AN: This is a single-piece that I had started for a long-finished fic challenge.  I finally got around to adding the last part, so I figured I'd post it.  Um, there's like, no plot, and it only sort of follows the actual show timeline.  But really, does any of my stuff follow the actual timeline?

Ice Cream

"Oh, man," Joey whined, and pulled his hand out of the cooler slowly.

"What is it?" Chandler asked flatly, without bothering to tear his eyes from the television screen.  Baywatch was definitely the best invention ever.

"We're outta beer!"

"What?" Chandler turned to look at Joey's dripping, empty hand, his eyes ablaze.

"Now what?" Joey looked at Chandler, truly at a loss as to what they should do next. 

"I'll bet Monica has some," Chandler smiled.

Joey reddened at the sound of his new neighbor's name, the "lemonade" incident still fresh in his mind.

"Yeah, I don't think I should go over there…" Joey muttered sheepishly, and sunk deeper into the tattered brown sofa.

Chandler let out a short chuckle and stood up, wavering slightly as the blood rushed to his head.

"I'll go."

*

She was crossing the apartment, fresh out of the shower, and wearing nothing but a large, white towel, when he entered.  He took a brief moment to admire her slender figure, and thanked the stars above that he hadn't had more than three beers before coming over—at least he still had a little bit of self-control left—before making his presence known.

"Do you have any beer?  We're outta beer?"

She shrugged nonchalantly, mumbled something, and turned to shuffle to her room.

"You okay?"

"Phoebe moved out," she said, with a despondency that broke his heart.

"I know," he smiled sympathetically, and crossed the kitchen.

"Am I so hard to live with?  Is this why I don't have a boyfriend?"

"No!  I—I don't know why you don't have a boyfriend.  You should have a boyfriend!"

"I think so," she sighed meekly.

"Okay, look," he smiled, as he approached her, and wrapped his arms tightly around her, "you are the most beautiful woman I've ever known in real life."

She snorted in disbelief, and pulled away to look up at him.

"Yeah, right," she laughed.

"What?  It's true!" Chandler stepped back and put his hands on his hips, to emphasize his point.

"What about that one girl from the bar…what was her name…Amber?  You said she was like, supermodel hot."

Chandler scratched his head; confused by the turn the conversation had taken.

"I guess she was pretty hot…but Mon, she was so rude, remember?  And I just think that…that makes a person less attractive.  You are beautiful inside and out.  Definitely the most beautiful person I know," his voice was soft and sincere, and he wore a lopsided grin as he spoke.  His smile faded when Monica burst into tears.

"Um, okay, oh…I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…okay, you're crying, uh—" Chandler started jumping around, not sure what to do to fix the situation.

"No—you—you didn't…I…"Monica hiccupped, and placed a steady hand on his forearm, "I just can't believe how sweet you are!  You are like, the best friend ever!"

Chandler smiled, and pulled Monica into a hug, his smile fading when she could no longer see his face. It was that word again.  Friend.  A great friend.  Swallowing his bitterness, he plastered on a fake smile and spoke with false enthusiasm.

"I'm only speaking the truth ya know.  Anyway, you should go get dressed, and we can go out for a drink later, okay?"

"Actually, I was thinking of staying in and eating some ice cream," Monica sighed, "I'm in an ice cream kind of mood."

"Oh," Chandler said, his voice filled with disappointment, "tomorrow then."

"Yeah, tomorrow," Monica smiled, and turned to walk into her bedroom.  She turned around again, and watched for a moment, as Chandler headed for the door, hands in his pockets, original intentions forgotten.  "Hey Chandler," she called, as he reached for the front door.

He turned, his eyes full of hope, but his face holding onto false neutrality, "Yeah?"

"Thanks," she smiled, and he returned the smile, before walking out of the apartment.

Two Years Later

"Hey," Chandler smiled, as he walked through Monica's front door.  She was curled on the sofa, her hair mussed, and her mascara smeared.

"Hey," She forced a smile, then turned back to the television, and began robotically flipping through the stations.

"Brought 'cha some contraband," Chandler grinned, as he slid down onto the sofa next to her and handed her a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

"It's not nonfat, is it?"

"Of course not," Chandler replied, and slipped his arms around her.  They sat in silence for a moment, their minds drifting.  After a long moment, Chandler gently squeezed Monica's shoulders, and laid a short kiss on her forehead.

"I'm sorry, Mon, I know how much you love Richard," he whispered, his eyes closing as she broke down in his arms.

He let her cry, for as long as she needed, until the ice cream had melted, and the sun began to ascend in the sky.

She eventually fell asleep, leaving him to simply watch her, his heart aching for her, wanting more than anything to take away her pain.

Richard was everything that she had ever wanted, and yet, she couldn't be with him.  He didn't want children, and she did, more than anything in the world.  So she broke up with him, and she hadn't been the same since.  She was deeply in love, with someone that she could not have, and it was killing her a little more every single day.

He understood that feeling all too well.

Two Years Later

He was depressed, but he was still making bad jokes.

Monica took that as a good sign—a sign that he would be recovering sooner than they all thought. 

She sighed, and watched him shuffle across his living room (actually, it was her living room, but she decided that now was not a good time to bring that up again) and dig through his (her!) refrigerator.

That fridge had never been empty when she lived here.

She shook off the thought, and turned her gaze back to Chandler, who was now sat on the kitchen counter, twisting a bottle of Yoo-hoo around in his hands.  He let out a heavy sigh, then looked up and around the silent apartment.

"Where'd everybody go?" he asked quietly.

"Honey, they all left twenty minutes ago," Monica smiled, then stood up and crossed the room.

"Oh.  I—I can't get this bottle open," he said shakily, with an overwhelming sadness that hinted at a larger meaning.

Monica took the bottle from him silently, and popped the cap off with ease.  She handed it to him proudly, but he no longer seemed interested in the drink.  His eyes dimmed, and she could see that he was fighting back tears.

He wasn't over her—not by a long shot.

Monica still couldn't believe that Kathy had cheated on him—how could anyone cheat on Chandler?  He was so sweet, and considerate, and…

Monica was shaken from her thoughts when Chandler slid off of the counter—and was now standing mere inches from her, his hot breath caressing her flushed cheeks.

She fought down the thoughts that had begun to take hold of her—what the hell was she doing?  He was her friend—she couldn't think of him as anything but.

He really did have the most amazing blue eyes.

"Mon, can I get past?"

"Huh?  Oh, sorry," Monica smiled, as Chandler slid past her, crossed the apartment, and plopped face down onto his yellow sofa.

Monica struggled to gather her thoughts, and regain control of her senses, before walking into the living room to talk to Chandler.  She stopped, her eyes widening, when she heard a muffled sob, emanating from his direction.

Was Chandler crying?

She'd never seen him cry before—and she had no idea what to do.  She shifted nervously, then thought back to all of the times that Chandler had been there for her, when she'd had her heart stepped on.  She smiled slightly, then approached him, before kneeling next to the sofa, and placing her hand on the small of his trembling back.

"Chandler, do you…want some ice cream?"

Two Years Later

"This ice cream is disgusting," Chandler made a face, then tossed the spoon back into the container, "Where did you get this?"

"I stole it from the girls' apartment," Joey shrugged nonchalantly, "I figured it would be okay after I scraped off all the weird little ice crystals."

"Ew," Chandler groaned, and tossed the container into the sink.

"Anyway, I gotta go," Joey grabbed his bag, and slung it over his shoulder, "See ya later tonight."

"Yeah, see ya," Chandler said distractedly, and watched his longtime friend and roommate walk out the door.  He leaned against the kitchen counter, and silently counted to thirty, his grin growing when he heard the door across the hall open and close quietly.

Moments later, Monica's head popped through the door, a mischievous twinkle lighting her sapphire eyes.

"Is he gone?" she whispered.

Chandler nodded, his voice suddenly caught in his throat.  He didn't quite understand why he was suddenly at a loss for words, but didn't really have time to analyze it, as Monica had made her way into his apartment, and was now kissing him fiercely.

She pulled away, and smiled seductively, as he snaked his arm around her tiny waist.

"How long is he gone," she asked throatily, her hand making her way down his chest.

"'Til later tonight," Chandler managed to whisper, his voice still eluding him somewhat.

"Well then I guess we'd better—what the hell is in your sink?" Monica arched an eyebrow curiously at the melting brown goo that was creeping into the drain.

"It's really old, gross ice cream that Joey stole from your freezer," Chandler grimaced at the recent memory, and tried to pull Monica away from the mess before she decided to go on a cleaning frenzy.

But Monica pulled away, and picked up the damp cardboard container, inspecting the package carefully.

"Oh, I remember this…I think this is the stuff I was eating after that whole fiasco with that waiter-guy.  He was such a jerk!" Monica shook her head, then dropped the container back into the sink, when she felt Chandler's lips on her neck.

"I'm not really in an ice cream mood," he muttered, pulling her away from the sink and toward his bedroom.

Two Hours Later

His eyes shot open, and his heart suddenly began thumping wildly in his chest.  He looked over at Monica, who was sleeping peacefully just inches away.  It had finally hit him: that weird, inexplicable feeling that he'd had in his stomach since Monica had come over; the reason his mouth was so dry, and the reason he felt so amazing, and yet wanted to cry at the same time.

He was in love with her.

And it was better than all of the ice cream in the world.

Your love

is better than ice cream.

Better than anything else that I've tried

and your love

is better than ice cream

everyone here know how to fight

and it's a long way down

it's a long way down

it's a long way

down to the place where we started from.

Your love

is better than chocolate

better than anything else that I've tried

and oh love is better than chocolate.

Everyone here knows how to cry

and it's a long way down

it's a long way down

it's a long way

down to the place where we started from.

(Ice Cream/S. McLachlan)