:maybe I'm mad, a little crazy, because I barely have time to finish my other fanfics, let alone start another one. I keep getting ill, and just when I think I'm better, I'm ill again - like last week when my parents thought they were going to have to call the doctor out at 10pm! I'm better now, just in time for christmas, things are quite busy! However, I had this idea, and I wish to start here while it's fresh. It's a High School A/U, and instead of focusing on just M/C, I'm going to concentrate on other characters too! It's going to be a bit of everything, so that's why it's just called 'General'.
Life Starts Here
Chapter One – Too much 'as usual'
Chandler looked at the blackboard in front of him, his eyes glazing over. He couldn't think of a more pointless subject than Geography. If he really wanted to know where Uruguay was, he could just get out an atlas and look it up. Unfortunately, Chandler's atlas was at home in New York. You couldn't keep an atlas at boarding school unless you wanted it defaced by the end of the first day.
He looked sideways and noticed the geek of the class, a kid called Roger, sitting bolt upright staring at the teacher with a look of adoration. It was no secret that Roger had a crush on Miss Finch – hell all the boys did – but there was crushes and then there was crushes. Roger was infatuated with the woman.
Chandler stifled a laugh as he watched Roger shoot his hand up to answer a question Miss Finch had just asked. He craned his neck to see Roger's notebook, it had all the answers to the previous night's homework. As usual, Chandler hadn't bothered to do the assignment. He looked down at his own notebook. Several phrases along the lines of 'the knicks rule all' were in the margins – it was the most work he had done since Senior Year had started two weeks ago.
Miss Finch had turned her back to the class now and was writing on the board. Chandler tapped his chin thoughtfully. All he needed to do was create a distraction somehow so he could switch notebooks with Roger without anyone seeing. Just one little distraction…
He leaned over his desk and tapped his friend, Kip, on the shoulder. Kip turned around and frowned at him questioningly. Chandler quickly scribbled something on a scrap of paper and passed it to him. He waited for Kip to read the message, and he noticed a faint grin passing over his friend's face.
Kip winked at him, turned around and gave out an ear-bursting yell. "Whoa! Holy crap! Take a look at that!" he pointed frantically to the window.
The class, including Miss Finch, immediately turned to look at the window.
"What is it? What can you see?" Miss Finch asked, panicking, her eyes switching frantically from Kip to the window.
Chandler sneaked a look at Roger, and to his delight he saw the idiot had rushed over to Miss Finch to calm her down. He grabbed for the notebook, flipped the pages to check all the work was there and replaced it with his own notebook full of ludicrous jokes and prank ideas. He gave Kip the thumbs up sign, sat back down and waited for the pandemonium to finish.
Rachel Green sat nervously on the edge of her seat, waiting for the important announcement to be made. Along with twenty other girls, she was sitting in the Gym hoping that she was going to be picked to be in the cheerleading squad that year. Now that she was finally a Junior Rachel was eligible to be part of this exclusive group of girls…and she couldn't wait.
"Please say my name, please say my name," she whispered, crossing her fingers.
"Ok, this year's selection for Lincoln High's cheerleading squad was tough," Tanya, the captain of the squad, told them all. "You should be proud to even get this far."
"Ok whatever, just say the names!" Rachel muttered impatiently.
"We have finally decided on two people to be in our group, and we are pleased to announce that…Mindy Lawson and Rachel Green will be in our squad!"
Rachel grinned over ecstatically at her close friend. They were both in the most honoured group in the school. Life was going to be great.
Monica hummed to herself as she walked to her locker at the end of the day. She was in a pretty good mood considering the bragging she'd had to put up with all day. Rachel had finally got her dream, but did she have to make such a big deal of it every single minute of the day?
She shook her head and opened her locker, shoving in the books she wouldn't need until the next day.
"Hey Monica," Ross greeted, "how's my little sister doing?"
Monica groaned. Since Ross had started Senior Year, he was being even more 'big brotherly' than usual. "I'm fine, as usual. Rachel is being a pain but apart from that…" she shrugged.
Ross looked worriedly at her. "Why are you alone?" he asked, "where are your other friends?"
Monica shrugged uncomfortably. She had neglected to tell her brother that her friends were virtually non-existent. No one wanted to be friends with a girl whose main objective was to diet, and having a brother who won the Science Fair every year didn't help either. Her obsession with her weight had paid off though – she had lost over a hundred pounds over the summer and was still going strong.
"They're around," she answered vaguely, slamming her locker door shut.
"Hmm…ok, well, I'll walk home with you if you like."
"That means no friends with you either?" Monica asked, smiling wryly, "you usually don't like to be seen dead with the lower grades."
"Oh shut up," Ross scoffed, smiling nonetheless.
They walked outside the building together, brother and sister united, at least for the next half an hour. Monica knew though that as soon as they arrived home, it would be a different story. Her parents will be doting over their gifted son and Monica will be pushed in the background, as usual.
Lately, Monica was noticing that there were a lot of 'as usual' in her life. She just wished something different would happen sometimes, something exciting that can catch her eye and make her think 'yeah, this is what life is all about'.
One thing was for sure, Monica was beginning to get pretty tired of being in the background all the time, and she was going to make sure that changed soon. She just needed something or someone to help her come out of her shell.
Chandler stopped dead in the hallway outside his dorm room, wincing slightly. That voice behind him sounded very familiar. He turned around and saw his tutor glaring at him angrily.
"You! Principle's Office! NOW!" he barked.
Chandler didn't have to ask what he had done this time. It was obvious his bright idea earlier in Geography was going to bite him back in the face.
He walked down the stairs, ignoring the calls from his roommates.
"There he goes again!"
"What do you think he's done now?"
"Go for it Chandler, keep the 'rebellion pride' up!"
A few minutes later, Chandler was seated in front of Principle Wilner's desk. He shifted around nervously, waiting for his punishment.
Principle Wilner slammed down a stuffed folder and folded his arms in exasperation.
"You know what that is Chandler?" he demanded.
"Tax rebates?" Chandler quipped weakly.
"No, it is not tax rebates!" the Principle yelled, "Although I wish to hell it was!"
"So, what…um…is it?"
The Principle opened the folder and pulled out a stack of papers. "These, Chandler, are complaints forwarded to me from every teacher in the school about your behaviour in their classes! You've only been back two weeks and already you've caused enough trouble that all the students put together couldn't do!"
"Um…I guess things have got a bit hectic." Chandler admitted.
"Hectic? You call flour bombing your English teacher's car 'hectic'? An organised coughing fit from the entire Math class 'hectic'? I call it a disgrace Chandler, you are a disgrace, a… waste…of…space." He slammed his fist down, causing Chandler to jump slightly from the sudden movement.
"You forgot to mention the 'egg incident'," Chandler added feebly.
"You don't get it do you?" the Principle sighed wearily and stared at Chandler seriously. "This boarding school doesn't deal with students with no future. This school doesn't need your pranks, and I'm afraid we don't need you."
Chandler widened his eyes. "What-what are you saying?"
Principle Wilner sighed. "I'm afraid you've gone one step too far this time," he explained, "You are expelled from St Washington's School for Boys, in affect immediately."
"But…but Sir, you-you can't do this to me!" Chandler burst out, running his hands through his hair frantically, "I'm in Senior Year…the tennis team…"
"The tennis team will just have to do without you this time," Principle Wilner said coolly.
"But I'm the best player this school has got!" Chandler bellowed, "how are we going to win the State Championships?!"
"Unlike your opinion, St Washington doesn't revolve around one player, and we can win without your help." Principle Wilner stood up and walked over to the door. He opened it. "I called your mother half an hour ago; she told me she will pick you up tomorrow morning. Go pack your things, now."
Chandler continued to sit numbly in his chair. Expelled. It was his worse nightmare, had he really just threw his future away down the drain?
He looked up at his former Principle, who was now eyeing him more sympathetically.
"Chandler, maybe this is the wake-up call you need," he said gravely, "Going back to New York to live with your mom and adjusting to a new school…may not be such a bad thing. You're capable of great things, you just need to be around the right people to help you realise it."
Barely listening, Chandler walked out of the room, wondering if he was ever going to get out of the hole he had just dug himself. Further down the hallway stood Kip, he was bouncing up and down anxiously.
"Dude, what did he say?" he demanded as Chandler walked straight past without a word.
"I just got expelled," Chandler replied, continuing to walk as Kip struggled to keep up with him.
"Huh?! What are you gonna do?"
Chandler gave out a short laugh. "Not a lot I can do, is there?"
They climbed the stairs and walked along the floors that lead to their dorm room. They walked inside and, to Chandler's relief, their roommates were already asleep.
"Come on Chandler… don't give up without a fight!" Kip exclaimed, "I could stage this massive protest rally to save you!"
"I appreciate the offer Kip, but I really don't think that is a good idea," Chandler replied, stuffing his school clothes into a suitcase. "I think the best thing to do is just leave quietly."
"Holy crap, you…leave quietly? This school isn't going to be same when you leave." Kip said, shaking his head. "I'm going to miss you man."
"I'll miss you too Kip, especially your 'holy craps'," Chandler told him, grinning.
"So you're going back to live with your mom?"
"Yes," Chandler winced visibly as he said it, "I'm surprised she agreed to take me."
Kip chuckled. "I like your mom; she's weird but real cool with it."
"I think you'd feel differently if you had to live with her," Chandler shuddered, "let's just say I don't have to watch any movie versions of her books when I witness the real thing sometimes."
"…crap, yes," Chandler finished for him, sighing heavily.
"Can I stay with you over the holidays?" Kip asked him quickly.
"Oh for the love of…don't you have any dignity at all?"
"Hey, we're at an all boys' high school! Sometimes a guy needs to get some! Can I help it if it's your mom who might be the next in line for a bit of Kip-love?"
"Hello New York!" Joey cried joyfully, taking off his shades and getting out of the cab. "God I missed you!"
"I thought you liked travelling around Italy with your Aunt and Uncle," his dad protested.
"Are you kidding me? I have missed Queens so much for the last four years! I've missed my sisters, you and mom, my friends and…and…" he stopped, looking across the road at something that had caught his eye. It was a young woman walking down the opposite sidewalk, her blonde hair flapping about wildly in the breeze.
"And what sweetie?" his mom asked.
"And I've missed Phoebe Buffay!" he yelled across the road. The blonde stopped dead and turned her head towards him. She broke into a grin and ran madly across the road, narrowly avoiding a car speeding by her.
"Joey Francis Tribbiani!" she screamed, jumping crazily into his arms. He spun her around, hugging her tightly. "You're back!"
Joey set Phoebe down, grinning at his old friend. "Hell yeah, I'm back baby! Lincoln High won't know what has hit them!"
The smile faded from Phoebe's face. "Oh…you're going to school?" she asked quietly.
Joey arched his eyebrow. "Yeah, I've got Senior Year to finish, if I pass that is!" he chuckled softly. "What's up?"
"I…I don't exactly go to school," Phoebe muttered.
"Of course you go to school! Everyone goes to school; even weird gothic kid from down the street goes to school!"
"Not me." Phoebe said, shrugging, "I never go. I think my teachers have given up on me. Ursula still goes though."
"Oh…Ursula," Joey said, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "She's still around?"
"I haven't spoken to her since we stopped sharing a room, but yeah, she's still around."
"How's your mom?"
As soon as he asked that question, Joey knew he had made a mistake. Phoebe's face had turned a shade paler and her eyes shone with tears that threatened to spill.
"My god…Pheebs…what happened?" he asked, wrapping his arms around her.
"Oh my god, when? How?"
Phoebe sighed and took a deep breath. "She…um…killed herself," she replied softly. "Put her head in our oven and never came back out. It's been three years now."
"Oh god, that's awful…wait a minute…head in the oven?"
"Yeah, explains a lot, doesn't it?"
"Well I just thought she liked cleaning it a lot."
The pair walked down the neighbourhood to Joey's old home and stopped outside the driveway.
"Well, I worked out we must have kept interrupting her as we barged into the kitchen asking for cookies," Phoebe explained, "when I think about it, she should have been dead by the time we reached elementary school."
"Phoebe, I am so, so sorry," Joey said sincerely, "I wish I had been here. How-how did Ursula take it?"
Phoebe gave out a bitter laugh and looked up at the sky briefly before resting her eyes back on Joey. "She actually considered going on vacation with some school friend's family on the day of the funeral."
"No way, she didn't…" Joey muttered, wide eyed.
"No, she didn't. My grandmother threatened to cut her out of her will if she did that. That's who I live with now-my grandmother."
"Is that the one who wants a virtual reality funeral?" Joey asked, chuckling slightly.
"Yeah, and she has no idea I don't go to school," Phoebe replied, grinning, "She's married to a former NBC reporter, did you know that?"
"Yeah, whatever, and your birth father is a tree surgeon…" Joey said, rolling his eyes.
"Actually, he is!"
"Oh my god!" Joey gazed at his friend in awe, "has it really been only four years? We have such a hell of a lot to catch up on!"
"Yeah baby, I want to know how many women you seduced in Europe."
"Ahh, well, that's an interesting question…" Joey started to tell her as they walked to his front door.
End of Chapter One
:yeah, I decided to go for the separate plot lines, and in true 'love actually' style, you'll see it all come together soon!
Kip has become a 'Chan-oey' as Phoebe would call him – I hope you like him.
And just to tease you a little more, wait for the return – by popular demand – of an original character I've used before.
But of course, you MUST review before I do much else!!