AN: This is kind of an alternate take on the weeks following TOW The Fertility Test. We'll all need to pretend that they never went through with that donor idea, mmmmkay?
The One With the Perfect Anniversary
It's strange how one single event can become so all-consuming in one's life. How one decision, one moment can shift everything.
It's been two weeks since we found out that we can't have children.
I've been through so many waves of emotions since that moment. But now I'm all cried out; I'm numb to everything these days.
And I think Chandler is too. I see him sometimes, staring at nothing, his eyes glazed over and his jaw set tight. I know what he's thinking, so I don't even ask; neither does he.
Work has become a routine. No longer fun, no longer interesting, it's just something to do to keep me busy. To keep me away from the apartment and the knowledge that our home seems so empty these days.
Tonight is no different. I worked through my shift without effort, and dawdled on my way out and toward home. Though I don't want Chandler to worry, I feel like I'm suffocating a bit, so I take a longer route on my walk home. I watch as a happy couple strolls through the Park, looking content just to be with each other. Chandler and I used to be like that. We used to want for nothing more than to simply be together.
We love each other; that's not the thing. The thing is that we both have this longing—this need to have more than just us.
I reach the apartment building without even realizing it. Sighing heavily, I make my way into the building, and up to our floor. I can hear the faint sounds of whatever Joey is watching in his apartment. I think of him, lounging in his chair, drinking his beer, and it makes me ache for simpler times. I recall the days when my biggest concern was making sure there was enough food for poker night. It makes me smile and choke up at the same time.
Shaking myself from my reverie, I turn and open my—our apartment door.
It's dark—and it takes me a moment to figure out why.
The room glowing—candles fill the room, the way they did the night Chandler and I were engaged. Music is drifting, soft and low from the stereo. And my husband is standing in the center of the room, a single rose in his hand.
I can see that it takes her a moment to realize what's going on. I kind of expected this, since I am almost certain that she's forgotten what today is.
I don't blame her, and I'm not hurt or angry. I nearly forgot myself.
We've been so consumed by everything that has happened to us, we nearly lost track of what we were. It breaks my heart to look at her anymore, and I hate that it's all so out of our control.
I watch her walk in, and I again am heartbroken by the look in her eyes. Her dreams of a perfect family gone, she holds a haunted expression that just won't go away.
I'm determined to change that tonight.
"Hi," I whisper, as she enters the room, dropping her bag haphazardly on the floor.
She looks at me, but says nothing. I walk toward her slowly.
"Happy Anniversary," I say, extending the rose.
Her eyes well up, and I can see that panic is lining her eyes.
"Oh Chandler, I completely forgot…oh god…"
"Shh, honey, I almost did too. But remember when I got my PDA and you insisted on putting all of our 'important dates' in it, so I would have 'no excuse for forgetting anything'?"
She laughs lightly, and I feel myself relax a bit.
"Anyway, I was kind of banking on the fact that you hadn't remembered," I smile, and she furrows her brow.
"Yeah. I wanted this to kind of…be a surprise," I realize how cheesy I must sound, and feel my cheeks flush.
"That's so sweet," she whispers, and wraps her arms around my waist.
I smile and pull her toward me, and we sway silently to the music.
"I love you," I say, after a moment. She pulls her head from its place on my chest, and looks up at me. I can see she's been crying, but the look in her eyes tells me that these are tears of joy.
"I love you too. Thank you…for this," she says, "This is just what I needed."
And I know what she means. Things have been hectic lately, with our own lives and the lives of our friends. We've allowed it all to spin out of control, and it's been much too long since we've just…danced.
"I have something for you," I say, as the song ends. She pulls away from me, and arches an eyebrow.
"I didn't get you anything," she shrugs, but I can see she's anxious to see what I have planned.
"Well, this is really for both of us," I smile, and lead her to the sofa. She sits down, and I take a seat on the coffee table across from her.
"It isn't edible underwear again, is it?" she wrinkles her nose, and I chuckle.
"No, I've kept my word—no more gift advice from Joey," I reply, and she smiles.
"Thank God," she says playfully.
My smile fades, as I take her hands in mine. I see her face sober, and note that she is already tearing up.
I take a deep breath and hope that I can get through this without crying myself.
"Monica, I love you so much. And it just kills me that I can't give you the one thing that you've been dreaming of your entire life. I want to make you happy…and I think—I hope—I've done a pretty good so far."
She smiles and nods. I pull one hand from her grasp, and hand her a long, off-white envelope. She pulls her other hand from mine, and I place my hands on her knees as she fusses with the seal of the envelope. She pulls out the brochure, and looks up at me, confused.
"I've talked to a few people already. And they think we are really good candidates for adoption."
She looks back down at the brochure, and I can see her shoulders start to tremble.
"I know it's not exactly what you dreamed of, but I think that you and I will make wonderful parents no matter what…"
She doesn't look at me, and I start to worry. Perhaps we should have talked more about using a donor? Perhaps she isn't ready to let go of the idea that we should keep trying? These thoughts are melting into a general panic, and I begin to fear that I have crossed a line.
Then she looks up, and my worries fade.
Her eyes are sparkling—not just with tears, but with hope. The haze that has weighed her down over the past two weeks is gone, and I can't help but grin.
Taking away her pain—making her happy—thrills me.
"I've been thinking about this too. I was going to talk to you about it but—oh Chandler, I can't believe you did this."
"I love you, and I want us to have a family," I say with a smile.
I look back down at the brochure, and then back up at my beaming husband. He really is my Prince…my Knight in shining armor. I throw my arms around him, and for the first time in what feels like an eternity, I feel completely content.
As long as we have each other, we can do anything.