The Pact-Conclusion
"The Ring & The Promise"

*1997*

He wasn't sure what it was about the ring that called out to him--he just knew that he had to purchase it. Something deep inside him was telling him that someday, he'd get the opportunity to give this ring to the love of his life. He knew that that day was not today, but he held out a distant hope that the future would be much brighter. He payed for the ring, and headed over to Central Perk, where his friends were gathered, unofficially toasting the end of their youth, on the eve of Monica's wedding.

*2008*

Rachel stood in front of the full-length mirror, examining her reflection closely. She honestly never thought this day would ever come. Her floor-length, strapless, white silk gown hung on her body perfectly. She added the pearl necklace that her mother had given her--something old. The necklace was an antique--it had belonged to Rachel's great-grandmother, and had been passed down the maternal line at a wedding ever since. Rachel's sister Jill was positively seething at the idea that Rachel got the prized necklace, but then, Jill had eloped in Las Vegas three years ago, something their parents did not approve of.

Rachel added matching pearl earrings--her something new--a gift from Monica, her best friend. Although they had, until recently, let their friendship drift apart, Rachel never found a deeper friendship than the one she had with Monica. The fact that she was about to become her sister-in-law made it that much more special.

Rachel's something borrowed was a set of silver hairclips that belonged to Phoebe. Phoebe was adamant about the 'borrowed' part of the equation, since the clips had belonged to her mother.
Finally, Rachel added her something blue--her garter. As she slipped on her shoes, Monica and Phoebe knocked and entered, grinning from ear-to-ear.

"Well?" Rachel asked, spinning slowly.

"Oh, Rach! You look amazing!" Phoebe gushed.

"You look stunning!" Monica chimed in.

Monica and Phoebe were both dressed in midnight blue silk gowns, with beaded spaghetti straps and low-cut backs. Monica was thrilled to be able to dress up, now that she had lost most of her post-baby weight. She unconsciously fingered her prized locket, as she watched Rachel and Phoebe fuss in front of the mirror. She sighed, silently wondering if she would ever get the opportunity to walk down the aisle again. Two years ago, she wouldn't have ever considered it, after all that Richard had put her through. But now she knew that she wanted to be Chandler's wife, more than anything. Although her relationship with Chandler had improved greatly since Charlotte was born, she still felt like he was holding back. She knew that he was trying to protect himself, but that logic didn't make it hurt any less.

***

Chandler sat in the back of the large church, holding a sleeping Charlotte in his arms, and watching as Elaina and Mark tried their hardest to get themselves into trouble. They wandered over to a large candelabra, and Elaina looked back at her father, who was shaking his head disapprovingly. She smiled guiltily, and pulled Mark away from the alter, and back toward the front pews. Charlotte stirred, and Chandler looked down at her, just as her eyes fluttered open, revealing a set of deep blue eyes that mirrored her mother's. Chandler smiled, and wondered how he could have ever thought that his little girls were anything but a blessing.

***

Ross smiled down at Rachel, as she read her vows softly. A single tear made it's way down her cheek, and Ross reached over, and gingerly wiped it away. He couldn't believe he was marrying Rachel. He never thought that she would allow him back into her life again, after the way they had fought that night. But, from the instant he saw her in Central Perk the day of the reunion, he knew that he still loved her. He knew that they were meant to be together, forever. He looked down at their rings, and thought about all of the times he'd dreamed of this moment. He'd even thought about it as he slid a remarkably plain ring on Emily's finger, all those years ago. It was amazing how time had changed so much, and yet the love that he and Rachel shared seemed to be untouched by time and distance.

It was the definition of true love.

***

The ceremony seemed to go by in a blur. Before she knew it, Rachel found herself sitting at the head table in the reception hall. She looked around her, at all of the people that she loved, and realized that this was the happiest moment of her life. She looked over at Ross, who was already gazing at his new wife.

"I love you, Ross Geller," she whispered.

"I love you too, Mrs. Rachel Geller," Ross smiled.

The clinking of hundreds of champagne glasses preceded the soft kiss that followed.

*

"As the best man, I am required by law to give a speech tonight," Chandler started, winking at the bride and groom. "We all knew from the beginning that Ross and Rachel were meant for each other, even if it did take them twenty-odd years to figure it out for themselves. As two of my best friends, it makes me very happy to see that they have finally found each other. A love like the one they share is not a common one. But it is one that will last forever, and to that, I'd like you all to raise your glasses, to the bride and groom."

Monica watched as Chandler toasted their best friends, and wondered silently if their love would last forever as well. They would be forever bound by the children, but would they always be bound by heart and soul?

****

*2010*

Monica stared out at the Manhatten skyline, thinking about all that had happened in such a short period of time. She sometimes longed for the days when she and her five closest friends would do nothing but hang out, drinking coffee and dreaming about the future. She always saw herself with two children by now, but she never thought it would be like this. Technially, Elaina wasn't even hers. She hoped to someday adopt her someday, but she knew better than to push the boundaries of her relationship with Chandler. The front door opened, pulling Monica back to reality. She stood up, and prepared to greet Chandler and the children. She was surprised to see Chandler come in alone.

"Hey," Chandler said, putting down two shopping bags.

"Hey," Monica replied, "Where are the girls?"

"With Phoebe and Joey. Did you know that Phoebe and Joey are dating?"

"Each other?"

"Yup."

"Wow."

"I know."

"So, why are the girls with Joey and Pheebs?"

"I thought we could use the alone time. I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay."

Monica and Chandler made their way to the sofa, and sat down. Chandler gazed at Monica for several minutes, taking in everything silently.

"So, did you have a specific topic, or should I start in on the weather?" Monica smiled.

"Well, here's the thing. I was digging through some of Elaina's old clothes, and I came upon a box of stuff that I had packed up when I moved to Philadelphia. I was pretty amazed by some of the stuff I found in there, and I was also a bit taken aback by how much crap I have. I did find something in particular, something that intrigued me."

"Really? What was it?"

"Well, I'll get to that in a minute. Remember how I told you that I was in love with you before you married Richard?"

"Yeah."

"I did something back then, the night before you got married."

"Really? What did you do?"

"I wrote myself a letter." Chandler pulled out a yellowing piece of paper, and opened it carefully.

"Dear Chandler," Chandler read aloud, "If you are reading this right now, then you need to throw some of your old crap away. Anyway, I want you to remember the feeling that you have in your heart at this very instant. Do you love her? Maybe. But it doesn't matter, because it's too late. You've lost her. She fell in love with someone better. He's twice the man you are, and you know this, which is why you are going to be okay with the wedding. But remember the feeling, and remember, that if you get a second chance, if you find the one that is meant for you waiting with open arms--don't ever let it her go. If you do, you are dumber than I thought you were. Oh, and don't forget that Joey owes you about two thousand dollars."

"Joey owes you two thousand dollars?"

"Probably. But that wasn't the point of the letter."

"I know."

"Monica, I told myself that if I ever got the chance, I needed to hold onto you, no matter what. I know that you love me, and that should be enough. But I guess I needed to know that you would never hurt me the way you had before. The thing is, I know that being without you would be worse than any stupid scenario I come up with in my head. I love you. And I know that you love me, I really do. And I think we can make this work. I want to marry you. And I want you to be Elaina's mother--legally," Chandler pulled out a small, blue box, and opened it slowly, revealing a gorgeous platinum and diamond ring. "Monica, will you marry me?"

Monica smiled, as tears of joy and relief flowed down her face. "Yes! Yes, I'll marry you," she croaked through her tears.

****

*2017*

"Hey guys, come on in!" Monica stood in the doorway of the four-bedroom house that she and Chandler had purchased five years ago, during Monica's second-and final pregnancy. The birth of Christopher Andrew had nearly killed Monica, and had consequently resulted in a hysterectomy. Chandler had since become fiercly protective of his little family, and had to be convinced into having a Holiday party at all.

"Hey Mon!" Phoebe said, as she, Mark, Matthew and Joey made their way into the Bing home. Joey and Phoebe had married three years earlier, but had discovered that they were unable to have any more children. Joey was saddened by this, but had grown very close to both Mark and Matthew, vowing to be the "coolest dad ever".

"Ross and Rachel and the kids are already here," Monica said, closing the door behind her. Ross and Rachel had had twin girls, Helen and Amanda, soon after their wedding, and another boy, Adam Michael, two years later. Ben, who was now in college, was currently not speaking to his father, since Ross had refused to pay for Ben's spur-of-the-moment backpacking trip through Europe.

*

Monica stood in the doorway of the dining room, taking in the sight before her. Ross, Rachel, Helen, Amanda, Adam, Phoebe, Joey, Mark, Matthew, Elaina, Charlotte, Chris, Chandler. This was her family. Her mind wandered back to that fateful day in Central Perk--the day that changed everything. It seemed so long ago. Monica wondered if the others thought about that day, or about the lives they'd shared twenty years ago.

"Mon?" Chandler approached his wife slowly, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Monica said, taking her eyes off of the Rockwellian scene, and focusing on Chandler. She wrapped her arms around his neck, ran her hands through his greying temples, and kissed him softly. "I've never been happier."

~The End~

AN: I never actually revealed who purchased that ring back in 1997, so it's up to you to decide who it was--Chandler, Ross or Joey. I wrote it so that it could have been any of them. Tell me what you think...this series is now finished--please review this chapter, and, if you can, the series as a whole. Thank you to those who have reviewed so far, and for sticking with this series--I appreciate it, more than you know!
Thanks, and Happy New Year!!