A/N: This fic is going to be a Chandler/Rachel fic, so please don't read if you hate this pairing, or you are a devout C/M fan and can't bear to think of them any other way. I thought I'd have a go at an "unorthodox" pairing, and see how it turns out. However, if you're interested in seeing how this turns out (as I am) please read and review! Lilian.
Chapter One: The Shock
February 2005. Chandler couldn't believe it. It had been over three years since that fateful day, his wedding day. It was supposed to be the happiest day of his life. He was going to marry Monica, the woman he loved. He'd got over his commitment issues, he was ready to marry her, he was ready to spend the rest of his life with her, to love her, to have children.
And what happened? Chandler frowned at the memory. Richard. That's what happened. Ten minutes before he was supposed to get married, Rachel and Phoebe came to meet him, tears in their eyes. They couldn't find Monica, but they'd found a note that she'd written, addressed to him. What did it say? Chandler wanted to know too, but couldn't bear to read it, fearing the worst.
He begged Phoebe to read it. She opened the note, and her face went white. Chandler couldn't bear it any more. He grabbed the tiny piece of white paper from her hands, and read the three lines quickly, his heart slowing down with each word until he thought it might stop.
I can't go through with this. I'm in love with Richard. I love you, but I love him more. I'm sorry.
Chandler stared at Phoebe, and passed it to Rachel so she could read it, in a half daze. "She's gone," he said, monotonously. "She's let me down... with a tiny piece of paper. Monica... I was with her for years. How can she throw it all away? She was so excited this morning..."
Rachel started to sob, so angry with Monica and so sorry for Chandler. She pulled him in to a hug, and Phoebe joined them. None of them could believe it. Monica wasn't like that. Monica loved Chandler. They loved each other. They were the perfect couple. How could it end... just like that?
Telling the guests was the hardest. Chandler walked into the room, stood at the end of the aisle. He could see Joey in front of him, dressed as some World War One soldier, preparing for the "wedding." Everyone looked at him. He stared straight up the aisle, straight into his best friends eyes. "She's gone," he said, wishing he didn't have to tell these people. They'd spent so much money, some had travelled for miles to be with them that day. Admitting to his parents, his friends, that he'd been left at the altar, in a way, was one of the most difficult things he had to do.
Rachel and Phoebe were standing behind him, and neither of them stopped him as he left the room. They realised that they should explain to the guests what had happened. Even Judy and Jack had no idea what had happened. They were as confused as anyone else.
Chandler needed to be by himself, but he didn't mind when Ross, Rachel and Joey came to find him later on. Everyone was angry with Monica, and everyone felt so bad for Chandler. For the first time, Rachel noted how emotional Chandler was. She'd always had him down as someone who was funny, good for a joke but not for a sincere talk. How things changed, she had thought to herself.
"I'm so sorry man," Ross said. "Maybe I should hunt her down and kick her ass," he joked weakly. Chandler didn't even try to smile. His whole world had crashed down on him, and he was alone.
Well, not completely alone. He had Ross, and Joey. He knew he had Phoebe and Rachel too, but he'd never really bonded with the other girls well. He'd always only had eyes for Monica, and while Rachel and Phoebe were friends of his, he didn't really know much about them. He often teased Phoebe mercilessly for her ideals about things, but he had never felt close enough to Rachel to tease her, or talk to her about anything.
Yet when everyone was saying how sorry they were, it was Rachel who seemed the most upset for him. Ross obviously still loved Monica, as she was his sister, and Joey didn't really understand how let down Chandler felt. Joey had always had the idea that Chandler and Monica weren't really as in love as they said they were, and wasn't that surprised that Monica had left him, deep down. He had always thought that Monica was "too hot" for Chandler, although the others knew that wasn't the reason why Monica left him.
Chandler presumed that Rachel would stand by her best friend. Girls stuck together, he thought, and was amazed when Rachel told him how pissed off with her she was. She said angrily that she never wanted to see her again. "She could have had the decency to tell you to your face," she spat, and then her face went back to the apologetic one it had been before. "I feel kinda guilty," she tried to explain. "She's supposed to be my best friend, but I never thought she would behave like this."
"You left your husband at the altar," Joey reminded her.
Rachel sighed. "I was hoping no one would remember that," she smiled weakly. "But that was different, Joe. He was having an affair. He only said he would marry me because he couldn't be bothered to finish it. Chandler loves-loved-Monica. He wasn't cheating on her," she tried to explain.
"I still love her," Chandler corrected Rachel. "I can't turn off my emotions just like that. There's a thin line between love and hate. I think I feel both for her."
"That's understandable," Rachel nodded. "You'll have to sit down and talk with her."
Chandler brought himself back to the present day. He couldn't help but smile. That had never happened. Monica seemed to cut all ties with her friends, knowing that they wouldn't speak to her. She had phoned Chandler one last time, to apologise, and he had begged her to see him one last time, so they could talk about what had happened. He thought she owed him that, at least. But she wouldn't. Deep down she still had feelings for Chandler and she knew that if she saw him again it wouldn't help her at all. She would question herself, and she had told herself that being with Richard was what she had always wanted. Chandler was just a pawn, she made herself believe. A boyfriend to pass the time. So she refused to meet up with him, and only returned to her apartment once, to collect her things, and made sure it was while Chandler was at work.
Chandler couldn't stay in the apartment. It still belonged to Monica, and he left her to sort out the finance problems with it, and moved in with Joey for a while. Rachel stayed with Ross. It was just after Monica abandoned Chandler that Rachel announced she was pregnant, after a one-night-stand with Ross. Chandler was amazed how it didn't ruin their friendship. Having a baby with your best friend seemed a bit odd to him.
He stuck around until Emma was born-he knew that Monica had wanted to call their child Emma and suggested the name to Rachel, having liked it himself and thinking that it would suit her little girl. But after a couple of months, he decided it would be the best idea to move away from New York, make new friends, and start a new life, alone.
He didn't want to cut all ties with his friends, as Monica had done, but he knew that all the old memories would come back to haunt him if he stayed near. So he accepted a job offer in Tulsa, and told his friends that he was leaving. It was a shock to them all, and Chandler found it surprisingly hardest to say goodbye to Rachel. The two had grown close over the past year and Rachel was very upset that he had decided to leave.
"It won't work, Chandler," she said softly to him one evening. "This isn't the answer. You should stay here, with people who love you and care about you."
Chandler had smiled. "I'm sorry Rache," he said, kissing her cheek. "I have to leave. I promise I'll... I'll visit." But both of them knew that was unlikely to happen. Chandler would make new friends, and Tulsa was too far away for him to visit frequently.
"Yeah," Rachel said disbelievingly. "Well, Chandler, just remember how much we're gonna miss you. And remember how much we love you. We're always here for you."
Chandler felt his eyes filling with tears, and hugged his friend. "I will, Rache," he said, letting a few tears escape.
"And if we should meet again," Rachel said, pulling away slightly, "then I pray it's not for a bad reason."
Chandler laughed. "Don't be so dramatic Rache," he said. "Of course we'll meet again. And it won't be for some terrible reason. We're friends."
Rachel nodded, trying to smile, but fearing the worst. "I hope you're right," she said, kissing him again.
Chandler sighed as he realised what the time was. He should have gone to bed a while ago. He had to be up early for his new job, and he kept forgetting how early it really was. As he cleared away the dishes, thinking how messy his new room-mate was and how similar to Joey he was, the phone rang. It was probably work, and Chandler couldn't be bothered to answer it, letting it go on to answerphone.
"Chandler? Chandler, if you're there, please pick up."
It was Rachel. Chandler was stunned. He'd spoken to her on the phone only a couple of days ago, and they usually spoke once a week. He answered. "Hey, Rache, what's wrong?"
Rachel breathed in deeply. "Look, Chandler, I don't know if you're going to care, but it's Monica."
"What about Monica?" he asked wearily. "Is she causing problems again?" Monica had been annoyed when she found out that Emma had been born, six months after the event, and had blamed her parents for not informing her, making Jack and Judy annoyed with Ross for not telling her himself.
"No," Rachel said, breathing in sharply again. "She's dead."
Chandler paused for a second, not expecting this news. "Dead?" he asked, stunned. "How... how comes?"
"She killed herself," Rachel said, not really wanting to tell Chandler this over the phone but knowing she had to really.
"Why?" Chandler asked, alarmed. He didn't have any knowledge of Monica leading a horrible life. He assumed she was happy, now she was with Richard.
"We're not completely sure," she admitted. "Look, Chandler, you really need to come home. Please. If not for Monica, then for Ross. He's beside himself. Because of what she did to you, he's hardly had any contact with her over the past three years." She knew it was a hateful thing to say, but it was partly true. Ross needed Chandler. He was his best friend.
Chandler felt guilty. "OK," he said eventually. "I'll come back. I'll need to inform work but they shouldn't have a problem. When's the funeral?" he asked.
"Still sorting it out. She died yesterday evening," Rachel informed him. She was sorry her friend had died, but she personally wasn't as sorry as she would have been if it had happened four or five years before, when she thought the world of Monica. She couldn't believe what Monica had done to Chandler, and she hated her for it.
"I'll try to be in New York in a couple of days," Chandler promised, and said goodbye to Rachel before hanging up. He only had to wait a couple of seconds before the tears came. Monica was gone. Forever.
So, what did you think? Things won't stay this miserable, but this chapter was needed. I won't rush this one, I'll spend time on it. Please review! Lilian xXx