:yes, another update at long last! please review!:

Life Starts Here

Chapter 5 – Judge Yourself

As Rachel walked into the cafeteria with her cheerleading friends for lunch, Joey watched her thoughtfully on the other side of the room. So far, his attempts to ask her out on a 'reunion' date had been disastrous. He had been slapped round the face on numerous occasions.

This time, however, he had a plan.

He walked over to her table, and cleared his throat. All the cheerleaders looked up from their meals and started giggling. Rachel turned around and looked at Joey with exasperation.

"Don't you ever give up?" she snapped.

Joey cleared his throat again and, after hesitating for a second, got down on his knees.

"Oh my god!" Mindy exclaimed, and immediately started giggling again.

"What are you doing?" Rachel hissed at him, her face turning bright red.

"Rachel Green!" Joey said loudly, causing everyone to look up from various tables. "I will never give up until you say yes! I'm sorry for the way I treated you in Italy, I was a fool. All I'm asking for is one date. There'll be no funny business, no kissing, no groping…just a date."

"I can't believe you're doing this…" Rachel muttered, her hands covering her face.

"…and may I say that you look abysmal today." Joey finished, smiling widely.

Rachel removed her hands and stared at Joey in horror. "You creep!" she yelled, "I can't believe you just said that! You know I almost fell for that speech?!"

She slapped Joey round the face and stormed off.

Joey looked around the room confusedly. "What did I say?!" he demanded.


A few tables away, Chandler watched the scenes in amusement. He turned to Ross, who was looking at Joey with a look of pure hatred.

"Wow, you look ready to kill him," he commented, grinning.

"I hope Rachel is ok," Ross muttered, looking down at his plate.

"I knew you liked her. I saw you down at the track this morning. You were practically drooling over her as she did that back-flip."

Ross frowned at Chandler. "Don't be ridiculous."

Chandler rolled his eyes. He really wished he hadn't asked Ross to sit with him for lunch today, but he knew he couldn't very well ignore Monica's brother forever.

"So…um…how's the math assignment going?" he asked now, trying desperately to get a conversation going.

To Chandler's surprise, Ross' eyes blazed angrily at him. "Fine," He said shortly, "and what do you care?"

"Whoa big guy, I'm just having a normal conversation here!" Chandler exclaimed, eyes widening. "What's the matter with you?"

Ross sighed. "It's nothing. There's nothing the matter with me."

"Yes there is," Chandler said knowingly, "come on, tell me, we're…friends…aren't we?"

Ross looked suspiciously at him. "Friends?" he asked uncertainly.

"Sure!" Chandler assured him enthusiastically. Suddenly, he felt sorry for the shy student sitting in front of him. It was obvious Ross didn't have a lot of 'friends'.

"Ok…um…I'm having trouble in Math," Ross whispered, his cheeks flushing.

"You are?" Chandler asked him, amazed. He had assumed Ross was at the top of the class in every subject they did. He certainly was in Science and History.

"Yes, I am." Ross said fiercely, "go on…laugh at me."

"I'm not laughing at you." Chandler replied. He tapped his chin thoughtfully and then he suddenly smiled. "How about I help you with the math?"

"You…want to help me?" Ross asked, looking at him in shock.

"Why not? Chandler shrugged, inwardly congratulating himself on a wonderful idea. If he helped Ross with his math, he could spend more time with Monica.

"Ok, do you want to come round my house tonight?" Ross asked him excitedly, "mom and dad won't mind."

"Tonight?" Chandler looked at Ross in surprise; he hadn't expected the boring process of tutoring to start so soon, but if it meant seeing Monica…

"Ok, what time?"

"After school? That will give us the whole evening to get through the basics, and I really need help on my algebra too…"

As Ross chattered on, Chandler leaned back against his chair, a contented smile on his face.


"So, let me get this straight," Bob said slowly, staring at Chandler incredulously. "You're tutoring a guy in math so you can get close to his sister?"

Chandler nodded.

Bob continued to look at him silently for a moment and then began to laugh. "Well, I'll say one thing, you've got balls."

Chandler frowned. "Are you making fun of me?"

Bob stopped laughing and looked thoughtful. "Well, not exactly, but I do find it quite amazing the lengths you will go to just to get the girl you love."

"I've got to do something," Chandler protested, "Monica has no idea what I'm feeling for her, if I don't spend more time with her out of school, how will she ever know?"

"You're forgetting one small thing," Bob interrupted, smiling again, "more often than not…you're going to spending an awful amount of time with her brother."

"I'll get round that," Chandler said confidently, "I mean, how hard will tutoring math to Ross Geller be? The guy's a genius!"


"No…no…no." Chandler mumbled, slapping his forehead in frustration, "You don't do it like that. Haven't you been listening to me at all?"

"Of course I have!" Ross snapped. "It's not my fault you're not a very good teacher!"

Chandler sighed and fell face first on Ross' bed. He groaned into the pillow. "This isn't working." He grumbled.

"Tell me something I don't know." Ross muttered.

Chandler lifted his head up from the pillow and frowned at Ross furiously. "It's not about me being a good enough teacher; it's about your concentration!" he exploded, sitting up. "Your head has been everywhere tonight. What is the matter with you?"

Ross sighed miserably. "Sorry man, I just keep thinking about what happened at lunch today."

"Oh for god's sake, nothing will ever happen with Rachel if you don't say something! She probably doesn't even know your name right now."

"If that's supposed to make me feel better, then you've failed miserably." Ross told him sourly.

"I'm just making a point that's all." Chandler sighed and looked at his watch. "Listen, I've gotta go now, it's getting late. I'll see you tomorrow in homeroom."

Chandler walked out of Ross' room, almost colliding with Monica in the hallway.

"Oh… sorry!" Monica exclaimed. She grinned at the expression on Chandler's face, "Ross giving you a hard time, huh?"

Chandler nodded, grimacing. "You could say that." He muttered.

Monica looked sympathetically at him. "Don't worry about my brother too much. He's just a little…intense."

"Intense only just about covers Ross' issues." Chandler murmured, thinking of Rachel.

"Ross is a big boy, whatever is bothering him he can handle it," Monica insisted. She looked at her watch. "Hey…um…it's only 9.30! Do you want to take a walk someplace?"

Chandler furrowed his eyebrow at her, his heart leaping. "Isn't it past your curfew now?"

Monica sniffed. "I'm 16. As far as I'm concerned I don't have a curfew."

Chandler grinned. "Are you just telling me that now or do your parents know this already?"

Monica blushed. "Yeah, well, I guess it is a little late." She muttered. She turned around on her heel and walked towards her bedroom.

"Hey wait, where are you going?" Chandler blustered, chasing after her.

Monica opened her bedroom door and turned around to face him. "You wouldn't want to disappoint my parents now, would you?" she snapped.

"Hey, whoa. I never said that!" Chandler cried, his eyes widening, "I was just pointing out that if your parents caught you outside 'after hours' you could get into huge trouble!"

"And this is coming from you who can barely last 24 hours without getting into trouble!" Monica told him, smiling wryly. "Goodnight Saint Chandler." She closed the door firmly in his face.

"Oh yeah, sure! Goodnight to you too!" Chandler called sarcastically through the door.

"Geez, talk about a touchy subject." He muttered to himself as he walked home. "At the rate I'm going, we'll be dating when I've turned 40…in the next life!"


Joey stared blankly at the teacher as she gave a lecture on the British monarchies.

"Ughh…" he moaned, leaning his forehead on the desk. He felt a tap on his shoulder and immediately shot his head back up. The teacher was still continuing her lecture, obviously giving the indication that she wasn't the one who had interrupted Joey's slumbering. He looked all around until he met the eyes of Rachel.

She didn't say a word to him. Instead, she passed him a piece of folded paper, smiled slightly and then faced the teacher again.

Joey unfolded the paper, curiosity filling his mind.

I'm sorry about earlier. I would love to go out on a date with you. Meet me by the lake at Central Park at 9pm tonight.

Rachel

Joey grinned widely and looked up at Rachel. He nodded, folded up the note and put it into his shirt pocket.


"So, what's the catch?" Mindy asked Rachel suspiciously as they both walked home from school.

Rachel looked at her with feigned innocence. "There's no catch." She said, grinning.

Mindy rolled her eyes. "Yeah right girl. A few hours ago you couldn't stand Joey Tribbiani. Now you wanna go out on a date with him?"

"Ok, maybe it isn't how it seems," Rachel admitted, smiling mysteriously.

"No surprises there. Spill it."

"You know how I've been trying to get Chip Matthew's attention for months now?"

Mindy grinned. "I think so." She replied sarcastically.

"I've decided the way to win Chip's heart is to make him jealous." Rachel explained. "While Joey and I are on our 'date', Chip's friends are going to arrange for Chip to see us."

Mindy frowned uncertainly. "This doesn't sound right. What if Joey finds out? He'll be really annoyed that you used him."

"No he won't," Rachel scoffed, "he'll soon find some other poor girl to sleep with. This plan is perfect. Joey gets his date; I get Chip."

Mindy shook her head. "Has anyone ever told you how devious you have become lately?"

Rachel grinned. "I know. Isn't it great?"


Joey walked through Central Park, excited about his date with Rachel. He knew that he treated girls badly, but this time he vowed to be different. Rachel was different to any girl he had ever gone out with before. She was feisty, adventurous and had an endearingly sweet side to her that touched him.

He was so busy thinking about ways to impress Rachel on their date that he failed to see a young woman step right into his path. He crashed into her.

"Oh…Joey! Thank god!" The girl said, steadying herself against his shoulder.

Joey recognised the girl to be Mindy Lawson, Rachel's cheerleading best friend.

"Hey, sorry about that Mindy." He apologised, "I was too busy day dreaming."

"About Rachel?" Mindy sneered, shaking her head. "Whatever you do, don't trust that girl an inch."

Joey furrowed his brow. "Why not?"

"Because she's using you Joey!" Mindy said, patting his shoulder. "She only wanted to go out on a date with you to make Chip Matthews jealous."

Joey paled. "W-What?"

Mindy stepped closer to him. "I'm telling the truth," she whispered. "She's arranged for Chip to see the two of you together tonight." She smiled flirtatiously at him. "Pretty devious huh?"

Joey clenched his fists angrily. "Are you sure about this?" he asked, gritting his teeth.

Mindy nodded slowly and wrapped an arm around him. "Yes. And I'm really sorry to be the one to tell you." She stroked his face and looked him in the eyes.

"You don't need her," she continued, kissing him on the cheek. "Why don't we get out of this cold air and go get some coffee." She stepped back and smiled suggestively.

It took all of Joey's willpower not to throw up. This girl was as bad as Rachel. He'd hate to be part of a group like the Lincoln High Cheerleader Squad. How could they call themselves friends if all they did was stab each other in the back?

"I don't think so," he replied coolly. "You're just like her, maybe worse. Girls like you make me sick."

"I'm offering myself to you on a plate," Mindy said, widening her eyes, "I heard you'd get any girl into bed." She stepped closer and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Come on. I'll make you forget about the common cheerleaders. I'm not like them. I could make you really happy."

Joey breathed in Mindy's perfumed neck. The old Joey would have said 'yes'. He liked the old Joey too. He was so carefree, didn't care about anything…and the way Mindy was breathing on his neck was starting to get hard to ignore. Who cared if this was Rachel's friend or not? Who cared if Mindy was just using him to get one up on her friend? Those kind of issues had never bothered him before. He started to respond to her light kisses and ran his hands down her body. He felt her respond to his touch and began to kiss her hungrily…

Then the other Joey came into his mind. It was the Joey that would never consider sleeping with a girl like Mindy. He had more self-respect than this.

He pulled away and looked at Mindy in disgust, pushing her away. "No, I can't do this. I'm not like that anymore."

Mindy shook her head and laughed. "You don't know what you're missing." She said, smiling widely at him and walking away. "Call me when you change your mind." She called.

Joey breathed deeply and closed his eyes. What was wrong with him? He had never felt so disgusted with himself in his entire life.

"Joey?" A soft voice said in his ear.

Joey opened his eyes and saw Rachel standing in front of him, a look of concern spreading across her model-like face.

"Are you ok?" she asked.

Joey looked angrily at her. "Don't play that game with me."

Rachel widened her eyes at him. "What game? I got worried when you didn't arrive at out meeting place so I came to look for you. Why-why are you looking at me like that?"

"I know what this night is all about." Joey said grimly. "I know you're only dating me to make Chip Matthews jealous."

Rachel paled. "Joey…I…let me explain."

"I don't need any explanations. I know it all." Joey stepped away from her. "I can't believe I fell for that. I can't believe I actually thought you wanted to be with me."

Rachel's eyes started to brim with tears. "I'm sorry. I didn't realise…"

"What?" Joey interrupted, "didn't realise what? That I liked you? I wanted to date you Rachel. I wasn't just after sex."

"That's…that's all you're usually interested in…" Rachel stammered.

"You're not even denying that's all you wanted from me." Joey looked at her in disgust. "When you wake up in the mornings, don't you ever look in the mirror and hate yourself? When I met you in Italy last year, you weren't like this. You've changed so much."

"I…I know." Rachel whispered. "You're right. I didn't realise before now."

Joey shook his head sadly. "You used to be so sweet…so lovely. I never thought I'd see you turn into girls like Ursula and Mindy."

"I'm not like them…am I?" Rachel back away in horror.

"Yes." Joey looked angrily at her. "Go home Rachel. Sort yourself out." He walked away from her, feeling his heart break.

Rachel looked after him, the tears streaming down her cheeks. "What have I done?" she whispered.

End of Chapter 5

:Will Rachel change her ways? Will she make better friends? And will Monica EVER figure out that Chandler likes her? Find out soon! Lol how's that for a promo?