Title: The Better Man
Spoilers for: - TOW the Proposal part 1 & 2.
Characters Mentioned/Featured: Chandler, Richard, mentions of Monica,
Summary: Chandler goes to thank Richard for letting him have Monica.
A/n: Requested by J.W. Appel. Seriously, thank you so much for all the reviews. They keep me going and some of you have requested scenes I wouldn't have thought of in a million years. I'm going to do a Joey & Phoebe scene next, because it's mostly been Ross, Rachel, Chandler & Monica at this point, but then I'm going to work on some of your requests. :) Enjoy my lovelies :)

T h e B e t t e r M a n

….

He feels his hands shake in his pockets as he ventures bravely up to Richard's apartment.

He almost wishes he'd brought a stick with him, as a means of defence should Richard prove violent. He certainly remembers cherishing the idea of beating the moustache off of Richard at one point.

The thing is, despite how everything turned out, he shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be at the apartment of Monica's ex-boyfriend's apartment, thanking him for letting him have her because, really, he shouldn't have driven Monica to the point where Richard had almost had her. Of all the stupid things he's ever done – and there's a long list he's not even going to even begin to reel off – trying to drive her away, even for the purposes of creating this big, romantic proposal scenario, tops the list.

He knocks twice, squaring his shoulders as if preparing himself for a fight.

When Richard answers, he clearly looks surprised.

"Chandler?" The older man looks confused. "I didn't expect to see you...again."

Chandler barges past him, intent on saying his piece and leaving.

"Please...come in," Richard remarks wryly, before closing the door and following him inside.

Chandler rubs his hands together, trying to conjure up what he really wants to say. Truthfully, he should be furious with this man for turning up out of the blue, bringing chaos to their once organized lives. He should be angry that Richard tried to win Monica back, angry that it'd almost worked, but, really, he has no one to blame but himself.

There's a part of him – the mature part, which very rarely makes an appearance – which knows deep down this was some kind of test, and he'd almost failed it. He should've just proposed, regardless of whether or not she'd known, and that would've been that. Instead, he'd gone overboard with trying to cover his tracks, coming across as a massive jerk in the process.

"I proposed," he feels the need to say. "Well – She proposed to me." He laughs at the irony of it all. "It was... Well, it was perfect. Better than anything I could've done."

"Why are you telling me this?" Richard asks, his tone gentle, even if his gaze seems a tad austere.

"Because I almost lost her," he croaks, still terrified by the thought of losing her. "I had her...and I almost lost her. Because I'm an idiot. I tried to propose the night we saw you and then - "

"I put you off," Richard guesses. "Yeah, sorry about that..."

"Don't be," Chandler says, waving away his apology. "As much as I would love to beat the moustache off of you, I owe you." He swallows. "A lot. I know she came here... She told me... Well, she said being here helped her cool down, helped her see sense, and I guess I... I guess I ought to thank you."

"Sorry?" Richard blinks, actually startled.

Chandler doesn't blame him. Thanking ex-boyfriends, safe to say, is not one of his pastimes, but he does recall a time where he looked up to Richard, actually tried to grow a decent enough moustache – and failed – because of him, so maybe that plays a part in why he's actually here.

"Thank you," he clarifies, clearing his throat, unwilling to admit he is actually intimidated by this guy. "For letting me have her. For walking away."

"She's a wonderful woman, Chandler," Richard tells him. "She's worth holding on to, but you have to know she's one in a million, and she's not going to be messed around with. You can't pull something like this again."

"Yeah – I know. It was all a stupid ruse to catch her off-guard," Chandler mumbles. "Worst mistake ever."

Richard chuckles.

"She's lucky to have someone like you, you know, even if you don't think it."

"How'd you figure that one out?" he grumbles, nonplussed. "I almost screwed up everything."

"Maybe you did, maybe you didn't," Richard replies fairly. "But sounds like were prepared to go to hell and back to fix it. Not many guys would do that these days."

Chandler narrows his eyes, hearing the but I would in Richard's tone. Whether he likes it or not, this man is a part of Monica's past, and because of this moment right here, and a thousand other issues which, mostly, relate to him, he's never going to be comfortable around this man, because he'll always be wondering whether there's a part of Monica which still loves him.

Everything scares him these days, but he masks that fear with humour. It's kind of his defence mechanism, not that you'd know that from looking at him.

"I guess the better man won," Richard continues, either unaware his mind is off on another subject entirely, or carrying on despite it.

He holds out his hand, which Chandler takes a moment to stare at before accepting it, albeit reluctantly.

"If you weren't such a good guy, I think I'd hate you," he confesses awkwardly.

"Why?"

"Because you're Monica's ex-boyfriend – and still the coolest guy I have ever met – so by that logic, I think I'm almost permitted to hate you," he jokes.

"I could say the same thing about you. You're stealing the love of my life from me," Richard jovially retaliates.

"Yeah, true." Chandler feels cheered up by that fact, and struggles to hide a smirk. "Well, I think I'll leave you to you - " He casts a glance around the apartment distastefully. "Well, whatever it is you were doing." To himself, he mutters, "which was probably pining over Monica."

"Bye, Chandler," Richard says, smiling. "Take care of her."

"Always," Chandler promises, although this is more of a kind of promise to himself more than anyone else.

He leaves the apartment for the last time, exhaling the moment the door closes behind him.

Though he's finally put a ring on Monica's finger, declared her the woman he will always love, there's still a part of him terrified of losing her. Knowing her, she probably would've told him that that kind of fear is what strengthens relationships based on the idea that if you love something or someone to the point where you're afraid you might lose it at any given moment, you'll fight to keep it in your life no matter what.

But, the thing is, he has this really bad habit of just letting things go when the going gets rough. Look at how he dealt with Kathy, for example. Distraught by the idea she might've been cheating on him, he actually caused his own delusion to come true. And with Monica, when they'd had their first fight, he'd automatically assumed that that was the end for them, and he'd resigned himself to the idea of being alone forever.

The trouble is, in short, is that he doesn't know how to fight. Usually, it makes things worse, but in this case, he's pretty sure he's done just that and look at the outcome.

He is engaged to his best friend and he's pretty sure he's on top of the world right about now.

Bings never get happy endings; at least, he cannot recall a single member of his family who isn't screwed up in some way.

He's going to make sure he's the exception.