Anyone who lives in Britain will know that the quality of television over here is just going down the drain. All I seem to watch now is The West Wing, Friends and Coronation Street…and two of those are American! I had lost hope of a decent programme to watch until a few weeks ago when I saw a Sunday night comedy-drama called The Booze Cruise. I was like 'finally! Something that makes me laugh!' And it gave me a great fanfic idea too, I've wrote my ideas down and it's all ready to start writing.
This is all you need to know, the rest will be explained as the fanfic goes along. I don't want to give away too much right now.
A year after season 10…
--Chandler and Monica are still married, and have a two year old adopted daughter, Alice. They are in love but bored with the simplicity of it all. They live in a house at long island.
--Rachel and Joey split up after briefly dating. Joey now lives in L.A with a rising movie career.
--Ross teaches at a college and lives in New Hampshire, and is back with Rachel out of convenience for Emma. They were willing to give the relationship another chance.
--Phoebe and Mike are about to be married after a long engagement. They still live in Phoebe's apartment in NYC.
"Mon, do you know where we put the sleeping bags when we moved here?" Chandler asked, walking down the stairs into the living room.
Monica looked up from her sitting position on the carpet where she was playing peek-a-boo with Alice. "In the attic," she replied immediately, "In the box with all the other camping stuff."
"Monica," Chandler whined, "why did you put them up there? Why not the garage where I thought they were?"
"Honey, we don't want the Garage cluttered up with all the junk!" Monica shuddered. She stood and walked over to him. "You haven't camped since you were 15. You don't need them."
"I do now," Chandler reminded her, smiling. He wrapped his arms around her waist. "Are you sure you won't come with us?"
"Ok, let's see. A weekend of bugs, flies, smelly fish and the combined force of Ross, Joey, Mike and you…or spending a peaceful weekend with our daughter, tough choice," she grinned, "I'm very sure about not coming with you."
"It's just…we don't go out anymore," Chandler told her sadly, "I'm at work all day and you're with Alice. At night we are attending to her needs and then we're too tired to do anything else." He grinned helplessly and stroked her cheek.
"Honey, I'm sorry," Monica said, nuzzling his nose, "I know we don't make time for each other anymore but Alice is only two years old, and up until eight months ago had different parents caring for her. We knew this was going to be hard when we got into this."
"I just think we need to take a break from all this at some point," Chandler grumbled, stepping back, "Lots of couples take vacations. Just because we have a child now it doesn't mean we have to throw everything else away." He sighed, running his hand through his hair, "maybe I shouldn't go away this weekend."
"Chandler, you haven't seen Joey since he moved to LA a year ago," Monica protested, shaking her head, "Ross and Rachel rarely visit us now and Mike is too involved with Phoebe and the wedding preparations to do anything else. You're going on this trip. Maybe this is what you need to…recharge your batteries." the meaning of her last words hinted to Chandler through her smile and he grinned.
"You know, I think my batteries are charged quite well today," he commented, wrapping his arms back around her and kissing her softly.
"Hmm," Monica sighed as he finished his affections, "We haven't done a lot of that recently."
"Then I'll do it again," Chandler kissed her more passionately this time, running his fingers through her hair.
"Moo-ooom!" a high voice whined from the carpet.
Chandler and Monica broke apart and stared at Alice.
"What is it honey?" Monica asked her gently.
"I'm hungered!" Alice wailed, putting on a pout.
"Hungered?" Chandler asked, grinning in spite of feeling disappointed at being interrupted, "well I'm sure we can fix that, can't we Mommy?"
"Yes, want some chips?"
"Yeah!" Chandler and Alice cheered together.
"Ross, you are going to behave yourself on this trip?" Rachel asked worriedly.
"If you mean, 'are you and Joey going to act like civilised adults?' the answer is we're not getting into any fist fights," Ross replied grimly, stuffing clothes into a bag. "So you don't need to worry."
"It's just I don't want you two to ruin this trip for Chandler and Mike with your petty bickering," Rachel said meaningfully, standing in the doorway of their bedroom. "I mean it Ross."
"Ok, but can you blame me?" Ross exclaimed, "He makes a move on the mother of my child…"
"The mother wanted it though," Rachel interrupted quietly.
"It didn't exactly last long, did it?" Ross pointed out, "What was it… three months? I can't believe you two even considered…"
"Stop it!" Rachel interrupted firmly, "why are you still so bitter about this? Joey and I split up a year and a half ago! He's in L.A and we've been back together for a year. Don't you get it? You won. You have me…I love you…" she turned to go, then paused and turned back. "If you don't let the past go, what chance do we have?" she added, walking away.
Ross chased after her down the stairs, "Rachel, I'm sorry," he said, sighing heavily, "it's just when I think of you two being together…"
"We're not though, are we?" Rachel reminded him gently.
"…and you refuse to even say why you two split up," Ross finished.
"Does it really matter?" Rachel asked, a flash of sadness coming and going on her face. "It's in the past." She walked to the kitchen. "Don't you have some packing to do?" she asked over her shoulder.
"Joey!" Chandler exclaimed joyfully when he opened the front door.
"Dude!" Joey flashed him an enthusiastic grin and flung his arms around his old friend. "I've missed you man!"
"Me too Joe, me too," Chandler said sincerely, hugging him hard, "come on in. Mike is here already."
They walked into the living room where Mike and Monica were sitting on the couch.
"…and she even wants Torfu chicken! I mean, what are the guests going to say?" Mike was saying as Joey and Chandler walked over to them.
"Can't you compromise and have normal chicken too?" Monica suggested.
"No, Phoebe thinks it will give out a negative aura on our wedding," Mike replied, groaning.
"How can chicken ever be negative?" Joey asked in disbelief.
"Same old Joey," Monica said, smiling at her friend. "How are you?"
"Great! I've just signed up to do a movie with Tom Hanks…can you believe it?"
"Wow, that's great!" His friends replied, wide-eyed.
The doorbell rang and Chandler went over to answer it. "That will be Ross!" he called over his shoulder.
"Have you met Tom yet?" Monica asked excitedly.
"Look who's here!" Chandler said, leading Ross in, followed by Rachel and Emma.
Joey's grinning face immediately faded when he saw them. "Hey," he said quietly.
"Hey," Ross said stiffly, "how are you?"
There was uneasiness in the air, not usually common within a group of friends as close as they once were.
"Hi Joey," Rachel said softly, smiling at him quickly before averting her eyes.
"So-so who would like some waffles?!" Chandler said brightly, eager to break the tension.
"No thanks," Ross shook his head; "I don't like to eat before a long journey."
"Then maybe we should start packing our camping stuff in the trunk of my car?" Chandler suggested. He was dying to get out of the house, eager to do something so there was less chance for an argument to break out between Ross and Joey.
As the four men walked outside, Joey pulled Chandler back. "You didn't tell me Ross was coming on this trip!" he whispered frantically, "what are you trying to do to me?!"
"Come on Joey, this is a perfect chance for you two to put the past behind you and have some fun together again!" Chandler pleaded, "it will be fine, I promise."
"Ok, but one sarcastic word from him about me and Rachel then I'm off," Joey threatened.
"Has he said anything so far?" Chandler demanded.
"Then there's no problem, is there?" Chandler opened the trunk and turned to Mike, "Hey, Mr-giving-up-his-freedom-next-month, help me pack the tents in!" he told him, grinning.
"Ok, Mr-I've-already-gave-up-my-freedom," Mike replied, lifting a heavy bag.
"Hey pair-of-dorks…shut up!" Joey interrupted, rolling his eyes good-naturedly.
"Ross, what is in this thing?" Chandler asked, groaning under the weight of a large bag, "Did you bring your fossil collection or something?"
"No," Ross said defensively, "it contains a few necessities for our trip that is all."
"Like what? We're going camping in Vermont, not hiking up the Andes!"
"Band-aids, bug-repellent, bug spray, mosquito spray, allergy pills, Kleenex, cough drops, torches…"
"Mosquito spray?" Joey interrupted, chuckling.
"I happen to be allergic to mosquito bites," Ross said coolly.
"Yes and the mountains of Vermont are just full of them," Chandler deadpanned, rolling his eyes, "As do lobster, kiwi and peanuts…of course you need your allergy pills for camping."
"It's for emergencies…"
"…and the nightmare begins," Mike murmured, hauling another bag into the car.
"Rachel, I'm so pleased you're spending the weekend with me," Monica told her, "we haven't done this in a while."
"Yeah I know," Rachel said, putting Emma on the couch, "when is Phoebe coming over?"
"Not until tonight. She's got two massage appointments to take care of today."
"Is her wedding stuff going ok?" Rachel asked, pouring some juice in a glass, "normal plans?"
"Rachel, its Phoebe…nothing about this wedding is going to be normal. She's having 'wild thing' as her wedding procession march. Mike isn't too thrilled about that."
"Oh dear god…"
"Yeah, this is going to look more 'hip' than her Grandmother's virtual reality funeral."
"Oh I forgot about that," Rachel said, smiling reminiscently, "It seems like only yesterday when Joey arrived with that purse I gave him."
Monica studied her face. "Speaking of whom…has Ross forgiven him yet?"
"No, I have no idea what is going to happen on this trip, but Ross is nowhere near ready to forgive Joey, and I'm quite sure Joey is not too fond of Ross right now either."
"Well, you can hardly blame him…Ross did neglect to come to the party we had for Joey just before he went to L.A."
"Yes but…I can't help feeling this is all my fault," Rachel mumbled, staring into her glass of untouched juice, "I was the one who put the pressure on Joey in Barbados, and it was me who broke up with him later over such a stupid thing."
"Oh well, it worked out fine in the end," Monica said, shrugging, "Right? Joey is in L.A with a great career and you're back with Ross."
"Yeah, it all worked out fine," Rachel said quietly, "Just fine."
"Right, who's sitting with me up front?" Chandler asked, rubbing his hands together.
"I will," Ross and Joey said immediately. They glanced at each other and folded their arms defiantly.
"Ok, only one of you can;" Chandler pointed out, "so who's it going to be?"
"Me," Ross jumped in, "I hate travelling in the back. It makes me feel nauseous."
"Chandler, I always travel up front with you," Joey said meaningfully, "It's like a tradition."
"Tradition?" Ross snorted with laughter, "Chandler only bought this car three months ago! You haven't seen him in a year!"
"So? If I had been around I would be up front!" Joey shot back.
"Guys, don't do this," Chandler pleaded wearily, "we haven't even left the driveway yet and already you're arguing!"
"Why don't you two flip for the seat?" Mike suggested, "Heads for the back, tails for the front."
"No, I told you, I feel nauseous in the back," Ross said stubbornly.
"You're going to make me feel nauseous in a minute if you don't shut up," Joey told him.
"Time out!" Chandler waved his hands about frantically, "Right Ross, you can sit in the front. Joey don't look at me like that, we can't have him throwing up all over Mike in the back seat can we? Just get in."
A few minutes later, Mike and Joey were squashed in the back and Ross was up front with Chandler.
"Are we ready to go?" Chandler asked them all, "Comfortable back there guys?"
"Sure, Ross' 'emergencies bag' is digging into my side but I'm fine."
"Joey, if it's that bad, just push it over to Mike's side."
"No way, why should I get the clutter?" Mike protested.
"It's not clutter!" Ross piped up indignantly, "They're necessities."
"I wish I had the necessities to shut you all up," Chandler muttered, starting up the engine.
End of Chapter 1