TOW I'm Already There
A/N (Author's note): Ok, I think I have reached an all-time low. I'm in a diner, and they're playing "I'm Already There" by lonestar, and I get the idea for a fic. (I'm actually surprised I'm even writing this. I NEVER do Romance.) I mean, how pathetic is that? Lol Anyways, hope you enjoy my insanity.
WARNING: This is my first intentional one-shot AND first romance. Let's hope it's something to be proud of.
F.Y.I.: As has let it be known that it does not allow songfics, I have taken the lyrics out of this story. I know, it kind of loses its meaning, but I had no choice. I really didn't want to have to take it down, so here it is, lyric-less. I hope you still like it (hey, I hate this policy as much as the next person, but don't take it out on me).
This takes place in Season 9, when Chandler has to work in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It's AU – it's not Christmas time, and it's not during the episode TOW Christmas in Tulsa, but…well, you'll see.
Chandler Bing sat on the queen-sized bed in his hotel room, still in his suit, looking at the cheeseburger he had ordered from room service. It had been a long, hard day, and he meant that. Tons of papers had been on his desk the minute he got to his office that morning, and hadn't finished processing the data until noon. He had been about to go to lunch, but then another load of papers came in, needing his immediate attention. He'd had to eat half of the bagel left over from breakfast. Now, he was starving, but for some reason he didn't have much of an appetite.
You know why you're not eating. It's because you know you should be home with Monica, having dinner with her. Not having dinner by yourself, in a hotel room, paid for by a job that you don't even like. A job that he didn't even like. That's a phrase that had been running though his head his entire career.
Realizing he wasn't going to touch that cheeseburger, he decided to do the one thing he felt like doing. Call Monica.
He listened to the phone ring once, twice, then a third time. Panic formed in his heart. He didn't know if he could take not hearing her voice before he went to sleep tonight.
He breathed a sigh of relief as Monica answered the phone. "Hi, honey." His face fell when he heard talking in the background. The gang was there without him? He wasn't jealous at the thought. Just deeply saddened. When he left New York, he wasn't only leaving his wife behind. He was leaving his family. He paused a second, thinking about that. Were his best friends really his family? Yes, they're my family. They're the best family I ever had. Including my parents. Feeling tears forming in his eyes, he hurriedly wiped them away with his sleeve and swallowed the lump in his throat. He wanted to be able to say something when he talked to his friends.
"Hey, honey?" Monica came back on the phone. "I'm going to put you on speaker, ok?"
"Yeah, sure." Oh well. He could always talk to her privately after everyone else was done.
"When are you comin' home, man?" Joey called. "I got tickets to a Knicks game, and there's no way I'm going without you!"A little voice came on the phone Said "Daddy when you comin' home?" He said the first thing that came to his mind
Chandler laughed, but he cried on the inside. He missed them all so much. It was as if he was in a whole different universe when he was away for work. One day felt like a month. "Don't worry, Joe. I'll be home next week."
"But the tickets are for this weekend!" Joey exclaimed, obviously disappointed. "Who else am I gonna go with?"
"Take Ross with you."
There was silence, then, "Are you kidding, dude? Ross doesn't know a basketball from a dinosaur egg."
"I'm right here!" Ross called from another part of the living room. "Hey Chandler!"
"Hey Ross." Chandler said half-heartedly. It looked like he had been right. Everybody was there but him. There was definitely something wrong with this picture.
"It's alright, Chandler," Rachel said, her voice coming clear through the phone. She must have been near the speaker. "My boss just gave me tickets to a Yankee game next weekend. I was planning on giving them to you guys anyway."
"Thanks Rach," He said, feeling a little better. At least he would be able to do something special with his best friend when he got home. It might even cover some of the guilt he felt about making Joey missing the Knicks game. Although it pained him to do it, he asked, "So, anything else I missed since I left?"
"I sang at Central Perk!" Phoebe yelled excitedly. "I got a standing ovation!"
"Really?" Chandler asked, surprise in his voice. He would have liked to see that.
"Phoebe, that guy got up because his car was being towed," Ross said. From the sound of his tone, Chandler could tell that he had reminded Phoebe many times.
"You're just jealous."
This time Chandler genuinely laughed. Phoebe would always be Phoebe, listening to the beat of her own drum. He honestly didn't think any of his friends were ever going to change. "Yeah, Ross, it's not like you got any standing ovations when you played your keyboard."
He heard Ross make a noise of indignation. Then there was the sound of the receiver being picked up. "Ok, everybody! Say good-bye to Chandler!" Monica said. He was very thankful that she did. He didn't want to have to put on this happy act any longer. But at the same time, he didn't want to stop what was the closest thing to hanging out with his friends. A bit of sorrow in his voice, he called, "Bye guys!" He thought that everyone else noticed it. Their good-byes were more subdued then they usually were.
"Next week? You said that you would be back by this weekend!" Monica cried, her tone completely different than the one she had used in front of everyone else. It sounded like his current emotions – lonely, disappointed, heart-broken. Her voice gargled, as if there were tears in her throat, she said quietly, "You've already been gone a week. Chandler…I can't take this."
"I know, this really bites. Believe me, I don't want me to be here any more than you do." He hoped that made sense. "But there's so much work I have to do. I know that if I did go home this weekend I'd just be back on Monday."
"Maybe that's better. At least I'd get to see you."
"Hey, don't be like that. Go shopping with Rachel and Phoebe. You can use my credit card." His heart shattered into a million pieces when he heard her soft laugh. God, this is torture.
"You see, that's what I miss! I need to hear jokes that I don't get every single day! That little sensible one wasn't enough to fill my craving!" Monica sighed, then said, "Besides, Rachel and Phoebe both have dates Friday and Saturday night. I need you."
"I need you too. I love you so much…" Chandler said, the tears returning to his eyes. "I've been thinking about you all the time. Whenever I'm at work, I have daydreams about you. They think I have the attention span of a two-year-old." Oh my God, there's that laugh again. Maybe I shouldn't tell her about that dream the other night…who am I kidding? "I even had a dream about you two nights ago."
Instantly curious, Monica asked, "And what were we doing?"
"Having sex on the balcony. I think I lured you out by telling you that the Underdog balloon got away again." Man that was a weird dream.
"Still not gonna happen," Monica hesitated. "But it might if you get home sooner…"
"Wow, you really miss me a lot, huh?" Chandler forced himself to laugh again. However, he was getting better at it.
"Yeah. We are so not wasting any time when you get home."
Chandler then told her how his boss tripped over a desk chair yesterday. Monica explained how she handled a rude customer at her restaurant. Before they both knew it, they talked for another half hour. Regret in her voice, Monica said, "We should, uh, hang up."
Horrified at the idea of having to go back to eating his now-cold hamburger, he asked, "Why? It's only eight. You don't need to go to bed that early, do you?"
"No, but remember when you started commuting to Tulsa? We agreed not to spend too much on the phone because of the ridiculous long-distance charges."
"Oh." Chandler paused, then said, "To hell with that. It's too hard to hang up on you now."
"That's another thing," Monica's voice sounded shaky, as if she was convincing herself as she spoke. "We're only going to miss each other more."
"I don't think that's possible."
"Same here." She blew a kiss through the phone. "Go on, go to sleep. It won't be so bad."
"Yeah, I guess." He was lying through his teeth. Sleeping in a queen-sized bed was worse than not sleeping at all. All that space…it only made him think of his bed at home. "Good night, Monica. I'll call you in the morning. Love you."
"Love you too, Chandler."
As soon as he put the receiver back on the hook and sat on the bed, he felt like smacking himself. Why am I doing this to us? To her?
Wait a minute…let's think about this. Why was he doing this? The money is nice, he admitted to himself. I've never made this much before. And I have a really good position in the company. I'm a boss now. I get a lot of vacation, lot of benefits. People are even nice to me. That guy from the public relations department even invited me to his bachelor party.
But then, was all this really worth his time? Specifically, his time with Monica? The answer was a definite no. With all that, he still hated his job with every fiber of his being. He wasn't meant to do this. Statistical analysis, data processing – what the hell was that anyway? Did it matter, like, really matter to the world if he didn't get his work done on time? He didn't even know what his company did for people. In his heart, he'd always known something – he should be doing any job but this.
And more importantly, there was Monica. She meant more to him than anything else. On his list of priorities, work had always been down there and his friends had always been up there. Monica was actually above them. Sometimes, she was what made life worth living. When no one else understood him, or he needed reassurance for anything, she had been there, as a friend, a girlfriend, or a wife. Hell, she agreed to put up with his weird sense of humor for the rest of their lives – she had to love him.
He knew it was cliché, but for him it had been love at first sight. He would never tell Ross this, of course, but Chandler was instantly attracted to her the minute they met. Sure, he had called her fat later on, which he never wanted her to hear, but that had been a defense mechanism. He of course couldn't let Ross think that he wanted to spend time with his little sister – that just wouldn't be cool.
Then it hit him. If all this is true, then…why are you here?
Suddenly, it was like she was right next to him, telling him what to do. He could hear her voice in his head – Chandler, come home. He'd seen the light. He knew exactly what he was going to do, and it didn't include going to work in the morning.
The first thing he did was get up and throw the cheeseburger in the garbage pale that was next to the TV.
Smiling for the first time since he got to the hotel room, he started packing. Well, not packing, really. More like tossing everything he owned into his suitcase. Staring at it a minute, he changed his mind and took everything out. Monica wouldn't like it if he came home with a messy suitcase. He didn't want to go through Packing 101 again.
So, he folded his shirts, his pants, and his underwear and put them back in the suitcase. Then, he went to the bathroom and got his toothbrush and comb. Remembering what Ross would do, he grabbed the hotel-provided toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and any other thing he could think of. He even knew to grab the roll of toilet paper. Ross would be proud.
Going back to his bed, he dumped all the toiletries in the front pocket, then snapped the suitcase shut.
Not able to stop smiling, he swung the heavy suitcase onto the carpet and rolled it to the door. Stopping, he turned around and looked at the room. Pretty sure that he had everything, he turned off the light and shut the door behind him.
As he walked down the hallway, pulling the suitcase along, he thought about something. Should he call work and tell them he was quitting? Should he call Monica with the news that he was coming home? Nah, he thought happily, Let's make this a surprise for everybody.
He was tempted to run once he got out of the elevator and stepped into the lobby. One phrase from a song he heard on the car radio earlier kept him at a normal pace.
I'm already there