Woo, I wrote a story! Go me! So this is post Season 10, and its a bit Monica bashing (kinda, not really) and is all over the place because I wanted it to be. Also, Chanoey if you squint. Or don't. Heh. Love to all!
The house was clean, and Chandler still couldn't believe it was his doing. He, not Monica, had scrubbed the benches, wiped the windows, packed away toys and magazines and books and all the other things that came with having twins heading towards the terrible twos.
He was sure, if he looked hard enough, he'd see his reflection in the kitchen counter. There he was, reflecting like a mad man in the squeaky clean wine glasses, his hair as askew as his glasses, his face red and sweaty and Chandler found a fault in his brilliant, if slightly pointless plan.
The house was spotless, and he was a vision from Hell.
At least the house looked nice, he mused as he bounded up the stairs, two at a time, breathless and wondering if maybe he should finally make use of that gym card. But the house looked nice, better than it had in a long time, perhaps it even looked better than when Monica cleaned it . . .
Chandler knew he could never utter those words out loud. Not if he wanted to keep living.
Sweatpants became jeans, and his favourite sweaty shirt became a clean one proclaiming his love for the Knicks, because Chandler knew.
The house was spotless, but Joey wouldn't even notice. A pointless plan, a stupid way to waste a Sunday, Chandler knew.
Joey would notice the shirt though. He'd appreciate the shirt, and to Chandler, the grin he was bound to receive would make all the detergent in his eyes totally worth it.
Chandler felt his heart hammering in his chest, his throat, and perhaps even at the tips of his toes, and he knew it was stupid. This was Joey. He'd known, lived with Joey for years. Joey had seen him at his worst and slightly better than worst, and on occasion, he'd even seen him the handful of times life had gone his way.
To call Joey a fan of their old messy apartment and lifestyle would be an exaggeration, but Chandler knew that Joey hadn't minded it; was used to it, and was used to Chandler being used to it. Even if the both of them had become spoiled in the last few years by a woman's touch.
So the cleaning of the house, the cleaning of himself, was right up there with Chandler being nervous; completely stupid. But hey, it might get him in the good books with Monica, might even get him to a bar with Joey, reminiscing and remembering about life before a woman's touch.
Chandler wondered if sometimes, Joey missed that life. Perhaps, Joey didn't give it a second thought. That it was just past to Joey, not something to remember and laugh about, to get that distant look in his eyes with a small smile that said, 'sure, those we're good times, buddy'.
Chandler worried that Joey wouldn't wear that smile, and he worried how much he wanted to see that smile.
Most of all, he worried that in the thirteen months, two weeks and four days since they had last seen each other, things had changed and become distant and awkward and just plain wrong.
He let his bouncing nerves wash over the niggling thought that counting the months, weeks, days was just a bit weird, even for him. It wasn't like he was counting the seconds, not even the hours.
It wasn't like they hadn't talked on the phone a million times since Joey had left.
Chandler looked up at the clock from his position on the vacuumed couch, cushions perfectly placed in such a way that he might just have been sitting in a home and living catalogue.
Twenty four minutes till Monica and the kids came home. Exactly twenty four, Monica was never late, not even when the twins were involved. Chandler sometimes thought that she was inhumane, perhaps an alien, but she was just too pretty for that. Perhaps she was an android? Chandler had heard of experiments being done, there could have been a cover up by the government. Maybe she had been Monica for the longest time, then one day they'd done the switch.
Chandler knew he was just scraping for a reason as to why Monica had changed so much. It was a stupid reason; he'd changed too, and he bled blood, not acid, and felt decidedly human inside and out.
Twenty one minutes till Monica and the kids came home. An hour, give or take, till Joey arrived. There was no specific time frame with Joey; he definitely wasn't an android.
The twins were napping and Monica was both marvelling and nitpicking at the clean house when Joey arrived.
The knock on the door was all but drowned out by Monica's exclamation of, 'you used my blue shirt to clean the mantle place?' but Chandler heard it all the same, and his heart was in his toes again as he went to open the door. Joey wouldn't be different. Joey would be the same, they'd get a beer and Joey would wear that smile that told Chandler he at least remembered.
He opened the door and there was a grin and a bear hug that never seemed to end and Chandler felt like maybe, for once in his life, his wishes were coming true.
When Joey dumped his bag in the middle of the living room, kicked off his shoes and didn't even blink at the cleanliness, but gave Chandler's shirt a grin and said, 'Dude, the Knicks rule!' Chandler was almost sure.
And later, when they were at the bar, downing beers and the old foosball table had been brought up; Chandler had watched Joey's face closely.
When Joey had smiled that small smile, Chandler had almost cried with happiness, before reminding himself that he did, despite many signs indicating otherwise, own a set of testicles.
Instead, Chandler smiled back and thought maybe, just maybe, he wanted to share another foosball table with Joey.