The One With The Sudden Revelation
--It was like a sudden revelation.
He had been miserable for weeks, wallowing with his friends, 'Self Loathing', and 'Self Pity', the steady diet of Jack Daniels and the few nibbles he could stomach of whatever Joey left outside his bedroom door indicating his spiral away from reality. He wouldn't even have eaten that much, except that when he didn't, the banging on the door started up again. At least this way, Joey would only ask him to come out, but then would leave him alone when he refused.
Throwing the food in the trash didn't work. The third day he had, Ross had caught on and brought it to Joey's attention. The utter chaos that day had been unreal. It took hours to convince them that he was fine, or at least would be in time, and to just leave him alone. Joey, oddly enough, was the only one to really see past the promises, recognizing all he said for what it was. An act. Probably because it was his profession, though he'd never been truly successful at it. For reasons he didn't understand, Joey had waited until after everyone had left, to call him a bullshit liar and demand he talk to him.
But he didn't want to talk. Talking would solve nothing. The damage was done, all by his own doing, and no amount of conversation would change that. It all went to hell so quickly. Like a blink in time. One minute, he had a plan, the next…
He shuddered, then shot back another swig straight from the bottle, in an attempt to ward off the memory. The fifth was almost gone. He'd have to venture out and get more. At a different liquor store, though. The clerk at the usual one told him last time, that it was the last time he'd sell to him in his current state.
"Fucking morality," he mumbled, tossing the near-empty bottle aside, then scratching absently at the scruff on his face. The bedside clock reminded him dutifully of the time, and he grumbled the numbers back at it as he pushed to standing on shaky legs. "Four-forty-two."
A half hour at best, and they would all be arriving, to start the ritual all over again. The promises, the pleading through the door, the relentless questions he never answered. They weren't going to stop, and he knew it. Just like he knew the pain wouldn't, unless he himself stopped it. One simple act, and it would all go away.
The sudden revelation hit him as he was locating his shoes. He wouldn't be needing them after all. Liquor wasn't the solution anymore.
--Joey headed for apartment twenty, pizza in hand, a determined air to his stride. If he had to force it down his throat, he was going to eat. End of story. Shifting the flat box to one arm, he tried the door, but the knob wouldn't budge. Locked.
Scowling, he muttered to himself, "This is new," then reached into his pocket for his keys. Bolt and knob unlocked, he tried again for entry, but the chain held steady, impeding him. "What the-?" he asked no one, incompletely, calling out a second later, "Dude! Open the door!"
Silence. Not even the distant sounds of slight stirring could be heard. Panic welled. Dropping the pizza to the ground, Joey began to pound his fist against the door, shouting through the gap created by the latched chain, "Dude! Open the fucking door right now, or I swear to God I'll break it down!"
Nothing. He knew before he even slammed his body against the green-painted wood, what he would find once inside.
--In complete agreement with all Rachel had just said, Ross nodded and sighed as he dropped onto the couch beside her. "He won't, though," he stated forebodingly, dropping his chin to his chest when she responded in tears.
"Then, we'll make him!" she insisted, and he nodded again.
"Joey should be there by now," he assumed, then added as he checked his watch for the time, "We should be, too."
First swiping at her tears, Rachel moved to stand, Ross on his feet a second later, but before they could take a step towards the door, the phone's shrill ringer stopped them dead in their tracks. Instinctively somehow, they both knew it was bad news.
Ross offered the standard greeting with a sense of hesitancy, then immediately scowled as he fell silent and listened.
"Joe!" he finally called out, "Slow down! I can't understand you!"
Seconds later, seeing the tears well in his eyes, she knew the answer before she even asked the question. "What's happened?"
Struggling to keep it together, he choked out, "The worst case scenario."
The sound of the nearing ambulance confirmed it. Rachel bolted for the door.
"We'll be there in fifteen seconds," Ross said into the phone, then abruptly disconnected the call and hurried after her.
--The vision had been especially vivid, which just made Phoebe hustle faster towards her destination. Not that it surprised her. He was a wreck, a shell of a man, really, and only a shadow of his former self. It was as if he'd lost a piece of his soul, as if that itself was a vital organ, leaving him wounded and bleeding and barely able to function.
It was reminiscent of when her mother had…
Her cell phone's cheery ring tone interrupted her retrospect. She dug for it in her abyss of a purse and then answered it quickly, her stride hardly faltering.
He sounded near hysterics, though she expected nothing less. The man was like a brother to him.
"Joey, sweetie, take a breath," she ordered calmly, then asked carefully, "Did you call nine-one-one?" She nodded at his answer, asking quickly, "What about Ross and Rachel? I could call them--" He already had, and she sighed as she nodded again. "Put him on the phone," she requested, waiting seconds only until she heard his voice. Skipping pleasantries, the situation understanding of that, she announced simply, "Fill me in."
Listening intently, she nodded as the little that was known and shared matched up with her premonition. If the similarities continued, there was reason to hope.
"I'll be there in four minutes," she informed, when he finished, then asked cautiously, "Who's going to call her?" He obviously knew who she meant, who she was referring to, because he answered instantly, volunteering himself to the task.
Just as well. Of all of them, he was the most logical choice, what with Joey losing it, and assuming Rachel was, too. She certainly didn't want to be the one to do it. She would only be hung up on anyway.
Agreeing with him that it was probably best that he make the call, she announced her ETA once again, at three minutes, then ended the conversation and picked up pace. She was needed.
--Spotting them up ahead, she broke out into a near-run, the frantic action and intense expression as she approached showing her distress.
"What happened?" she demanded to know. "Was he shot? Hit by a car? What?"
They all shared looks for a moment, before Ross pointed towards a hospital waiting room chair. "We should be sitting for this," he said; his tone of voice caused terror to shoot through her.
"Oh, God," she whispered, and then her legs began to buckle. With sharp reflexes and a quick forward motion, Joey and Ross flanked her, supporting her as they helped her to a seat. "Tell me he's not dead," she begged them desperately. "Even if it's a lie, tell me he's alive."
"He's alive," Phoebe informed softly, then added reassuringly, "Truthfully."
She sighed with relief, though unbeknownst to her, that was about to be short lived. As the four concerned individuals, two of them, one sitting to either side of her, two standing above her, continued to glance around at each other, avoiding her eyes directly, she asked, "What's going on? Why is he here?"
All eyes eventually landed on Ross, and in response, he nodded in acceptance that he would be the one to break the news. Everything she thought she knew, about everything, was about to change.
--With a steady flow of tears, she entered his room slowly, gasping at the sight of him when he came into view. He looked so small, so unlike himself. He'd lost weight. A lot of weight. It had only been just short of three weeks. Had he starved himself? The almost sickly thinness indicated a bigger problem than a loss of appetite, as Joey had claimed.
The amount of facial hair was the next thing she noticed. He hadn't shaved in a while. Since she had left, if she was to take a guess. Her rash behavior had ruined him. If only she had listened to Joey when he had tried to explain. If only she hadn't shut them all out, and refused to take their calls.
Of course it was a misunderstanding. His behavior literally changed overnight. It didn't make sense at the time, so she allowed herself to believe the worst. It took Ross' stern words, and the rest of their friends' backing of his account, to get her to see. Guilt and regret weren't strong enough words.
Not wanting to wake him, she stepped cautiously towards his bed, lifting the chair in the corner to relocate it by his side, instead of dragging it, for the same reason. She thought her heart hurt before, while at her parents', mourning what she saw to be the end of her two year relationship. Now, it felt like it was literally breaking.
Flip-flopping between anger and depression, she had tried to imagine herself without him, over the past weeks. She had tried to imagine herself with Richard, who had made his feelings for her clear, and offered her all she had ever wanted, technically speaking. Problem was, he was no longer the man of her dreams. That role had been recast, by the man now lying in the bed beside her, broken, hooked up to machines that monitored his vitals constantly.
They would be engaged right now, planning their wedding, and happy, if not for her stupidity. Joey had said it was all part of some weird plan that had been concocted, so that she would be surprised, but it all seemed so farfetched. She just assumed Joey was covering for him somehow, so she dismissed him, threw a bag of clothes and necessities together and left, long before he had come home.
According to what she had just been told, Joey apparently stopped him in the hall and explained that she was gone. That he had told her about the plan, but she didn't believe him. He was in tears, Joey had said, when they walked into the empty apartment together.
The calls stopped coming, from him, anyway, after about a week. Everyone else continued to try, only to get the same message from Jack or Judy Geller: "She won't come to the phone."
They all showed up, together and individually, at several points, Ross more than anyone else, in an attempt to gain audience with her, but they were always turned away. Even Ross, who had always been their mom's favorite. Puzzling, but she would have to worry about the meaning of that later.
Now she wished her parents would have forced her to take the calls, or forced her to listen to the relayed messages, or allowed her brother and friends to physically shake some sense into her. Obeying her orders, they kept to the promises she insisted they make, when she showed up at their door.
She had been depressed, too. Horribly so, but differently. She hadn't starved herself, or found a liquor of choice to deaden the pain with. Her parents wouldn't have stood for that if she had. Like him, though, she hadn't been to work since that day. Since she never got sick, and didn't care for taking vacations, she had a lot of paid days saved up that she then cashed in on. There was no way she could focus on work, and she knew it, but besides that, she didn't want to run the risk of being ambushed by their friends while at her job. She also just wanted to be left alone. They were all well-meaning, but meddlesome, and she just didn't need them interfering while she came to terms with things.
Things would be so different, if she could go back in time and change it. She would've been waiting for him in their apartment, after filling it with candles, and when he entered, she would've dropped to one knee and proposed to him, showing him in doing so just how much she wanted to be with him for life. Nothing in her life had ever hurt so much, as when she thought he didn't want that future with her. Not even breaking up with Richard had caused that amount of pain.
And it all could have been avoided. Tears continued to fall as she reached for his hand, tucking her fingers under to press lightly against his palm as her thumb brushed across his knuckles. It only took a few moments, for his eyes to flutter open in response.
"Monica?" he rasped, and her crying escalated as she nodded.
"I'm here," she whispered, standing, then she leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.
"It was all a mistake," he immediately explained. "I want to marry you. I have the ring. I was just being stupid, trying to throw you off course--"
She touched her finger to his lips to stop him, to prevent him from taxing his strained voice further. "I know," she soothed. "I didn't then," she added, "But, I do now. The others filled me in, a few minutes ago, out in the waiting room."
"I'm sorry I ruined what should have been the happiest moment of our lives," he whispered apologetically, turning his head slightly to stop her from attempting to quiet him again. He needed to say it. All of it. It had been bottled up for far too long.
Shaking her head, she whispered back, "This wasn't your fault, Chandler. It was mine."
He shook his head in response, as she was still speaking. "This was too important to play games with. It's my fault, not yours. You were just reacting to my stupidity."
"Let's just say, we both made mistakes," she countered, "But that's over with now," she added, and he arched an eyebrow.
"It is?" he asked, and when she nodded, he pressed further, almost fearful of the answer, "In what way?"
"We're done being stupid," she explained, then gestured to his current condition as she added, "This, is the last stupid thing we do, right?"
Closing his eyes, pained, he whispered, "I know it was stupid, Mon. I wasn't thinking. I was insanely drunk, and pretty much have been, constantly, since the day I fucked it all up."
"You stopped eating," she mentioned, and he opened his eyes again and met hers.
"I wasn't hungry," he replied. When she cocked her head at him skeptically, he looked away, adding as he did, "I ate a little."
"Not enough," she insisted firmly, then scolded him, almost playfully, "You're too thin now. A week back with me, and I'll have you fattened up."
"You like me fat?" he asked, genuinely surprised. Her slight smirk gave him his answer, and brought a joy to his heart he hadn't felt in what seemed like forever.
"You were never fat," she assured him, "But, I like you better with a little weight, yeah. You're more… snuggly," she added, and he laughed in response, but it soon faded, as the seriousness of the situation returned to the forefront of his thoughts.
"I love you," he told her, feeling especially vulnerable as he waited to see if she would say it back. He was put at ease within seconds.
"I love you, too," she whispered, then gently climbed into the bed beside him, resting her head on his shoulder as she draped an arm and leg across him.
Carefully, so as not to disturb his IV, he brought both arms up to hold her, pulling her tighter to him and sighing contentedly. There were a million kinds of healing that needed to happen, but, somehow, he felt in that moment, that it was all going to be ok.
"Will you be coming home now?" he asked, and when he felt her nod against him, he smiled. It was amazing, like a dream, to have her back in his embrace. Like a severed piece of him had been reattached.
He just reveled in the feel of her against him for several minutes, in silence, until a thought occurred to him. "I think I'm going to be here for a while," he informed. "The words 'psych evaluation' came up more than once," he added, then asked, "Will you wait for me?"
"I won't just wait for you," she answered, nuzzling up to his neck and brushing light kisses there. "I'll be here every day, until they release you."
"Conjugal visits?" he asked with a hint of suggestibility and humor. She smirked in response, the comical lilt to his tone making her feel as if she was truly home again, where she belonged.
"It'll be like when we were first dating," she answered, then reminded him, "The closet, at Central Perk?"
"God, yeah," he whispered, in thought, "That was amazing."
Hours ago, it felt like his life was over. Quite literally, it almost was. Now, with her back in his arms, it was like they were embarking on a new beginning together. Things just seemed right again.
--They each peeked through the little window in the door in turn, the sight bringing smiles to each of their faces.
"So, it's all fine now?" Joey asked, both excited and confused. "Just like that?"
"No," Phoebe answered, "But, it will be."
"Chandler tried to kill himself, Joe," Ross reminded him.
"And something like that can't just be ignored," Phoebe added.
"He's going to need therapy," Rachel chimed in, glancing over at Ross. She had suggested that very thing, before they got the call from a hysterical Joey, only a short time ago. Based on the look he returned, she knew he remembered. And agreed.
Scowling in an almost childlike way, Joey muttered, "If he hadn't been drinking so much, he wouldn't have taken all those pills."
"Maybe not," Phoebe agreed supportively, knowing Joey was hurting, and trying to make sense of everything, "But, the fact that he was drinking, means something too."
"It's like he was looking to numb himself, instead of just… dealing," Rachel contributed, using a similar tone and approach to Phoebe's, but Joey only pouted in response.
Moving past his display, deciding it was more important to deal with Chandler and Monica right then, than it was to help Joey cope and understand, Ross suggested, "Maybe we should just go in now. Let him – them - know we're here for them."
Seconding the idea by nodding, Phoebe silently headed of the door. She was just about to push it open, when she caught sight of them through the little window. "I think they're asleep," she informed, then stepped out of the way so that Ross could look.
Agreeing, he then announced, "We should let them sleep. I don't think either has gotten much, these last three weeks," he added, and, surprisingly, Joey gave a nod of approval, having felt that more than once about Chandler. The few times he was able to get him talking, besides being obviously drunk, he seemed exhausted.
"They have a lot to talk about," Rachel spoke up, asking somewhat meekly, as if requesting their opinion, "Maybe we should just come back later?"
Giving support to Rachel's suggestion indirectly, Phoebe mentioned, "When I was here giving birth to Frank and Alice's triplets, the food didn't suck too bad. We could go to the cafeteria," she added, and Joey instantly clutched at his stomach, the mere mention of food causing it to growl in protest of missing dinner.
"I don't even care if it sucks!" he exclaimed, near whining, "I just care if it's food!"
"That's one vote yes for the cafeteria," Ross laughed, then he looked to Rachel, knowing with as picky as she was, if anyone was going to balk at the idea, it would be her.
Realizing what his expression was silently implying, she huffed in reply, "The cafeteria is fine."
As they started to head for the small eatery, Joey said with concern, "We should take some food to Chandler, when we're done. He's too thin now."
"The hospital takes care of that, Joe," Ross informed him with patience, then added, "And you're right, he is."
"It's like it was a few years back!" Joey then exclaimed, his worry and tone rising, asking, "Remember? Back when he was dating Janice? Happily," he grumbled, rolling his eyes.
"That was different, though, Joey," Phoebe assured him. "Back then, he just wasn't taking in what he was putting out. He was frazzled, overworked, and stressed about losing Janice to her estranged husband."
"I like it better when he eats," Joey muttered.
"He eats more when he's happy," Rachel said, showing off her observation skills.
"And with Monica as his personal chef," Ross added, "It's no wonder why he's picked up weight these past two years."
"She'll fatten him up again," Phoebe announced with confidence. "Like a Thanksgiving turkey," she laughed, adding, "Only, she won't be beheading him the fourth Thursday in November!"
"Ya'know," Ross stated scholarly, suddenly going off on a tangent when Phoebe's words sparked a memory, as everyone chuckled over her quip, "Turkeys actually lived back ten million years ago--"
"Ross," Rachel interrupted him with a groan of annoyance, "Save your Discovery Channel crap for…" She trailed off, adding after a moment, pensively, "Chandler would have the perfect comeback to say."
Nodding, Phoebe added, "He jokes more when he's happy, too."
Though slightly irritated over Rachel's dig at him, Ross agreed as he put that emotion aside for the time being. "It's been weird, having the funny one and the obsessive one missing from our little group."
"Yeah," Rachel sighed. "It'll be nice, having everything back to normal."
"You really think it'll all go back to the way it was?" Joey asked, scowling in the worried child-like way he tended to. Phoebe took pity on him, and wrapped an arm around his shoulder as she answered.
"Not overnight, but, yeah," she told him, "It will."
"How can you be so sure?" he asked, seeking reassurances, and she smiled in response, as if she was privy to information the others were not.
"I had a premonition," she answered, piquing Rachel and Joey's interest. Ross just rolled his eyes and walked a little faster, pulling up ahead of the others.
"You did?" Rachel asked. "About this?" When Phoebe nodded, she pressed further. "What did it show you? How does this all end?"
Grinning, Phoebe answered, as she linked her arm through Rachel's, "We'll talk over dinner."
Ok, this is what a very depressed brain comes up with, when it has too much idle time on its hands. Ok, my brain doesn't actually have hands, nor does it represent the majority of brains out there, depressed or not.
Ok, so, this is what my very depressed brain comes up with… etc.
This is a one-shot. I've already done the 'aftermath and healing after attempted suicide' in the fic I wrote: 'The One Where Mercury Continues', continued off the fic 'Mercury', written by Ezika. I don't really feel up to taking that journey again, nor would I know exactly how to, and make it sound 'fresh', and not like a carbon copy of 'Mercury Continues'.
Special thanks to my beta reader, for her creative advice and all around assistance, and to my 'reality checker', Oliver, for his assistance in keeping things 'real' (smile). Luv'ya both! (huggles)
Don't worry, I've not abandoned "Registry's Secrets"! I've just been depressed lately, because it's the fourth anniversary of when my husband left me, and I didn't want that depression or those emotions to bleed into that story. If that makes any sense.
Wanted to add… on my personal webpage, 'Exintaris' has added chapter two of 'This Is Nice', a Mondler fic found exclusively on my page! And 'Venused' has up a one-shot fic not found elsewhere (at least at the moment), titled: 'Sweet Revenge'! Go check that out, if interested (grin)
To get to my personal webpage, click my name at the top of this story, then click on 'Homepage'. It's self explanatory from there.
Oh, and if you're reading this on my personal webpage, ignore the instructions (bigger grin).
But! Before you go! Please leave a review!
Thanks, and MTLBYAKY