A sharp winter wind whipped its way through the Manhattan streets, sending delicate flakes of sparkling white snow fluttering wildly through the air. The streets, nearly abandoned at this late hour, gleamed pure white, giving the usually bustling city a silent, small town air.
Chandler pushed open the door to the small gift shop, and was immediately met by a bitter, nippy gust of wind. Cursing softly, he flipped up the collar on his black wool pea coat, and pushed his way out the door, and down the street.
His sharp cerulean eyes scanned the streets for any sign of life—just how long had he been inside that shop? Shaking his head slightly, he pressed forward, and hoped he wasn't far from a subway station.
As he walked through the fierce snowstorm, he thought about the fight he had had with Monica earlier in the evening. He wasn't quite sure what had started it, but he did know that it had eventually melted into a petty, cruel war of words.
What he did know, was that he had not won.
Their relationship thus far had been easy, really. They had had the occasional disagreement, but nothing too awful—nothing along the lines of a Ross-and-Rachel blowout.
But tonight…tonight had been different, and he wasn't sure why. Was there a new dynamic in their relationship, now that they had officially exchanged 'I love you's'? Was the expectation higher? What else could it be?
He remembered telling her that he was going out with Joey and Ross on Saturday, and remembered that it had angered her—a reaction he had not been expecting. Was that the cause of all this? And if so, how had that turned into the awful fight that ensued? He still couldn't figure out what…
His thoughts were crudely disrupted when he stepped on a particularly nasty patch of black ice, and went tumbling to the ground.
He landed hard on his wrist and hip, and cursed violently as he moved to stand. Relieved that his hip was not broken (since he was apparently able to stand upright) he gingerly checked his wrist, attempting to bend it in any direction. His wrist too, was not broken, though it was definitely sprained. Growling at his own incompetence, he dusted the powdery snow from his jacket, and wiped his frozen-yet-drippy nose angrily.
And that's when it hit him—the gift!
He looked down at the mangled bag, and let out a low groan. He knew, before even picking it up, that it was ruined. Looking over his shoulder longingly, he knew too that it was too late to go back to the shop. Sighing in defeat, he picked up the bag, and shoved it into his coat pocket, before walking on.
"Closed? Why the hell is the subway closed?" Chandler muttered aloud ten minutes later. Was God punishing him for something? Or had Monica cursed him on his way out the door? Shaking off both thoughts as improbable, he shoved his hands in his pockets, winced when he realized he had just aggravated his sprained wrist, and walked up the avenue.
"What were you guys fighting about?" Rachel asked, as she watched Monica mop the floor frantically.
"I…I don't even really know! He...he said he was going to go out with Ross and Joey Saturday, and for some reason I just…I guess I assumed that he was going to stay here with me…I don't know…but the thing is, we started fighting about other stuff…stuff that we never fought about before…it was like…all of these things that had been bothering us before…when no one knew about us…they surfaced, I guess, and now—" Monica sighed, and sunk into a kitchen chair, defeated, "It's like I never really knew him or something," she whispered sadly, and stared up at the mop handle, as though somehow it would give her an answer.
"Well, honey, you didn't really think that it would be perfect forever, did you?" Rachel asked gently, as she stood from the sofa and crossed the room, "I mean, it IS Chandler we're talking about here. It's not like he's the Relationship Master or anything!"
"Yeah, I know," Monica smiled, as Rachel pulled her into a hug, "I just…something about this fight was different. I can't explain it, I just…it was so intense!"
"Yeah," Rachel sighed, "well, sometimes that's what love does to ya, you know?"
Monica pulled away from Rachel and looked up at her, a strange expression crossing her face.
"What?" Rachel asked.
"Wow, it is really coming down out there!"
Rachel and Monica turned to see Phoebe fly into the apartment, her cheeks flushed with cold, and her hair full of melting snowflakes, "Seriously, I barely made it here!"
"Pheebs, do you want a change of clothes?" Rachel smiled as Phoebe shook off her coat on Monica's newly mopped floor.
But Monica barely noticed, and without a word, she stood and walked out of the apartment, her mind clearly on her conversation with Rachel.
She crossed the hall quickly, and opened the door to Chandler and Joey's apartment.
"Chandler?" she called, as she stepped across the threshold.
"Not here," Joey replied, as he spun around in his Barcalounger.
"Where is he?" Monica asked quickly.
"I thought he was with you?" Joey shrugged, and turned toward the television again.
"He…he's been gone all night?" Monica asked quietly, and Joey turned again.
"I've been home since four, and he hasn't been here," Joey replied, and smiled sympathetically.
"Okay. Thanks, Joey," Monica said distantly, and turned to walk out of the apartment. She stopped in the doorway, and turned toward Joey once more.
"Hey Joey, if he comes back…can you tell him I'm looking for him?"
"Yeah," came a distracted reply from the other side of the brown leather chair. Monica sighed, and closed the door quietly behind her. She walked into her apartment, and heard Rachel and Phoebe in Rachel's bedroom, apparently giggling over something that one of them was currently wearing. She smiled sadly, and climbed out onto the balcony.
The wind had slowed slightly, but tiny, diamond-like snowflakes continued to fall silently. Monica looked up at the sky, letting the flakes dance off of her delicate face, and melt into her ebony hair. She closed her eyes, and smiled softly, allowing the sweet, rare silence embrace her.
"Mon, what are you doing?" Chandler's voice broke her reverie, and she opened her eyes slowly.
"You'll catch your death out here," he continued, and shook off his coat, before wrapping it securely around her tiny frame.
"Chandler," she sighed, and looked up at him slowly, I'm fine, I—" she stopped, when she noted that his face, ears and eyes were bright red. "You were out in the storm?" Monica said softly, and placed her hand on Chandler's wind-burned face.
"Yeah, they closed the subway. Can you believe they closed the subway?" he replied, then involuntarily shivered as a slight gust of wind blew across the terrace.
"Oh, sweetie, let's get you inside," Monica cried, and made her way toward the window. Chandler grabbed her wrist, and she turned quickly.
"Wait," he said softly, his bloodshot eyes filling with tears, "Monica, about earlier—"
"It's okay, Chandler," Monica smiled softly, and took a long step toward him.
"No, it's not. Mon, that fight…it was awful! I—I never want to do that again."
"It's okay," Monica repeated, "I talked to Rachel earlier, and…and I realized something."
Chandler arched his eyebrow and cocked his head slightly.
"I love you…and it's not just any kind of love, you know? We're gonna last. We're gonna be together forever. And deep down, we both know that. The intensity that we felt tonight—that was love. We're gonna make it, and tonight proved that."
Chandler furrowed his brow, then shook his head.
"That is the weirdest thing I've ever heard," he laughed, then kissed Monica lightly on the lips, "but I'll take it," he whispered, "because I can't imagine it any other way."
Monica smiled, as Chandler pulled her toward the window. They climbed into the apartment, and Monica pulled off Chandler's jacket slowly, her throat clenching as she recalled his quiet chivalry on the balcony. She wrapped her arms around the coat, and closed her eyes, her smile growing slightly.
Chandler sneezed, and it pulled Monica from her thoughts. She turned to see him shuffling toward her overstuffed chair, his exhaustion catching up to him.
And she suddenly realized just how tired she was as well. She hung Chandler's coat on her coat rack, and joined him on the chair, curling into his lap as she had done so many times before. She felt his arms snake around her, and she smiled again. As they both began drifting into a light slumber, she pulled a quilt around them, and whispered softly;
"My prince…my soulmate."