Phoebe pushes the stroller up the hill towards the picnic bench at the park, which is slowly becoming the new hangout spot for
her and her friends. It's the perfect place for them to relax while their kids burned off energy chasing each other around the
playground. The six of them seem to meet up togetherless than they use to, with their busy lives of raising kids, while trying to earn
a living, but when they do, it's almost always here, instead of Central Perk. The kids are getting too big to just sit in their strollers,
and all they wanna do is run and play, which tends to disturb the other customers. Although they do still stop in frequently and get their
coffees to go. In fact, Phoebe has a tray of hot beverages from Central Perk with her for all of her friends, as it's her turn to buy.
Everyone is here today, minus Joey who's still at work. Phoebe sees Monica, fussing over the twins. Making sure they have
hand sanitizer before they go on the playground. Reminding them not to get their clothes dirty. Chandler sits next to her, on going over
some notes for his comedy writing job. Ross and Rachel are on the other side of the table, watching Emma play. As the twins run off to join her,
Ross calls out to his daughter, reminding her to keep an eye on her little cousins.
While Phoebe is handing out the drinks to her friends, Jackson begins babbling excitedly in his stroller when he sees the older kids. He tries to stand up, eager to play with them.
"Ok, ok.." Phoebe says, unbuckling him from his seat. She lifts him out, making sure his coat is buttoned up all the way, and kisses him on the cheek. "Don't wander off too far, Mister!You better stay where I can see you" she says, before she sets him down. "Go play. Be free, my son!" She laughs, watching him run on his chubby little legs towards the sand pit to play with the other kids. It wasn't very long ago that he took his first steps, and already he's so eager to explore. Phoebe can't seem to keep him within arms reach anymore no matter how hard she tries. She can still remember him as a tiny baby in her arms in the hospital, 18 months ago. And she knows that it's only a matter of time before her sweet baby boy isn't a much of a baby anymore.
She sits down next to Rachel, who laughs along with her. "God, he is so cute! I can't believe how big he's getting!"
"Oh, I know." Phoebe says. "Pretty soon he'll be going off to kindergarden..and then learning to ride a bike..and then buying a motorcyle and picking up chicks with it. Ugh..he's gonna be like Joey all over again!"
"Hey, speaking of Joey, wasn't he supposed to be coming home from Miami today?" Ross asks.
"Oh yeah, he's catching a later flight, though. He won't be in until tonight." Phoebe tells him.
Earlier this year, Joey was able to hire himself a new agent who managed to land him a role as a minor character on a new crime series, and so far, things seem to be going really well. He's signed a two year contract with them, and the show is becoming somewhat popular. Phoebe knows it's not exactly the kind of job he's always wanted, but it's steady work, and it allows him to still have time to spend at home with his family, so he's happy with it, and Phoebe couldn't be more proud of him.
Normally, all the episodes are filmed in New York, but the season finale is being shot in Miami, so Joey has been gone for two weeks now. Even though he calls to talk to her and Jackson every night, she can hardly wait for him to get home. She knows Jackson has been missing him, too. Even though he doesn't understand the show, he watches it every day. His face lighting up with excitement when he sees his daddy on the screen. Phoebe feels so bad because he's too little to understand why Joey has to be away for so long. She let's out a sigh. She knows that by the time Joey gets home, Jackson will probably be asleep. It's too bad he couldn't have left earlier.
"Erica, don't pour sand in your brother's hair!" Phoebe hears Monica yell as she suddenly leaps up from the table and runs over to her kids. While Phoebe's momentarily distracted, watching Monica freak out over her son's hair with amusement, when she suddenly feels a hand on her shoulder, and looks down to see a boquet of beautiful flowers in front of her. With a gasp, she turns around.
"Hey, beautiful! How you doin'?" Joey says.
Phoebe gets up from the table and throws her arms around her husband so fast she almost knocks him over. "Oh my God! I thought you weren't going to be home until later!"
"Yeah..I lied." He says with a smirk. "I thought I'd catch an early flight, and surprise you! Besides, I couldn't stand being away any longer. I've missed you so much!" He pulls her closer to him and leans down to kiss her.
"I've missed you too." Phoebe says, and kisses him back. She's so happy that he's finally home.
"Hey, would you knock it off? This is a family place!" She hears Chandler say.
"Yeah, get a room, you two!" Ross agrees.
Joey laughs and looks down at Phoebe, his arms still around her. "Hmm, That's not a bad idea. You guys don't mind watching our kid for a few hours, do you?"
A moment later, they both look up when they hear the familar sound of Jackson crying, and see that he's apparently been accidently knocked down in the sand pit by one of the bigger kids.
"I got this one, Pheebs." Joey tells her.
He rushes over to his son, scooping him up in his arms, swinging through the air util he's squealing with laughter, and seems to have forgotten all about his minor accident. Joey kisses him on the cheek. "How's Daddy's little man, huh? I sure have missed you!" Phoebe can't help but smile at how happy they are to see each other. Joey carries him back over to the table and sits down next to Phoebe. Holding Jackson in his lap, he grabs his diaper bag off the table.
"Hey, Pheebs, I've been thinking.." he says, as he digs through the bag until he finds some baby wipes to wipe the dirt off Jackson's face. "Maybe we should have another one."
Phoebe laughs at first, assuming he was being sarcastic or something. They haven't talked about having more kids since Jackson was born. But she notices he looks serious and stops laughing. "What..really?"
"Yeah, why not? We could handle two! How hard can it be? We babysit your brother's triplets all the time, and those kids are handful!"
"Yeah, but..we can give them back to Frank and Alice. We can't give our own kids back, Joey. We're kinda stuck with them!"
Monica, overhearing this, chuckles from across the table. "Joey, your baby hasn't even reached the terrible twos yet. And when that happens, believe me, you're going to be glad you only have one! My kids were like two little monsters, terrorizing my house..leaving crumbs and sticky little hand prints all over everything!" she gives a shudder at the thought. "So glad that's over! Now all they wanna do is fight with each other.."
Phoebe nods in agreement. She loves being a mom, but it's not always easy. She couldn't even imagine what a huge responsibility it would be to have two babies to look after, especially at that age.
Joey rolls his eyes at Monica's comment and turns to Phoebe. "So? We don't have to worry about that because we are not Monica! No offense, Mon..It's just I always thought that I'd end up having more than one kid. Maybe that's because I had so many sisters growing up, and I don't want Jackson to be lonely."
"Well, he won't be. He'll have us!" Phoebe says, smiling down at her son. "..until y'know, we're really old and have dementia and don't even remember who he is. And then he'll probably put us in a home!..ugh, I guess you're right. He'll need someone to talk to after that. But..I dunno, I just kind of think it's too soon right now, you know? I mean Jackson is still so little."
Joey shrugs. He places Jackson on the ground so he can run off and play again. "Alright, well..it's just something to think about, I guess."
Phoebe feels Jackson hug her legs, and she smiles, as she reaches down, smoothing his hair before he runs off to join the other kids on the playground. She starts to think about how fast he's growing up, and how she misses him being a tiny baby, even though to her, he always will be. Joey slips his arm around her, kissing her head.
"For the record, though, I think you're doing a pretty good job being a mom so far." he tells her. "I mean, our kid's still in one peice. We must be doing something right!"
"That's true." She says with a smirk, resting her head on his shoulder, while she keeps an eye on Jackson on the playground. Emma is helping him go down the slide at the moment. "Hey, you know what, though?" Phoebe says suddenly, lifting her head. "If our next one was a girl, all together, there would be three girls, and three boys, including Ben..just like us! Maybe they'd all grow up to be best friends, like us, too!"
"That would be kind of neat." Rachel says. "They could all get together for Thanksgiving every year, like we do. Who knows, maybe they'll even get married to each other and have kids." she laughs.
Chandler looks up suddenly from his papers.. "Am I the only one who finds that idea disturbing? If we keep having more, we might as well buy some land and move to some kind of Amish commune, and have the children build barns and plant crops all day and reproduce!"
Monica hits him lightly on the arm.
"Well, either way, I just hope they all get along.. I mean, they don't really have a choice. They're gonna grow up together whether they like it or not!" Phoebe says.
"Yeah, kinda like we did." Joey says.
"Maybe if we had all met when we were toddlers, but yeah, same basic concept." Chandler says.
It's just starting to get dark out, so Monica goes over to gather up the twins.
"We should probably get going, too, huh?" Joey asks her. "Get Jackson to bed, and then maybe we can have some time to ourselves, you know?" he flashes her a grin.
Phoebe grins back. "I kinda like that idea.. I'll go get him!"
She goes over to the playground and picks Jackson up as he's trying to climb up onto the jungle gym. "Come on, my boy. Time to go home!"
He protests at first, fussing and crying a little, until she hand him off to Joey, which seems to do the trick. He very seldom seems to get mad at him they way he does her, but that's probably because she's his mother. She gathers up all his stuff and puts him back in his stroller.
"Alright...same time and place next week?" Phoebe says to her friends.
"Most likely." Rachel agrees, as he and Ross get up to leave as well.
"Emma, come on, sweetie, it's time to go!" Ross calls. The little girl rolls her eyes dramatically before she leaves the playground.
'Just like her mom.." Phoebe thinks to herself, shaking her head with a smile.
"See you guys later!" Joey says. He turns back and waves as he pushes Jackson's stroller back down the hill.
"Bye!" they all say. As much as she hates to admit it, Phoebe's somewhat sad they have to go so soon. Unfortunately, her visits with her friends never last as long as they use to, because their kids all have bed times.
She follows Joey and starts thinking about how much everyone has changed over the years, especially after they all became parents, and yet some things have stayed exactly the same. When Monica first introduced her to everyone fifteen years ago, she would have never imagined they would have ended up like this. Least of all she had always assumed that one day they'd all go their own seperate ways, but she never thought, in a million years, that they would end up like this. All of them married, with kids, and still best friends. It just seemed too good to be true, but now, after all they'd been through together, she couldn't imagine not having her friends in her life, and she still loves them all just as much as she always has. They were more like her family, than anything else, and now, she was happy that Jackson had so many people that she knew he'd always be able to call his family, too.