The One With The Digital Fairytale
--"No idea about what?" Chandler asked, appearing in the doorway suddenly, startling her.
Monica stammered, an answer nowhere amongst her incoherent words.
"Who are you talking to?" he asked accusatorily, then grabbed the phone away from her. Scowling, he put the phone to his ear. "Hello?" He fully expected to hear Peter's smug voice in response.
"He hung up," Chandler informed a stunned Monica, handing her back the phone.
She took it from his hand and listened long enough to hear the dial tone before clicking it off. She had still yet to say a word.
"Guess he didn't feel like gloating today," he spat out. Monica still said nothing. "Are you going to say anything?!"
"You seem to have all the answers," she stated with calm anger. "What is there for me to say?"
"You're not even going to deny it?!" he asked vehemently.
She sighed heavily. "Would it do any good?" she asked. "You're going to believe what you're going to believe."
"I want to hear you admit it!" he exclaimed. "For my own peace of mind."
She shook her head as she turned from him, walking towards her bedroom. "It's late," she muttered softly. "I don't want you to-- I don't think you should--" she exhaled as she faced him again. "You shouldn't be out this late at night," she told him. "You can stay on the couch."
She avoided meeting his eyes as she entered her room.
"You won't even give me that, will you?" he asked as the door slowly closed, then clicked shut. "I don't deserve at least that much?!" he called out, but got no response.
After a moment or 2, reality set in. Dumbfounded, he stared at the door for several seconds before plopping down on the couch, his face in his hands. What had he just done?
When the door creaked open, his head shot up abruptly to see Monica place a pillow and a neatly folded blanket on the floor by her door. She still avoided his eyes, then she returned to her room.
He stood with a sigh, then walked over to her offering and grabbed the bedding off the floor.
He made himself as comfortable as he could, but sleep wouldn't come easy; his mind a buzz with self-defamation. He loved this woman, why couldn't he just trust her? Why could he not give her the benefit of the doubt?
Paranoia was part of the reason. He was scared to death of getting hurt. It would almost be easier if she was consorting with the enemy. Then he would have a reason to leave her. Prevent her from breaking his heart. He could then beat her to the punch, so to speak.
But, if she wasn't talking to Becker, then who was she talking to? And what did she mean by: 'he has no idea'?
One thing was for certain, he wasn't getting any answers any time soon. Monica was angry, understandably, and even if he did get her to talk to him, there would just be angry words hurled about. Better to wait till morning.
By morning, maybe he would have a better idea of what he was going to say to her. Maybe he would then be better prepared for the worst. The worst being that she was with Peter.
--Monica watched him sleep, his expression showing concern even while in deep REM. Unsure of what to say, or what to expect once he woke up, she let him sleep, tiptoeing quietly to start a pot of coffee.
--The sound of Monica in the kitchen coupled with the smell of brewing coffee woke Chandler from his not-quite-restful sleep. He sat up slowly, and the movement of him doing so caught Monica's attention.
"Hi," he said softly, and she nodded, then looked away.
"Look," he started, "I'm sorry about last night. I was half asleep, and stupid, and I--"
"Chandler," she interrupted, "Stop, ok? Just stop."
"What do you want me to say?" he asked sincerely.
"I don't want you to say anything," she sighed. "I honestly don't know what I want right now."
"You're making this too hard!" she added. "Always paranoid! Always accusing! We can't build a relationship with all of this… stuff!"
"What are you saying?" he asked, fearful of the answer.
"I think you know what I'm saying, Chandler. I think we have progressed as far as we're going to."
"I don't want to lose you," he blurted out, his heart jerking wildly in his chest.
"You're not ready to trust," she told him sadly. "And without trust, there can be no relationship."
"I want to trust," he whispered.
"I know you do," she replied, sympathetic to his pain. "But, you can't trust right now. You have too many things going on in your head. Things I can't fix."
"Is there anything I can do? To fix this? To take it back?"
She shook her head sadly. "Chandler, answer me this, is there any part of you… is there anything anywhere in your brain that is telling you that I was on the phone with Peter last night?"
He paused before answering. "No."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Answer honestly," she instructed, her tone firm but understanding.
"Well, yeah, there is a teeny tiny part of my brain that's saying that, but I can ignore it!"
"Maybe you can, but should you? And for how long? What happens if we get married? Have kids? And then this thing you've been ignoring all these years comes out? What then?"
"I don't know."
"I'm not mad, Chandler. I'm sad," she admitted. "And disappointed. But I'm not mad. You've had a lot to deal with, and all of the crap and strife has made you who you are. Some of who it's made you is wonderful! Some of what it's made you is detrimental to long-term healthy relationships."
"I can't imagine you not being in my life," he choked out, on the verge of tears.
"We can still be friends," she told him, then took a few steps towards him. "But I don't think dating anymore is an option for us."
He inhaled deeply in an effort to stop the flow of tears, but when Monica closed the gap and wrapped him in a hug, he lost it.
"I'm so sorry, Mon."
"I know you are," she whispered, holding him tighter. "I know you are."
They stayed in each other's arms for several minutes, till Chandler finally had the courage to let her go.
"I guess I should be leaving," he said as he wiped at his face.
"You don't have to," she told him softly. "I can make breakfast--"
"Yes, I do. I do have to," he replied. "I need to sort out my head."
She nodded. "Alright."
"My clothes are still in your room," he reminded her.
"I can go get them if you want," she offered, but he shook his head.
"I can get them, if you don't mind."
"I don't," she answered honestly.
--He looked around her room, knowing it would probably be the last time he saw it. With a heavy sob-laden sigh, he quickly located his belongings. They were folded neatly on a chair; Monica's doing, then he sat to put his shoes on which were located just beneath the rungs.
--"Mon," Rachel announced her presence as she stormed through the door. "Sorry I hung up on you last night," she apologized. "But when I heard Chandler's voice… I just didn't want to have to explain--" She stopped talking when Monica started frantically waving her hands at her. "What?"
Monica pointed at her room, "Chandler is in there," she whispered harshly.
"Oh!" Rachel whispered back.
--Chandler overheard what Rachel had said, and he closed his eyes tight as it all became clear in his head. It was Rachel on the phone with Monica in the wee hours of the morning, not Peter. It was Rachel's secret that he had no idea about, not Monica's.
He'd ruined everything.
--"You're breaking up?" Rachel asked in a whisper, her face scrunched in concern. "Why?"
"He just has too many issues to overcome," she informed in an equally quiet voice. "We're gonna remain friends though. Hopefully."
"Ok, that's everything," Chandler announced as he entered the livingroom. "Hi Rachel."
"Hi, Chandler," she greeted him. "Um, I'm just gonna go in my room and change my clothes," she informed, giving them a chance to say their goodbyes.
"Call me later," she asked of him. "So we can maybe grab a cup of coffee or something."
"Ok," he agreed. He reached out to hug her one last time, and she held him tight as he clung to her.
"It's gonna be alright," she told him. "Believe me."
He nodded, though he didn't really think he would ever get over the pain of losing her. How could she be so calm?
"Bye," he said, his voice barely audible.
--"I'm telling you," Chandler chortled, "The guy actually thought the 'mouse' on a computer was referring to an actual mouse!"
"No way!" Monica said with a laugh. "How could he think that?"
He shrugged dramatically. "He thought it was how the computer ran or something! Like, on a wheel!"
"Are you pulling our chain?" Rachel asked, his story a tad too unbelievable.
"I wish I were!" he replied. "I needed to hire someone, like, yesterday!"
"Have you tried a temp agency? To fill in till you can find someone?" Ross asked, trying to be helpful.
Chandler shook his head. "I guess I could though. Ugh! I told my dad I couldn't do this job!"
"You're smarter than you give yourself credit for," Monica told him, taking his hand in hers. "You just lack confidence."
Chandler looked down at their hands intertwined, then looked back up at Monica.
"Central Perk is proud to present," the waitress interrupted the 'moment' between Chandler and Monica, "Ms. Phoebe Buffay!"
Phoebe stepped up to the microphone, sitting on the little stool as she settled in. "This is a song about how great death can be."
Everyone shared looks as she strung a cord on her guitar in preparation before beginning.
--"Where does Phoebe come up with the lyrics to her songs?" Chandler asked Monica as they entered her apartment.
They had become so comfortable around one-another, it was almost as if they had never dated and broken up, or at least it seemed like it was a million years ago. In actuality, it had only been 8 months.
Eight months ago, Chandler was loved by the most beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman. Presently, he had to settle for just being her friend. It was hard at times, but he cared so much for her, he would be to her, whatever she wanted.
"I think she just jots down whatever comes to mind," Monica replied absently as she fussed about the kitchen.
He watched her, a smile on his face he didn't know he was wearing. She noticed and stopped what she was doing.
"Why are you smiling at me?"
"Was I?" he asked. "I wasn't aware that I was."
She shrugged it off. "Can you believe Rachel is due, like, any day now?"
"Yeah!" he exclaimed. "She's as big as a house!"
"Seems like only yesterday that she told us her and Ross were expecting."
He nodded. "That was the big secret that ended our relationship," he blurted out before he could stop himself.
She looked to him abruptly. "What?"
Shaking his head, he replied, "Nothing."
"We didn't break up cause she was pregnant," she stated with confusion.
"No, I know that," he explained. "I just meant that, the night she called to talk to you about it, that was the night we broke up."
"Right," she muttered uncomfortably. "But we didn't break up because of her," she told him. "We broke up cause of your paranoia."
He nodded. "Right. I know."
There was an uncomfortable silence that followed, and Chandler wondered if he had said too much. The last thing he wanted was to upset her.
"I'm better now," he said carefully, softly, worried about what her response to that would be.
"I know," she acknowledged, then said nothing further.
He watched as she went from fussing about to grabbing cleaners from beneath the sink and moving into full clean-mode. She did that when she was nervous or anxious. She did it a lot when her parents were due for a visit.
"I didn't mean to upset you," he apologized. "It's just, sometimes I think about… us."
"I thought we had moved past this," she inquired, waiting as the bucket filled with water from the faucet.
"I know I screwed up," he admitted. "And if friendship is all you can give me, I will learn to live with that. But, I want more. I always have."
"I don't think it's a good idea to go back down that road again," she choked out nervously.
"You might be right," he muttered, his eyes downcast. "And maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and quit while I'm ahead," he added. "But, I'm not going to." He took a deep breath to settle his nerves. "I still love you, Monica. I have never stopped loving you."
She started to cry. "Don't do this."
"Do what?" he asked sympathetically.
She turned off the water abruptly and set the bucket of soapy water on the kitchen floor near the sink. "Don't make me want you again!" she exclaimed. "It took so long to be in the same room with you without yearning! I'm finally there! Don't take that away from me!"
"I'm not trying to hurt you, Mon--"
He stopped abruptly when she put her face in her hands, in an attempt to calm herself.
"Do you think it was easy for me to break it off with you?"
He shrugged. "You seemed ok with it at the time," he remembered.
"I was a wreck! I cried for weeks! Every night! Sometimes at work! It killed me, not being with you!"
"Then why did you break up with me?"
"Because, Chandler, you don't trust me!"
"Not true!" he shot back. "I was confused! And messed up cause of Peter's abuse of power, that I witnessed daily!"
"I know that there were extenuating circumstances--"
"However messed up I was, I'm better now," he interrupted. "I love you, and I trust you completely. And, more importantly, I know there was no reason for mistrust before."
She sighed, "You're making it hard for me to say no."
"Then don't say no," he asked of her, closing the slight gap between them.
When his lips touched hers, an involuntary sob escaped her. Hearing this, he held her tighter as he continued to kiss her gently.
He assaulted her with soft delicious kisses. Her top lip, her bottom lip, along her jawline to her ear and neck.
"I never stopped loving you," she whispered.
A shudder worked through his body, and he quickly lifted her and carried her to her bedroom… to make up for lost time.
--Monica watched her sleeping boyfriend, his face expressing the hint of a smile, and she smiled to herself as she lightly, so as not to wake him, kissed his forehead.
Seemed hard to believe that they had been back together for 3 months. Seemed even harder to believe that they had even split up at all.
It was almost like a fairytale. Her Prince Charming riding in on horseback, the evil King, trying to thwart their relationship. All the twists and turns that brought them to this point in their lives.
She sighed as she quietly slipped out of bed and headed for the livingroom to make sure Joey and Phoebe had turned everything off and locked up before leaving. They almost always stayed late, their jobs not demanding of an early morning wake-up.
A quick look around showed everything to be in order, but she fussed with the couch pillows a little before turning to head back to bed.
The phone ringing stopped her from reaching her destination, and she quickly picked it up so as to prevent the annoying sound from waking Chandler.
"Hello? - Oh, hey. What's up? - Oh, um, well, I don't think he knows--"
"Who's on the phone?" A sleepy Chandler asked, and she turned abruptly to see him standing in the doorway of the bedroom.
She looked at him with an odd expression that he didn't quite get in his sleepy state… at first. Suddenly, he gasped.
"No, no," he said with his hands raised in surrender. "I was just curious! I don't think it's Peter!"
Monica smiled. "Ross says 'hi'."
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