-oh dear, did I open a can of worms? I'm sorry if I've caused a debate about college and universities!!! The way England's education system works is a lot different! I'm going to take Exintaris' advice and explain and work around the problem. I hope turning back the clock will clear things, which was the whole plan anyway. Everything involving everyone's relationships is going to be explained. And yes, this is AU, everything a year earlier than it should be. And the early lives of the friends are a lot different. So the Thanksgiving incident involving Chandler's toe happened in 1987, not in 1988. He and Ross were Sophomores in college, and they're only doing three years at this particular college – so that they would graduate in 1989.
Feedback is welcome by the way!! And if you're really, really generous, I just might update a certain fanfic involving a auction...
TOW Kip's Wedding
Chapter Three – Nine kinds of pain
Monica wrinkled her nose at the smells of the antiseptic in the ward. She stood beside her brother, who was actively ignoring her, as they stood over Chandler's bed. Chandler was sitting up at the moment, with one of his legs slightly elevated. His foot on that particular leg was heavily bandaged.
"How are you doing?" Joey asked, chuckling.
Chandler scowled at him. "I've lost my toe. How do you think I'm doing? I'm in nine kinds of pain here." He glanced at Rachel, who was rolling her eyes. "You're doing Psychology, right? Take note that I'm scarred for life – mentally."
Monica looked down at the floor in embarrassment. "It was an accident." She whispered.
Kip, standing on the other side of the bed with Joey, glanced at Monica sympathetically. "Chandler, stop acting like an ass…can't you see the kid is upset."
Monica turned a deep crimson. Kid? She was only a year younger than Mike Patterson, affectionately known as 'Kip' thanks to his strange love for eating English breakfasts involving Kippers.
Then again, Ross, Chandler, Joey and Kip did seem a lot older than Monica and Rachel. It was obviously a sophomore thing.
"Ok, ok." Chandler grumbled at him. He gave Monica a begrudging smile. "I know you didn't mean to do it."
"I'm so sorry Chandler."
"Sorry doesn't really change the fact that you cut off his toe Monica." Ross snapped. He glanced at Kip and Joey. "Shouldn't you be at home with your own families?" He asked witheringly.
Monica just wanted to die. Ross was making it blatantly obvious that he was embarrassed his little sister had met all his friends in these circumstances.
Kip arched an eyebrow. "Chandler invited us…and Joey is eating at my house this year." He glanced at Joey. "Come on, we should go to the café. I bet they've got some special thanksgiving food on."
"Reckon they'd let us box some up?" Joey asked hopefully as they walked out of the ward.
"Joe, I'm not letting our campus bedroom smell horrible for the rest of semester," Kip replied in disgust.
Rachel chuckled. "I would love to know whose idea it was to put those two together."
"Hey, Monica, we should head back on home. Mom and Dad will be complaining about the parking meter." Ross pointed out.
Monica nodded silently. She gave Chandler a shy smile as Ross and Rachel said their goodbyes to him. He met her eyes briefly and smiled back.
"Wait…" Chandler called as the three of them walked away from him. "Monica…hang around with me a sec. I want to talk to you."
Monica froze in shock as Ross widened his eyes. "Dude, why do you want to talk to her? She could've killed you."
Chandler looked at Ross with mild disgust. "Well, she didn't. I'm fine." He waved Monica over encouragingly. She tentatively took a seat beside his bed.
Ross stood where he was, glaring at Monica with jealousy.
"It's ok Ross, you go back with Rachel. Kip can drive Monica home later." Chandler continued, eyeing Ross meaningfully.
"Mom isn't going to be happy," Ross told Monica. He glanced at Rachel. "Come on. Let's go salvage some of this day at least."
Rachel chewed her lip. "Actually…I think I might hang around a while too. I want to get to know Kip and Joey."
Ross' face fell. Monica had to feel for him. This was the first time in a good few years that Ross had any 'cool' friends. He had met Chandler on his first day – they were now roommates. Joey was trying to get a major in Drama and was also taking English Literature with Chandler, so that had been another friend for Ross. Then he had met Kip, Joey's roommate. Now, he probably felt that Monica was taking all of them away from him.
"Why don't you go with Rachel," she suggested now. She tried to ignore Rachel's pained look.
Ross looked at Rachel temptingly but then shook his head. "No, it's Thanksgiving. It's not fair on mom and dad." He walked out of the ward moodily. Rachel left to go to the cafe.
Chandler rolled his eyes comically at Monica. "You do realise that he's gonna be in a bad mood for weeks now? That air purifier will be running in our room just to annoy me."
Monica giggled. "Sorry."
"Will you stop saying that?" Chandler asked, shaking his head. "Not everything bad that happens is your fault, remember that."
"Chandler, I thought a carrot was your toe." Monica pointed out.
Chandler winced. "New rule: If you cook for me, never ever serve me carrots."
"It's a deal." Monica widened her eyes. "So if I cook for you…does that mean you want to see me again?"
Chandler's eyes narrowed a little, as if he was in deep thought. "Yeah I guess it does mean that. There is just one thing I want to know…"
Monica swallowed nervously. "What?"
"Why were you acting so weird in your parents' kitchen?" Chandler folded his arms and gazed at her questioningly.
"You really don't want to know." Monica mumbled.
"Oh, I think I do." Chandler leaned forward and smirked. She sighed.
"Do you remember Thanksgiving last year?" She asked seriously, wringing her hands a little.
"Unfortunately, yes." Chandler laughed. "I thought I was so cool with that hair cut and the whole band thing. I even scored with Rachel at that party you two attended."
Monica's eyebrows soared. "You did?" she screeched. "She never told me that."
"It's not something either of us wants to relive." Chandler assured her, smiling.
Monica avoided his gaze, blushing. "Um…anyway. Do you remember what you said about me to Ross last year?"
Chandler furrowed his brow. "No…"
"I was really fat." Monica added helpfully.
Chandler looked at her in horror as realisation crossed his face. "Oh god…" he groaned. "Monica…I'm so sorry."
"It's ok." Monica smiled at him softly. "Considering what I've done to you today, I forgive you."
Chandler frowned. "So what has that got to do with today anyway?"
"I-I was trying to seduce you," Monica confessed, blushing furiously.
Chandler sat back against his pillows and broke into a small grin. "What?"
"I was really mad about you calling me fat, so, Rachel came up with the idea for me to seduce you, get you naked and have you run outside with no clothes on…" Monica rambled, trailing off as she saw Chandler's face look more and more amused.
"It was a really stupid idea," she finished, laughing uncomfortably.
"Yeah…but, you know what? I think I would have deserved it." Chandler told her, "and it seems you're not a complete saint. I think you and me are going to get along."
Monica grinned. "Really?" she asked happily.
"Yeah, really," Chandler grabbed the bag of grapes Kip and Joey had brought in for him. "You want one?"
"Um, hi," Rachel greeted Kip and Joey. She stood at their table nervously, waiting for a response. Kip looked up and smiled.
"Hey, you escaped the horrible tension too huh?" he greeted, pulling out a chair for Rachel to sit on. She collapsed on it gratefully.
"You could say that," she agreed, "although it's only Monica and Chandler in there now."
"Really?" Joey grinned. "Score."
Rachel gave him a look. "Why do you say that?"
"Oh, no reason," Joey murmured mysteriously. "It's just one of those things…as my friend Phoebe would say, 'they're being drawn to each other like powerful beams'. I'd just call it 'totally digging on each other'."
"Is this Phoebe Buffay, my study partner in Psychology?" Rachel asked, surprised. "You know her?"
"We kinda used to be a thing back when we were at junior high together." Joey chuckled. "We lost touch for a while after her mom died, but now we're at college together. Funny, huh? It was all innocent stuff back then. We're better as friends. She's far too smart for me."
"Wow," Rachel smiled, glad she had decided to join the boys at their table. "So what is this about Monica and Chandler? Have you seen them together before?"
Kip shook his head. "Naw. This is the first time we've met Ross' sister, just like with you. He's a little paranoid about her showing him up. I could just tell in the ward that Monica and Chandler had a little chemistry."
Joey nodded in agreement.
"Oh by the way, did you see the way Chandler was smiling at Monica? This is considering she cut off his toe." Kip added, chewing on his sandwich.
"Interesting," She smiled at Kip, taking in his sandy brown hair, green eyes and glasses. He's kinda cute. "So…um…what are you guys majoring in?" she asked.
"Drama," Joey replied. "My lecturer told me to take up English Literature too though."
"Psychology." Kip put in.
Rachel brightened. "Really? Me too."
"Cool. How are you finding it?" Kip asked eagerly. "Isn't it amazing?"
"Well…actually…I'm thinking about quitting. It's tough and there's no space in the parking lots." Rachel confessed.
Kip laughed. "My god, don't do that. Seriously, first semester is always tough. And don't even try parking your car round there. It's just asking for trouble. Don't you live on campus?"
Rachel shook her head. "No. I live on Long Island with my parents."
"Move out and live on campus," Kip instructed, pointing at her with his sandwich.
"Monica keeps bugging me to move in with her." Rachel explained.
"Then do it! You won't regret it."
"I could never afford the fees." Rachel argued.
"Don't you have a job?" Joey asked, raising his eyebrows.
"How the hell do you pay for classes?" Kip demanded.
Rachel blushed. "I don't. My dad pays for it all."
Kip sat back and glanced at Joey. "Can you believe this?"
"No." Joey grinned at Rachel. "I work at my dad's shop two nights a week."
"Yeah, and I work at a bar near Central Park four nights a week." Kip added. "You need to get out there Rachel."
Rachel shrugged. "I wouldn't know how."
"I'll help you."
As she saw the keen look on Kip's face, Rachel couldn't resist taking them up on their offer to get her 'independent.'
"I really don't think Psychology is for me." Rachel moaned, looking at her grade from her latest assignment. She flopped down on her bed and beat her head with a pillow.
"You've been saying that all year." Monica told her, rolling her eyes. She looked up from her desk and spun around on her chair.
"Mon, I got a C minus." Rachel snapped, "A big fat C minus after 8 hours of reading some stupid book about a guy called Frawd!"
"Freud," Chandler corrected, stopping outside Monica and Rachel's campus room. He leaned against the door frame, hands inside his jacket pockets. "You said it like 'fraud'."
Rachel frowned up at him. "Do you want to do my major for me, Mr Genius-man?"
Chandler furrowed his brow and chuckled. "I'd stop trying to insult me Rachel. That was lame." He smiled over at Monica. "Hey, so, I have news."
Monica's eyes lit up. "I like news. What do you have for me Bing?"
Chandler shook his head at her. "Oh no, you'll have to wait for the latest issue of Cutting Edge Campus to find out."
Monica widened her eyes and stood up. "You made it as reporter!" She shrieked in delight.
Chandler spread his arms and looked up at the ceiling. "Yes, I am a legend."
Monica ran over and hugged him. "I am so proud of you."
Ever since the incident at Thanksgiving last fall, relations had improved between Monica and Chandler. They had become close friends with each other and with the rest of the group. Even Ross had relaxed a little in Monica's company, accepting that he couldn't stop Chandler from being friends with his little sister.
Chandler ruffled her hair and smiled down at her. "And that isn't even the news." He remarked, laughing.
"Oh yes, just what is your real news?" Monica pleaded.
"As I said, you'll have to find out in tomorrow's paper." Chandler said airily.
"Chandler," Monica moaned.
"I'm doing fine with my problem by the way." Rachel's muffled voice interrupted under her bed covers. "It doesn't matter to you guys that I'm gonna flunk freshman year next month and get thrown out."
"Rachel," Chandler called, rolling his eyes. "You got a C minus. That's actually good."
"You want to tell that to my lecturer?" Rachel pulled down her bed covers and looked up at her friends miserably. "I'm so gonna flunk. I should just get out of here, quit my job at the bar and go back home …I really need a drink."
Monica looked at Chandler questioningly. "You and Ross have any of that Southern Comfort left?"
"No, Kip and Joey stole it the other night." Chandler replied, shaking his head. "We do have a blender though…we could make some cocktails."
"I'm in," Rachel put in immediately.
"Ohhh my god, I'm so not going to do well at the track today." Rachel moaned, massaging her temples. "It's my turn to be on top of the pyramid." She waited impatiently for the lecture to begin, but as usual, the teacher was running behind schedule.
Phoebe Buffay, seated at the desk next to her, grinned. "Late night huh?"
"Yeah…Chandler made a new kind of alcohol last night."
"Oh good god," Phoebe chuckled. "What were you thinking?"
"I honestly don't know." Rachel poured herself some water into a cup. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. It got a little heavy when Joey and Kip arrived though."
"Ahhh…" Phoebe smiled knowingly. "Kip was at the party."
Rachel narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Yes…and?"
"That wonderful, sexy, funny 'friend' of ours who you talk about 24-7?" Phoebe teased.
"Ok, where do you get this from?" Rachel demanded, her cheeks turning crimson.
"Oh one must not reveal one's sources," Phoebe replied mysteriously, putting on a fake accent.
"Joey?" Rachel guessed.
"You have to spoil my fun." Phoebe pouted briefly before starting to smile again. "So it is true then…you have a crush on our mutual friend Kip?"
"I really don't know what you're talking about," Rachel mumbled, looking through her books. "And if your 'source' is Joey, I wouldn't rely on him."
"Really? But he's Kip's roommate. He sees it all go on." Phoebe smirked. "He's seen the 'potential' of a nice little romance."
"Phoebs," Rachel moaned. "Don't start."
"Oh come on, I heard you two at your locker this morning. 'Oh Kip, I'm really struggling with this assignment." Phoebe deepened her voice, "'Oh Rachel, why didn't you say? I'll help you.'"
Rachel narrowed her eyes again. "We don't talk like that."
Phoebe shrugged. "You can't blame us for wondering. There's definitely a spark between the two of you."
"A spark?" Rachel widened her eyes and laughed.
"You really don't see it?" Phoebe asked, surprised.
"No, now shut up." Rachel smiled and shook her head.
On his way to his first class of the day, Chandler walked down the hallways of the English Department, seeing heads turn at every corner. He smiled to himself, a little embarrassed at the attention. He hadn't realised how popular the Student Union newspaper was.
"Hey dude, you're famous." Joey called from his locker. Chandler stopped in front of him and rolled his eyes.
"I write one column a week, I don't see the big deal." He told Joey modestly.
Joey shut the door of his locker and grinned. "It may only be one column, but it's the best! And it's your first one." He shook out his copy of Cutting Edge Campus and started to read aloud.
Chandler Bing Investigates….the science department
"Hey all, I would start off by introducing myself but I don't want to bore you. Like my predecessor, every week I'll be exposing the innermost secrets of our college. This week it's those unexposed friendly geeks in the science department that caught my attention! I'm roommates with one of these guys – he is actually really cool by the way – and he gave me an exclusive on his after-hours Chemistry Club. Ross Geller and his friends are going to be doing a 'secret' experiment tomorrow night at 7p.m in Lab 2. But this isn't about the boring stuff – Ross has figured out how to brew beer!! If you want a free sample, then be there! Not recommended for Alcoholics or light-weights."
Chandler grinned at Joey's overjoyed face. "Dude, this is so cool. Did Ross know you were going to publish that?"
Chandler laughed. "No. He's going to be so pissed."
"Chandler! I really don't believe you!" Ross shouted at him in the canteen at lunchtime.
Chandler stared across at him at their usual table. "What?" He asked innocently, shoving some mashed potato into his mouth. Kip laughed and slapped him on the back.
"You know very well 'what'." Ross moaned. "I told you in the strictest of confidence about the beer-brewing experiment. Now everybody is going to be crowding round that Lab tomorrow night! What if the lecturers found out? What possessed you?"
"You didn't tell me it was a secret," Chandler pointed out. "The lecturers never read our paper and I couldn't resist telling people about the model-student breaking a few rules."
"Yeah, seriously…you're brewing beer?" Kip asked, shaking his head in disbelief. "You get high on coffee."
"This is a disaster." Ross mumbled, distraught.
Chandler shook his head. "Relax. It will be fun. You need to meet a few people Ross. It will get you out into the real world…" He looked meaningfully at his friend. "It might make you see that Rachel isn't the only girl out there, you know?"
Kip sat up straighter in his chair. "That's a good point."
Ross groaned. "I don't want to meet anybody else. I want Rachel."
"Yeah but…she's not interested. She's kinda seeing that Barry guy from the medical school down the block." Chandler told him, sighing. "Help me out here Kip."
"Um…yeah, Chandler's right dude." Kip said quietly. "Play the field a little."
"You've been seeing the same girl for the last few weeks." Ross muttered. "How's that british girl, Kate?"
Kip narrowed his eyes. "Kate and I are not serious. We've had three dates."
"She seems very into you." Chandler pointed out, smirking a little.
"Well, I'm not very into her right now." Kip answered shortly. "Will you stop talking to Joey?"
"Hey, Joey's the guy to ask." Chandler shrugged his shoulders.
"A B minus?" Monica whispered unhappily. She had worked so hard on her 'recipe book' for her coursework. B's didn't cut it with her.
Her lecturer Bob Harrison, a young guy in his late twenties with sandy brown hair, nodded at her. "I'm afraid so."
"I'm never gonna be a chef." She moaned, sitting down on top of one of the desks.
Bob started to pack his things from that day's finished class into his briefcase. "Of course you will. You're very talented. It was only one of the recipes that let you down."
"Really?" Monica looked hopefully at Bob, "the rest of them were ok?"
Bob grinned at her. "They were fantastic Monica. You just need help on the cheesecake section."
"I don't know anybody else who could help me."
Bob peered at her. "Well…I could." He offered.
Monica gazed at him. "Are you allowed to do that?" She asked doubtfully. "Wouldn't it be seen as favouritism?"
"Nah…I'm your lecturer. I'm here to teach, right?" Bob said, spreading his hands out. "Drop by my office tonight. I'll give you a few books on desserts. Just don't tell anyone."
"Oh thank you Bob, I don't know how to make this up to you!" Monica cried, jumping up off the desk.
"Oh I'll think of something!" Bob replied jovially.
"Anything." Monica called happily as she rushed out.
"You're meeting up with your lecturer after hours?" Chandler asked doubtfully, sitting back at Monica's desk that evening.
"Yes, he's being very helpful." Monica replied, checking herself out in the mirror.
"And it's nothing to do with the fact that you're drop-dead gorgeous at all?" Chandler pressed. Monica glanced at him and smiled.
"Don't be stupid. Bob isn't like that."
"Oh I think I know exactly what he's like." Chandler mumbled. He looked over at Rachel, who also looked worried.
"Monica, are you sure you don't want one of us to go with you?" Rachel suggested with a frown.
Monica sighed with irritation. "No, I'll be fine. I'll be half an hour, tops." She rushed out of the room.
"She's got a crush on him." Rachel said with a smile.
Chandler didn't smile back. "Yeah, a crush is fine…but I think he's got a lot more than just a 'crush' on his mind. She's innocent…she's 19 years old for crying out loud."
Monica smiled at Bob in appreciation as he gave her the books. He really was a nice man. So much younger than the other lecturers… he seemed to identify with her a lot more.
She had been in his office for over an hour, just talking. Her friends were going to kill her when she got back.
"I guess I should go." She told him regretfully.
Bob nodded and smiled. "Yeah, you go on."
He made to open the door. Monica smiled up at him as he did. She sucked in her breath as he seemed to hover over her.
"Um…you're very beautiful Monica." He told her.
"Uh-huh…" Monica murmured, transfixed.
Bob lowered his face and kissed her gently. She almost buckled on her heels.
"Oh wow…" she mumbled.
Bob stepped back. "Um…I shouldn't have done that."
Monica blushed. "Um…you can do it again!" she blurted out without thinking. She flung her arms around his shoulders and kissed him again. He pushed her onto the desk and roamed his arms around her body.
Things were moving too fast for Monica now. She suddenly felt more trapped than aroused. She had never gone this far with a man before.
"Um Bob…slow down," she whispered as he started to run his hands up under her skirt.
Bob looked at her and smiled. "Relax," he told her, kissing her neck.
Monica nodded, trembling. It was no use fighting it. She had let him kiss her and then she had kissed him back. Maybe this was the way things happened when a woman did it for the first time.
Then her brain started working. No, this isn't right. I don't want this. She pulled away from Bob just as he started to undo the belt of his pants.
"I'm sorry…no." She whispered, standing up.
"What do you mean…no?" Bob demanded. "You threw yourself at me."
"For a kiss!" Monica cried.
Bob pulled at her arm. "Come on, you wanted more than that." He started to kiss her again. Monica struggled to pull free but he still held on to her tightly, pushing her into the desk.
"Stop it!" She cried, frightened. Bob roughly pinned her down on the woodwork, kissing her neck, unbuttoning her blouse. She felt powerless. How could she have been so stupid?
The office door suddenly opened. "Hey Sir…I finished the homework…" A young man from Monica's class was standing outside. His eyes widened. "Oh god…I'm sorry!"
"Dave!" Monica and Bob shouted as the boy ran off.
Monica pulled free from Bob and ran after Dave.
"Wait!" She shouted, chasing him down the deserted hallway. Dave stopped and turned round to Monica.
"Well…goody-goody Monica with Bob the lecturer." He remarked, raising an eyebrow.
"Please…Dave…" Monica sobbed, buttoning up her blouse.
"What? Don't tell anybody?" Dave asked. "How are you going to stop me from going to the Dean right now to tell him that you were taking extra-curricular 'lessons' from Bob Harrison?"
"It wasn't like that." Monica mumbled, stricken.
Dave's face softened. "What was it like then?"
"He tried to…to…" Monica took a great shuddering breath.
"My god…" Dave shook his head. "What an asshole…but what were you doing in his office?"
"He…he was helping me with my work." Monica admitted, shame-faced.
Dave scowled. "So you were cheating."
"Not cheating! We're allowed to talk to our lecturers about our work!" Monica shouted.
"Not if you're having sex too."
Dave folded his arms. "This doesn't look good for you."
"I'll get expelled if you tell. My family will go crazy." Monica whispered.
Dave sighed. "Fine I won't tell."
Monica smiled in relief. "Thank-"
"On one condition," Dave interrupted, his eyes glinting.
"What?" She muttered, closing her eyes briefly.
"You let me take you out for a drink sometime." Dave suggested, eyeing her.
Monica looked at him uncertainly. "A drink?"
"Yeah…" Dave looked at her pointedly. "I also need a spring prom date. You can be my partner."
"Um…sure." Monica looked down at her hands. She was going to ask Chandler to go to the prom with her. It looked like that wasn't going to happen now.
"And no-one need ever know about what happened tonight." Dave finished. "Bob wouldn't dare say anything. You'll graduate in a couple of years and no-one need ever know…if you go out with me."
Monica smiled uncertainly at him and Dave chuckled. "Relax. We'll have fun." He kissed her forehead. "Come on… forget about that asshole in his office."
As Monica followed Dave back to the campus rooms, she wondered if she had just got out of one problem and straight into another.
"Dammit." Chandler slammed his hand on his desk. It was the following night and with only half an hour to go before Ross' 'party', Chandler had hoped to get one of his assignments finished.
He couldn't concentrate though. Images of Monica and the new man in her life kept flying through his brain. He had been so sure Monica had feelings for him…he could not have missed the looks she gave him sometimes. Or used to give him.
He had obviously realised too late about his own feelings. Dave had got there first.
There was something about Dave that Chandler didn't trust. It was a certain look in his eye, as though he knew something that nobody else did.
He also seemed to have a powerful hold on Monica. Chandler didn't like it. If Dave asked her to jump off a cliff she'd do it. She was also being very vague about how she even met the guy.
"He's doing the same major as me." Monica had told him.
Joey and Ross had starting calling Dave 'the leech'. He never let Monica out of his sight, and he had only started seeing her from last night.
Chandler was going to keep a very close watch on Dave at the party tonight.
End of chapter 3
-for those of you wondering, Kip looks a little like a young Jude Law...