The One With The Thanksgiving Kiss

By: Jana~

Disclaimer located at:

http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/janas_world/disclaimer.htm

*****~*****

--The holiday was shaping up to be an odd one… little did Monica know, 'odd' was just the start…

It all started with Monica and Ross' parents deciding to go with the Blymens to Puerto Rico for the holiday, and what with it being Ross' first Thanksgiving since he'd separated with his wife, Carol, Monica volunteered to cook a 'traditional Thanksgiving dinner' for the two of them.

Phoebe was invited to join them when they learned that her grandmother planned to celebrate Thanksgiving in December… because her new boyfriend was 'lunar'… whatever that meant.

Joey then joined the group of 'misfits' when his family told him he couldn't share the pilgrim holiday with them… because of his venereal disease. Joey tried to explain to them that his appearance on a poster advertising the importance of healthcare… that announced his supposed infliction was just 'acting', but they didn't believe him.

Then, there was Chandler, who never had plans on this particular holiday. Since the age of nine, when his parents announced their impending divorce over pumpkin pie, he'd been 'anti-Thanksgiving'. It was unlikely that he'd be over at Monica's the entire time, but he would certainly poke his head in now and then.

And finally, there was Rachel, who was the only one of their little group who wouldn't be joining them. She usually went to Vale with her family for the holiday, but because her father usually paid the way, and because she refused to take money from him, she almost didn't get to go. But, her friends pulled together and gave her the money, making the trip possible.

--Rachel left in a whirlwind of chaos, hitting everyone with her skis at least once before getting them under control. She thanked everyone again for their financial help, hugged them all and wished them a happy holiday, then left… leaving Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, and a sometimes-present Chandler…

--"I have to go for a bit…" Ross announced… "I'm gonna go talk to my unborn baby." His tone suggested that he wasn't happy about doing it, but resigned to the idea, he stood and headed for the door… "Don't forget to make the potatoes with the lumps."

"I won't forget…" she muttered, annoyed… "Now go before I give you a lump on your head."

*****

--Monica could tell by Phoebe's side of the conversation that the phone call she was on was important…

"Ok, Grams, I'll be right there…" Phoebe said into the phone before placing it back on the cradle... "That was my grandmother..."

Joey, Chandler, and Monica nodded…

"Her boyfriend is in the hospital. She wants me to be there with her…" She grabbed her coat… "I'm sorry for bailing on you…" she apologized to Monica…

"No, Pheebs, it's ok." Monica assured her… "Go be with your grandmother…"

Everyone agreed…

"Ok. I'll let you know what's going on as soon as I know anything…"

*****

--Chandler entered Monica's apartment, phone in hand… "Joey, you have a call…" He handed Joey the cordless phone…

"Hear anything from Pheebs?" Chandler asked Monica quietly as Joey took his call over by the couch…

"Not yet…" she replied as she busily prepared the large holiday meal…

--"Guys! Guess what?!" Joey exclaimed after clicking off the phone… "My family wants me there after all! Guess they finally 'get it' that I was just 'acting' on those posters!" His smile was wide with excitement…

"Oh." Monica acknowledged him… "Ok…"

"I know you went to a lot of trouble…" Joey winced… "Is this gonna be a problem? Cause, if it is, I can stay."

Monica scoffed… "Don't be ridiculous! You should go! Be with your family!"

"Thanks Mon!" He hugged her quick, then ran across the hall into his apartment to gather some items before leaving…

--Monica looked a bit sad as she went back to the dinner preparations…

"You ok?" Chandler asked softly, rubbing her back…

"Yeah." she lied… "I'm fine."

*****

--Ross walked in to find his sister's apartment emptier than when he'd left…

"Where's Joey and Phoebe?" Ross asked…

"Joey's family called and asked him to join them, so he left. And Phoebe's Grandmother's boyfriend was having some kind of problem and was taken to the hospital. Pheebs went to be with her Grandmother… for moral support."

"Wow. So, then, it's just you and Chandler?"

"Well, for as much as Chandler will participate… and, you too."

He smiled awkwardly… "Actually, I came back to tell you… change of plans. I'm gonna be having dinner with Carol and Susan."

"What?"

"Well, the baby kicked for the first time… when I was talking to him. Singing to him, actually. And we started talking about how we were going to raise him and stuff… and it's our first Thanksgiving since the separation. When they asked, I just… accepted." He could tell his sister was upset… "But, I could call them and cancel."

"No, no…" she shook her head… "You should go."

"Really?"

"Really."

"You're sure?"

"Ross, don't press me! Just go."

He kissed her cheek quick and was out the door in a flash…

*****

--Chandler walked in to find Monica alone on the couch, no longer in the kitchen cooking…

"Hey…" he greeted her… "Where's Ross? Isn't he back yet?"

"Came, then left." Monica replied, her tone indicating her emotional pain…

"Left? Where'd he go?"

"Carol and Susan's. The baby started kicking, and they were all excited and talking about stuff and what-have-you. I guess the conversation found its way around to the holidays, and they invited him to stay." She sighed… "He just came back long enough to tell me, then he left."

"So, now your big holiday dinner is just for you?"

She nodded, her head hung as she stared at her lap with interest…

He sighed as he joined her on the couch, putting his arm around her and pulling her close… "I'm sorry…"

"It's like, I'm only good enough to spend time with or whatever when there's nothing better, ya'know? As soon as something better comes along, I get pushed aside."

"Maybe it seems that way sometimes…" he spoke softly into her hair as he held her, comforting her… "But, if it makes you feel any better, you are almost always my first choice."

She smiled… "Thanks."

"Ya'know, I was just about to start preparing my holiday feast of tomato soup, grilled cheeses, with a side of Funyuns. Wanna join me?"

"Sure…" she chuckled… "Not really feeling much in the mood for 'Thanksgiving food'…"

He stood, then helped her off the couch… "Now you're speaking my language." He gestured with a jerk of his head towards his apartment… "C'mon. Let's go across the hall."

She nodded her agreement.

*****

--He helped with the making of the food, not that Monica needed it, what with her being a chef and all… but he wanted to.

"I got it…" she told him… "Have a seat."

And Chandler did… on the barstool on the livingroom-side of the counter…

"Don't get me wrong…" she continued their previous conversation… "I like cooking for everyone. I really do. But, sometimes I feel unappreciated, ya'know?"

"Yeah…" he nodded… "And if I ever made you feel unappreciated… then I'm sorry."

She smiled and nodded as she placed the plate of grilled cheese sandwiches on the counter next to the tureen of tomato soup…

"Do your parents know how much this holiday upsets you?" she asked curiously as she joined him, sitting on the barstool on the kitchen-side of the counter…

He shrugged… "I guess. But after the one when I was nine, they were pretty wrapped up in their divorce… and dad's lifestyle change… and mom's adventures in writing erotic novels…"

"So, pretty much too wrapped up in themselves to care…" Monica added…

"Bingo."

She gestured for him to hand over his bowl, and he did… "You ever feel like it's maybe something you could get over?" she asked as she ladled out the soup… "Seems to me that if you really wanted to, with the right help, you could." She handed him his bowl…

"Maybe…" he shrugged as he took the full bowl of soup from her hands and set it down in front of him… "Never seemed worth the trouble." He watched as she ladled out her soup… "I'm fine with soup and sandwiches…"

She smiled… "It's not just about the food, Chandler. This day is about giving thanks. You seem too wrapped up in the past, bitter about what happened when you were nine… obsessing instead of being thankful for what you have now."

"That's not entirely true…" he defended himself… "I'm thankful we're here together today, sharing this meal…" He smiled as he picked up the knife that was nearby… "Shall I carve?"

She grinned and nodded, gesturing to the plate of sandwiches… "By all means."

He cut the sandwiches in half, then took 3 halves and set them on his plate. "How many?" he asked her as he picked up her plate…

"Just one."

"One half or one sandwich?"

"One half."

He hopped off the barstool after handing Monica her plate… "I almost forgot…" He went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine, holding it up for her to see before grabbing 2 glasses…

He poured them each a glass, then retook his seat, holding the glass up to propose a toast… "To friendship."

She smiled and clinked her glass against his… "To friendship." she repeated…

*****

--"Thanks for helping me put everything away…" Monica said as they put the last of the traditional untouched dinner away…

Chandler stood from having found a spot on the bottom shelf in the fridge for the yams… "Oh, you're welcome…" He walked over to sit on the couch and noticed the message light on the answering machine was blinking… "Mon, you have a message."

"Hit the button for me?" she asked, her hands wet as she started to wash the dishes…

"Sure." He hit the button, then plopped down on the couch as the machine cued up the message…

"Hi guys, it's me…" Phoebe's voice filled the room… "Gram's boyfriend is fine… he was having an allergic reaction to…" she hesitated before continuing… "Apparently he's allergic to… lubricant."

Chandler and Monica smiled at one another and chuckled as the message continued…

"Hope you guys are having a good time. Save me some yams!"

"No problem there…" Chandler quipped…

"Bye!"

The message ended, and the machine made a series of beeps and noises before resetting…

"How embarrassing for Phoebe's Grammy's boyfriend…"

Monica nodded… "Yeah." She turned off the water and dried her hands before joining Chandler on the couch… "I'll get those later."

"Really?"

"Yeah…" she squinted, eyeing him warily… "Why?"

"It's just, I've never seen you walk away from a mess before."

She glared, a smile sneaking through… "Contrary to popular belief, I'm not that anal."

He laughed… "Yes you are."

After slapping him playfully, she smiled and welcomed his arm around her… "Fine. Maybe I am…"

"Mmm-hmm…" he smirked… "And the real reason for walking away from the kitchen sink…?"

"Roasting pan needs to soak…" she replied…

"There'ya go."

He pulled her tight to him and kissed her hair… and a thought crossed her mind at that moment. If anyone who didn't know them were to see them right then, they would most likely figure them to be dating. It would be an automatic assumption… the way they acted around one-another… the hugs, the closeness as they just sat around casually talking, or watching TV…

They did that a lot, she recalled suddenly, and the recollection caused her to sit up and look into his eyes…

"What?" he asked with a slight smile, questioning her action… her deep blue eyes boring into his…

"Ever think about how we are with each other?"

He scowled, his expression confused… "What do you mean?"

"I was just thinking…"

"I thought I smelled smoke." He quipped, but she ignored…

"Often times, when we're together, I think strangers would think we're a couple…" She waited for a reaction, but upon getting none, she continued… "Cause we always sit so close… in each other's arms… on each other's laps… ya'know what I mean?"

He nodded, his gaze dropping to the floor… "Does it… bother you?"

"No. It's not that…" she sighed… "Guess I was just… thinking about it. Is all…"

"I just…" he responded with a soft voice… "You're my best friend. I guess I just feel really close to you."

She smiled… "You're my best friend too… next to Rachel." She added…

He acknowledged with a head nod and a hand gesture…

"It's just… sometimes…" she fidgeted, unsure of how to continue…

He placed his hand on hers to stop her from wringing them… "What?"

She looked up into his eyes, then, without any warning, leaned in and kissed him.

It was a soft kiss, not at all demanding or expecting… just tender and brief…

He stared at her for a moment, his voice gone as his heart raced from her actions… "What did you do that for?" he asked in a whisper…

"I--"

Just then the front door flew open, preventing Monica from answering… "Man that was some good food!" Joey announced, heading for the fridge… "I don't think I could eat another bite!"

Chandler stared at Monica for a second or two, then tore his eyes away… "Then, why are you looking in the fridge, Joe?"

Joey paused, then looked between Chandler and the fridge, then back again… "You know, I have no idea." He closed the icebox door… "Habit maybe?"

Chandler just nodded…

"So, where is everyone?" Joey asked casually as he plopped down on the chair nearest the sofa…

"Phoebe is still at the hospital with her Grandmother. Apparently, the boyfriend had an allergic reaction to something…"

"Oh, wow…" Joey interjected…

"Yeah…" Monica continued… "And Carol and Susan invited Ross to go over there for dinner, so, he went… and is still there…"

"So, it was just you two all night?"

Chandler nodded… "Yep."

"Man…" he chuckled… "You musta been so bored!"

"Not really…" Chandler replied…

"I was talking to Monica." Joey clarified…

"Thanks man." Chandler snipped sarcastically, rising from the couch and busying himself nervously with her video collection…

"No…" Monica spoke up… "It wasn't boring." She smiled awkwardly as Chandler turned and looked at her… "The company was good."

Joey shrugged… "Ok, but, he doesn't eat turkey or anything."

"We had soup and sandwiches." Monica explained, her smile dropping when Chandler looked away. Her mind started to whirl with criticisms… her thoughts berating her for kissing Chandler…

Why'd she do it? She wasn't sure. All she knew for sure was that she suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to crawl into bed and pretend it didn't happen. Pretend the confused and shocked expression never crossed his features. She just wanted to crawl away and die of embarrassment…

"Well, I'm gonna go get into my comfortable sweats and watch some porn…" Joey announced, heading for the door… "Later."

Chandler rolled his eyes and waved as his friend and roommate left…

Now it was just the two of them again, and Monica frantically tried to come up with an answer to his question: 'What did you do that for?'

After several moments of silence, Monica finally spoke up… "I don't know why…"

He turned and looked at her… "What?"

"The answer to your question…" she clarified… "I don't know why I kissed you."

He nodded… "Ok…"

She watched him as he walked over to the large bay windows and stared out into the night. What was he thinking? Why was he so upset? Was he angry with her?

"Chandler?" she attempted to gain his attention…

"Hmmm?"

"Are you mad at me?"

He didn't answer, and she winced as she realized… that was his way of saying 'yes'…

"Huh…" he muttered… a sound she wasn't expecting…

"What?"

"Ugly naked guy has a guest…" he turned and looked at Monica… "He's there with ugly naked gal."

Monica stood and rushed to the window to see, and a smile crossed her previously sad face as she watched the two nudists dance by candlelight…

"It's nice that they have someone…" she stated, her sadness returning as she realized she had no one…

Chandler turned and looked at her, a reassuring smile on his face… "Yeah. It is."

"Are you mad at me?" she asked him again, and the smile immediately dropped from his face…

"What? Why on earth would I be mad at you?"

"Cause… before…" she reminded… "Then just now I asked if you were mad at me and you didn't answer…"

"When?"

"Before you spotted ugly naked dancing."

He shook his head… "I didn't hear you, Mon, I swear."

"Oh…" she smiled, relieved… "Ok…"

"Seriously… I could never be mad at you. You could leave me in the desert for dead and I still wouldn't get mad at you!"

"Wow."

"That's not permission, mind you." he quipped, and she laughed…

"I'm sorry I kissed you…" Monica apologized for her behavior…

"Why?"

After a minute of deliberation, she shrugged… "I don't know."

"I'm just sorry it didn't mean something." He admitted, and her expression took on a whole new look…

"What?"

He froze, and his brain cursed him for saying too much… "Did I say that out loud?" he attempted to joke, but her expression remained…

When the phone rang, they both jumped, and at first, Monica ignored it, her eyes staying firmly planted on Chandler… but after the 10th and 11th ring, she tore her eyes away and answered the annoying object…

"Hello?"

"God, Monica, don't do that!" Ross scolded her… "I was getting worried! Why aren't you answering your phone?"

"I was doing the dishes…" she lied… "My hands were wet. What's up?" She looked at Chandler, watching as he began to pace as she only half listened to her brother's account of his holiday…

"Sorry I left you on your own…" he added remorsefully…

"I wasn't alone. Chandler was with me." she told her brother…

"Yeah…" he scoffed… "Might as well have been alone though, huh?"

"Look, Ross, I gotta go. I have lots to clean up before I head to bed… and I want to head to bed now…"

"Oh. Ok. Well, I guess I'll see'ya tomorrow then."

"Yep. Bye." Her eyes stayed on Chandler as she hung up the phone…

"I should probably go…" he said, heading for the door…

"Not yet…" she pleaded… "Please?"

He stopped two steps from the front door, but didn't turn around…

"Chandler, what did you mean by that?"

"By what?"

She approached him and physically turned him to face her… "You know what."

"I don't think I should say."

"Why not?" she pressed…

"Cause, I don't think I can handle one more reason to hate this holiday. And if I tell you, and you… reject--" he stopped abruptly…

She nodded.

"Look, can we just forget this day ever happened?"

She shook her head… "No. I don't want to do that. But, I promise you, tomorrow… everything will be as it was before. We'll never mention it again… if that's what you want."

He smiled, a tiny sharp exhale the only sign of a chuckle, then nodded as he looked down at the floor… "Thanks."

"Don't mention it…" She hugged him tightly… "Thanks for a great holiday."

"You're welcome. Thank you." He held her for longer than he probably should have, wanting the hug to last… but he knew if he didn't let go, any chance of walking out the door with even the tiniest scrap of dignity would be gone.

She made no move to break the hug, allowing him to hold her comfortably for as long as he wanted to.

He finally broke away and smiled awkwardly at her… "See'ya tomorrow…"

She nodded, then placed her hand on his cheek, giving him a soft, quick, friendly kiss… "Yep. Night."

He smiled, a slight blush crossing his face… she knew. He knew she knew…

"Night."

He walked out the door, and what happened between them was never mentioned again… ??

TO BE CONTINUED…??

Should I continue? Or leave it 'as is'? Let me know…