AN: So I've had this idea for a while and finally sat down to write it. The idea of Chandler freaking out before the wedding was valid, but I never liked that he ran away, so here's my version.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with FRIENDS in any way. I own nothing.
"…if you're calling before Saturday, you've reached Monica and Chandler, but if you're calling after Saturday, you've reached Mr. and Mrs. Bing. Please leave a message for the Bings!"
The small smile that had been playing on his lips disappeared as Chandler felt his heart constrict at his fiancée's words. The Bings. Images of his parents and grandparents tore through his mind as if on some sort of unending iteration that he could not control. As breathing began to become problematic he tugged on the tie Monica had loving made sure was straight only moments before. Sweat started forming on his brow and his heart rate raced out of control as his parasympathetic nervous system kicked in. Using the most effective calming rituals he had learned as a child, he was slowly able to bring his breathing and heart rate down to a more manageable level. Only moments later Monica came flying back in the front door, Rachel and Joey on her heels.
"Sorry sweetie, Rachel doesn't have anything."
Chandler blinked, racking his brain for any clue to what she was talking about. "Sorry, what?"
"For your day. She doesn't have a necklace for your dad."
"Oh, right," he replied, their conversation of only minutes ago flying back to him.
"You okay over there?" Monica asked gently, tilting her head slightly as she stepped toward him.
Chandler forced a smile to his face. He had long ago mastered the art of fooling people in any situation. She had been the only one who he had found able to see through him and read what he was trying to hide, but he hoped she would be too caught up in last minute wedding details to notice. It only took a small reminder from him to forget her worries. "Of course I'm okay, we're getting married tomorrow."
Monica's whole face lit up at his words. "You bet your ass we are! Now, are you ready, cause we've got to go. Rehearsal dinner here we come!"
Chandler smiled at her enthusiasm, and allowed himself to be led out the door.
They arrived at the restaurant early, Monica immediately morphing into control mode and Chandler found momentary peace in the multitude of tasks she'd assigned him. For a short period of time he thought he was going to be okay. However, just as the guests started to arrive a teary-eyed Rachel wandered up to them, throwing her arms around both of their necks.
"I'm so happy for you guys!" Rachel managed. She squeezed each of their necks tightly before pulling back, a hand on each of their shoulders. "And to think, just twenty-four hours from now you're going to married. Married! You're gonna be Mr. and Mrs. Bing!"
There it was again, that horrible expression. The Bings. Chandler felt like a deer caught in headlights. He was sure everyone in the room was staring at him, could read his thoughts, knew exactly what was going through his head. He pulled at his tie that Monica had fixed twice already that evening. Monica, thank-god, had moved her attention on to the next set of guests walking in, too busy to notice her soon-to-be husbands sudden change.
Chandler remembered that fateful Thanksgiving night. He was lying in bed, a ginger ale beside him that the maid had given him after he had stopped throwing up to settle his stomach. His father was out with the pool boy and he hadn't seen his mother since she had taken off not too soon after dinner. Chandler wrapped his small arms tightly around a pillow as he fought not to cry. Crying was for weaklings, and he wasn't going to be weak anymore. He didn't want to be upset. There was nothing for him to be sad about. He knew his parents hadn't been happy. They hadn't been in love. Love was stupid, it only got you hurt. He vowed to himself never to fall in love. It wasn't worth the pain.
"Oh, honey," Rachel said, reaching up to stop his hand. "Don't ruin your tie."
Chandler managed to get his breathing under control without let Monica on to anything he was feeling, but he was painfully aware of his heart beating heavily in his chest. He planted a smile on his face and managed to be introduced to a few people before recognizing his future parents-in-law stepping in the door.
"Hey!" Jack called out. "Look at my little Harmonica, all grown up."
"Hi sweetie," Judy said as she quickly embraced her daughter. "And hello Chandler," she pulled him into a short hug. "Thank-you so much Chandler, if it weren't for you this day may never have come."
"Oh, well you're welcome I guess," Chandler said carefully, aware of the look his fiancée was giving her mother. He gently wrapped his left arm around Monica, pulling her closer to him.
"Welcome to the family, son," Jack said brightly, shaking his hand.
There was a silent moment where Jack and Judy stepped back together and stared at the happy couple in front of them. Chandler began to feel uneasy when Judy's eyes began to water. He could almost hear her next words. "You two have just made us so happy. Getting married tomorrow, and hopefully giving us some grandkids soon. Oh, your children will be so beautiful. Can't you just see them Jack, little Bings running around?"
As Jack nodded his agreement to his wife's words, Chandler felt his entire internal system contract as if someone had hit him in the stomach. He could remember being called 'little Bing' as a child.
Eight-year old Chandler peered shyly around the corner into the room full of grown-ups he had never met. They were his mothers friends and he had been instructed to stay out of the way. It was a party for adults, not children. Still, he didn't see any harm in simply watching for a few minutes. There was movement behind him and he turned to see a tall lady staring down at him. He stared back up, cringing as he knew he had been caught. "Hi," he almost-whispered.
"Hi," the women said brightly, "and who are you?"
"Oh, wonderful, you must be Nora and Charles son?"
"Well, let me get a good look at you." With that the strange lady crouched down, so that she was eye level with him and put a and on each shoulder as she studied his face. Chandler tried to keep a straight face as he attempted to subtly pull away. The woman's breath smelled horrible, a smell he didn't know where it came from, but that he recognized having smelled it from his parents many times. "Aren't you just adorable." With that she grabbed Chandler by the arm and dragged him out into the living room.
"Chandler, what are you doing out here?" He cringed at his mothers tone, knowing she wouldn't be happy with him.
"Oh, Nora, you never told me just cute your son is." They had attracted the attention of other woman at the party.
"I didn't know you had a son," a second lady started gushing over him. "Oh, look at him, he's shy. What a beautiful little Bing."
The two ladies took it upon themselves to drag him around the room and introduce him to every other person there. As it got later, Chandler tried to get away, but they wouldn't let him. They kept passing him strange little bite-size pieces of food that he had never seen before and laughing as he ate them. It was well past his bedtime when one of the ladies who was acting as his capture picked up one of his mother's books, which he wasn't ever supposed to read and began reading allowed. Chandler didn't understand half of the things that were being said, but he was sure he didn't want to know. He was passed a bottle with strange smelling liquid in it. He made a face and tried to put it down, but they made him taste it and laughed at his expression. Suddenly the bottle was being pulled from his grasp and he looked up to see his father looking mad.
"Chandler, what are you doing up?"
"Before Chandler could even answer all hell broke loose. His father began yelling, telling everyone to leave. His mother yelled back and Chandler made a dash for his bedroom. He stayed up all night listening to them yelling into the early hours of the morning. He finally cried himself to sleep with one thought repeating over in his head: It's all my fault, I should never have tried to peek.
More than twenty years later, Chandler was very aware that the incident had not been his fault, however in seeing that it had been followed not too much later by the announcement of his parents divorce, it had taken him some time to come to that conclusion. He could still feel the intensity of the pain from that night. He glanced beside him at the woman in his arms and sighed inwardly. He wanted to have kids with her, but there was no way he could ever inflict that kind of pain on a child. And if they were the Bings, he may not have much choice in the decision. The Bings did horrible jobs of raising their children.
Jack and Judy moved on to talk to their son, leaving Chandler relieved that they hadn't talked any longer. Suddenly Monica was pulling his attention to the next guests coming in the door. He managed to keep his nerves in check as he politely nodded at each person Monica introduced him to.
"Hey, Morine," Monica was saying. "Chandler, this is my cousin Morine."
Chandler was feeling stifled by this point. "Hi, we're the Bings," he stated, trying not to be horrified by the words. Phoebe and Rachel approached the, but he didn't even hear their words. "Mr. and Mrs. Bing," he muttered as he left the girls alone. He needed a moment to get himself back under control.
Only minutes later he saw his mother come in the door, and made a dash to meet her, hoping she would have something to say to him. Once he got closer he realized how wrong he was. What kind of a mother dresses like that? He chastised himself for even thinking she might ever act like a mother. "Hi mom, thanks for wearing… something."
"Oh, honey, this is so exciting! I thought we'd screwed you up so bad this day would never come." Her words echoed the thoughts running through his head. "Oh, and just think. Soon they'll be lots of little Bings."
The Bings. There it was again, that feeling of being trapped, that the room was shrinking around him. The Bings. He pulled at his tie, grateful none of the girls were around to stop him.
Ten-year old Chandler ran for home, narrowly beating the ball there and cheered with his team as he had just scored the winning run. His eyes went to the bleachers where his mother had been with her new boyfriend. His friends had made fun of him, as his mothers boyfriend claimed to still be in college, but Chandler was still glad his mother was there. However, he couldn't find her in the crowd. After the medals had been given out and the picture taken, he accepted the fact that his mother had left. He put his glove and medal in his bag and walked home. The maid offered him a sad smile and made him dinner. His mother emerged from her bedroom hours later.
"Sorry we missed the rest of your game, Chandler. You'll understand when your older."
Chandler nodded and faked a smile; already well into his life of hiding emotions. His mother never even asked him how his team had done. The medal got thrown into a box under his bed of things his parents hadn't ever seen: other medal, badges, report cards and awards.
"Mrs. Bing." Monica's voice cut into his thoughts. "Here, these are my parents, Judy and Jack Gellar." Chandler held his breath while introductions were done and hands were shaken.
"So, are you his mother or his father?" Jacks words made Chandler cringe and he was grateful for Monica to send her parents away. He was almost relieved before he spotted his father walking in behind them.
"Hello, all." Charles said.
"Hi… Mr. Bing." Chandler was suddenly incredibly grateful that Monica put up with his family so well. Having a cougar mother and a cross-dressing father didn't always hold up so well. Monica continued to attempt to keep peace between his parents, but Chandler stayed silent, knowing there was not use. They were the Bings. There was nothing anyone could do.
Fourteen year old Chandler Bing sat uncomfortably on the hard chair in the school gymnasium, waiting for his name to be called. His friends were excited, but Chandler didn't get it, you had to sit in the gym for two hours only to get a piece of paper that said you graduated. Plus, what did it matter, it was only elementary school? The graduation he couldn't wait for was high school. Then he'd be able to move out on his own, get away from his parents. His parents weren't even there. His mother was at a book signing and his father had moved to Vegas the year before and claimed he couldn't make it. His grandparents were in the audience, quite unhappy about being stuck there.
He couldn't quite figure out why his father's parents were still together. When he voiced his question to his parents they told him that people of that age didn't believe in divorce. So, apparently it didn't matter if they cheated on each other, it was better to have a unhappy marriage than a divorce. Chandler didn't get it. Didn't they realize that marriage was stupid? It never worked. Why would you ever put yourself through that?
"Oh my God," Chandler gave up listening to his parents, knowing nothing they could say would make him feel any better. He had long since given up on learning anything constructive from them.
Monica followed him away from his parents.
"I hate my parents," Chandler started.
Monica smiled. "I know, but don't worry, its just one meal."
Before Chandler could begin to say more they were interrupted by Ross and his parents.
"Oh course you could kick his ass, son."
"You could kick anyones ass you want."
"Thanks you guys."
Chandler shook his head as Monica went to talk to Rachel. He had to sit down before he fell down. This whole evening was a nightmare so far. He couldn't deal with much more. He sat down and rested his head in his hands, allowing himself to mentally block everything else out for a few moments. Suddenly there was clinking and he stealed himself for what his best friend, and future brother-in-law was about to say. The way his night was going, it wasn't going to be anything good.
Monica took her seat beside him as Ross stumbled over an attempted joke about Chandler first girlfriend. "…anyways, this marriage is doubly special for me, uh because not only is the groom my best friend, but the bride is my little sister. And she's the greatest sister a guy could ask for." Chandler allowed himself a small, glad that Ross was happy with their relationship. "So, if you'd all please join me in raising a glass to the couple we're here to celebrate. To the Bings."
"To the Bings!" Everyone in the hall chorused after Ross. All happy thoughts were erased from Chandler's memory at the words. Hearing single people say it was bad enough, but to have an entire hall full of people yell it out almost put him over the edge right there.
The Bings. He couldn't be The Bings. He couldn't do that to himself, he couldn't do that to the amazing woman sitting beside him.
Eighteen year old Chandler Bing stood in the bathroom at his school staring into the mirror. He almost didn't even recognize the face staring back at him. He was pale and sported dark circles under his eyes. He had barely slept in the past week. His school had limited graduation tickets to three per student. This had erupted into a war for which parent got to bring a date. They had been laying on the pressure for a month now, offering him gifts and money. He couldn't stand it anymore and had finally banned either of his parents from bringing a date. They were both mad at him and hadn't spoken to him for a week. He wasn't even sure they were going to show up tonight. He just hoped that if they did show up, they would be alone. He adjusted his cap in the mirror and made his way into the gym at the last possible moment and took his seat. He made sure not to look back into the audience at any time during the ceremony. Even when he was called on stage to accept his diploma he kept his eyes down and didn't pause for onstage pictures like the majority of his classmates.
After the ceremony he was surprised to find both of his parents waiting for him in the entrance to the school.
"Congratulations, sweetie," his mother said.
"Good job, son."
"Thanks," Chandler had said quietly, unwilling to admit how happy he was to have his parents there.
"So, Chandler," his father started. "I want to take you out for a celebratory dinner, my treat wherever you want to go."
Chandler was surprised by the offer and smiled, but before he could respond his mother cut him off.
"Excuse me? I don't think so. He's my son too and he lives in my house. I will be the one who gets to take him out for dinner."
"Nora, don't be absurd. You didn't even want to take him out until I said I wanted to. Don't be so childish."
"I'm not the one who's being childish, Charles." Voices were being raised and people were starting to stare. "It's your fault I could bring Markus with me tonight. I deserve to take him out tonight."
Charles shook his head. "No, I barely get to see him. And I couldn't bring anyone either."
There was a stare off between his parents and they had attracted the attention of quite a few families. Chandler carefully tried to help the situation. "Why don't the three of us go out together?"
"No," his father said.
"Absolutely not," said his mother.
"Look, Chandler, you're eighteen now. This is your decision."
His mother nodded her agreement. "Yes, Chandler. Who would you rather go to dinner with?"
Chandler stared as both his parents willed him to choose them. Both of them looked so sure of his decision and had the promise of whatever he wanted in their eyes if he would only choose them. Chandler sighed. "Actually, guys, it's been a long week and I'm not really up to going out tonight." Chandler had spent that night alone in his room with a bottle of vodka wishing his life could be normal.
Chandler put his glass down without taking a sip first. He didn't think his fastly constricting throat could handle any liquid right now. He tugged at his tie for the umpteenth time, hoping no one would notice. The rest of the dinner was a blur to him. Monica, thank-god, was too busy juggling every little thing that she didn't notice him walking around in a trance for the remainder of the evening.
Before he knew it all of the guests had left, leaving just the six of them. The girls and guys were each supposed to share a cab home, because it was getting late and Monica and Chandler weren't supposed to see each other after midnight. They were supposed to have a few minutes to spend with each other before saying goodbye for the first time as an unmarried couple. However, the cabs showed up sooner than expected, destroying Chandler's only chance to seek some comfort from Monica.
"Hey, you okay? You've been quiet tonight?" Monica's voice cut through the fog that was his mind.
Chandler turned to face her. He wanted more than anything to tell her all of his insecurities and fears, knowing she could make him feel better, she always did. But he knew they didn't have enough time. Their friends were loading the cars and then they would have to leave. If Chandler started talking and got cut off, he knew it would freak her out and she would be worrying about him all night. He couldn't do that to her.
"Sorry, I'm just a little tired. It's been a stressful couple of days."
Monica narrowed her eyes. "Are you sure that all, cause you seem worried about something?"
Damn, Chandler thought. Obviously he hadn't been hiding as well as he had thought. He forced a smile to his lips. "Hey, I'm Chandler. You can't expect me to get marries without being a little worried the night before, right?" He attempted a joke and held his breath, hoping she would fall for it.
Monica seemed to consider his words. "If your sure its just a little worry. Cause you can talk to me, you know?"
Chandler nodded. "I know." He was cut off by Joey yelling that they were ready to go. "But we're out of time."
Monica shook her head. "We can wait a little longer."
Chandler actually smiled at this. The knowledge that Monica would allow her schedule to get behind for him gave him some comfort. He gently took her hands in his. "Don't worry about it. It's just pre-wedding stuff. I'll be fine. I'll talk to Ross, he's got lots of experience."
Monica laughed at this and Chandler smiled at her. "If you're sure…"
Chandler nodded and leaned in to place a kiss on her lips, letting it linger a little. "I'm sure."
Monica lifted her hands out of his grasp and up to cup his face. "Then I'll see you tomorrow," she said with a big smile. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
Monica placed a quick peck on his lips and turned to get in the cab. Chandler stared after her as the vehicle rolled away. He allowed himself to feel the first bit of relief he had felt all night. Juts being with her for a few short moments made him feel better. He was pulled from his thoughts by Ross and Joey and dragged into the waiting cab.