TOW the Auction
"So Chandler, how is the world of…" Richard paused and furrowed his brow a little. "Sorry. What is it you do?"
Chandler chuckled lightly. "I'm a data processor. I enter data into a computer and it gets processed out to different departments. Every month we do a report to show us if the data we're entering in is making the company any money."
Richard nodded enthusiastically. "Ok. That sounds interesting."
Chandler rolled his eyes and gave him a wry smile. "It really isn't."
Richard laughed. "No but it gets you a pay cheque every month, right?"
Chandler lifted his wine glass. "Amen to that."
For what seemed like the thousandth time that night, Monica glanced at Chandler in astonishment. The two of them had been drinking a bottle of wine with Richard and Rita for a little over an hour. The group were having such a blast that they hadn't even thought about ordering food. Chandler and Richard were talking like old friends, seemingly forgetting about the time Chandler and Joey had called the older man their 'Dad'. Monica had so far found Rita, a tall woman in her forties with short, brown hair, to be friendly and witty.
Monica continued to watch Chandler for a few minutes. The man seemed to have gone through a temporary personality transplant. The neurotic nervousness that he usually exhibited around strangers was gone. He was telling funny jokes without them being too goofy; he was charming the socks off Rita. He just seemed totally at ease within himself, something that didn't happen too often. Monica found herself wondering if Chandler had always really been like this but had never noticed.
Rita rolled her eyes comically. "Why don't we escape to the bathroom?" she suggested quietly to Monica. "Those two won't shut up for ages."
Monica listened to Chandler and Richard conduct a deep discussion on the tactics of the New York Knicks and nodded quickly.
"Had they always been like that in the past?" Rita asked Monica in amusement as they studied their reflections in the bathroom mirrors.
Monica shook her head. "No. They weren't at all close. The age-gap had always created distance."
"Really?" Rita looked at her in surprise. "They look like the best of friends."
"I think they're doing it for us." Monica said quietly. Chandler had put up with a lot over the last three days and she still couldn't believe that he hadn't stopped talking to her yet.
"Hmm, Chandler is a very nice young man." Rita murmured, smiling. "You're lucky to have him. Isn't it awkward watching him talk to your ex?"
Monica shook her head vigorously. "No, I'm kind of relieved. I was afraid that Chandler was going to start acting like…Chandler."
Rita laughed. "Usually a little more neurotic than he's been tonight?"
"Understatement of the year," Monica smiled fondly as she thought about her 'boyfriend.'
"Young love." Rita sighed. "I think you underestimate that man of yours."
"Yes maybe. Young love?" Monica gave her a small smile. If only she knew.
"You are so cute together," Rita told her. She opened the door to the restaurant. "Come on…let's see what they're talking about now."
"Um…problem," Chandler told them as the two women sat back down in their seats.
"What is it?" Monica asked, looking at him in concern.
"There isn't a vegetarian menu for Rita." Richard told her, smiling apologetically.
Rita looked down in embarrassment. "Don't worry. I'll just…keep drinking." She topped up her wine glass and grinned round the table.
Chandler laughed. "No, we can go somewhere else."
"Everywhere will be fully booked by now," Richard pointed out, looking at his watch.
"Well…how about we all go back to my place?" Rita suggested brightly. "I'll make us something; we can have a few drinks, watch a few movies. We'll make a night of it – there's no such thing as 'closing time' at Rita Sullivan's house!"
Monica and Chandler exchanged smiles and nodded. "That would be great." They said together.
"Oh my god, what a night," Chandler commented, walking slowly down the street. "I don't think I've ever laughed harder." Monica linked an arm through his and nodded.
"I can't believe Rita put on Jaws," Monica said, giggling. "A real daredevil, that one! That makes or breaks a party"
"Ba-bum – ba-bum – babum-babum-babum," Chandler sang. He glanced at Monica and they started laughing.
"I've never seen Richard drunk before," Chandler said after a few minutes.
Monica grinned. "Neither have I."
"Really?" Chandler arched his eyebrows in surprise. "What about the time you two went to that nightclub with Ross and Rachel?"
"He never drank. The poor man had to drive us home."
The two walked in silence for a few minutes. Even though the numerous amount of beers Chandler had consumed had made his mind a little confused, he had noted the tone of sadness in Monica's voice.
"Do you miss being with him?" he asked her cautiously. He almost regretted asking. He couldn't bear it if Monica started talking about how much she still loved Richard.
"No, not anymore," Monica replied quietly.
Chandler shot her a look but continued walking them down the street.
"Why not?" He asked innocently.
"It's been a while. It gets easier through time." Monica stopped and looked up at Chandler. "I don't want to be with him, I just want be with someone. That's what all this craziness has been about; I couldn't bear to see him happy. I've been really stupid because Rita deserves to be with him, and he deserves to be with her."
Chandler sighed and wrapped his arms around Monica. She snuggled into his shoulder while he stroked her hair. "Sorry I'm making your life a living hell." She added.
Chandler chuckled. "It hasn't been that bad." He paused as Monica looked sceptically at him. "Ok, so maybe some of the things you've asked me to do have been a little insane, but it's been fun."
"Fun?" Monica laughed. "You really are an incredible man."
Chandler blushed. "Thank-you," He said softly.
Monica smiled gently at him and linked her arm again in his. "Come on, it's 2a.m. and we're standing in the middle of the city like a pair of drunken idiots."
"We are a pair of drunken idiots." Chandler pointed out to her good-naturedly. He widened his eyes as he thought of something. "Did you say it was 2a.m?"
"Yes." Monica replied, looking at him suspiciously.
"So technically my last day being your slave has finished?"
"Yes." Monica repeated, starting to smile.
"So that means that you are my slave?"
"I guess it does mean that."
"Well then, I think it's the perfect time for you to do your first task." Chandler announced, bringing the two of them to a stop. They had arrived outside Central Park. The area was completely deserted, the place lit only by a few street lamps.
"Now?" Monica exclaimed, "Chandler, it's in the middle of the night!"
"What's wrong with that?" Chandler looked out over the grassy spot. "Have you ever played baseball?"
"What? No, not for years," Monica replied, laughing. "You're not seriously asking me to play baseball with you right now?"
"Come on, I'll teach you. I'll just grab my stuff from the apartment and we can hit a few balls in the park."
"This is crazy," Monica said as Chandler grabbed her hand and ran them across the road to their building. "It's dark, we're drunk."
"It'll be fun."
A few minutes later and the two of them were standing a few feet away from each other in a lit area of the park. "Ok, you just grip the bat with both hands and hold it just above your shoulders." Chandler instructed.
"Chandler, this is crazy," Monica complained.
"I quite agree, but it's no crazier than the other stuff you've asked me to do." Chandler told her.
"You call cooking me breakfast in bed crazier than this?" Monica demanded, waving her bat around madly.
"That kind of grip won't help you." Chandler said, shaking his head.
"Ok, I'll help." Chandler walked over to Monica, ignoring her protests. He stood behind her and held her hands gently on the bat. "You're not standing right," he said into her ear.
"We've just drank about five pitchers of cocktails between us…of course I'm not standing right!" Monica grumbled at him.
Chandler chuckled lightly. He was standing very close to Monica now. His arms were practically wrapped around her body as he helped her hold the bat. The back of her legs were leaning against his knees.
"Are we planning on standing like this all night?" Monica asked now, laughing slightly. Chandler stared at her in alarm; it was like she had read his mind.
"Um…no," he said in a strangled voice. "If you can keep that grip, I can let go of your hands."
"I think I've got it." Monica said uncertainly.
"Are you sure?" Chandler asked, amused. He had the amazing feeling that she didn't want him to move from his position just yet.
"No I think you need to show me the movements."
"Ok." Chandler started to move the bat back and forth, which caused Monica's arms to move as well. "You just need to swing it. Move your whole body, go with it."
Their bodies started to sway together in unison. Chandler slowly started to let go of the bat and rested his hands on Monica's hips. After a few short swings on her own, Monica stopped.
"Yeah, um, needs a bit of work." She said in a high-pitched voice.
"I'll, um, pitch a few balls to you." Chandler muttered hurriedly, walking past her and stopping a few feet in front.
"Ok." Monica gripped her bat. "Go for it Bing!"
Chandler threw the baseball directly at Monica's bat. She took a big swing and hit it squarely on target. The ball hit Chandler straight in the face.
"Holy…!" Chandler screamed, clutching his right eye.
"Oh my god!" Monica yelped, throwing her bat on the floor and running over to him. "Are you ok?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine!" Chandler said sarcastically, wincing. He removed his hand, revealing a swollen mess all around his eye.
"Oh my god," Monica bit her lip. "I'm so sorry."
"I forgot to mention that you're supposed to aim the ball somewhere other than where the bowler is." Chandler added, bending down in pain. He clutched his eye again.
"I think we'd better put some ice on that." Monica said worriedly.
"You think?" Chandler snipped. "I think I've gone blind. Where's that ex-boyfriend of yours when we need him?"
"Ok, hold still." Monica placed a frozen bag of beans on Chandler's eye.
"Ow!" Chandler squeaked, twitching away,
"I know it hurts right now, but this will help, honestly." Monica muttered at him, leaning in again with the bag.
"Geezus Mon, I know you said you hadn't played in years but…ow!"
"Shh, Rachel is asleep." Monica whispered. She pulled her chair closer to Chandler's so she could get a closer look. "You're going to have one hell of a bruise tomorrow."
"Great. I'll look like a panda."
Monica giggled softly. "I like Pandas."
"So do I, but I don't want to be mistaken for one." Chandler held the frozen bag over his eye and sighed deeply. "Why do things like this happen to me all the time?"
"It's just bad luck I guess." Monica laughed.
"Every date I've been on ends in disaster." Chandler moaned, removing the ice-pack and placing it on the table. "I think you're right, it has helped a little. At least I can open my eye now…what?" He looked at Monica's startled face.
"Nothing." Monica stood up from the kitchen table and hurriedly replaced the bag back in the freezer.
"No, Monica, what's the matter?"
"Nothing's the matter…" Monica started, staring at him. "It's just something you said…"
"Just something I said." Chandler echoed, raising an eyebrow. "I say a lot of things Mon. What exactly…"
"You-you said every date you've ever been on ends in disaster. Was-was tonight a date?" Monica stammered, looking nervously.
Chandler widened his eyes, realising what Monica seemed to be suggesting. "Oh…um…well, maybe I should have said every 'fake' date ends in disaster," he corrected lamely.
"I had a really good time tonight." Monica told him quietly.
"Yeah, me too," Chandler swallowed hard as Monica sat down opposite him.
"I mean, if this had been a real date, I wouldn't call it a disaster." Monica pointed out, smiling. "You did pretty good Bing."
"Yes, I am quite the legend." Chandler said jokily. He looked seriously at her. "It was nothing. I didn't do anything special."
"You did though. Rita loved you; Richard thinks you're even cooler than before. You charmed them so much…and me." Monica brushed her fingers against Chandler's hand. "I almost forgot tonight that you weren't my boyfriend…and when I did remember it depressed me."
"Mon…do you realise what you're saying?" Chandler asked, wide-eyed.
"Yes." Monica looked deeply into his eyes.
"This wasn't even a real date, how could you possibly…" Chandler stopped short as Monica leaned in quickly to kiss him. "…think I'm boyfriend material based on tonight?" he finished breathlessly.
"You were just 'you' all night," Monica explained, "I can't believe I missed what an incredible man you are. You make me laugh, you're kind…and you have got the sexiest blue eyes I've ever seen."
"You should really drink all the time." Chandler said, placing his hands on either side of Monica's face and kissing her. They wrapped their arms around each other, deepening the kiss. They stopped for a minute, smiling excitedly at each other.
"I feel like I'm 20 again." Monica whispered, laughing.
"We should go on 'fake dates' more often." Chandler suggested, his blue eyes dancing happily.
"Seriously?" Monica asked, staring at him.
"Well, we could give it a shot." He wriggled his eyebrows at her.
"Ok." Monica nodded and kissed him again.
End of Chapter 10