Past Perfect, Chapter One
"His Future"

~Present Day~

The morning sun shone through the thin curtains that lined his bedroom windows, warming up the room, and casting a yellow glow onto his bed. As the rapidly moving sun hit his face, he stirred, and let out a low groan, before pulling the tattered blanket over his head. Soon afterward, his alarm clock let out a tremendous blare, and he reached his arm out from under the blanket just far enough to hit the snooze bar. "Ten more minutes," he told himself.

Forty-five minutes later, he reluctantly pulled his aching body out of his bed, knowing that he had to get at least something done before going in to work. He made his way into the bathroom, and flipped on the obnoxious florescent light. It blinked for a few minutes, before finally kicking on for good. The light let off an irritating buzz, but he hardly noticed. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were still bloodshot, and he was about three days worth of stubble growing on his face. He turned on the water, and the faucet sputtered, before letting out a cool stream of water. He cupped his hands under the rusty faucet and splashed cold water on his face and neck. He laid his hands down on the sink, and leaned on his arms heavily. He let the water drip from his face for a minute, before looking back up into the mirror. It was going to be a long day.

By the time he returned to the apartment a few hours later, he was exhausted again. He wasn't sure why he was so tired, other than the fact that he never got home before 4am. But he'd grown accustomed to the noctural lifestyle, and only recently had it caught up with him. He quickly changed his shirt and shoes, and headed to the bar.

Schaffer's, a pub-style bar in the heart of the meat-packing district, was already hopping by the time he got there. The regular's had staken their claims at the ends of the bar, while a group of college kids had taken over the back corner. He shook his head as he yanked open the latch to the bar, and made his way behind it. It was gonna be another raucous night.

***

The alarm blared, but this time, he chose to ignore it. he turned it off and rolled over. "Screw it, I'm sleeping in," he said carelessly. A loud knock on the door took care of that promise. He groaned and got out of bed, making his way to the door. "Who is it?" he yelled.

"Social Services," came the reply. He stood in front of the door, totally confused. Social Services? What the hell did they want? They obviously had the wrong apartment. He opened the door, and looked at the pale, bald, middle-aged man in the bad polyester suit warily.

"Chandler M. Bing?" asked the man.

"Yeah."

"Joe Biech, New York Social Services. Do you know a Kathy Layton?"

"I uh, used to," Chandler said, his heart lurching at the sound of his ex-girlfriend's name.

"I am afraid I have some bad news for you. Ms. Layton has passed away. She died of a brain hemmorage about two weeks ago."

"Oh my God. That's...awful," Chandler shook his head. Although he hadn't seen or heard from Kathy in almost three years, he still missed her terribly.

"There's more," Joe said sternly.

"What?"

"Kathy had a three year old daughter, Lucy. You are listed on the birth certificate as the father."

"What?"

"Your daughter is currently staying in a foster home. It took us a while to find you, but now that we have, we are required to inform you that...well, that you are a father. I can see by the look on your face you did not know about this?"

"No...I, uh, had no idea."

"You will need to go to this address tomorrow to pick her up. They are expecting you around noon," Joe handed Chandler a small card with an address listed on it. "And you will need to come by my office to take care of a few legalities. Good day, Mr. Bing." With that, Joe left a stunned Chandler standing in the doorway, in total shock.

***

Chandler walked up to the large house, and felt his palms sweating. He wiped them on his pants, and straightened his tie. Why would this girl want to leave this giant house, and move to his tiny, stuffy studio apartment? He fidgeted nervously with the address card he'd been given, as he approached the porch. He shuffled up the steps, one-by-one, feeling his heart beat faster with every step. He wondered how this little girl was going to react to him. He wondered if she was going to hate him, and he wondered how in the hell he was going to care for her, when he could barely take care of himself. Before he had a chance to gather his thoughts, the front door flew open, and two eight-year old boys came flying out, running past Chandler as they tumbled to the lawn.

"Sorry 'bout that," a heavy-set woman appeared in the doorway while Chandler was turned toward the boys.

"Oh, uh, that's okay," Chandler said, smiling nervously.

"You must be Chandler Bing. Joe said that you had quite a shock yesterday. I'm Marilyn."

"Hi," Chandler shook Marilyn's hand.

"Come on in, I'll get Lucy for you," Marilyn said, and ushered Chandler into the house. Before she closed the door, she called out to the two boys. "You two stay out of the street, and be back inside and washed up in thirty for supper." Marilyn turned and smiled warmly at Chandler, before disappearing into the next room to fetch his daughter.

His daughter. Chandler couldn't believe that he had a daughter. He was so nervous, he felt like throwing up. He sat down on the edge of the sofa, but stood up again, when he realized that he was too nervous to sit still. He wrung his hands, and paced the room. A few minutes later, Marilyn re-emerged with the most beautiful child Chandler had ever seen. Her blue eyes sparkled, and her auburn hair lay in soft curls at her tiny shoulders. She looked at Chandler with an innocence and wonderment that made his heart break.

"Lucy, this is Chandler," Marilyn said softly, pointing to the nervous father.

"Hi," she said, her voice small and soft.

Chandler stood rooted to the floor, not sure how to act around such a small child. He remembered being around Ben a bit, but never alone, and never for a long period of time. Chandler finally swallowed hard, and approached the little girl, crouching down to meet her face-to-face.

"Hi, Lucy, it's nice to meet you," he said softly.

"I'll go gather her things," Marilyn whispered, and slipped out of the room. Chandler looked up at her retreating figure, a mixture of panic and fear on his face.

"Are you my daddy?" the three-year old asked quietly.

Chandler looked back down at Lucy, his eyes glistening with tears. "Yes, I am," he finally choked out.

Lucy smiled, and wrapped her arms around Chandler's neck. Chandler smiled, and hugged her back.

"Pick me up, daddy," Lucy said happily.

Chandler smiled and obliged. Then, Marilyn emerged with two bags and a large teddy bear. it was then that it hit Chandler. Lucy was going to be with him--forever.

****

I know what you are thinking (aw, man, another fic? why doesn't she just get a new hobby? LOL) and I promise the other Friends will show up...eventually. Please review!