This is AU and we are to assume Rachel never met Barry, and last saw Ross and Monica in high school.

Author's Note: This is an old story that I deleted before, because it was on FF for over 2 years and could not think of how I wanted it to play out. But now I am back in a 'writing mood' (yea) and wanted to republish it and work on it.

The Road Less Traveled

"Come on", Rachel said as she grabbed her daughter's hand, running out of the house, quickly throwing a few suitcases in the back seat. "Teddy", her daughter Ashley said, with tears in her eyes, "We can't leave without Teddy". Rachel called out Teddy's name, and a small cocker spaniel came running, jumping in the back seat. They quickly got in, as Rachel put on sunglasses to hide the black eye she received from her husband, who had been drinking, again.

Rachel had often threatened to leave, but for some reason or another, she could never seem to. "He's still a good man", she would tell herself, after he hit her, "He just needs help, is all". She would often defend him saying he is only violent, when he drinks. His name is Andrew and Rachel met him, while attending collage at Illinois State University. He was handsome, charming, and successful... everything Rachel was looking for. He was Captain of the Illinois State football team, as well as President of the Student Assembly.

He was an economics major, and even though he was still in collage, he was making a name for himself and soon quit collage to work full-time as a stockbroker and financial consultant, and over time, became a partner in the firm. He bought Rachel a house, in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Chicago and was able to provide the kind of lifestyle she was accustomed to. He treated her like a Queen and made sure she never had to lift a finger. They had a beautiful daughter together, Ashley Lynn Anderson-Green. Everything seemed like a fairy tale come true.

That was 7 years ago.... now the fairy tale had become a nightmare. It all started when the economy took a dip, and Andrew soon found himself out of the firm, and out of a job, during a hostile takeover by a competing firm. They had to foreclose the house and found themselves dwelling in a humble town, on the other side of the city. It was a far cry from the palace, they used to call home. Rachel had never worked a day in her life, and to be quite frank, never had to. Her father was a surgeon, and spoiled young Rachel and her husband did the same. She was used to spending thousands of dollars on designer clothes, at fancy stores, and now, all of the sudden, was finding herself shopping at Wal-Mart, which she always said was "Where the poor people shop". Now here she was, standing in line, behind 20 other "poor people".

"The market will rebound, it always does", she said to her husband, hoping to raise his spirits. All he did was grunt, walk over to the refrigerator, and yanked out another beer. "Don't you think you've had enough, already", she asked as he sat back down in the chair. He looked at her, and said "Just shut up. I never told you 'Don't you think you're spending too much money on clothes', did I"? Rachel said "I just think....", and her husband slapped her and said "I think you should shut up, and do something useful for a change, like make me dinner"

Rachel, rubbed her cheek where Andrew slapped her, went into the kitchen and threw a piece of meat on the stove. He came up behind Rachel, and said 'I'm sorry, babe. I don't know why I did that', as he hugged her. 'I know why.. you're drunk', Rachel said as she pushed him away, and walked back to the stove. 'God damn it. All I did was have a few beers... and that makes me a drunk', Andrew fumed. Rachel sighed, as she walked towards him and said 'I love you. You know that... but yes, after you have 'a few' beers, you do tend to get loud'.

'Oh this is just great', he said as he reached for another beer, 'First I'm drunk, then I'm a 'mean drunk''. Rachel pointed her finger at him and said 'And I can't live like this any more'. Andrew laughed and said 'And where would you go? What would you do? You've never worked a day in your life. What about your daughter... how will you support both her, and yourself. Face it, Rachel. You would not make it one day, out there'

'I will TOO make it, without you', she glared as she stormed to her room, throwing her clothes into some suitcases, as Andrew took the suitcase from her hand and said 'Oh for the love of God, will you please grow up'. Rachel snatched the suitcase back, not saying a word as she continued to stuff clothes away. 'Rachel, if you leave, you can forget about ever walking back thru that door' her husband warned. Rachel shoved him out of the way, as she grabbed her car keys and sunglasses as Andrew said 'I mean it Rachel. If you take just one step out that door, that's it'. Rachel set the suitcase down, and turned around and he said 'I knew you would come to your senses, eventually'

Rachel said 'Yes I have come to my senses... I should have done this a long time ago'. She picked up her suitcase, with her daughter in hand, walking towards the car. 'Ok, that's it. You're outta my life forever... you and that little brat of a daughter. 'Sweetie, go wait in the car', her mother quietly commanded. She walked back to Andrew, hit him square across the jaw, making him stumble backwards and falling down. 'Don't you EVER say that again', Rachel hissed.

She walked back to her car, as Andrew was staggering, trying to get up as Rachel got inside the car, with Ashley in the front seat, and their dog Teddy in the back seat, as she slowly pulled out of the driveway. Rachel adjusted her sunglasses, as Ashley was looking back at the house as Rachel drove away. 'Honey, don't look back', she softly said, 'That's the past. Look ahead... that's the future'. Ashley looked at her mom and said 'Mommy, where are we going'. Rachel smiled and said 'I don't know. But where ever we go, we'll be just fine'