Title: Out of My Head
Timeline: Seasons 9/10
Pairings: C/M, Ra/Rs, Ra/J, C/Ra, M/OC, etc.
Summary: A near-fatal car accident throws Chandler into a coma, and into several different realities. But it's the one he wakes up to, 3 years later, that may be the most devastating.
Rating: PG-13, strong language.
AN: This one will be worked on slowly but surely…I hope to update soon, but no promises.
"Tell me again why we have to spend the entire day with your parents?" Chandler sighed, as he and Monica sauntered out of their bedroom.
"Sweetie, I know that this is the last thing you want to do on your day off—believe me, I'm not looking forward to an entire day of condescending insults—but I promised my Dad we'd come out and see their new place before the holidays…and since Thanksgiving is in five weeks…"
"Yeah, yeah," Chandler waved his hand in defeat, and collapsed onto the sofa, "Can we at least be a little late?"
"No way, Ross and Rachel are going too, and there's no way they are beating us there!" Monica put her hands on her hips, her eyes lighting up with competitive energy.
Chandler laughed, and stood up reluctantly.
"Hon, I thought you were ovulating today?" he announced with a mischievous wink.
Monica walked into the kitchen, and ran her finger down the calendar slowly. She started, and looked up at Chandler, her eyes wild.
"How did I miss that? Come on, we have ten minutes," she yelled, and darted toward the bedroom.
"That was…inspiring," Chandler grinned, eight-and-a-half minutes later.
"No time for that," Monica jumped out of bed, and threw Chandler's pants at him.
"Honey, we have plenty of time," Chandler sighed, but stood anyway.
"C'mon, we gotta go," Monica yanked her dress over her head, and readjusted her hair hastily. She was out of the bedroom before Chandler could buckle his belt.
He shook his head, and smiled ruefully. He knew what he was getting into when he married Monica, but sometimes her competitiveness was just out of control. He realized that it came out more with Ross than with anyone else, and he had to laugh at that. Since he never had any siblings himself, he secretly found comfort in the strange, intense sibling rivalry that still existed between the Gellers.
"Bing, move your ass!"
Chandler jumped, and grabbed his coat, his small smile growing into a sarcastic grin.
"Yes, dear," he bellowed, earning a death-stare from his loving wife.
"Honey, slow down, we don't have to be there for another twenty minutes," Chandler had a death-grip on the armrest, his eyes wide, as Monica expertly weaved her way through traffic.
"Ross will be early, so actually, we have ten minutes," Monica countered, and shifted gears aggressively.
Chandler sighed, and turned back to the road, swallowing hard.
"Maybe I should drive," he said quietly.
"Do you have something against my driving?" Monica glared at Chandler, and he involuntarily sank down into his seat.
"N-no, sweetie, I loooove the way you drive," Chandler smiled, and broke eye contact with Monica to look back out onto the highway.
"Monica, look out!"
"Doctor, he's waking up."
"Mr. Bing? Mr. Bing, can you hear me?"
Chandler groaned, and opened his eyes slowly, as the last remnants of darkness fell away. He was immediately aware of the sharp pain in his leg and chest, and the slightly duller, throbbing pain in his head. As his eyes began to focus, he noted that he was in a stark hospital room, with two strangers standing over him, concern lighting their eyes.
"Mmmph," was all he could manage, as one of the strangers (presumably a doctor) began examining him. The doctor then stepped back, and looked at the other person.
"He seems to be okay. We should go tell the family he's awake."
Family? Immediately, Chandler's thoughts went to Monica, but as he whispered her name, he saw the strangers leave the room, deeply engrossed in a hushed conversation.
Monica. Where was she? Was she all right? He rubbed his temple, struggling to recall the events that'd led him here. He remembered being in the Porsche…but could recall little else. The door to his room opened, and a teary-eyed Rachel walked in, followed by Ross, Joey and Phoebe.
Where was Monica?
"Chandler, you're awake, thank God, you're awake," Rachel cried, and hugged him gingerly.
"Wh-where's Monica?" he whispered, and Rachel pulled away quickly.
"Th-they didn't tell you?" Rachel whispered, and a fat tear slid down her face.
"Where is she?" Chandler demanded, his voice slightly above a whisper. He looked at Ross, who was looking at the floor.
"Ross?" Chandler whispered, a thick dread filling him.
Ross looked up, and Chandler knew, before Ross uttered a word.
"Sh-she didn't survive the crash, Chandler."
The days following Chandler's awakening passed in a bitter, blinding blur. Chandler was released from the hospital three days later, but the prospect of facing the outside world without the one person that made his world better was nearly too much for him to bear. Angry, sad, bitter and hurting, Chandler tried desperately to push his friends away. But they refused to yield, both out of genuine concern for his welfare, and out of a selfish need to cling onto Everything Monica.
One Week Later
Chandler leaned heavily on his crutches, while trying unsuccessfully to tie his tie in front of the living room mirror. Frustrated with his inability to concentrate on something as mundane as a knot, he yanked the tie off of his shirt, and threw it to the ground. He took a deep breath, and looked down at the tie, now lying in a crumpled heap at his feet.
The tie was plain silk, and a deep, rich blue. It was Monica's favorite tie on him, because, she said, it brought out his eyes. She'd seen the tie while birthday shopping for Rachel's birthday three years ago, and hadbought it for him. She'd given it to him that night, and he had freaked out, because he thought he had forgotten some sacred anniversary of some random event in their relationship…
"Um, wow, Mon…Happy…anniversary…um, your gift isn't ready yet," Chandler stuttered, as he backed away from Monica, while gripping the tie tightly.
"Anniversary?" Monica mock-yelled, and stared at Chandler pointedly, "which anniversary is this?"
"The uh…anniversary of the day we…erm…moved in together?" Chandler shrugged, and a sheen of sweat appeared on his forehead.
Monica laughed, and shook her head, before walking toward Chandler, and wrapping her arms around his neck slowly.
"Nope," she whispered, and smiled, "I just bought it…because it reminded me of you. That's all," Monica giggled again, and Chandler visibly relaxed.
"So, I don't have to sleep on the couch tonight then?" he asked timidly.
Monica grabbed the tie, and slid it through her fingers seductively.
"Not if I have anything to say about it," she winked.
"Hey, Chandler," Rachel said quietly, as she walked into the apartment, her knee-length black dress fluttering slightly as she walked toward him, "why's your tie on the floor?"
Chandler looked up at Rachel, tears lining his red-threaded eyes.
"It's her favorite tie," he croaked, breaking down only when Rachel pulled him into a tight embrace.
Chandler hobbled toward the waiting limousine, and Joey and Ross helped him get inside. He spared a look back across the cemetery, reconfirming his first instinct—there was no way he could watch Monica being lowered into the ground.
The service had been excruciating, and Chandler wanted nothing more than to go home, curl up in the bed he had once shared with his wife, and pretend that none of this had ever happened.
Because none of this seemed…real.
Chandler looked at his hands, as Ross and Joey piled into the limo.
"Rachel and Phoebe are going to ride with my parents," Ross said quietly, though it was clear to him that Chandler wasn't listening.
"It should have been me," Chandler muttered, after a long minute.
"What?" Joey asked, looking over at his best friend.
Chandler looked at Joey, and then at Ross.
"It should have been me," he said louder, a tear slipping down his cheek, "look at all the people she left behind! Look at all the people—" Chandler's voice hitched, and he looked out the tinted window sadly, "look at all the people who love her," he finished softly.
"Don't you think we'd all be here, feeling the same way if it had been you?" Joey challenged crossly, "Don't you think all of these people woulda been here?"
Chandler shook his head, and sniffled, "Never mind," he said distantly.
"Monica woulda been here…she woulda been sitting right where you are, probably telling Phoebe and Rachel the same thing…she woulda been hurting the way you're hurting Chandler. She loved you, so much."
Chandler nodded, and sat back in the seat, as tears ran freely down his face.
"I know," he finally whispered, "I know."
The limo began moving, and Chandler stole another glance out of the window, at the grave where his wife now lay.
"This isn't real," he whispered, "it can't be real."
It was the last thing he remembered.