~The Blue Room~

*Chapter III*

Monica watched her husband sleep for several minutes, as the residual effects of her very realistic dream began to wear off. He looked peaceful when he slept, and Monica found that watching him had a very calming effect on her. Chandler stirred, and instinctively pulled Monica closer to his body. She smiled, and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. As his eyes fluttered open, he looked over at Monica, and a strange look crossed his face. He blinked furiously, and sat up, his head spinning.

"Morning, sweetie," Monica said as casually as she could. But inside, she was shaking like a leaf. The look that had crossed Chandler's face told her that her first instincts may have been correct--perhaps it hadn't been a dream after all.

"Hey hon," Chandler mumbled absently.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I just----I had the weirdest dream."

***

"So, do you think that this really is our second chance?"

"I...I don't know, Mon. I suppose...what day is it?"

"It's Sunday....August 26...2001," Monica said, looking at the date on her watch.

"So, you're six months pregnant. Mel was born November 21, and...."

"You were killed December 18," Monica finished quietly.

"Maybe...maybe it won't be like that. Maybe this is a new chance, and----"

"Maybe." But inside, Monica couldn't help but become consumed with a foreboding feeling that fate was in complete control----and that Chandler was not meant to live to see Christmas.

***

~September 16, 2001~

"Mmmm....I could lay here all day," Monica groaned, as the early morning sun began to fill her and Chandler's bedroom.

"Maybe we should....just lay here all day," Chandler smiled.

"I can't. I promised Rachel we'd go baby shopping today, and I've got to--- -" Monica stopped suddenly, and looked at Chandler strangely.

"What?" Chandler asked, confused.

"You know, maybe...maybe I should stay home today."

"Wh--why, are you okay? Do you feel sick?" Chandler suddenly became panicked.

"No, no, it's nothing....I just...I just want to be with you," Monica smiled, trying unsuccessfully to mask her true feelings.

Chandler caught on, and sat up, his eyes falling to the blanket that still covered his legs. "Monica...you can't let....this bother you. It's only September. We still have a lot of living to do," Chandler smiled sadly. "Don't mourn for something that hasn't even happened yet."

"I just....sometimes, I forget about it completely, but....but when I remember it...it scares me."

"Monica, listen to me, okay?" Chandler turned, and took Monica's face in his hands. "We were given another chance here. And no matter how it turns out----we have much more than most. This is a gift. We should celebrate it, not bemoan it."

Monica smiled. Chandler was right. They had a lot of living to do.

*

Over the next several weeks, the images and memories of the past faded completely, and by the time Monica went into labor, Chandler's "death" was all but forgotten. The birth of their daughter brought Monica and Chandler closer than they ever thought possible, and in the days following Melinda's arrival, her proud parents would stay up all night long, talking, or watching their baby sleep soundly.

Their lives no longer revolved around each other; they revolved around the daughter that they had created. But this time, the shift in their relationship brought them closer together, rather than ripping them apart.

Chandler would spend his days at work, thinking about his family, and trying to come up with ways to bring more happiness into his wife and daughter's world. Sometimes it was a small toy for Mel, or flowers for Monica. Other times, it was a simple gesture, like coming home early, and taking Mel for a walk, so that Monica could have the apartment to herself for a couple of hours. He enjoyed doing all of these things, and was blissfully unaware of the fact that there were greater forces at work----he was still on a mission, after all---he just didn't know it.

Monica found herself falling more in live with Chandler than she ever thought possible. She could not imagine her life without him, and at the moment, she had no reason to believe that he wouldn't be there.

"Hey, sweetie," Chandler walked into the apartment, a full hour before he was meant to be off work.

"Hey," Monica smiled, as she walked into the living room.

"You look fantastic," Chandler grinned, and pulled two-dozen red roses, accented with lavender, from behind his back, "Happy anniversary."

"Oh, they're gorgeous! Thank you!! But, um, we got married in May, honey. It's December."

"I know. Today is the anniversary of the day, uh...I realized I wanted to spend my life with you," Chandler blushed slightly.

Monica giggled, and kissed Chandler on the nose, "Is that why you insisted that Joey watch Mel tonight?"

"Well, I wanted tonight to be special," Chandler grinned.

"I love you, you know that," Monica wrapped her arms lazily around Chandler's neck.

"I love you too. I always will, too, you know that?"

"Of course."

"Here. I have a gift for you," Chandler reached into his pocket.

"Chandler! You've done more than enough!" Monica smiled.

"Well, consider this an early Christmas gift, then----or a late Hanukkah one," Chandler laughed.

Monica shook her head, and pulled the top off of the small box. Inside, was an antique, platinum broach, with a large sapphire sitting in the center. Monica pulled the broach out of the box, and watched in awe, as the sapphire shimmered in the early evening light.

"Chandler, it's beautiful," Monica whispered.

"It was like I was drawn to it. It was calling your name," Chandler smiled.

"Thank you, baby," Monica grinned, and kissed Chandler passionately.

"Mmmm, uh, we'd better go to dinner before this gets out of control," Chandler smiled, and peeled Monica off of him, grabbed the keys to Monica's Porsche, and held out his wife's coat for her. She groaned in protest, and slipped into her coat, before following Chandler out the door.

***

"I still say the waiter was hitting on you," Chandler smiled playfully, as he pulled out of the parking garage, and headed toward home.

"You are so paranoid!" Monica slapped Chandler's arm.

"Hey, you happen to be gorgeous, okay? It's hard not to notice the glares I get from jealous guys."

"Well, you are the only man I will ever truly love," Monica said softly.

"Forever?" Chandler grinned.

"Forever," Monica laughed, then looked out at the road that lay ahead, "Chandler, look out!"

***

When he opened his eyes, he was startled by the silence that engulfed him. He felt no pain, he felt no anxiety..he felt nothing at all. The blue room that surrounded him suddenly seemed eerily familiar, and everything that had happened to him came flooding back into his memory, and, for a fleeting moment, he felt the pain and emptiness of loss. The woman who had appeared to him previously silently entered the room, and motioned toward the blank blue wall. As before, the wall faded into a projection: this time, it was a large home, in an affluent section of Connecticut. The home was warm and inviting, and was filled with people. It took him a moment to find familiar faces---all of the faces seemed familiar, but Chandler could not figure out why. Then, as though someone were whispering the answers into his ear, the names and faces came to him: his daughter, Melinda, now fully grown, and with two children of her own; Joey, barely able to move, slowed by age, and what appeared to be four daughters and twelve grandchildren; Melinda's two half-brothers, Jonathan and Kevin, both married with children as well; Rachel, now widowed, and accompanied by Ben and Belle, and their spouses, children, and a grandchild-Rachel's great-granddaughter.

On a bed, in the master bedroom, was Monica. Her second husband, Chris, was sitting by her side, watching as her breathing became increasingly ragged and shallow. In her thin, shaky hand, she held the sapphire broach that she had worn every day of her life. Taking one final, shaky breath, she said goodbye to the life that she had lived to her fullest, and to the man she had loved unconditionally, but not eternally. Chris nodded his acceptance, as his wife silently, and painlessly faded away.

***

She was next to him in an instant, and he found himself smiling, in spite of himself. He took her hand, as she scanned the blue room, and tried to gain her bearings. He looked at her, and saw the woman he had left behind fifty earth years ago. She smiled, and knew that this was the moment she had lived and died for.

And they would be together forever.

~A~