AN: This one's for Sal, who promised she would send me Ewan McGregor if I wrote a Chan/Mon fic. Well, this will be C/M get that man over here!!

~A Very Good Year~


Monica stared listlessly out of her living room window, as wind-powered raindrops pelted the glass panes furiously. Large droplets slid into the crevices, and the darkened sky gave the illusion that it was much later-or much earlier-than nine in the morning. It was Sunday. Sunday was always the worst day of the week for Monica these days. It was the loneliest day of the week, and it was a harsh reminder of the way things Used to Be. Sunday had once been Monica's favourite day of the week. She would always rise early, and clean the apartment, then begin cooking a enormous breakfast for her friends. Though her friends were generally there for breakfast every morning, Sunday was the one day that everyone consistently showed up for: no one was rushed, and they could truly enjoy one another's company.

But there was a falling out.

Five years ago, in fact. Almost exactly five years ago, Monica mentally noted, bringing her mood even lower. It was five years ago that Chandler kissed Kathy, and Joey punished him by putting him in that damn box. When Kathy came over, on that fateful Thanksgiving night, she told Chandler she was leaving, and he knew that there was nothing that he could do, unless Joey let him out of the box.

He didn't.

And things between Chandler and Joey were never the same.

So, when Ross walked in on Chandler and Rachel kissing late one night several weeks later, he immediately blamed Chandler (even though, in hindsight, it was Rachel's doing-she was drunk, and, in the darkened apartment, had mistaken Chandler for Ross-Chandler was in the process of pushing her away when Ross walked in).

Joey didn't even listen to Chandler's side-he was still sore about the Kathy thing-he took Ross' side on the issue, so Phoebe did too. (Chandler had often wondered whether Phoebe had ever really liked him anyway). Chandler moved a week later.

Monica had been the only one to hear from Chandler, and it was only once. Three years ago, she received a wedding invitation in the mail, but was unable to fly out to California for the wedding, because Ross had planned a large party for their father's birthday. She sent a card, and a Macy's Gift Certificate.

A clap of thunder brought Monica back to the present. With Ross and Rachel in Connecticut, and Joey always working, (Days of Our Lives) and Phoebe engrossed in her relationship with Scientist-guy David, who had returned from Minsk a few months ago, Monica spent a lot of time alone. She had been engaged once, to a man named Chris, but when he and Monica discovered that she was unable to have children, the dynamic of their relationship shifted, and Monica was unable to handle the pressure that she had put on herself, all the while telling herself that Chris was the one with the issues regarding her infertility. Neither party could handle the pressure, so they parted ways two years ago.

It wasn't until Monica was really alone that the reality of her situation hit her. She was never going to have a child of her own. The thought devastated her, and it killed her that she had no one to lean on anymore. It was during this period in her life that Chandler's absence affected her most.

Monica sighed, and pulled herself off of the window seat. She decided that she might as well make some breakfast.

Even if it was just for one.


Chandler sat on the edge of Sadie's bed, and watched as she slept peacefully. He could watch his daughter sleep for hours. She was the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. Her tiny, chubby arms gripped her blanket tightly, and her dark brown hair covered half of her perfect face. Chandler chuckled slightly, and pulled the renegade hairs away from Sadie's cheek and mouth. He sighed contently, and left the room, deciding that she needed a few more hours sleep.

Chandler rarely slept much anymore. The past two years had been rough on him and Sadie, but Chandler was sure they would get through it.

He was sure of it-until recently.

Today was the anniversary he always dreaded. It had been two years since Anna, his wife, and the only person who was able to make Chandler forget about his old life, was killed by a kid who had panicked while robbing a convenience store that Anna had stopped in to grab some milk.

After Anna's funeral, Chandler considered moving back to New York. But he didn't want to uproot his then-infant daughter, and besides, he didn't have the energy. Anna had had no family, so Chandler was responsible for every detail of everything that related to her death. And he was the only person who could raise Sadie. He wasn't sure he could do it on his own, but somehow, he had managed.

Seven o'clock rolled around, and, as if on cue, The Headache swooped in, attacking Chandler's brain like an unseen predator. Chandler braced himself for the intense pain that was about to hit him, but no amount of preparation could save him from the onslaught of misery and blinding agony that gripped him at that moment. He slid to the ground, and closed his eyes as tight as he could. Hugging his knees, he prayed that the pain would end soon. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the pain vanished, and Chandler was left only with a slight dizziness, and temporary paralysis that always seemed to accompany the post-attack.

It took Chandler a moment to realize that Sadie was sitting in front of him, her tiny hand on his tear-stained cheek.

"Daddy, today is a bad day?" Sadie asked innocently.

"Yeah, Pumpkin, today is a bad day."

Chandler looked at his daughter's innocent sadness, and realized that it was time to make a decision.


"Hey Mon, Happy Hanukkah!" Ross, Rachel, Ben and Isabelle, The Geller's latest addition, walked into Monica's apartment to find it fully decorated, and filled with the sweet smells of the holiday season-a pleasant mixture of gingerbread, cinnamon and pine.

Monica always put on a happy face when her brother came to visit. She didn't want him to worry about her, even if she felt he was partially to blame for the disintegration of their tight-knit group. She smiled warmly, grabbed Isabelle from Rachel, and hugged the other three tightly.

"Are all those presents for me, Aunt Monica?" Ben asked, wide-eyed.

"Well, some of them are for Belle," Monica pointed out.

"Hey! Merry Christmas!" Joey came in, and hugged the group, including Monica, who he realized he hadn't seen in a week and a half-even though he lived right across the hall.

"Hey Joey, Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah," came the varied replies.

"Where's Pheebs?"

"She'll be here shortly. She is dropping off some gifts for Frank and Alice and the kids," Monica smiled. It was almost like old times again!


After everyone had filled their stomachs to capacity, Rachel and Ross put their kids down for a nap (much to Ben's chagrin) and the group took their places around Monica's coffee table.

"How are you, Mon? I haven't talked to you in a while," Rachel hugged her best friend tightly. She missed Monica, and she missed New York. But Ross was adamant about raising his children out of the city. The only time Rachel came out anymore, it seemed, was to drop Ben off a Carol and Susan's.

"I'm fine. The restaurant is doing well, and -I, uh, I guess that's all," Monica laughed.

"What about men? Any new 'things'?" Rachel asked slyly.

Monica shook her head. She rarely, if ever dated anymore. She didn't see the point. Who would ever want to marry a woman that couldn't have children?

Rachel was about to continue her interrogation, but was cut off by a sharp knock at the door. Monica sighed, relieved for the interruption. Rachel was starting to sound like her mother-was it possible for a daughter-in-law to morph into her mother-in-law?

Monica shook her head, and opened the door.



It took all of his courage to knock on the door, and as soon as he did it, Chandler wanted to turn and run. Sadie had run, well, she had run to the step in the hallway, and was hiding around the corner. She always hated meeting new people-probably because she was rarely around other people. Chandler had no real friends in Los Angeles. Most of the people he knew were friends of Anna's.

When Monica opened the door, she opened her mouth in shock, and stared blankly at him. He wondered if this was a good idea. But then, he had very few options left.

"Chandler, wh-what are you doing here?"

"Well, I-"

"Who is it, Mon?" Ross called out. Chandler felt his shoulders tense. It was Christmas Eve, and Chandler was almost hoping that everyone would be gone. He wasn't sure he'd be able to face the whole group.

Ross came to the door, and made a sour face.

"Chandler." Ross said flatly.

"Hi Ross."

The three former friends stood in the doorway for a moment, each unsure what to do or say next. Ross and Monica never thought they'd ever see Chandler again, and they were sure the others felt the same way. But he was here, and neither of them knew what to think of that.

Sadie squeaked, pulling Chandler's attention away from the doorway scene for a moment. He turned and motioned for his daughter, but she refused to move from the step.

"Sadie, come here," Chandler whispered, and took a step toward her.

Ross and Monica looked at each other, then back at Chandler, who was now picking up the little girl. Monica's heart sank. Even Chandler had a child, and he didn't even *want* kids-did he?

"Sadie, this is Ross and Monica. Uh, this is my daughter, Sadie."

"Hi Sadie," Monica smiled, and the girl buried her head in her father's shoulder.

Chandler felt his arms and legs weaken slightly, and knew that he had to get this over with.

"Listen, can I talk to you guys for a minute?"

Chandler and Sadie followed Ross and Monica back into the apartment, and after tense greetings were exchanged with the others, Chandler asked if the group could sit at the kitchen table. They agreed, after shooting Chandler strange looks. Phoebe muttered something about him showing up after five years and ordering them around.

Chandler placed Sadie on the living room sofa, and turned on the television.

"Stay here for a minute, okay, sweetie?"

"No daddy, stay!" Sadie whined.

"I'll be right here, honey, okay?" Chandler said, and stood in the kitchen to demonstrate his proximity. Sadie seemed to be okay with it, because she turned and started watching "Spongebob Squarepants" intently.

"What's going on, Chandler?" Ross asked.

"Yeah, why are you showing up here after five years?" Rachel followed.

"Where's your wife?" Monica wondered.

the questions came fast and furious, but Chandler had no time. He needed to do this, or he would never be able to.

"Guys, can you just-look, the thing is-I need a favor."