The Sins of The Father, Conclusion
"You Can't Hurt Me Now"


"Push Monica!"

Monica scrunched up her sweaty face and pushed again, screaming as another seering rush of pain shot through her body. As she opened her eyes, she heard the wonderful, beautiful sound of her son wailing. Tears of joy flowed down her face, as the doctor handed her the tiny baby.

"Hi, Jonah," Monica whispered, as her coach/brother kissed her on the forehead.

"I'm gonna go tell the gang that everything is okay," Ross said, and backed out of the room.

Monica didn't respond, she simply stared at her son, her tears of joy melting into tears of sorrow and loneliness. "I wish your father was here to see you right now," she whispered sadly.

*

He was surrounded by darkness, absorbed in silence. He wasn't sure how he got here, but the protective cocoon made him feel warm, made him feel safe. But he also felt overwhelmingly alone. He reached out, trying to find the familiarity and safety of a warm hand or reassuring word. But he found nothing.

He was alone.

*

"Wow, Mon, he is just beautiful!" Rachel cooed, as she and Phoebe doted over the newborn.

"He looks just like--uh, er, you," Phoebe stammered.

"No, he doesn't, he looks just like Chandler," Monica sighed. "It's okay, Pheebs."

"He really does," Rachel said, looking at Monica sadly.

In the months since the incident, Chandler's condition had not changed. While his eyes were often open, he was totally unaware of his surroundings. His doctor's called it a 'natural defense' to the trauma. But Monica found absolutely nothing natural about Chandler's state. Up until the day she went into labour, Monica spent every free moment with Chandler, talking to him as though she expected him to respond. When Monica wasn't there, Joey was. Of all of Chandler's friends, Joey was having the hardest time dealing with the situation. He wasn't going to auditions, he wasn't dating, and he was barely eating. Joey and Ross had become estranged a few months ago, when Ross had made a comment that it may have been better if Chandler had not survived. Ross hadn't meant it to sound bad, he just knew that everyone, including Chandler, was suffering in a torturous limbo. But Joey had taken the comment badly, and had practially ripped Ross' head off. The tensions had put everyone in a precarious position, especially Rachel, who was now dating Ross again. Monica felt the tension, but was too focussed on Chandler to let it get to her.

"Mon, Joey wants to come in and see you, so he can get back to Bellevue," Pheobe said.

"Oh. Okay," Monica smiled, trying to cover the pain she still felt in her heart. She was happy that someone would be with Chandler today. She hated the idea that he had to sit in that little room all alone.
She hated that her love for him wasn't enough to bring him back to her. She hated that she was holding their son in her arms, and he had no idea. She closed her eyes, and felt guilt creep into her soul, as she wondered if Ross was right. If they had been able to mourn and move on, maybe it wouldn't hurt so much right now.

***

"Jonah, say hello to daddy," Monica held the two month old up so that he could see Chandler. "Chandler, he is getting to be more like you every day. The other day, he--" Monica stopped, jumping back when she saw Chandler's arm flinch. He had never done that before. At least, not in front of her. Apparently, Joey had seen him do it once, several months ago, but the doctor's simply attributed the flinch to a muscle spasm. Monica wasn't so sure. She took Chandler's hand in hers, and squeezed it tightly.
"Come on, baby, come back to me," she whispered hoarsly. Chandler flinched again.
"Chandler, honey, come on. Come back."

*

Chandler reached out again, wanting more than anything to find a way out of the darkness. The safety he felt was not worth the loneliness that accompanied it. He felt a warm hand on his. He felt the hand tighten, and then he heard it. He heard a voice. It sounded like an angel. He wanted to cry out, but his voice produced no sound. He tried to move, but his body refused him. He heard the voice again. Who was that? Where were they? Could they see him? He wanted to see, he wanted to yell, he wanted to--suddenly, the hand disappeared. He was alone again. He tried to reach out again, but he couldn't find the warm hand. He couldn't find the voice.

*

Monica tried talking to Chandler for an hour, but to no avail. She sighed, and let go of his hand, feeling defeated. She had to stop coming here. It wasn't good for Jonah, and it wasn't good for her. She shook her head, and let the tears fall down her cheeks. She hugged Jonah tightly, and sobbed softly, as the sun set, ending yet another day, and filling the room with the shadows of the night. Monica sniffled, then held her breath when she heard a soft moan. Was that Jonah? She looked up at Chandler. His eyes were still open, and unmoving. Monica cocked her head to the side, and wiped her face, then grabbed Chandler's hand once more.

"Chandler?" Monica wanted to believe that it was him that had moaned, but she wasn't sure.

*

Chandler fought the urge to sink into oblivion with everything he had. Suddenly, he felt the darkness lift from his eyes, and he waited, as his eyes focussed. He was...in his apartment. He blinked, and saw his father. He was coming toward him, with that look on his face. The look Chandler knew all too well. The look of hatred, the look of a man who was high on drugs, and drunk from booze. The look of a man who was determined to kill him. Chandler wished he had never forced himself out of the darkness. He tried to run...he needed to get away. He looked down at his hands, and saw that he was holding a skillet--his only defense. He swung the skillet, and watched as is connected with his father's head. Then, he panicked.

"Chandler?"

Who was that? It wasn't his father. His eyes blurred again, then came back into focus. He was in a room. He had never seen this room before. Where was he? He needed help.

Monica set Jonah down in a small bassinet she had placed in the corner of Chandler's room. She walked back over to Chandler, and took his hand again. He flinched again, his body contracted, and suddenly, and to Monica's amazement, he looked at her.

"Chandler?"

The look in his eyes told Monica that he was in pain, and not fully aware of her presence. Tears formed in his eyes, as he tried to focus on who she was.

"Help me," was all he could croak out.

***

"How long have I been here?" Chandler asked quietly. He looked wearily at his friends, who had all raced down to the hospital after a frantic call from Monica. The doctor's had kept them out of the room for almost an hour, as they checked, and re-checked to see if Chandler was indeed, okay. Once they were let back in, they nearly attacked Chandler with hugs and greetings, leaving him both happy and exhausted.

"A little over a year," Monica replied, as she wiped yet another tear from her eyes.

"A year?" Chandler repeated, his face showing a mixture of sorrow and shock.

"They told us you would never recover. But we refused to believe them," Joey grinned.

"Recover from what?" Chandler asked curiously.

Joey opened his mouth to speak, but Monica stopped him. She wondered what Chandler remembered, and, if he had in-fact repressed the memories yet again, she wondered if it was a good idea to tell him what happened. She turned back to Chandler, and took his hand.

"Sweetie, I think it's important that you tell us what you remember first."

Chandler thought for a moment, trying desperately to recall the last thing that he did before waking up here. He closed his eyes, and immediately, the images came to him. They hit him all at once, momentarily taking his breath from him. He recalled the first time his father beat him...the many times he was hit for no real reason...Thanksgiving...his mother's death...his father's return...and--

"He attacked me. He was drunk...and, high on...something. He punched me, and I fell. He picked me up, and threw me into the entertainment unit, and the door broke, and then...then I felt him kick me, and I tripped him...and I tried to run, but I couldn't...and he was coming at me...and I hit him with...something. I hit him, and he fell...and...I kept hitting him...I couldn't stop, I was so angry. Then...I...everything just...it all happended so fast..." Chandler was crying, and so was everyone else. Monica hung her head. He remembered everything.

"Chandler, it's okay, he can't hurt you anymore. He's dead," Monica only wanted to comfort him, to reassure him. But she looked into his shocked eyes, and saw that he was anything but reassured.

"He's dead? How?"

Monica looked down, unable to look Chandler in the eye. She felt horrible. Her shoulders shook, as she began to cry.

"Oh my God. I killed him, didn't I?"

Monica looked up, and sniffled loudly. "You were defending yourself Chandler. It was him or you."

"And we are very happy that it was him," Phoebe added.

"I killed him. My God, I've actually turned into that monster," Chandler closed his eyes, and sighed heavily.

"No, you are nothing like him," Monica said, but had a feeling that Chandler wasn't listening.

Monica didn't know what to tell him. She tried to find the right words, but she was interrupted by Jonah, who began to cry. She sighed and went to gather him from the bassinet she had placed him in. She walked the baby over to Chandler, and sat down so that he could see the baby.

"Chandler, this is your son. Jonah." Monica whispered.

Chandler looked at the tiny person with awe and fear. He looked just like...him. No, he looked like his baby brother. Chandler began to process what Monica just said to him.

"You named him Jonah?"

"That's okay, right?"

Chandler nodded silently. He was at once the most beautiful, most terrifying thing he'd ever seen.

"Would you like to hold him?" Monica asked tentetively.

Chandler's eyes grew wide, and he thought about all that had happened. He shook his head furiously.

"No, I-I can't. I can't."

Monica's heart broke. She nodded, knowing that it was going to be a struggle for all of them. Somehow, she had to convince Chandler that he was nothing like his father, and that he would make and excellent father for Jonah. But she didn't want to push him. If he didn't want to be a father, she was not going to force him. Logically, she totally understood his conflict. But in her heart, she needed him to be there.

***

Monica awoke suddenly, and realized immediately that she was alone. She panicked, wondering if the past few months had been nothing but a dream. She heard someone shuffling around in the living room, and sighed with relief. She pulled herself out of bed, and walked out, only to find that the living room was empty. She went into Jonah's room, and smiled at the sight before her. Jonah was fast asleep in his crib, and Chandler was sitting next to him, staring at his sleeping form with wonderment. Chandler turned when he heard Monica enter the room.

"Hey, sorry to wake you," he whispered.

"You didn't. What are you doing?"

"Just watching him. He's amazing," Chandler sighed.

"He is," Monica smiled.

"He looks so much like my brother," Chandler said sadly.

"Really?" Monica was happy that Chandler was finally starting to open up. After his release from Bellevue almost four months ago, he had started the therapy that he had needed for so long. He was finding it easier to be around Jonah, without the fear that he would somehow hurt him. As a precaution, however, Chandler had sworn off alcohol, and Monica and the others helped by not drinking around him, and not keeping any wine or beer in the apartment that he and Monica now shared. Chandler's therapy had also helped him deal with his painful childhood. He had made some remarkable steps forward in the past month alone. Two weeks ago, he went to his father's grave, as a part of his therapy, and told him everything that he had always wanted to tell him. And he forgave him. Monica was surprised by the latter action, considering all of the pain that Daniel had caused. But Chandler had told her that, despite all that he had done, Daniel was still his father. Monica tried her best to understand that.

"Do you want to see a photo of Jonah?" Chandler asked, his voice small, and almost child-like.

Monica took Chandler's hand, and smiled warmly. "I would love to."

Chandler led Monica back to their bedroom, and fumbled through a small box in the bottom of the closet. He pulled out a smaller box, and opened it up, pulling out a stack of yellowing photographs. He flipped through a few photos, and found the one he had been looking for. It was the photo that his mother had had in her pocket the day she killed herself. Chandler handed Monica the tattered photo of him and Jonah carefully.

"That's him on the left," Chandler pointed out.

"Wow, baby Jonah really does look like him," Monica said quietly.

"Yeah."

"What are these other photos?" Monica asked.

"Oh, um," Chandler handed Monica the photos, one-by-one, "This is my mother," Chandler smiled.

"She's beautiful," Monica whispered.

"Yeah. And, uh, this one is me and my Mom, and my, uh, Aunt Nora."

Monica smiled, as Chandler shared the photos of his past with her. It was amazing how little she had known about her best friend. When they finished going throught the stack, Monica gathered and straightened the photos, then walked to her hope chest, and pulled out a small photo album.

"Would you like to put them in here? It'll protect them better than that box."

"Hmm, I'll let you do it for me. I know you're dying to," Chandler smiled.

"You know me too well," Monica laughed, and took a seat on Chandler's lap. "Chandler?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you, for sharing this with me."

"No, I should be thanking you. I would never had made it through this without you. You are my rock."

"You are much stronger than you think you are, Chandler."

"It's a strange feeling, putting this all behind me for good, knowing that he can't hurt me anymore."

"I am in awe of you, I really am," Monica felt tears welling up in her eyes.

"I love you. Always."

"I love you, too. Always."

Chandler held Monica in his arms, as they watched the sunrise, welcoming a brand new day.

*****

Epilogue


~Five Years Later~

"Jonah, let's go!" Monica grabbed her jacket, and pulled it on, as the five year old bounded down the stairs.

"Mommy, I can't put this on!" Jonah held up his clip-on tie.

"Give it to me, we'll put it on when we get there."

"Honey, do you have the keys?" Chandler called down from the bedroom.

"They are down here on the counter, where you left them."

"Oh, right," Chandler came down the steps, carrying six-month old Caroline in his arms.

"See, if you'd put them on the key rack like you are supposed to, you would never have to worry about it."

"Watch yourself, Mrs. Bing," Chandler smiled, then planted a short kiss on his wife's lips before grabbing the keys off of the counter. "Let's go, we're gonna be late," he said.

"It's a good thing Joey is Ross' best man. You woulda never made it to the church in time," Monica joked.

"Ha ha, very funny. Need I point out to you that Phoebe is Rachel's maid-of-honour?"

"Oh, shut up," Monica pouted. "It's your fault, you just *had* to buy a house three hours away from the city!"

Chandler laughed and shuffled his family out the door. He knew better than to argue with his wife. He never won. But that was okay. He had everything he ever wanted, so losing an argument now and then was a non-issue. His dark past was now behind him, and his future, the one he now shared with a loving wife and two beautiful children, never looked brighter.