I couldn't decide whether or not to do an epilogue for "It's About You" and I still don't know. So I should be studying for finals, and writing a paper that is due Monday, but I choose to be a slacker instead, and you all get to reap the benefits from that. It's based on the song by the band Weekend Excursion. Such a good song. Please review and tell me what you think of it so far.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
"Can you give Gracie a kiss for me?" Chandler's voice floated across the ocean to his ex- wife and daughter.
"Sure," Monica replied. She sat in her London townhouse about as far as one could get from their former New York home. "Would you like to talk to her?"
"She's not in bed?" He asked surprised. Usually Monica was a stickler on rules. Gracie's bedtime was at 9, and there were very little exceptions to this rule.
"No, we just got back from the theater. We took her to see The Nutcracker," Monica reminded him. She also reminded him that she was in a we. We. As in her and James. James Kent. He just sounded pompously British. It was another reason that Chandler hated him. Of course the fact that he was engaged to the love of Chandler's life and got to be with his daughter every day when he himself only got to see his five-year-old four times a year also added to him hating James. James Kent. God, he hated that name.
"Oh, okay, then great, yeah, I'd love to talk to her." There was some shuffling and a minute later he heard a sleepy,
"Hi sweetheart. How was the ballet?"
"It was great," Gracie seemed to perk up a bit when he asked this. "James got me a Nutcracker....what was it called again Mommy?" He heard Monica's laughter in the background and it just made his heart ache again.
"A Marionette darling," she reminded Grace.
"What she said," Grace told her father. "And it's wooden and when you pull on the strings it moves and dances. It's so cool, Daddy."
Chandler had to force out a, "That's wonderful sweetheart." It hurt so badly to have her so far away. Her and her mother both. What had gone wrong between them? He couldn't even remember. He remembered working late nights, he remembered her being so flustered with the baby, but after that, it was a mystery. Sitting on the couch in their old apartment, he picked up the photograph that was sitting on the side table. He ran his finger over Gracie's face as he spoke to her. God did he miss her.
"Mommy says that I have to go to bed now," Gracie said. "When do I get to see you Daddy?"
"Soon honey, remember? You and Mommy are flying back to New York in a month?"
"How many days is that?" Grace whined. "That's too long." Oh how he agreed. It was way too long. And the best part of their visit was that James was not coming. Grace would stay with him and Monica was going to stay with Rachel.
"I know, sweetheart, but I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay. Goodnight Daddy."
"Goodnight angel." He heard another bit of shuffling and Monica's voice again.
"Goodnight Chandler," she said.
"We'll see you in three weeks," she reminded him. He didn't need to be reminded. He had a countdown on his calendar. It would be almost four months since he had seen Grace. That was far too long. She was only five. He was missing the most important things in her life. He hung up the phone and sat in his house alone clutching the picture frame in his hand. He, Grace, and Monica sat grinning into the camera at a picnic in the park. Rachel had taken the picture. Why hadn't he tried harder to keep the two of them? Why had he let them go without a real argument? Suddenly he felt hot tears start to roll down his cheeks. He sat and remembered that day, in the park. Which now, looking back on it, was the beginning of the end.
3 years earlier:
"Chandler! Can you grab Grace's jacket for me?" Monica called from the upstairs of their house. Chandler, who was standing by the front door, his arms laden with picnic items, reached into the hall closet and pulled out Grace's jacket. Briefly looking outside the window, he noted that it was gorgeous out and sunny. There was no way that Grace would need the jacket, but he had been married to Monica long enough to know that it didn't matter. She would want to be prepared. And that was what, in her mind, she was doing. Being prepared for any disaster that should possibly arise. Chandler would have bet good money that if the apocalypse was happening, Monica would have taken some preventive measure to make sure that her and her family were safe. This had only gotten worse when she became a mother. He would also put good money on the fact that Grace was the single most adored child in the universe. By both her parents and her aunts and uncles.
"Are you ready?" Chandler asked as Monica came down holding Gracie in her arms.
"We're ready, aren't we Gracie?" Gracie nodded and Monica slipped on a pair of sunglasses and handed Gracie a little pink pair that matched her outfit perfectly. The result of having a very fashion conscious mother and aunt. They made their way out to the car and piled the basket, blanket, and various other must haves in the trunk before climbing into the car and heading towards the city. They were supposed to meet Rachel, Ross, and Emma outside their apartment building and the six would go from there.
Pulling up to the curb, Chandler saw his brother-in-law and three-year-old niece standing with their arms full of stuff as Rachel stood nearby talking on the phone and making huge, sweeping gestures with her hands. Monica jumped out of the car and Rachel quickly hung up and threw her arms around her best friend.
"It's such a gorgeous day," Ross commented to Chandler as Chandler unloaded the car.
"That it is," Chandler grinned at him. "The perfect day for a picnic. Great idea Rach." She beamed.
"Thanks," she shrugged. "I just wanted to get outside after being cooped up all winter."
"I agree," Monica said as she went and unbuckled Gracie from her car seat. "Gracie's been getting a little restless inside." They stood and continued to make small talk as Chandler went to find a parking garage to leave the car for the day. When he came back, he picked up some of the stuff, while Monica placed Gracie in her stroller, and they made their way to the park. He kept his hand on the small of her back as they crossed the street, something that he had always done, and when they got there, they searched and found the perfect spot and unfolded the blanket and laid out the fantastic lunch that Monica had prepared.
It was a great day, Chandler decided as Rachel and Monica cleaned up and he and Ross finished their Frisbee game.
"Hey, you three, get together," Rachel said as she picked up her camera. Chandler pulled his wife close to him, and she sat Grace on her lap and the three grinned up at Rachel.
It was, as Chandler reflected, the last time that they had really laughed together. It was the last time that they had really been happy. Truly, truly happy.
Caught in a vein
Headed for the heart of pain
Memories and tears remain
And an old photograph of you and I
I know it's not much but it gets me by
Monica held Gracie's hand tightly as they stepped into the crowded baggage claim and searched for Ross and Rachel who were supposed to pick them up.
"Monica! Gracie!" Monica spun around and a second later was caught up in a giant hug by her big brother. Rachel had grabbed Grace and was hugging her tightly. They then switched off. Rachel wrapped her arms around her best friend and hugged her fiercely.
"God, Mon, I've missed you so much," Rachel breathed.
"I know, me too," she replied. Ross held Gracie as he smiled at the two women.
"Are you two going to stand there all night and weep, or can we go home?" He asked.
"Let's go see Daddy!" Gracie clapped her hands together and the adults laughed.
"I guess that's our answer," Rachel said as her and Monica reluctantly parted. They gathered their luggage and headed towards the cab that Ross had waiting. The stopped first at the apartment to drop off Monica's things, and then headed out to the suburbs to Chandler's house.
Seeing the house again sent a flood of emotions through Monica. She missed it. And at the same time, it made her unbelievably sad to be there again. They pulled up outside of the house and the front door flew open and Chandler opened his arms and Gracie went flying into them.
"Daddy!" She squealed as he spun her around.
"I've missed you," he murmured into her hair. "God, I've missed you. Look how big you are!" She grinned as he set her down and took her hand.
"Hi Chandler," Monica said quietly as she approached him. He let go of Grace's hand briefly to wrap his arms around Monica. She looked good. She smelled good. She felt good.
"Hi Mon, how was the flight?" She slid the sunglasses she was wearing to the top of her head and nodded.
"It was good," she replied nodding. "Long, but good." He nodded and then turned and scooped up Gracie again.
"Come on in," he said leading the way into the house. Monica took a deep breath and then turned and followed. She blinked a few times when they stepped inside, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darker light. She felt a hand slip around her waist.
"You okay?" Rachel asked. Monica turned and gave her a small smile and nodded.
"I'm fine," she replied biting her lip. Rachel knew that she was lying. She considered it her job as Monica's best friend to know when she was lying, but she didn't say a word. She stood studying her friend's face to judge on how not fine she was, and then decided that they would talk about when they were out of the house. That house that held so much pain and so many memories.
Life turns another page
But I don't feel older because I'm numb from pain
Your voice on the phone don't sound the same
I try to sleep late just to pass the day
~Okay, kids. I promise I will explain everything in the next chapter. Why they divorced, why Monica and Grace are in London, everything. I pinky swear. Okay, please review!~