AN:  This is um, just like all the other First Night fics that are appearing, as the result of not one, but two online fic contests.  So, nothing new here, just me rambling again!

The One With The First Night

Erica sat on the front steps of her parent's home, her eyes wandering from house to house, her mind replaying memories of a childhood gone by.  She took a long, slow drag on her cigarette, extinguishing it quickly when she heard footsteps from inside the house.  She quickly exhaled, and fanned the air in front of her hurriedly, in an attempt to dissipate the plumes of smoke that now surrounded her.

"Wow, you are really bad at hiding your habit," her father's voice came from behind, as the old wooden screen door squeaked, then slammed shut with a snap.  From inside the house, her mother's voice could be heard, muffled by walls and space.

"Chandler!  Don't slam the door!"

"Sorry honey!" Chandler yelled with a smile, then took a seat next to his daughter slowly.

"You'd think you would have learned by now," Erica said dryly.

"You'd think," Chandler sighed.  "Now, about your smoking—"

"Dad!" Erica cried.

"Hey, I'm not gonna tell your mother—as long as you give me one," Chandler raised his eyebrows playfully.

"Forget it, not after what Dr. Martin said at your last appointment," Erica shook her head.

"How do you even know about that?"

"Mom told Aunt Rachel.  And Aunt Rachel tells everybody everything."

"Naturally," Chandler laughed.

They were silent for a moment, father and daughter sitting side by side, staring out into the tree-lined street, memories of years past dusting their minds.

"It's gonna be so weird, not being here," Erica finally said, with a reminiscent sigh.

"Yeah," Chandler nodded, then placed a hand on his daughter's shoulder, "but you are gonna have so much fun.  College is just the best," he added with a warm smile.

"Thanks, Dad," Erica smiled, and laid her head on Chandler's shoulder.

"It will be weird, though, without you and Jack here," Chandler said quietly, "We haven't lived one day in this house without the two of you."

"Not even before we were born?"

"Nope.  The day Erica had you two, we moved out of the city, and into this place.  Man, it seems like it was ages ago."

"It was ages ago, old man," Erica laughed, and Chandler slapped her arm playfully.

"So wasn't it hard, moving and having babies all in one day?"

"Ugh, it was excruciating.  Your mother refused to let me do anything, but when I would sit down, or start playing with you guys, she would complain that I wasn't helping."

"That sounds familiar," Erica laughed.

"But, it was so much fun.  We were finally in our own home, and we had these two, perfect, beautiful little children—I wonder what ever happened to those kids?" Chandler sighed, and it was Erica's turn to slap her father.

"I can't imagine this house brand new…and half empty," Erica sat up and shook her head, then looked back over her shoulder, "you guys have so much…crap."

"Yeah, well, half of that 'crap' belongs to you and your brother, and you can bet your butts you'll be taking it with you when you leave," Chandler said, in his 'fatherly' voice.

"Not to the dorms!  Mom said we could keep it here."

"Yeah, until you're done with college."

"Maybe I'll just move back in here," Erica laughed.

Chandler simply smiled, and kept to himself the thought that he really wouldn't mind so much, if his kids stuck around for a little while longer.  He sighed, and studied the cracks in the wooden steps below him.

"Dad?  What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking about the first time we brought you here," Chandler sighed, his mind drifting.

----

"We definitely stayed at the coffeehouse too long," Monica said for the third time that night, "we should have come out and done this ourselves!  We'll never find all of the babies' stuff in this disaster!"

"Well, they were marked by room…shouldn't they have put everything in the proper room?" Chandler looked at the top of the box next to him.  There, in Joey's kid-like scrawl, was the word 'Crap'.

"No, they just put it wherever.  We have to get the babies' room set up so we can get them to sleep.  I'd like to at least finish our room and the kitchen tonight."

"Really?  Both rooms?" Chandler asked weakly.  Off of Monica's look, he shrugged.

"Why don't you go check the nursery?  I'll stay with the twins and look for the proper boxes."

"Fine," Monica sighed, and made her way out of the living room, stopping to fuss over the twins on her way.  She ventured up the stairs and down to the nursery, pausing to peer into each room along the way.  Sighing tiredly at the mess, she opened the door to the nursery, and gasped audibly.

It was all there…everything they'd purchased.  And not only was it there, it was all set up, and ready for use.  The walls, painted a very pale yellow, were bordered by a colorful green, brown, yellow and red stencil, that matched perfectly the picture that hung in the center of the back wall: it was a classic, original sketch of Winnie the Pooh.

Monica grinned, and walked into the room, her hand dusting over the natural wooden crib and matching changing table.  A small, musical mobile hung over the crib, and it danced merrily when Monica spun it with her fingers.

It was perfect, in every way.

"We're gonna have to get another crib," Chandler said softly, but his sudden presence still made Monica jump.  She turned to look at her husband, tears lining her eyes.

"When did you—How did you—" Monica stuttered.

"Joey helped.  We worked on it for a few days last week.  With everything else that was going on, we figured you wouldn't notice," Chandler smiled proudly.

"Chandler, it's just beautiful," Monica sighed, and wrapped her arms around his neck lovingly.  He pulled her close, and planted a kiss on her nose, and then her lips.

"I love you, Mrs. Bing," he whispered.

"I love you too, Mr. Monica," she smiled wickedly, and he laughed.

A cry emanated from Chandler's hand, and he pulled away from Monica and looked at the monitor he had been holding.

"Baby time," Chandler smiled, and led Monica downstairs.

Erica and Jack, who had previously been sound asleep in their shared bassinet, were now wiggling and whining simultaneously, both of them red-faced and irritated.

Instinctively, Chandler picked up Erica, and as a result, Monica picked up Jack.  Monica had noticed this pattern before, and as the babies' cries wound down, she decided to point it out.

"Do you realize that every time these two cry, you pick up Erica?"

"What?"

"Not that I'm complaining…really, because I certainly love holding Jack, but you always go immediately for Erica."

"I can't even tell them apart," Chandler replied, "and if I recall correctly, neither can you!"

"I put pink socks on Erica," Monica said flatly, and Chandler looked down at the pink-covered foot that was currently protruding from the white blanket his daughter was wrapped in.

"How do we have pink socks?  I though we bought all white because we didn't know the sex of the baby?"

"I was…kind of willing it to be a girl," Monica admitted sheepishly, as she rocked Jack in her arms.

"What?"

"What?  Girl baby clothes are just so much…cuter!"

Chandler simply laughed, and shook his head.

"Anyway, it worked out—we got both!" Monica said defensively.

"Yeah, I think that it was a boy, and all of your 'willing' produced this one," Chandler joked.

"And you love that it did," Monica smiled.

Erica's tiny hand wrapped itself around Chandler's finger, and he looked down at her, awe and contentment in his eyes.

"I really do," he said softly, and brushed his lips over his daughter's exposed head.

"You are gonna be a great daddy," Monica whispered softly, her eyes tearing.

"I hope so," Chandler said, and met Monica's eyes again, "because you're already the world's best mom."

Monica smiled, and let tears of happiness drift down her face.

"Yeah, but, look who you are comparing me to," she said with an arched brow.

---

"They're asleep," Chandler whispered, as he padded into the kitchen, several hours later.  He laughed slightly, when he caught sight of his wife.

She was seated on the floor in the center of the kitchen, surrounded by various appliances and other kitchen devices.

"What happened here?" he asked through a chuckle.

"Joey happened," Monica said darkly, "It's like he just…threw stuff into boxes!"

"Well honey…he did," Chandler laughed and extended his hand, "Come on, this can wait until morning."

"Are you kidding me?" Monica said incredulously, though she took Chandler's hand and let him pull her to her feet, "I can't even leave my shoes out of the closet, and you want me to leave all…this?"

"Yes," Chandler said smiling, "We have two little babies that will be awake very, very early tomorrow.  In fact, they'll probably be up in about an hour, wanting food.  I think we should pace ourselves here."

"Fine," Monica relented, with a smile on her face.  She looked up at Chandler, and he wiped some dust off of her nose lovingly, before kissing her softly.

"I found the towels.  Why don't you go take a shower, and I'll order some food?"

"Okay," Monica whispered, too absorbed in her husband's eyes to realize that she should probably be putting up a fight.

He kissed her again, then led her toward the stairs, before walking back to the kitchen to find the take-out menus that a generous neighbor had left on their front stoop that afternoon.  Deciding on Chinese, he dialed the number and ordered, knowing his wife's favorites by heart.

Forty minutes later, Monica emerged from the bathroom, clean and relaxed, and, she suddenly realized, very, very hungry.  She descended the stairs and headed into the living room, her smile widening at her third big surprise of the day.

Chandler had set out a blanket, several pillows, and a few candles, and had spread the boxes of food out in the center of the blanket.  Sitting prominently on a pillow right between their seats, was the baby monitor.

"Hungry?" Chandler whispered into her ear, as he snaked an arm around her waist.  She nodded silently, and let him lead her to the picnic, where they settled to eat their meal.

"You are the sweetest man," Monica smiled as Chandler handed her a box of sweet and sour pork.

"Because I'm letting you at the sweet and sour first?"

"No," Monica laughed, "because you are…you just are," she finished quietly.

"Well, I promised to make you as happy as you make me.  And you make me very happy, sweetheart."

Monica looked out toward the staircase, then over at her husband, who was busy fishing through a box of food with his chopsticks, and sighed.

"I've never, ever been happier."

----

"Aw, daddy that's so sweet!  What happened after that?"

"You don't want to know what happened after that," Chandler said with a wicked glint and a raised eyebrow.

"Ew, no I really don't" Erica screwed up her face in disgust.

"I'm kidding," Chandler laughed, "you two kept waking up.  You kept us up all night for the next…eighteen years or so."

"Well, now we're leaving, so you can finally get some sleep," Erica smiled.

"Yeah, right," Chandler shook his head, "Your mother and I don't stop worrying just because you aren't in the house."

"We'll be fine.  I mean, even with you two raising us, we turned out pretty darn good."

"Yeah, you're not too bad," Chandler laughed, and pulled Erica into a hug.

"Hey you two, we have to get going.  Your train leaves in two hours," Monica appeared in the doorway, hands on her hips and a gentle smile on her face.

"I guess I'd better go pack then," Erica said, and winked at her father.

"You haven't packed?" Monica cried, and both Erica and Chandler laughed, "Oh, you are too much like your father," she said exasperatedly.

"I'm all packed," Jack boomed proudly, as he dropped his duffle bag onto the floor.

"Of course you are," Erica said sourly, and walked past him into the house.

"I'll take this to the car," Chandler announced, after noting the rushed look on his wife's face.

"Thank you, baby!" Monica said, as Chandler descended the front steps.

.

Erica looked around her now half-empty bedroom, a wave of nostalgia coursing though her.  She had been so focused on getting into college, she hadn't really thought about how hard it would be for her to leave behind the house she'd spent her life in.  She scanned the room, her eyes falling on objects that reminded her of everything she loved about this place, and her family.  Sighing heavily, she picked up her bag, and walked toward her door.  She paused, as she reached the door, and ran her hand over the purple wall.  She peered down the hall, making sure her parents weren't in sight.  Then, with her index finger, she scraped a small piece of paint off of the wall.

She smiled, as there, underneath the pale purple that her room, it seemed, had always been, was a speck of pale yellow paint.

For all the nights you held me close

Warmed my heart when it was cold

When I was giving up

You gave me love

From some dark alley in my mind

You made a hidden dream unwind

Turned my stumbling blocks

To stepping stones

I'll get even with you

For the hard times you helped me through

I'm giving back to you

All the love you've given me

For the rest of my life

Everyday and everynight

If it's the last thing I ever do

I'll get even with you

When the odds were against me

And I was lost with no will to go on

You wrapped your loving arms around my heart

Took my losin' hand and led me home

I'll get even with you

For the hard times you helped me through

I'm giving back to you

All the love you've given me

For the rest of my life

Everyday and everynight

If it's the last thing I ever do

I'll get even with you

If it's the last thing I ever do

I'll get even with you.

(I'll Get Even With You, LeAnn Rimes)