Disclaimer: I don't own Friends.

A/N: Here it is. My long-awaited (well, for me) college years fic that I've been semi-writing since last August. I'm wicked excited to be uploading this; I just hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. It's a "what if" story, obviously. I'm going to be using some of the storylines that happened on the show, except a lot of them will be happening earlier than before Friends even began, and the reactions/repercussions to some things will be different. Sadly, Phoebe and Joey don't make appearances until much later in the story. This is going to be a long one.

What if Chip hadn't shown up, and Ross had taken Rachel to her senior prom? The one event changes (nearly) everything...

The One Where Prom Makes A Difference

Prologue

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Rachel dabbed at her eyes with a tissue in the middle of the Geller's living room. "I can't go to my own prom without a date, I can't, it's too lame," she said miserably as Monica Geller placed a comforting hand on her best friend's shoulder.

Ross Geller looked over at his sister comforting his eternal crush. He wondered how anyone could stand up Rachel Green. He sighed and went back to his keyboard.

"I have a wonderful idea," Judy Geller started in as she made her way over to her son. "You should take Rachel to the prom." His father agreed.

After little dispute, Ross rushed upstairs to change into his dad's tux. As he shook water from the flowers he had taken from a vase, Jack exclaimed, "Rachel, ready or not, here comes your knight in shining armor!"

Both Rachel and Monica turned at this. Monica's date was muttering something about kicking someone's ass. Ross stood there for a moment, then remembered what he was doing and walked over to Rachel, handing her the flowers. She took them slowly.

"Uh, I'll, uh, escort you. If you want," he added quickly.

Rachel looked from the flowers she had just been presented, to the dorky- but sweet- college man who was offering to take her to a high school prom. Normally, she wouldn't give her best friend's older brother the time of day, but he seemed so sincere, and she really did want to go… and knowing her (soon to be ex) boyfriend, Chip wasn't going to show up.

"Okay," was all Rachel could think of to say, wondering why she had never noticed how kind Ross really was.

Hiding his smile that was threatening to show as best he could, Ross left with the three others.

"C'mon, the limo is here already!" Monica shouted as she raced to the door.

XXX

"Thanks for walking me home," Rachel said as she and Ross walked side-by-side down the street.

"Oh, it's no problem. I just can't believe our time with the limo was up right at our street corner. And that he made us get out." Ross rolled his eyes.

They neared the Green mansion, as people in the neighborhood called it, since it was so large. Ross felt the all-too familiar flip-flop in his stomach as he and Rachel brushed sides. It had been happening all night, specifically when they had been dancing. He was still slightly in shock that she had even agreed to dance with him at all.

"Well, this is it," Rachel said as they reached her door. She looked up at him. "This was really nice, Ross. Thank you for bringing me." And for helping me not become a laughing-stock for having my boyfriend bail, was the unspoken addition.

The way she said his name made Ross' heart beat double-time. "I had fun. And I couldn't let you go to the prom alone. That Chip guy is stupid for not showing," he said, feeling very high and mighty at the moment.

"Well, thanks for helping me hold it together when I found out he cheated on me. It was expected, but still, I should've broken up with him a long time ago." Rachel half-smiled, and watched Ross closely for a minute, as if debating something internal. Finally, the other side of her mouth turned up also. "I guess I've always just seen you as Monica's older brother. But… we should hang out sometime."

"Yeah, that'd be great. Y'know, before we both go off to college," Ross said as smoothly as possible, despite wanting to jump up and down like a little kid.

Not really wanting to say goodbye yet, and confused by this feeling, Rachel added, "Funny how Monica and I are both going to NYU, huh?"

"It's a great school." Ross had nearly forgotten the girl of his dreams and his little sister were going to be attending the same school as him in a few months.

The lights suddenly flashed on around them. Rachel looked to the door. "Someone must've heard us. Thanks again, Ross." And then she did something Ross never thought she would.

She kissed him on the cheek.

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A/N II: So, like? Dislike? Think I should burn in hell for even uploading the prologue? Let me know. (Also: Totally cliche of me to have Ross, Chandler, Monica and Rachel all go to the same college, I know, but it worked for the story.)