The One Where Mercury Continues

Original story by: Ezika

Continued with permission. Thanks, Ezika!

Continuation by: Jana~

(link to Ezika's original story, 'Mercury' can be found below)

--Chandler paced nervously, never more scared in his life at that moment. The wait was torturous, and he actually felt as if he might lose his mind.

When Ross and Rachel ran up to him upon spotting him, with Phoebe and Joey close behind, the resolve he held onto by a thread snapped, causing him to fall to pieces.

"Chandler! What happened?!" Ross asked with frantic concern.

"I didn't think-- I tried-- I couldn't-" Chandler made no sense, his emotions on overload, his sobs making speech difficult.

"Take a breath, sweetie," Phoebe spoke soothingly, trying to calm him. "Tell us what happened."

"Depressed," he finally said. "I tried! I tried to help her! She didn't want me to tell anyone! I thought I was doing the right thing! I thought I could help-" He broke down, crashing to his knees as sobs racked through his body.

"Why was she depressed?" Rachel asked, tears streaming down her face as she watched Chandler fall apart.

"It's more than just because of Richard," Ross asked, "Isn't it?"

Chandler nodded, his face in his hands. "She had a miscarriage." His voice trembled. "Richard's baby."

"Oh my God," Rachel gasped, her hand flying to her mouth.

"Is that why she's here?" Joey asked, to which Chandler shook his head 'no'.

"Why is she here, Chandler?" Ross asked firmly, wanting answers, dreading them as well.

"She tried to kill herself tonight," he whispered, removing his face from his hands to lean forward, his forehead touching the cool tile of the hospital waiting room floor.

"What?!" Ross screeched.

"Oh my God!" Phoebe exclaimed, and her and Rachel both grabbed onto each other for support.

"What?" Joey asked, struggling to make sense of what his friend had said. "How? When? Where were you?"

Chandler lifted his head to answer them. He looked awful. "Tonight. I was there. I was sleeping, but I woke up. She was on the balcony," he choked down a sob and forced his voice not to fail. "On the ledge. I went out there. I tried to stop her! I tried to talk her down, but, she wouldn't climb down. I tried to move to grab her, but she told me to stop. I was afraid she would jump!"

Phoebe dropped to her knees, bringing Chandler's head to her shoulder, leaving Rachel to cling to Ross.

"What did she say?" Rachel asked, crying.

"She said she felt like she was drowning." He was careful in what he told them. "She said she wasn't even sure if she wanted to be saved."

"What did she say right before she jumped?" Ross asked, his tears falling fast; he needed to keep his mind moving if he was going to stop himself from breaking down like Chandler was.

"She said she loved me too."

"Too?" Joey questioned.

"I told her I loved her! And I do! I do love her! God! And she may die!" He started sobbing again, harder than before.

"What did you do when she jumped?" Ross asked, frustrated. "Did you try and stop her? Did you try and grab her?"

"Of course!" Chandler shot back. "I managed to get a brief grip on my shirt, but it slipped out of my hand!"

"Your shirt?" Joey asked. "You mean her shirt."

Chandler looked dazed for a moment. "Yeah. Sorry. Her shirt."

"Have the Drs told you anything yet?" Phoebe asked.

"They just said it looks bad," Chandler choked out, his breathing coming in pained gasps.

"Well," Ross snipped, "Vague answers like that aren't good enough!" He marched over to the nurse's window and began to demand answers while the others stayed with Chandler, who was still crumpled up on the floor.

Phoebe leaned in, rubbing Chandler's back in support. "Chandler?" she whispered, "Why was Monica wearing your shirt?"

"What?" he asked, looking up at her, his eyes more red than their natural blue.

"You slipped and said 'my shirt', and that could've just been a mistake, but, you're not wearing a shirt beneath your sweats jacket." She pointed at his zip-up sweats, the zipper down enough to show that he was indeed not wearing a shirt underneath.

He zipped the jacket up as far as it would go, and avoided her question.

"Chandler? What happened?" Rachel asked.

He sighed heavily, it coming out in shaky quivers. "She begged me to. I told her no, that she needed a friend and not another complication, but she was persuasive. God, I should have said no! She would be ok if I had just-"

"Chandler, you need to stop blaming yourself, ok?" Phoebe told him firmly, interrupting him. "This is not your fault! You were just being a good friend. Just trying to be there for her in the way she wanted you to be."

"I knew better! But, I thought that if I made love to her," he whispered the words 'made love', glancing over at where Ross stood, still demanding answers. "That it might somehow help. I killed Monica!" he wailed, grabbing the attention of everyone around them.

"Dude! You didn't kill Monica!" Joey insisted. "She's gonna be fine! You'll see!"

"The Dr is going to come out as soon as he is able," Ross told the others, then knelt next to Chandler. "You need to stop beating yourself up like this, Chandler, ok? You thought you were doing the right thing. She can be very stubborn when it comes to getting help for herself."

--The Dr's words were serious, but not without hope. She had broken both legs and her left arm in the fall, but those wounds would heal fairly quickly. The Dr's biggest concern was her spinal cord. There was no way of knowing the full scope of the damage until the swelling around her spinal column went down. They also needed her to be awake, to judge her reactions to stimuli on her lower body. Their concern: paralysis.

"Her pupils are reactive, which is a good sign, and we'll run an EEG to be sure that she hasn't suffered any significant brain damage…"

The Dr went on to explain all the good and bad, the bottom line being, no one would know anything for certain for a while.

Chandler just listened, numb to everything being said, his guilt eating away at him.

"Can I see her?" Chandler asked as soon as the Dr stopped talking.

"Yes, of course."

***

--She almost looked like she was sleeping, Chandler thought as he sat on the edge of her bed, and except for all the tubes and casts that stabilized her broken limbs, he might've believed just that. Tears fell like rain as he made no attempt to wipe them anymore, the point in doing so moot.

"Mon," he whispered as he brushed her bangs away from her face, "Why? Why did you do this? Why couldn't I have been enough reason not to?" He sighed, watching her face for any sign of understanding, but her expression remained blank.

"I meant what I said, Monica. I love you. Not only because you are my best friend, but because I have always felt like there was more between us, just waiting for the right time to, I don't know, turn into something?"

"You can't die, Monica, you just can't," he pleaded, his heart aching. "You have to fight, do you hear me? You can't leave me alone!" The tears came faster as he began to sob once again. "You can't leave your friends. Your brother…" He trailed off, resting his face in his hands.

The hand on his shoulder startled him, and he spun around to see Ross standing beside him.

"She's a fighter," Ross stated quietly, his eyes red from crying, "She'll pull through this."

"She said she didn't want to be saved," Chandler reminded, "When she was on the ledge."

"That was the heat of the moment," he surmised. "She's in there right now fighting. She'll come through this, Chandler."

"Do you really believe that?"

"I have to believe that," Ross replied solemnly. "It's all I have that's keeping me going."

"Yeah," Chandler agreed. There was a long moment of silence as the two men just watched Monica lie there before Chandler spoke up again. "I should have told you what was going on. I should've tried to get her to see a shrink."

"You didn't know she would do this."

"Still. I'm responsible for this, and if you hate me for the rest of our lives, I'll understand."

"I don't hate you, Chandler. I know how much my little sister means to you. You just- you made a mistake."

"A mistake that may cost her her life!" he spat, more angry with himself than with Ross' comment.

"You need to stop blaming yourself. You're going to drive yourself mad."

"Yeah, well," he muttered, "Too late."

"Did she confide in you at all over these past weeks?" Ross asked, desperate to understand what had led to this. "Do you know anything of what she was thinking?"

"She blamed herself for the break-up with Richard. And for the miscarriage, but she only told me that just tonight."

"What did she tell you before? Were there signs that this was coming?"

"No," he whispered. "She told me about the pregnancy, and I went with her to the hospital when she miscarried, but then she just, shut me out. I figured she needed time to grieve. I didn't realize how bad it was, till today." He looked at his watch; it was three in the morning. "Well, I guess yesterday, now," he mumbled, scratching at his ear nervously.

"What happened today?" Ross asked, turning Chandler to face him and away from Monica's unconscious form.

Guilt was weighing heavy, and he knew he had to tell him, he deserved to know the whole truth, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.

"She let me in," Chandler said quietly. "To her apartment, I mean. She looked so thin. She tried to run away, but I asked her to stay and talk to me." He sighed, glancing back at Monica before continuing. "She told me she had been terrified of being a single mom, but then when she lost the baby, she felt like she was responsible for killing him. Or her. She thought your mom would freak. She was avoiding everyone because she didn't want to burden anyone, having us all fuss over her or whatever. She said she couldn't laugh or smile, and to force it was physically exhausting."

"So," Ross asked, "You stayed up all night talking?"

Chandler shrugged. "Pretty much."

"How did she get to the balcony without you seeing her? Were you in the bathroom or something? Did she say anything right before?" The desperate quality to his tone was eerie and upsetting.

"We both dozed off," Chandler told the half-truth, wanting badly to avoid further questions, knowing that would be near-impossible, since he was the last person to see her before she jumped from her balcony ledge.

"When you woke up, she was already out there?"

Chandler nodded, turning back to Monica. "She begged me to help her earlier in the night, but on the ledge, she wouldn't let me-"

Ross put his hand on his friend's shoulder, offering comfort in the midst of his own anguish. "Let's go get some coffee, ok?"

Chandler allowed Ross to physically direct him away from the room and toward the cafeteria, where the others sat awaiting any word from anyone who knew anything.

***

--The coffee was horrible, but he drank it anyway, quickly gulping it down, needing the caffeine in his system. Without it, he was prone to dozing off, and every time he did, his brief nightmares would be of Monica, visions of her jumping terrifying him awake in a split second.

He couldn't live the rest of his life with that vision in his head. He just couldn't.

"Did you tell Ross yet?" Phoebe asked discreetly, both her and Chandler glancing over at the man in question as he suffered with his coffee.

He shook his head. "I had the perfect opportunity, but I just couldn't do it."

"Are you going to?" she asked, placing her hand on his knee in support.

"I have to. I have to tell him."

"No, you don't," she said with confidence. "Telling him will only make you feel better, and it won't change anything that's going on."

"How will it make me feel better?" he asked, unable to see her point.

"You are feeling incredibly guilty," she explained. "And you think if you tell Ross, and he kills you, it will be just punishment."

Hanging his head, his eyes focused on his shoelaces, he avoided responding to her theory, or even acknowledging it.

"It's not your fault, Chandler," she insisted, giving his knee a squeeze to gain his attention. "You have to stop blaming yourself. It won't bring her back."

Tears fell down his cheeks as he looked up at her. "My heart aches, Pheebs, so bad. If I lose her, I don't think I'll be able to live."

"Don't talk like that," she ordered him. "The possibility of losing one friend is devastating! The thought of losing two is incomprehensible!"

"What are we going to do if she… if she dies?" he asked hesitantly. "How do we survive it?"

She shrugged. "I've lost a lot of loved ones," she told him, "And I have always managed to carry on."

"But this is Monica," he reminded, leaning against Phoebe's shoulder as he cried. "She can't die," he whispered. "She just can't."

***

--It was good news that the Dr came to share the hour before, but Monica still wasn't out of the woods, and she still wasn't awake. The sunrise was less than spectacular as it shown through the cracked blinds of the waiting room, everyone sleeping fitfully in uncomfortable chairs. Everyone except for Chandler.

Ross mumbled in his sleep, the only discernable words being something about dinosaurs. Joey was snoring, his mouth guard at home, since he wasn't expecting to be sleeping at the hospital.

Rachel was whimpering at one point, and he was sure the nightmare of reality was invading her dreams as they did his own. Phoebe scowled, seemingly angry about something or someone as she fidgeted in her chair.

Judy and Jack Geller, who had arrived a little more than an hour ago, leaned against one another as they dozed lightly, occasionally opening their eyes when they would hear a noise or sense movement.

"Y- ca- ppuu- tha- bone- innn- the- disspllayyy-," Ross babbled softly, frowning as he wriggled uncomfortably.

He couldn't take it anymore. He didn't care if visiting hours were over with, or yet to begin, he had to see her.

Chandler tiptoed out of the room, careful not to wake anyone, then quietly stepped down the hall to her room.

Peeking in, he made sure that no nurses or Drs were in there first before walking in. She looked the same as before, her eyes closed, tubes everywhere, her face expressionless. Making as little noise as possible, he pulled a chair up alongside her, up against her bed, and he sighed as he sat heavily in it.

"Should I have told them?" he asked her in a whisper. "Should I have warned them back when you first shut me out, that I was no longer in control of the situation? Was I ever in control of the situation?"

"You trusted me," he lamented. "You trusted me, and I failed you. You begged me to help, and I- I failed you. And I'm so so sorry. What should I have done differently? What would it have taken to reach you?"

"I would give everything I own," he pleaded to a God he barely acknowledged, "If she could just wake up right now."

He touched her hand, careful not to disrupt the IV needle in her, tracing invisible lines across her bruised skin.

"Visiting hours aren't for another few hours," a voice behind him stated softly, sympathetically.

"I know," he whispered back, not even turning to face the person. "Could you please just let it slide this one time?" he asked, wiping the tears from his face with the back of his hand.

"We have counselors," she said, answering the question indirectly. "I could send one in," she offered.

Reluctantly, he nodded. "Thanks."

She left without saying another word, and he sighed as he rested his head on her bed.

"I'm exhausted," he whispered, "But I can't sleep. When I do," he confided, "I see you jumping. And I try to grab you, but I fail."

"I failed," he added, his voice catching. "My eyes feel like sandpaper, I've cried so much." Lifting his head slowly, he looked up into her face, "Can you hear me, Monica? Are you trying to get back to us?"

"Everyone is here, waiting for you to wake up. Even your parents are here."

There was no reaction at all from Monica, and he closed his eyes as new tears stung him.

"I thought I'd find you here."

It was Ross' voice, and Chandler sat up straighter as he watched him enter the room out of his peripheral vision.

"No change?" he asked him, to which Chandler sadly shook his head. "The Drs said the EEG showed no brain damage," Ross reminded him. "That's good news."

"I know," Chandler muttered, "But until she wakes up, good news means little."

"None of us saw this coming, Chandler," Ross consoled him. "Why do you insist on blaming yourself?"

"You saw it a little," Chandler reminded. "You suggested she needed to go to a shrink."

"But, I didn't force the issue, did I? I didn't break down her door and force her to go. And believe me, if I knew this was coming, I would have."

"I should have seen it though. I was with her more than you guys were, and you saw a glimmer of it."

"But, you yourself said that she had shut you out there, for a while, at the end. You're not Superman, Chandler. Or a Dr. You're being too hard on yourself."

"You don't understand," he sighed, his gaze dropping to the sheet that covered Monica.

"Then," Ross asked, "Explain it to me."

It took all of Chandler's strength and courage to say out loud to him what he had wanted to confess all night long.

"I slept with her, Ross." He cringed when he heard Ross gasp. "I made love to her, hours before she jumped."

"What?" he asked loudly, much more so than he should have. "You what?!"

"She begged me to," he explained, unable to face him. Unable to look him in the eye. "I told her it was a bad idea, but she begged me. And she threw herself at me. I wasn't thinking!" he exclaimed. "I was weak and stupid and…!" He trailed off, struggling against the tears that burned his cheeks and took his voice away.

"She said it felt right, and she started undressing me. She said she needed me, and I thought I could help her. That making love to her would help her," he added.

"How would having sex with her help her?" Ross demanded to know.

"I don't know!" Chandler shot back, weakly defending himself. He felt deserving of Ross' admonishment and more. "She seemed so frail, I didn't think she could take the rejection. But, then all my feelings came into play, and I found myself wanting her as much as she claimed to want me."

"I'm the worst human being in the world," Chandler yelled, not caring about the disruption it would cause. "You have every right to hate me! I deserve to die! Kill me!" he ordered his friend, sobbing. "Kill me for doing this to her!"

Ross stood in stunned silence, watching as his friend completely lost it. The noise brought in a Dr, two nurses, and Joey, Rachel, Phoebe, Judy, and Jack.

Chandler dropped to the floor, in the fetal position, rocking as he wailed, and the nurses worked to remove everyone from the room as the Dr called for a psych evaluation on the room phone.

TO BE CONTINUED