Priestess Adularia: This is my first Friends fanfiction so be nice! This chapter takes place before Joey moves away (for his spin-off.) The second chapter is two years later, when he's visiting his friends.
For Future Reference: Joey gets insulted a lot in this story, mostly by himself, but I want to make it perfectly clear that I am a Joey FAN and don't agree with anything I said about him. Just to let you know.
You're an idiot, Tribbiani.
How many times had he thought this? How many times had other people thought this? He didn't know, of course. He was just Joey Tribbiani, the dumbest member of their little group.
"I always knew one of us would have to leave the group eventually…"
Rachael had said that a while ago. A month? A year? Three years? Did it matter? In the end, one of them did leave.
Phoebe was married. Monica and Chandler were married and adopting a child. Rachael and Ross had a kid, and ten or fifteen years of on-again-off-again history. And Joey…
I haven't changed a bit. Of course I would be the one to leave. I'm the idiot!
For the sake of his job, he was leaving the five who had been his friends for…how long had it been? Ten years? Fifteen?
Of course he would be the one who couldn't remember.
Joey looked down at the blonde lying on the bed, cushioned in blankets and pillows, a single graceful hand resting on her plump breast. Her pale tresses spread around her, dappled by the moonlight.
Not that Joey would have described it like that. He didn't even know that dapple was a word.
She looked so innocent just lying there, angelic, even. No one could tell by looking at her just how wild and perverted she could be.
Well, unless they noticed the fact that she slept naked.
Joey's lips quirked at a particular memory. Phoebe had told him that she slept naked, he had told the guys (Ross and Chandler) and they had wanted to sneak up on her and see if it was true. He had flatly refused, and expected them to back down easily. Boy, was he in for a shock.
Not only did they insist, they literally dragged him into Monica and Rachael's apartment the night she slept over—she was sleeping on the couch, so they had a pretty good chance. Joey had covered his eyes, but when Phoebe woke up and started throwing things at Ross and Chandler (not him, though, he couldn't help but notice) he couldn't help taking a peek—just a tiny peek, without any sexual intentions.
He had seen a lot of women naked, so it shouldn't have been a big deal. She did have a spectacular figure, but it wasn't as if he hadn't seen better. There was no reason for him to think about it every day and night.
But he did.
Now he let his eyes feast on what he had only glimpsed before. The time he ripped her shirt open didn't count. He had done it out there in the hall…no hesitation whatsoever. Right in front of Rachael, he just reached out and tore it open.
Anyone else would have killed him—it wasn't that he had never ripped a woman's shirt open, he just hadn't done it outside in a hallway in front of her best friend.
Phoebe acted like an impressed child, delighting over the fact that he hadn't torn any of her buttons.
Joey's hand moved of its own accord to hover over the perky, supple breast which her own hand didn't cover. He didn't touch it. He didn't deserve it.
He could look at it, though, admiring the pert milky globe and the coral rosebud perched on it.
He had seen bigger. He had seen rounder. He had seen softer. He had seen harder. He had seen tanner. He had seen paler. He had seen pinker.
She had the most beautiful breasts he had ever seen.
Joey Tribbiani was a man who could have any woman he ever wanted, with few exceptions. The problem was that he could never settle for just one.
That's your problem, man, he told himself silently. You're a player who can't be content with one woman. You just have to have all of them.
Then why was it that the one woman he truly loved, among all the others, was one woman he would never have.
This isn't right…she's married…she's happy. She doesn't need an idiot like you messing up her life with your damn womanizing ways. She'll be better without you. They all will.
He looked at her hand—the one covering her chest. It wasn't the most delicate hand he had ever seen, or the slimmest. But it was the prettiest.
She wore five rings that she had never taken off since she put them on.
A promise ring, two engagement rings, and two wedding rings. Of course, one of each didn't count, right? Neither did the promise ring—Ross had given her one, too, but she only wore the one from him.
He wondered why that was. Probably because Ross was with Rachael. And because she only had five fingers.
The promise ring had been to ensure that they didn't die alone: if, when they were forty, they were both still unwed, they would get married.
He would still be unwed, but she was married now. He would die alone after all.
"Phoebe, give me my ring back."
"No, it's mine!"
He hated himself now. She had been willing to marry him, thrilled even, and he had immediately turned around and offered marriage to Rachael.
Only more proof that he was a misogynistic jerk. (Not that he knew the word 'misogynistic') That was why the engagement ring from him didn't count.
And as for the wedding ring…
"Come on Joey, it isn't really getting married," she had goaded him gently. "If you marry in Vegas, you're only married in Vegas. The girl gets the wedding she's always dreamed of, and a pretty ring."
He had been drunk. They had both been drunk. He asked what the guy got. She said he got sex. He wanted sex.
After all, it was just Vegas, right?
Joey moved his hand and, ever so gently, slipped the promise ring off her thumb.
She rolled over slightly, and her boob connected with his hand. He stiffened, but she didn't wake up. Her breathing remained even. In spite of himself, he let his fingers curve around her breast. His finger, which he supposed was quite coarse compared to her silky skin, rubbed against it. Her breathing grew raspy.
A single word passed from her lips, quiet as a whisper: "Joey…"
His entire body froze over. "Joey"…not Mike. Not her husband. "Joey."
As in him.
She did mean him, right? Did she know any other Joeys?
No, it was just him.
"Do you dream of me, Phoebe?" he whispered. He hadn't meant to speak aloud, but she didn't seem to hear. He moved the ring back onto her finger. Just in case.
And as for the other two, she deserved them.
Joey leaned over, mouth open, breathing her as if she were a bouquet of flowers he wanted to inhale. Her lips were parted slightly, as if waiting for him.
He raised his head before their lips made contact. He had done enough. He wasn't going to interfere in her life anymore. Not even one. Last. Kiss.
You are so pathetic.
He wouldn't kiss her, but he wouldn't remove the rings. He wouldn't act on his feelings, but he wouldn't get rid of the taints he already left.
"I don't deserve you, Phoebe. And you don't deserve a jerk like me in your life. Please don't miss me. Just don't forget me."
You're an idiot.
He wanted her to remember her as a friend, but he didn't want her to miss him. He was so confused.
Confused. That was the word. Not an idiot, just confused.
Who are you trying to kid? he asked himself, disgusted. That did it. He had to leave her room, and the goddess-like presence within. Now.
The moment Joey exited, he was ambushed by the fists of a jealous husband.
He blocked effortlessly, and stared into the furious face of the husband of the woman he loved.
"What were you doing in there?" Mike demanded.
"Nothing," Joey lied.
Mike's eyes narrowed into slits. "I've put up with a lot of crap from you, Tribbiani. Trying to keep me from marrying Phoebe, for example? She isn't your daughter! She's my wife!"
"She's my wife, too," said Joey unthinkingly.
Mike froze. His jaw dropped. He blinked rapidly, speechless. Joey was as speechless as he was. Yet, somehow, his lips were moving, and sound was coming out.
"You've seen her hands? Pretty hands, aren't they? She's a pretty girl, isn't she?"
Could you sound any more idiotic?
Chauvinistic, too, but he didn't know that word.
"You know those five rings she never takes off? One of them is your engagement ring, right? And another one is your wedding ring. She wears a wedding ring from me, too. And an engagement ring. We got married before she ever met you. The one on her thumb is from me, too."
Mike spluttered, furious. His skin was red. Then he pushed Joey aside and stormed into the bedroom.
Joey fled. He didn't want to hear the argument, to hear what name Phoebe murmured upon waking up. As he ran, so fast blood pounded in his ears, three words ran over and over again through his ears.
You're an idiot.