared at Chandler. "If you don't tell her how you feel in the next fifteen minutes I will kill you. Monica does not want to marry Pete…she wants to marry you."

"She…she wants to marry me?" Chandler uttered, his cheeks burning a light pink.

"Yes, and if you have any sense, you'll go across the hall and say you want to marry her too."

"But…but…"

"Chandler," Rachel sighed, "You have been in love with Monica for god knows how long, you breaking up with Cynthia last night just proved it even more. Please do the right thing, swallow your pride and go talk to her." She spun around on her heel, opened the door and walked out.

As the door slammed shut, Chandler gaped at Joey in disbelief.

"I can't do this," he said hoarsely, "Me get married?"

"Chandler, don't you dare spout out your fears about commitment right now," Joey threatened, "It is 10am. You've got four minutes!"

Chandler's eyes glanced at his own watch and he gasped. "No Joey! It's 10.03am! Your watch is slow!"

"Oh god but that means…" Joey's lip trembled, "it's too late." He walked closer to Chandler and grabbed his wrist. "Dude…"

Chandler swallowed hard. "It's been great knowing you man," he whispered, grabbing him into a hug.

The seconds ticked by, and Chandler squeezed his eyes tight shut, not knowing what was going to happen to him. He just hoped it didn't hurt.

He frowned. This was one long minute. He should be gone now…far away from Joey's tight hold on his body…

"Chandler, you're still here," Joey muttered, stepping back.

Chandler glanced at his watch. 10.06a.m. "Pinch me Joey," he said numbly, "If it hurts, I'm still here."

Joey grabbed Chandler's skin and squeezed hard.

"OW!" he yelled, jumping back. He stared at Joey, wide-eyed. "I…I don't understand," he mumbled.

"You're alive!!" Joey yelled, "That's what I understand!"

"Oh my god…" Chandler paced around the apartment and broke into a grin. "I'm ALIVE!!" he screamed, beginning to dance around the apartment.

"You've got to go see Monica right now," Joey said, grinning in delight.

Chandler stopped dancing immediately and turned pale. "Me, marry Monica?" he whispered, "This isn't me!"

"Chandler, please don't throw this away," Joey groaned.

Chandler ran his fingers roughly through his hair, pacing worriedly. "I can't do this…I can't do this…"

He froze. A cool breeze was blowing through the room and he shivered. "Joe…did you open the window?" he asked.

"No…" Joey shivered too and glanced around nervously. "What's going on?"

"Ohhh…my… god," Chandler whispered, pointing to the apartment door. It was swinging open and a strong gust of wind poured through it, nearly knocking him over. A dark cassette player crashed to the ground out of nowhere and the wind stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

"What the…" Joey muttered, eyes widening like saucers.

Chandler nervously picked up the player and read the piece of paper attached to it. Play the tape.

"I…I guess we should play the tape," Chandler said, laughing nervously. He set down on the counter and pressed play.

"*in my next life I'm coming back as a toilet brush*" Chandler's clear, deadpanned voice played in the room.

"Huh?" Chandler stared at Joey, confused.

"Ho ho," Joey cackled, bending over in hard mirth.

"What?" Chandler demanded, "What does that mean? I said it four years ago! And in a situation of panic! I had Janice as a valentine's date!"

"I think its Bob's way of telling you that if you don't tell Monica how you feel, you're going to heaven as a toilet cleaning device." Joey said, his lips twitching.

"You've got to be kidding me," Chandler said loudly, looking up at the ceiling. "Don't you people understand when I'm being sarcastic?!"

"Be careful for what you wish for," Joey said, laughing.

"This is blackmail, I should sue," Chandler grumbled, smiling nonetheless.

****

"Ok, I think we should go downstairs now to meet the driver," Monica said brightly, walking to the apartment door. The train of her dress trailed behind of her as she opened the door.

Rachel and Phoebe exchanged worried glances - the Valium was working too well.

"We've got to convince Chandler to stop the wedding," Phoebe hissed to Rachel, "only he can do this now."

The door opened wide and on the other side, in the hallway, stood Chandler.

"Chandler," Monica whispered.

Chandler wrapped his arm around her waist, pulled her to him and brushed his lips against hers in a passionate kiss. Monica hesitated only a second before cupping a hand around his cheek and falling into the kiss.

"You were saying?" Rachel whispered to Phoebe, grinning.

Chandler pulled Monica out into the hallway and shut the door in Phoebe and Rachel's grinning faces. He gazed at Monica and smiled lovingly.

"I…I don't understand," Monica muttered, smiling back.

"I love you," Chandler told her, looking at her hopefully.

Monica grinned and kissed him softly on the lips. "I love you too," she whispered as they broke apart. "I always have."

"So I guess that means the wedding is off," Phoebe said through the closed door.

Chandler smiled wryly. Phoebe and Rachel must have their ears pinned to the door. "No it isn't." he called to them.

"It isn't?" Monica asked, confused and looking fearful.

"You're marrying me," Chandler finished, "please marry me Monica. I could make you happy. I know I don't have the flash wallet with all the fifties like Pete and the smoothness of Richard and…" he stopped as Monica placed a hand over his mouth.

"Yes, I'll marry you," she said, her eyes lit up in happiness, "but not today," she added.

"Oh no, not today," Chandler said, lifting her into his arms, "we're going to plan the real wedding together. I want to buy you an engagement ring, buy you your dress, pay for the little flower arrangements spread on each table at the post-ceremony party…and have a swing band to dance the night away with you."

Monica giggled, and held on to his shoulders. "Pete had a polka band for today," she said, grimacing.

"Uh-huh, no way, no polka dancing at my wedding," Chandler said, shaking his head. He opened his apartment door and carried her in. "By the way, as I'm carrying you over the threshold today, do I have to do it again?" he asked, putting her down on the floor.

"Yes, you must," Monica said firmly.

"…and I'm leaving," Joey said, getting up from his barker lounger. He walked out of the apartment, shaking his head.

"I'm going to make love to you for many hours," Chandler told her, smiling.

"Poor Pete," Monica muttered, "we should really tell him."

Chandler frowned. "Maybe, but I really don't think we can put this off for another second," he said, grinning slightly.

"Nope," Monica agreed, kissing him passionately.

****

"So what do we tell Pete?" Rachel asked Phoebe, as Joey walked in, and then, to their surprise, Cynthia. "Because I think it's safe to say the wedding is off…"

The apartment door swung open again and in walked Ross, his tuxedo not quite on properly. He looked wildly around. "Where's Monica?" he demanded, "I have got something to tell her."

"Um…well…" Rachel started.

"Pete had run off!" Ross interrupted, groaning loudly, "he said he doesn't want to get married because he's in love with his secretary, can you believe that?!"

Rachel, Joey, Phoebe and Cynthia exchanged amused glances. "Right now, I'd believe anything," Phoebe commented, grinning.

"Why are you smiling? This is going to break Monica's heart! Where is she?"

"You don't need to worry about Monica," Rachel told him, "I think we need to sit you down and explain a few things…"

"Yeah, it all started when Chandler got run over by a car," Joey started, getting confused glances from everyone present.

****

Bob smiled proudly, slipping Chandler's file into the 'Case closed' box. He stared at Ernie and shook his hand.

"It has been a…hectic…few months," he said, smiling wryly.

"I agree," Ernie replied, "…and I guess I won the bet."

"Oh god, what did you bet on in the Waiting Room now?" Bob groaned wearily.

"I bet with Bed No.19 that you would be right about Chandler choosing Monica," Ernie said simply, grinning, "because you always are."

The End

: wow that was…exhausting. You have no idea how long it took to write this part, I wanted every important emotion, speech and final twist to be perfect. I hope I have achieved that! And you'd better darn well appreciate it! Lol kidding, flame me if it was crap.

And oh yeah, I tricked you, didn't I? Come on, no way would Monica ditch a millionaire for RICHARD…but she would for Chandler. :