The One In Vegas

"I know he was the love of your life."

"Not anymore."

"Your call."

"It's a four."

The words spun round and round in his head as he eyed the woman sitting beside him. Her hands were twisting nervously in her lap, and she flashed him a nervous smile when she noticed his gaze.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, oh, yes. Absolutely. You?"

"Yep."

They looked at each other for a long moment, and then abruptly looked away. Chandler dried his palms on his khakis and stared anxiously at the door of the chapel. He could hear faint music coming from within, then silence.

"Dum duh da duh da da duh…" he hummed tunelessly, then looked at her hopefully.

"Nope."

He sighed. "Ok, what was it this time?"

"Olympics theme. I think you were closer with 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'"

"Well, in my defense, I've only been to four weddings in my life."

She shrugged, looking down at her hands and then over at him after a moment. "Most of them Ross,' right?"

"Yeah."

The doors to the lobby from the outside flew open, and they both looked up. Chandler's eyebrows rose when he realized that the couple stumbling through the door were none other than two of his best friends.

"I dooooo!" Rachel said loudly as her eyes lit on the chapel doors at the other end of the waiting room.

"Wait, no, we gotta find the minister first. And pay the caterer," Ross slurred, his arm around her waist as they leaned on each other.

Next to him, Monica sat up straight, her jaw falling open as she watched Ross and Rachel approach the woman behind the receptionist desk. Their friends had yet to notice them, which wasn't surprising judging by the fact that they were, well, hammered.

"We would like to order a wedding and we would like to be married," Ross told the woman, his voice unnaturally loud in the stuffy silence of the waiting area.

"Oh my god," Monica said under her breath. She got to her feet, exchanging a look with Chandler.

"Okay, so now I've been to five weddings," Chandler said to himself. Monica stalked across the room, and Chandler followed more slowly, anticipating, if nothing else, the sheer entertainment value of next several minutes.

"You guys! What thehell is going on?" Monica demanded as she came up behind them.

Rachel turned around, stumbling and catching herself on the desk. She immediately brightened upon seeing Monica. "Mon!" she squealed. "I'm so glad you came to our shhhpec - special day."

"Oh, it's Monnnnca," Ross slurred, noticing her.

"What are you two doing?" Monica asked, folding her arms. She noticed the woman behind the desk about to hand them some sort of forms. "And what do you think you're doing?" she demanded, glaring. "Can't you see that they're completely drunk off their asses?"

"Most people who get married here are," the woman shrugged, but put the forms away.

"Dum da da daaaa, dum da da daaaa," Rachel hummed tunelessly to herself, swaying as she clung to Ross' arm.

"Oh, that's the wedding march," Chandler realized.

"Yes, you'll notice it sounds nothing like anything that Queen ever came up with," Monica said under her breath.

"Hey it's Chanler! My best man!" Ross said excitedly, pointing to him. Rachel gasped and ran over to hug him.

He gave Monica a look over her head, and peeled her off of him after a long moment, holding her at arm's length. "Rachel, sweetheart, not that I don't appreciate your affection, but you smell like a brewery, and also, you're kind of stealing our thunder."

Monica shot him a look, shaking her head quickly.

"Oh, like they even know what we're saying. She's just discovered her hands," he motioned to Rachel, who seemed fixated on them, "and Badly Drawn Boy over there is hitting on the gray-haired receptionist. Do you think he knows he has ink all over his face?"

Monica blew out an exasperated breath as she took in the sorry condition of her brother and best friend. "All right, well, let's just get them back to the hotel and then –"

But she was interrupted when the doors to the lobby flew open yet again, and Joey and Phoebe ran in, not even glancing their way and heading straight for the chapel doors.

Chandler gaped after them, his hands flailing for a moment as he tried to figure out what was going on. "What – what – it's like we're at the intersection of Drunk and Stupid, here."

Monica gestured in disbelief. "Chandler! Stop them! Oh my god, this is insane."

"What about these two?" He motioned to Ross and Rachel.

"I'll watch them, you go stop that wedding!"

"I love weddings," Rachel said cheerfully, leaning against Monica as they watched Chandler head toward the chapel. He reached out to pull the doors open when they swung in abruptly, and he found himself face to face with a surprisingly lucid looking Phoebe.

"Oh my god, did we miss it?" Phoebe cried.

"Miss what?"

"Our friends getting married!"

"And – and by friends you mean Ross and Rachel?" He wasn't sure exactly how she would have found out about he and Monica, but anything was possible; Phoebe had been skulking around that casino for hours. Plus, she had the whole psychic thing going on.

"Duh!" Phoebe said, exasperated.

He blew out his breath, relieved.

"Uh, guys, how about we talk about this out there, seeing as Pheebs and I just crashed these people's wedding, and Elvis does not look happy," Joey said nervously, pushing them both back into the lobby.

"There they are!" Phoebe said, pointing to Ross and Rachel.

"Phoebe, Joey, what are you guys doing here?" Monica demanded, as Chandler waved his arms behind them, trying to get her to be quiet.

"What do you mean, what are we doing here? We're here for the wedding, just like you!"

"Yeah Mon, Ross and Rachel's wedding," Chandler stressed through gritted teeth.

Monica looked like a deer in headlights for a moment, but recovered quickly. "Oh – oh right, of course," she chuckled nervously.

"God, how wasted are you?" Phoebe muttered under her breath, and Monica glared at her.

Joey, meanwhile, was giving them suspicious looks. Chandler fidgeted nervously beside him, suddenly feeling like he was back in Monica's living room on a summer afternoon not long after London, watching Joey's eyes grow wide when one too many hints added up and resulted in what was quite possibly his first clever deduction.

"Uh, so, did everyone see that they have mints in that basket over there?" he attempted to change the subject, pointing toward the reception desk, where Ross was busy unwrapping and taste-testing them one by one.

The woman behind the desk was staring stonily at him. "One of you will have to pay for those," she said coolly. She checked her list and reached out to ding her little bell as the wedding march once again filtered through the chapel doors. "Bing/Geller, you're up," she added.

Two pairs of eyes swung from Monica to Chandler and back again. Silence.

"Okay, uh, we can explain," Monica said hastily, the words spilling out when seconds ticked by and still no one said anything.

"Yeah, it's like this, we ah… we put our names in before Ross and Rachel so that… if we were too late, y'know, getting here, we had a window of time to stop them…" Chandler trailed off, realizing it was a lost cause.

"Oh! Oh!" Joey said, beginning to point at them.

"You guys were gonna get married?" Phoebe yelled.

Chandler rolled his eyes, and shrugged at Monica.

"Who's getting married?" Ross wondered, sliding down the wall and staring curiously up at them.

"Apparently the majority of people in this room!"

"Phoebe, calm down," Monica tried.

"You were gonna get married and you weren't even going to invite us?" Phoebe continued loudly, ignoring her.

"Well, that's kind of what eloping is," Chandler said wryly.

Joey looked at him, confused.

"Getting married in secret…" Chandler sighed.

Joey nodded knowingly.

"Look, can we talk about this after we figure out what to do with Ross and Rachel?" Monica asked.

"Oh no, Monica Geller, we're going to talk about this now."

"Yeah, you guys are always keeping secrets from us!" Joey added.

"And getting married? That's huge!" Phoebe reminded them.

"Ross and Rachel were going to do it!"

"Yeah, but it's Ross," Phoebe waved a hand dismissively. "And they're clearly hammered. This is you. And Chandler" She looked at him in disbelief.

"Look, Phoebe –" Monica began.

"Ross, I'm bored," Rachel whined, interrupting. "I want some grapes."

While everyone else blinked at that non sequitur, Chandler decided he'd had enough. "Okay, that's it. You," he approached the receptionist, who was probably thinking they were all nuts, "here's five bucks to cover the mints, and please take our names off the list. You," he looked at Phoebe and Joey, "take the Sharpie twins back to the hotel, get them some… fruit, and make sure they don't go anywhere the rest of the night. And you," he turned to Monica, "you, come with me."

He grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the doors, and they stumbled out into the cool spring night, ignoring the protests behind them.

"Chandler, where are we going?" Monica asked him, as he took her hand and led the way down the crowded sidewalk. "Are we going to find another chapel?"

He stopped, turning to look at her closely. "Is that what you want?"

Caught off guard, Monica could only stammer. "Well, uhh… is that what you want?" she tried to cover.

"What I want," he said, "is to get away from all these people and talk about this in private."

Monica fell silent as they walked down the street once more. At the next block, a quieter street led toward a small courtyard lit by Chinese style lanterns. A small restaurant with outdoor patio seating was at one end, and they could hear the click of silverware and murmur of voices as they passed by.

"Chandler?" Monica asked him. "Do you know where we're going?"

"Not a clue."

At the other end of the courtyard they found an empty bench, and Chandler glanced around and then decided this place was as good as any. He sat, and gestured for Monica to sit down beside him. She did, nervously.

"So," she said, looking up at him.

"So," he agreed.

She watched him for a moment, then let out a small laugh and stared down into her lap. "Can you believe that back there?"

"Knowing our friends? Yes."

Monica smiled. "True." She laughed again, shaking her head. "Still – of all the times for Ross and Rachel to get drunk and decide to get married, and of all the 24-hour chapels for them to show up at…"

"Well, it was the closest one," Chandler said, with a shrug. His smile slowly faded as he looked at her. "I think that maybe – that maybe it was a good thing that they did, though."

Monica looked up at him sharply, and he hastened to explain.

"I mean – you heard what that woman said. People like Ross and Rachel probably show up there all the time. Or people who don't even know each other. People who want to do something crazy just for the sake of… doing something crazy." He paused, and his voice softened. "People who don't love each other like we do."

Monica's eyes were wide in the flickering light of the courtyard. "So… what are you saying?" she asked hesitantly.

"I'm saying…" he took a deep breath. "I'm saying that I know you had doubts back there while we were waiting, and I did too. I'm saying that I think a quickie marriage in Vegas isn't what I want for us. For you. And… I'm also saying that I love you, and I don't regret what I said tonight under the craps table." He reached over; pressed something into her hand; flashed her a nervous smile. "Hey, you can't leave Vegas without doing something impulsive and crazy."

She glanced down, opening her hand. It was one of the dice from the craps table, and as she watched, he carefully rolled it over until it showed a four. "Marry me," he said softly. "Not now, not here… but someday, somewhere. I love you, Monica," he repeated. "Marry me."

There was a long silence, and her voice was choked with tears when she finally spoke. "Yes," she said simply.

"Yes? You – you said yes?" he checked, a smile growing on his face.

"Yes," she repeated, leaning up to throw her arms around his neck, the dice still clutched tightly in her palm. She laughed, reacting to the joy she felt in that moment, and he laughed too. They hugged for a long time, and finally she pulled back to gaze up at him, the wonder of the last few minutes catching up to her yet again.

"Oh my gosh. We're getting married!"

He kissed her till she was breathless. "We're getting married," he whispered, leaning his forehead affectionately against hers.

"I love you, Chandler," she whispered. "This is the most perfect moment of my life."

He just smiled and held her tighter.

"Honey?" she asked after a long moment, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen between them.

"Hmm?" he murmured.

"I don't think you're allowed to take the dice from the casino."

He opened his eyes, and she grinned up at him, tear tracks still fresh on her face.

"Yeah, you're one to talk, you klepto," he said dryly, tugging on the sleeve of her stolen blue sweatshirt. "C'mon. Let's get back to the hotel so we can return this contraband, and then go celebrate back in our room." He raised his eyebrows suggestively at her, and got abruptly to his feet, pulling her up with him.

"Chandler?" His arm was around her waist as they slowly walked back toward their hotel, leaving the romantic setting of the courtyard behind.

"Yeah?"

"If you think we're really giving this dice back, you're out of your mind."

"I know."

Violin music was pouring out of the restaurant as they strolled by, and Chandler's arm tightened around her.

"Chandler?"

"Yes honey."

"Thanks for not marrying me tonight."

He smiled into the darkness.

"Anytime."

They walked on.

-fin-