Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to the characters from FRIENDS. They belong to the creators of the show, as in Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright.

The Calm after the Storm

Chapter 1: Late Again

Nineteen-year-old Rachel Green sat in her apartment at eight thirty at night. She had a pair of jeans and a light blue spaghetti strapped shirt on. She was waiting for her live-in boyfriend to come home. Todd was late again. He was supposed to be home an hour ago, but he wasn't there. He had promised to come home for dinner with her, but he had broken that promise. That wasn't the only promise he had broken. This was the third time in a week that he had broken a promise.

Thunder outside startled Rachel as it rattled the glass in the windows. Rachel looked out just in time to see lightning strike miles away. She walked over and shut the curtains angrily. The phone rang and Rachel walked over to answer it.

"Todd?" she asked hopefully.

"No. It's me," her best friend Monica replied. "Todd's late again?"

"Yeah," Rachel said with an exasperated sigh. "It's the third damned time this week."

"I'm sorry sweetie. You want to come hang out over here? Ross went out for the night, my mom and dad are on a date, and Chandler and I were just about to order a pizza. I swear he's trying to make me fat. I've been there and done that. I'm not going back." Rachel laughed a little.

"I don't want to interrupt you two love birds."

"Rachel, it's our third date."

"Sweetie, Todd and I moved in together before our third date. I guess that was mostly to get away from my bitchy sisters and fighting parents."

"Well, if you feel the need to get out, come on over."

"Thanks Mon," Rachel replied. She hung up the phone and jumped as another bolt of lightning took out the power. "Dammit!" She searched through the apartment blindly, looking for candles and matches. After a bit of a struggle, she lit a candle and proceeded about the apartment to light other candles. "Todd, where are you?"

She didn't want to face what might be happening every time Todd was late. She had heard people talking about him with some girl, but she never wanted to believe it. What if Todd was cheating on her? What if he was breaking his promises to her to keep promises to some body else?

She shook her head. She didn't want to think about it. Todd had been so amazing until he started breaking promises. She couldn't believe Todd was late. The longer she waited for him, the angrier she got. She had to get out. She slipped on her sandals and grabbed an umbrella. It was late May, so she knew she didn't need a jacket. She just wanted to get out and not have to wait anymore.

She walked down the street to a small club. It was a hang out for people who were eighteen to twenty years old. There was no alcohol, but there was absolutely no way you couldn't have a good time. The music rocked and the people were great.

The crowd was heavy and the music was extremely loud. Rachel smiled as she walked in because this was where she met Todd. Ugh. She didn't want to think about Todd. She was mad at him. She wanted to chill with some people her own age. She knew she could go to Monica's, but she didn't want to bother her and Chandler. It was at that moment that she looked over to see Todd dancing with a girl about Rachel's age. She was Hispanic and very beautiful. Rachel couldn't believe her eyes. She turned away, tears stinging her eyes. She turned back, hoping that she had just been seeing things. But Todd was there with a girl when he was supposed to be home with her.

She didn't want to make a scene. She didn't want to cry. She bit her bottom lip to stop it from quivering, and she swallowed the lump in her throat. She walked over to a dark corner and sat down on a couch. She sat there for a long time, watching Todd and that bitch dance out of the corner of her eyes. She was disgusted. She wanted to go home, but she wanted to see just how close he was with her. Maybe he had just gone by himself and lost track of the time. Maybe he wasn't exactly dancing with her. It was a fast song, after all. Maybe he was just dancing with the group.

Rachel's hope was shattered a moment later when Todd grabbed the girl's butt and pulled her close. They began to grind to the music, and it was enough to make Rachel want to throw up.

"Alright," Rachel mumbled. "I'm out of here." She stood and ran right into a very muscular chest. "Oh!" She jumped back quickly. "Excuse me." She looked up and found herself staring into the face of her best friend's brother. Twenty-year-old Ross smiled at Rachel. He had had a crush on her for the past five years.

"Hey Rach," he said with a smile. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I was coming to relax because Todd was late getting home. I came here to relax and I found the asshole with some girl." She pointed to the public display of affection in the middle of the dance floor. Todd now had his hands gripping her ass tightly. Rachel could have sworn Todd's tongue was shoved all the way down the girl's throat.

"I'm sorry, Rachel," Ross said shaking his head. "You shouldn't have to see that. You want to go for a walk?"

"I just want to get out of here." Rachel walked out of the building. It had stopped raining, so she used her umbrella as a kind of walking stick. Ross nervously walked beside Rachel. Rachel looked over at him. She had never realized how built he was. He looked quite strong. She knew Ross had a crush on her, and she always thought it was kid of cute of him to like her. But Ross had always been a good friend no matter what. She was happy that she knew him. She was happy to have him in her life.

"You want to get some coffee?"

"No," Rachel replied quietly. "You know, I think I'm just going to go home."

"Are you going to throw Todd out?"

"No."

"Why not? It's obvious that he's cheating on you."

"Look, Todd treats me . . ."

"Like crap," Ross finished.

"Ross . . ."

"You don't deserve to be treated the way he treats you. He lies to you, breaks promises, and cheats. You don't need that."

"I'm fine."

"You're not honestly saying that you're going to let him continue."

"What the Hell."

"Rach, what's the matter with you? A minute ago you were about to go over and beat the shit out of him. Why are you . . ."

"Ross, I don't want to talk about it." Rachel turned to walk away. Ross wanted to go after her, but he knew she had to deal with this by herself. He turned and walked back to the club. He wanted to punch Todd's lights out for how stupid he was being by cheating on Rachel. But he knew Rachel would be angry with him if he confronted Todd. So, he stayed in the background the rest of the evening, watching Todd and his mistress, whom he just couldn't seem to keep his hands off of.

When Rachel arrived at the apartment, she threw her purse down on the bed and she realized that she had left the candles on. She blew them out and flipped on the lights. Luckily the electricity in the building was back on.

She hated that Todd was cheating on her. She stood and thought for a moment. Was she actually going to let herself be cheated on? Was she going to keep that pig in her life? She picked up the phone and dialed Todd's cell phone number. It rang for a couple of minutes. She knew Todd was probably trying to find a quiet room so Rachel wouldn't suspect anything. Sure enough, when he answered, it was quiet.

"Hey baby." He knew it was her because he had her on his caller ID.

"Hi," Rachel replied, trying to act as if she was fine. "Where are you?"

"I'm . . . I'm caught in traffic. I'll probably be home in a half hour."

"Well, I threw dinner out. It burned anyway. I'm going to bed. I'm tired."

"But it's early."

"I have final exams tomorrow." She hung up. She was attending college and living off the money she had from her parents. That was enough for her to be well off for years. She knew she needed to get a job over the summer just to have job experience, but now that she was done with her freshman year of college, she could focus on that.

Todd had exams too. He had been failing all of his classes. He was only at college on a football scholarship. She knew he wasn't going to make it four years. She knew he would be kicked out as soon as his exams were over. She now knew that part of the reason Todd was failing was because he stayed up to ungodly hours having affairs with other women. Rachel figured that Todd was seeing more than just the girl at the club. Todd was a player and Rachel knew that now. She just wanted to get back at him. She wanted to have a fling and prove to Todd that she can play dirty too.

A knock came to the door and Rachel walked over to answer it. She almost hoped it was Todd already so she could punch him in the nose. But when she opened the door, she saw Ross standing there.

"Ross, what are you doing here?"

"I just came to check on you."

"I'm fine," Rachel replied. "You can come in if you want."

"Did you hear from Todd?" Ross asked as he stepped into the apartment.

"I called him. The asshole said he's stuck in traffic."

"Rachel, you should confront him."

"I will," she admitted. "I'm just so damned mad. I need to relieve some stress, you know? I have exams tomorrow, my boyfriend is cheating on me and lying to me, and I just want to get through tomorrow so I can be free for the rest of the damned summer!" Ross watched as Rachel began to tremble from the stress. A split second later, Ross was pulling Rachel toward him and pressing his lips to hers. Rachel kissed him back, surprised that she had her best friend's brother's lips on hers, but also surprised at how good it felt. Her conscience made her pull away.

"What's wrong?" Ross muttered, nearly out of breath.

"I can't do this. I can't do this to you."

"Um, I kissed you, Rach."

"I know you did. But I'm looking for a fling, okay? I know you have feelings for me. I know you do. I don't want to hurt you. I can't do this." Ross looked away.

"Rachel, if you're looking for a fling, I would rather it be with me than with some strange, random guy. I don't want you to get hurt either. I . . . I know that you don't feel the same way about me that I feel about you, but if you need . . . if you need me I'm here for you." Rachel had tears in her eyes again. She wrapped her arms around Ross' neck and she kissed his lips softly.

"You don't know how much I wanna take you up on that offer right now, Ross. I don't want to hurt you."

"Rachel, I've been dreaming of this for a long time, you know? I know it won't mean the same to you as it will to me, but . . ."

"Ross! That's exactly why this can't happen. We might both start to feel things that we don't need to . . ."

"And what's wrong with that? I know I'm supposed to be Ross Geller, the responsible one, but sometimes even I know that it's best not to think about things before you do them. This is one of those things where . . . I don't want to think. I don't want you to think. I want you to do what you want to do and not feel guilty about it. Rachel, don't feel guilty. Just . . . just . . ."

"Are you sure? Because once I get into this, I don't think I'm going to be able to stop. If you get the urge to start thinking . . . I don't think I could handle the rejection."

"Rachel, I could never reject you." With those words, Rachel wrapped her arms around Ross' neck and pulled him close, kissing his lips hungrily, licking along the part in his lips, begging for entrance. He opened his mouth slightly to let Rachel's tongue wander.

Ross couldn't believe he was kissing Rachel Green. This was the girl he'd been fantasizing about for the past five years. Now here she was, a grown woman, and he hand her mouth on his, her hands on his body. He had been wanting this and imagining this for so long. But this was better than he had ever dreamed.

Rachel couldn't believe she was kissing Ross Geller. This was Monica's brother! She had never pictured him as a passionate guy, but he was very passionate in the way he kissed and the way he touched her. He was so gentle and inexperienced. Rachel wasn't sure if Ross had ever had sex before, but when she found that he was having quite the trouble undoing her bra, she figured that he was.

"Ross?" she asked as he ran his lips over her neck.

"Mhm?" he mumbled as his hands ran up her shirt and around to caress her back.

"Um . . . is this your first time?" she asked, almost shyly. Ross looked at Rachel was absolute adoration in his eyes. She smiled when she asked him. She bowed his head a little. She saw a bit of pink coming to his cheeks.

"Yeah. Is that okay with you?" Ross asked.

"Do you have condoms?"

"I really didn't expect to be having sex tonight, so no."

"Oh . . . well, I have some in the other room," Rachel replied. She and Ross began to kiss again, and before too long, they had completely forgotten all about protection, and it was too late, because they were soon in the midst of passionate love making.

Ross was new at it, but he sure caught on quickly, in Rachel's opinion, and she couldn't help but think that he was probably the best lover she had ever had. Too bad it couldn't last.

A while later, Rachel and Ross were lying on Rachel's bed quietly, listening to the ticking of the clock. Rachel didn't know what to say. Ross wasn't quite sure what to say either, but he was amazed that his first time had been with Rachel. She had been the object of his fantasies, and his fantasy had become reality, and it had been better than he ever thought possible.

"Ross?" Rachel asked after a few minutes.

"Yeah?" he asked. He really didn't want her to tell him to leave. He wanted to stay with her. He wanted to take her away from Todd and spend the rest of his life making love to her.

"Todd will be home soon," Rachel said. "I need to talk to him. I need to break up with him." Ross quickly became hopeful. Did she want to be with him now?

"Oh?" he asked, trying not to sound too eager.

"Yeah. Um, I need to get him out of my life. You've made me realize that I don't need him. I think it's time for me to be alone for awhile. I have had boyfriends for so long. I think it's time that I did things my way for awhile."

"Oh," Ross replied, swallowing hard. He got out of bed and quickly pulled his clothes on.

"Thank you so much for tonight, Ross. You were so wonderful to me. I really hope you realize that."

"Rachel, you know how I feel about you . . . I care about you."

"I know," Rachel replied.

"I know this isn't the right time to say it, Rach, but . . . I know for certain now that I'm in love with you. You're amazing. You're the most amazing woman. I just want you to know how beautiful you are." Tears formed in Rachel's eyes again. She climbed out of the bed and wrapped the sheets around her body. She walked over to hug Ross.

"You have a place in my heart, Ross Geller. You are a wonderful friend. Thank you for being you." That really hurt Ross. He knew that Rachel didn't love him. He wasn't sure if she ever would. But, he was happy that he had tonight with her.

"I um . . . I won't say anything about this. I know you won't want anyone to know."

"Ross . . . I just need time."

"Time for what? I thought you didn't want us to attach any strings."

"I don't . . ." Rachel said slowly. "I just need time before we can tell anyone what happened."

"You mean . . . you want to talk about it someday?"

"Ross, I think it was worth mentioning. You were so sweet and kind to me. I'll never forget this. Never. But I think it's best if we're just friends. I don't regret this."

"I don't regret it either. I meant what I said. I don't want you to feel guilty," Ross replied. Rachel pressed a gentle kiss to her friend's lips. "We both helped each other tonight, Rachel." He turned and left the apartment. Rachel leaned against the door and she began to cry. She wasn't sure why she was crying. Somehow she had felt something for Ross. It had happened with their first kiss. A spark had ignited something in Rachel's heart. It broke her heart to watch Ross leave. She had never imagined that she would be watching Ross leave her home after having made love with him. But he had just left . . .and she wanted nothing more but to feel his arms around her once more. She had immediately begun to regret telling Ross that it was better if they just stayed friends. They were great together. They had a magic between the two of them that only they knew existed. It was if they were forbidden to be together, but once thrown together, a passion ignited and threw everything off balance.

Rachel let the sheets slip off from her body, and she stood in the middle of her apartment, feeling very lonely. When Ross was at her side, she felt like she had somebody to lean on and to talk to. When she was with Todd, all he talked about was football. She was suddenly disgusted with herself for ever going out with Todd. Suddenly, Rachel found herself comparing Todd to Ross. Ross was definitely the better man. She couldn't believe that after one amazingly passionate encounter, that wasn't supposed to mean a thing, she was already feeling a withdrawal without Ross there. She couldn't be falling in love with him after one night. She knew she couldn't be. Could she? Maybe her hormones were just out of whack because the reason for Todd's broken promises had hit her in the face. But she wasn't sure that was true. She had always liked Ross. She had always talked with him and played with him as a child. She had grown close to him, as close as she was with Monica. But they had gone a step further tonight. Why didn't it seem weird?

Rachel was snapped out of her thoughts by keys rattling in the door. She quickly pulled the sheets off of the floor and ran into the bedroom. She pulled pajamas on and got under the covers, pretending to be asleep so she wouldn't have to face Todd that night. She didn't want to look at him. But, the last thing she thought of before she drifted off to sleep, was Ross and how amazing he had been . . . and how she needed to see him again.

A/N....Please tell me what you think! I'd really like to know if I should continue!