Haunted, Chapter One

"Ghosts"

~2013~

Chandler smiled as he pulled into the driveway of his cozy two-story suburban home. This place really was home for him. He parked his BMW, and shut off the engine. Sighing contently, he stepped out of the car, and pulled his briefcase off of the passenger-side seat. He walked into the house, and placed his briefcase on the floor next to the coat rack. He took a deep breath, taking in the warm smells of his home. He followed the sounds of voices carrying from the kitchen, only to find his wife and oldest daughter facing off.

"Hello, ladies," Chandler said cautiously.

"Hi sweetie," his wife approached him and gave him a quick peck on the lips.

"Dad," Chandler's thirteen year old daughter turned on her best 'daddy's girl' smile, "remember how you said it was important that I express myself, and my creativity?"

"Yes," Chandler said warily, as he stuck his finger in the spaghetti sauce and put in into his mouth.

"Okay, well, my friend Amanda is gonna get a tattoo, and I think--"

"Whoa," Chandler intercepted the question that was coming. "No way."

"But Daaad!"

"Look, honey, you can get a tattoo--when you are eighteen. But right now, I would really like it if you would respect your body, and respect us enough to hold off. You don't want to do something that you may regret in a year--remember the eyebrow piercing fiasco?" Chandler said slowly.

"Fine, I'll wait. But can we at least *discuss* it when I'm sixteen?"

"Absolutely," Chandler smiled, and watched as his daughter retreated upstairs to e-mail Amanda the bad news.

"Why does she accept no from you, and not from me?"

"I just have a way," Chandler smiled, and kissed his wife again. "Smells great, babe."

"Well, I'm not a chef, but it'll do for now."

Chandler smiled, and made his way upstairs to change. For a split-second, he let his wife's comment linger in his head. She wasn't a chef. It was strange to hear her say it, even though he knew that she had meant nothing by it, really. She had no idea how much he thought about them--his friends--and a life that could have been, but would never be.

*

"Kids, let's go, dinner time," Chandler called, as he passed their bedrooms and walked down toward the kitchen again. He wrapped his arms around his wife from behind, as she put the finishing touches on dinner.

"How was your day, sweetie?" he whispered.

"Long. But, not as long as yours, seeing as how I beat you home."

"Yeah, it was my elaborate scam to get out of cooking," Chandler chuckled.

"Jerk."

"Aw, you know you love me, Mrs. Bing."

"Sometimes I wonder about that, Mr. Bing. Oh, that reminds me--your mother called."

"Uh, what did she want?"

"To tell you that she'll be in New York next week. And to tell me that I am a Goddess for putting up with you."

"Yeah, right."

"Oh, no, she did. She said, and I quote, 'Erin, dear, I don't know how you are able to put up with all of that nonsense.' The woman has a point."

"Please, you can't live without the Chan-love," Chandler smiled.

"Uh, whatever," Erin laughed, "Where are those kids? I'm starving!"

***

The next day, Chandler was on his way to pick up lunch from a local deli, when he saw a familiar face crossing the street. He stood, rooted to the ground as the woman stepped up onto the curb, and glance his direction. A flash of recognition passed through her eyes when she saw him, and Chandler tore his eyes away, as his body and mind recovered from the shock it had just received.

*

"Chandler, honey, are you okay?" Chandler sat on the sofa in his living room later that night, unable to get his mind off of the strange encounter in the City earlier.

"Huh? Oh, uh...I'm not, uh, I'm not sure that I am."

"What happened?"

"I ran into someone today, and I guess...I guess it just kind of shook me up."

"What? Who?"

Chandler sighed. "Remember how I told you that my friend Phoebe had a twin sister?"

"Yeah," Erin replied.

"I saw her today. And for a short second, I thought it was Phoebe. But that's impossible."

"Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry."

"It's been fifteen years. How is it that something that happened so long ago is still affecting me?"

"Chandler, you are never going to be over it. I mean, I think you're gonna carry this with you for the rest of your life. It was a horrible shock. Are you going to be okay?"

Chandler snapped out of his somber shock and looked at Erin lovingly. "Yeah...I just...it just threw me."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," Chandler sighed. "It was inevitable that I'd see Ursula eventually, I suppose."

"Yeah."

"I know it's stupid...but it just makes me wonder, yet again...what would have happened if they hadn't been there that day? What would have happened if they were still here?"

"You're life would probably be very different," Erin said sadly.

"Oh, sweetie, I don't regret any of this," Chandler motioned around the house.

"I know you don't. I know what you mean. And a part of me wishes that all of that had never happened. I know how sad it makes you. But, if your friends hadn't been killed, you and I may never have met, and we wouldn't have a thirteen-year marriage and four wonderful children."

"Yeah," Chandler smiled, and kissed Erin. "I should be thanking the stars for my blessings, not cursing them for things I can't change."

***

~Meanwhile, in Lower Manhattan~

"Hey, it's me."

"Hey, Pheebs, what's up?"

"Is Ross with you?"

"Yeah...well, he's tucking the kids in. What's going on?" Rachel asked.

"I think...I think I just saw Chandler."