AN: For this to work, we all have to pretend that the phone call in TOW Christmas in Tulsa never happened, and there is no Wendy. Yeah.

For Chris.

Washington Square

Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us, will be near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now...

I hate this song. Okay, hate is a strong word, I suppose--no, I hate it.

I hate it because it reminds me that we aren't all together. It reminds me that my husband is a thousand miles away, on Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the lights, the trees, the decorations, the food...

More than anything, I love to be surrounded by people I love, sharing gifts and simply...being together.

And I know that the people I spend the holidays with are people that I see nearly every day, but Christmas...it's just different. Special.

And he isn't here. Chandler isn't here, and that alone has completely ruined everything.

He tried to play it down. He was here for Hanukkah, he said, so that's something.

How is that something? He's not even Jewish!

I know he was just trying to make it better, but each time I look under the tree, and see a neatly wrapped gift bearing his name, it makes me sad. Each time I scan the apartment, it seems so empty, even with everyone here. Nothing feels right.

He should be here tonight.

"Hey Mon, do you wanna watch A Christmas Story with us?" Rachel offers, and it's only then that I realize that I've been staring out the window for several long minutes.

I turn to look at my friends, who look back at me hopefully, and I can see that while they may miss Chandler, they just don't understand why I can't celebrate with them this year.

"You guys go ahead. I have some more gifts to wrap," I lie, and walk toward the bedroom, pushing the thought that I'll wake up alone on Christmas out of my head.

"Aw, come on Mon! I know you're upset about Chandler not being here, but-" Ross starts to say, but stops when I turn to glare at him.

"I don't really think you do know, Ross. I don't even want to celebrate Christmas if he's not here," I sigh, "He should be home with us."

"Yes, he should be. But he can't, and as hard as that is for us--for you--think about how hard it must be for him! He's got no one--at least we have each other," Phoebe replies matter-of-factly, and I am taken aback by her sudden sympathy for Chandler's situation--she never really understood why he had to leave in the first place.

"That is true," I say, and suddenly the idea of Chandler sitting alone in a hotel room on Christmas fills my thoughts. I look at my friends, and smile.

"You guys start the movie. I need to do something. Ross, can I borrow your computer?"

"Uh, yeah, it's on my desk," Ross points toward his apartment, confusion lining his face.

I nod, and without a word head over to Ross', leaving the others to watch the film and most likely eat all of my food.

The wind and snow have kicked up tremendously in the past hour. The short walk to Ross' is a cold one. I turn up the collar on my coat, and rely on memory and instinct to get me to Ross' building. Once inside, I quickly shake off the snow, and head up to Ross'. I let myself in, and locate his laptop immediately. As I wait for it to come on, I blow on my cold hands, and gaze up at my own living room, where my four friends have settled in to watch the movie. I smile, and settle in front of the computer.

Chandler,

I know you can't be with us tonight, but know that you are here in spirit, and in our hearts.
Joey has managed to shake every gift under the tree, and as far as I know, has not made one correct guessas towhat each gift contains-unless you actually did get me a Candy Land board game-for your sake, Joey had better be wrong!

The others are faring fine; they are watching 'A Christmas Story' right now. I know how much you love that film-we'll have to watch it together when you get home.

And I know how much you want to be home right now.

I know, because I want you to be here so badly. Phoebe pointed out that at least I have them, but the thing is, the only person I want to spend Christmas with this year is the one person I can't.
And it kills me that you have to spend this night alone. I hope that you will find comfort in knowing that you are in my thoughts every moment, and that I am just a phone call away.

I love you, sweetheart, and I miss you.
Merry Christmas,
Mon

I re-read the e-mail, then hit send, hoping that he'll see the note before leaving the office for the night.

Sighing, I switch off the computer and look back up at my apartment. Nothing has changed in the ten minutes since I left. I pull my coat back on, and tighten it around me, in anticipation for the cold and snow. Sighing, I head back down to the street, and bow my head, as I make my way across.

And I pray that Chandler is warm and safe tonight.

Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow...

As I walk up to the apartment, I hear commotion coming from inside. I'm surprised they tired of the movie so quickly, but then they did eat a lot of candy tonight. I shake off the remaining snowflakes, and step inside the apartment.

The apartment warm, and cozy, and a soft, goldenwarmth fills the room. The tree is glowing, as are the faces of my friends. Still, it doesn't quite feel like home tonight.

And suddenly, like a miracle, he's here, standing before me, as if he'd heard my plea. As though he heard my prayer.

I blink, and momentarily wonder if I'm the only person that sees him standing there.

The world around me blurs, and my heart swells.

"Hi, sweetheart," Chandler grins, and suddenly, I'm wrapped in his arms.

"You're really here," I whisper into his coat, still damp from the snow.

"Merry Christmas, honey," he whispers in reply, and kisses my cheek softly.

But I can't say anything. I'm just so happy to be here--in the arms of the man I love, surrounded by my friends--my family.

And just like that, I'm home.

I'm writing a letter to say I still care
And I wish you were here; it's Christmas
And it's way past the late mass
I'm saying a prayer
I can picture you here last Christmas
I know you're so far from home
But you know that you're never alone
I know you're so far away
Till you're home safe again I'll just pray
Oh, it's Christmas again
But it won't be without you
Oh, it's Christmas again
I'm so lonely without you
I'm turning my collar to the cold and the wind
Till you're home safe again
And it's Christmas
And we're saving your present; it's under the tree
When you're with me, you'll see
It's Christmas
I know you're so far away
But you know that I still feel the same
I know you're so far from home
But no matter how far, you're never alone
Oh, it's Christmas again
But it won't be without you
Oh, it's Christmas again
I'm so lonely without you
I'm so lonely without you
I'm so lonely without you

(Washington Square, Chris Isaak)