Chapter 21 - TOW The 1st Birthday

AN: Set 1 year after the show's finale (TOW The Last One). Please note that I've never watched Joey, but I've read the episode synopsis and timeline wise this chapter is set around the end of season 1. I am sorry about the delay with this chapter; I found it hard to write. Hopefully it is worth the wait. Please, please review! Reviews inspire me to write more :-) Scenes are divided by [-].

Monica stands in her kitchen, baking. She cannot believe it's been a whole year. A whole year since Jack and Erica had been born. A lot has happened in that single year:

They moved to their dream house in Westchester.

Joey moved to LA and has a main role in the TV show Deep Powder.

Phoebe and Mike moved next door and their daughter, Lily Phoebe Hannigan was born in March.

Ross and Rachel moved in with each other and got married on Valentine's Day.

Now it was only one day away from Jack and Erica's 1st birthday. One year ago they were just a married couple, now they have a family; they are parents with a son and a daughter. Granted Monica still gets a stab of pain knowing she could never carry her own child, but she doesn't dwell on it. It was tough watching Phoebe throughout her pregnancy but Chandler had comforted her and tried to distract her with Jack and Erica as much as possible. He even suggested that they look into IVF, Monica said no though, not only because of the cost but she was worried that if it didn't work it would be harder for them in the long run. Chandler was surprised when she declined his offer but understood. She thinks back to that day, a few months ago, when he offered:

"I promised to make you happy and if carrying our baby makes you happy then I will do anything to make that happen, we can try IVF, to hell with the costs."

Chandler's words had melted her; she couldn't believe how much he has grown over the last ten years. The love they feel for each other is just as strong as when they first started their relationship in 1998, in fact it was even stronger.

Monica sighs happily as she put the finishes touches on the twins' birthday cakes. Cakes, plural, she and Chandler had decided that Jack and Erica were not going to share stuff just because they were twins. So they had a cake each, which Monica lovingly made. A pink cake for Erica and a blue cake for Jack. Both with a single candle. "They look great!" Chandler says from behind her, making Monica jump. "Oh my god Chandler!" She says as she turns around, "you scared me!" Chandler pulls her into his arms, "sorry babe, I thought you heard me come in." Monica smiles and she hugs him, "I was deep in thought." She explains. "Thinking about what?" He asks, she pulls back and stares into his eyes. She leans up and gives him a gentle kiss. "About us and how happy we are." He smiles and leans down for another kiss, this one a lot more passionate.

[-]

The party is in full swing, and Monica is in her element as the hostess, but Chandler is desperate to give her a break so she can play with the twins. He keeps trying to rope Rachel and Phoebe into helping but both are too scared of messing with 'Monica's system'. "Come on Rach! It's Jack and Erica's 1st birthday! They will never have a 1st birthday again and Monica is missing it. Don't you remember how special you wanted Emma's 1st birthday to be?" Chandler is close to begging. Rachel sighs, "fine! But Monica better not yell at me." She warns and Chandler grins, "I'll keep her distracted. All the food is done, all you need to do is top up drinks and bring out the rest of the food." He explains, "just don't touch the cakes!" He warns. He pulls Rachel into a hug and then bounces away.

"Monica put that down and come sit with us." Chandler says while taking the bottle out of Monica's hand. She starts to protest but Chandler jumps in there, "it's our children's first birthday and we will spend time with them. You know I'm right." He says firmly, Monica gives in and they walk into the middle of the living room and sit on the floor with the twins and Emma. The party consisted of just family and friends; Phoebe and Mike are sitting on the sofa with 2 month old Lily, Rachel is in the kitchen while Ross is playing with a now 10 year old Ben in the garden. Jack and Judy were sitting on the second sofa chatting to Nora.

Knock, knock. Chandler looks at Monica confused; she tries to hide the grin on her face. "Who else did you invite?" Chandler says while standing up. Monica keeps grinning and Chandler narrows his eyes in suspicion. He walks to the door and opens it, gasping in surprise when he sees who's there.

"JOEY!" He shouts. "Dude what are you doing here?" He says as he pulls Joey into a hug. "Did you really think I would miss Jack and Erica's first birthday?" Joey says smiling. Chandler pulls him in the house and closes the door. "But I thought you were filming." Chandler replies, "summer break." Joey explains. Chandler nods and wraps an arm around him and they walk further into the living room. "It's been too long." Chandler says, but before he could say anything else Joey's arrival has been noticed by Phoebe. "Joseph Francis Tribbiani! Why didn't I know you were coming?" Phoebe demands, "oh and come and meet Lily." She says more softly. Joey laughs, there may be marriages and children but it's still the same gang.

[-]

"I think it's time for presents!" Monica says excitedly as she holds a giggling Jack. Chandler sits next to her with Erica in his arms. Everyone gathers in the living area; Jack, Judy and Nora on one sofa, Phoebe (with Lily), Mike, Rachel and Ross on the other sofa, Chandler, Monica, Joey with the kids - Ben, Emma, Jack and Erica on the floor. "Ok so grandparents first." Nora says as she hands Chandler an envelope. "Thanks Mom." Chandler says and he opens the envelope, "oh my god!" Chandler says in shock. "What is it?" Asks Monica, "Four tickets to Disneyland, including flights and hotel! Mom this is too much!" Nora shakes her head and smiles, "no honey, it's the least I can do as I know I never took you on any fun holidays when you were a kid. Plus you deserve a good family holiday." Chandler is lost for words; he just leans over and hugs his mother. "Okay," Monica says, "who's next?" Judy hands over two wrapped boxes. Monica smiles and hands Erica's present to Chandler to open, they both ripped the paper with Jack and Erica. Jack got a set of toy cars while Erica got play kitchen set. "Thank you grandma and granddad." Monica says.

The present opening continues, the twins are spoiled by everyone. As Monica gathers the discarded wrapping paper around her, Chandler pulls a box out of his pocket. "Mon, there's one more present." Chandler says, Monica turns to him as sees the box in his hand. "Oh we missed one." She concludes. "Not exactly. This one is for you." Chandler says while handing the box to her. "One whole year as a mother. The best mother ever." Monica's mouth drops open and everyone else's conversation halts. "Oh my god!" Monica says, taking the box off him. She opens it and sees two charms, a J and an E - for Jack and Erica. "Oh Chandler!" Monica says, she leans into Chandler and gives him a tender kiss. The moment is broken by Rachel slapping Ross, "hey I never got a present on Emma's first birthday!" Rachel exclaims. Ross frowns and turns to Chandler, "thanks for making me look bad dude!" Chandler shrugs, wraps arm around Monica and kisses her on her head.

[-]

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Jack and Erica, Happy Birthday to you!" Everyone sings as Chandler holds Jack over his blue cake, Monica holding Erica over her pink cake. They both lean forward, children in arms, and blow out the single candle on each cake. Cameras flashing around them plus Joey on the camcorder. Chandler and Monica grin and join together in a hug, a family hug with their 1 year old twins sandwiched in between them. Chandler plants a kiss on Monica's head. "I love you." He whispers, he then pulls away and lifts Jack onto his shoulders, holding his son's legs to support him. "Let's cut the cake Mommy," Chandler says excitedly, bouncing from foot to foot, making Jack laugh. Monica repositions Erica so she is balanced on her right side, arm secured around her daughter's body. "Our boys are so impatient." Monica says to Erica, she turns to Chandler, "yes Daddy we'll cut the cake now." Chandler lets out a delighted "yay!" Which makes Erica laugh. The sight of her children laughing at Chandler's actions is indescribable. Her eyes fill up with tears and Chandler notices, he stops bouncing. "Hey what's wrong?" He asks concerned. Monica waves her free arm, "oh nothing, these are happy tears." Chandler's grins and starts to bounce around again, Jack resuming his giggles.

Joey stops the camcorder, a smile on his face, he's glad he caught that on camera. It was so sweet and his best friends look so happy.

[-]

It's 10pm and all the children are asleep. Jack, Judy and Nora left a while ago, the 7 of them; Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe and Mike, were squished in the sofas. They have all had a few drinks and the current topic of conversation is relationships. "You know Chandler and I have been together seven years!" Monica says, leaning into Chandler. "And we've just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary." Chandler adds. Phoebe snorts, "what?" Monica asks. "It's not about how long a couple has been together - it's the connection." Phoebe declares. "I agree with Pheebs." Rachel chips in, "look at Ross and me, we have had a connection for years!" Now both Phoebe and Monica snort. "What does that mean?" Ross says. "We're lobsters!" He adds, his speech slurring slightly. Phoebe nods, "you and Rachel are lobsters, but Mike and I are more than lobsters, we're eternity soul-mates." Mike looks at Phoebe. "We are?" Pause, "what are eternity soul-mates?" Mike asks. Phoebe smiles and pats Mike on his head, "sweetie we've been together in our past lives, and will be in our future lives. Our love and connection will continue forever." Monica and Rachel return Phoebe's snort. "Whatever Phoebe, just accept that Chandler and I have the stronger relationship because we've been together the longest." Monica says haughtily, alcohol loosening her tongue. "Then technically Rachel and I are the strongest couple as our relationship has spanned nearly ten years so far." Ross responds. "Ah ha!" Rachel says, agreeing with Ross. "Not continuously." Chandler says, "and you're not seriously suggesting that cheating, breaking up, marrying another woman, then getting married drunk, divorced and a having kid before getting back together is the model for a strong relationship?" Chandler retorts, surprised he managed to get that all out in one go. "We were on…" Ross starts but Rachel cuts him off, "don't you dare finish that sentence!" She says sharply. "Guys, guys!" Joey cuts in. "Let's not fight." Joey smiles at all of them, they all relax but before a new conversation could start Joey speaks again. "There's a better way to solve this debate. A head-to-head with each couple, five questions each." Joey then stands up, "and I will be your game-host for this evening." There is silence for a moment as the other six digest Joey's suggestion. Ross speaks first, "that's stupid Joey, how is that going to prove anything?" Monica coughs in the background, the word 'chicken' is noticed by Ross. "Got something to say Monica?" Monica shakes her head, "It's okay that you don't want to play Ross. Losing will just make you feel bad." She says, the sarcasm obvious in her voice. Ross narrows his eyes at Monica and then turns to Joey. "Count us in Joey." Ross says. "Cool! We're in!" Phoebe adds, "what does the winning couple get?" She asks. "Glory!" Monica and Ross say at the same time.

[-]

The three couples are sitting at the table, facing their spouse - girls on one side and the boys on the other. Joey is standing at the end of the table, in between them.

"Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the Hottest Couple, I'm your host - Joey Tribbiani."

"The hottest couple? We want to find out who is the strongest couple." Chandler says.

"It's my show, I'm the host." Joey snaps at Chandler.

"Okay so here are the rules," Joey continues in his game-host voice. "Five questions about your spouse. One point for each correct answer. Five points in total…"

"Ten," Monica corrects Joey. "What?" Joey says. "Five questions each so ten points overall for each couple." Monica explains. Joey thinks for a few seconds, and then it sinks in. "Oh yeah!" He clears his throat.

"So five questions each, that's ten points available for each couple. For each question you write down your answer and then pass it to me. Understood?" They all nod. Joey turns away suddenly; he walks into the hall and pick up two boxes; one pink, one blue - both full of toys. He walks back over to the table and puts then right in the middle of the table - pretty much dividing the table in two. "There will be no peaking when writing your answers." Joey says, explaining his actions. They all, except Phoebe and Mike, suddenly find the table fascinating to look at.

"Okay question 1 - what is your most sensitive body part? You have 1 minute to write down your answer." Joey sets Monica's cooking timer to 1 minute.

"Joey! You can't be serious?" Ross complains. Joey looks at the timer, "50 seconds remaining Ross." Ross curses and returns his concentration to the question. They all write down their answer. The timer buzzes.

"Okay times up, pens down. Fold your answer and I'm going to start with Ross and Rachel. Ladies first so Rachel pass me your answer." She passes her answer to Joey. He takes a look and his eyebrows rise, Joey turns to Ross.

"Ross, what is Rachel's most sensitive body part?" Joey asks whilst grinning.

Ross answers instantly; "her toes." Rachel goes red with embarrassment.

"Correct! 1 point to team Geller." Joey says. Ross and Rachel grin as Joey picks up the small toy blackboard and marks a 1 under R&R.

"Ross your turn." Ross hands over his answer. Joey turns to Rachel. "Rachel, what is Ross's most sensitive body part?"

Rachel thinks for a second, "I can think of two…" Rachel tries to make eye contact with Ross but Joey notices. "No eye contact. I need your answer now Rachel."

Rachel blurts out her answer; "his penis!"

"Rachel that's wrong!" Ross says jumping up while Joey reads Ross's answer.

"The correct answer is his earlobes." Ross sits down sulking. "How did you not know that?" He moans. "That was my other answer!" Rachel snaps.

The game continues;

Monica; "Chandler's thighs."

"Correct."

Chandler; "Monica's nipples."

"Correct."

Ross turns slightly green at Chandler's answer.

Phoebe; "Mike's neck."

"Correct."

Mike; "Phoebe's hips."

"Correct. And so at the end of question 1 teams Bing and Hannigan are in the lead with 2 points each and team Geller trailing with 1 point." Joey says. Both Ross and Rachel scowl at each other while Chandler high fives Monica. Phoebe blows Mike a kiss from her side of the table which he pretends to catch.

"Question 2," Joey starts. "What is your favourite sexual position?"

Ross; "on top."

"Correct."

Rachel; "Me on top."

"Correct."

Ross and Rachel's smiles return when their answers match.

Chandler; "Doggy style."

Ross had stuck his fingers in his ears before Chandler answered.

"Correct."

Monica; "up against a wall or door."

"Correct."

Phoebe; "Missionary."

"Correct, but kinda boring dude." Joey comments to Mike. "Mike, your turn."

Mike; "errr… I'm really not sure. We've tried many, many positions." He pauses.

"Mike I have to push you for an answer."

"Phoebe on top!" Mike answers.

"Noooo!" Phoebe exclaims.

"That is incorrect Mike…" Joey is cut off by Phoebe, "Mike how can you not know that the crouching tiger is my favourite position!? We did it yesterday!" Phoebe complains.

"But that's what I meant! You on top, I just didn't know the right name. Joey I was thinking what Phoebe said, we deserve the point."

"I'm sorry Mike, as I'm intimately familiar with both girl-on-top and the crouching tiger positions I am judging that they are different. No point."

Now it's Phoebe and Mike's turn to sulk.

"So at the end of question 2 team Bing is in the lead with 4 points and teams Hannigan and Geller behind with 3 points each." Joey says.

[-]

Half an hour later it was tied between team Bing and team Hannigan with 9 points apiece. Chandler had gotten question 4 wrong and Monica had promised him retribution if they lose due to his stupid mistake. Team Geller was well out of the game with a total of 7 points; Ross was sulking until Rachel threatened him with a week of sleeping on the sofa.

"So to decide the winner I have a tie-breaker question; this question you can answer together." Chandler swaps seats with Phoebe.

"What is your current record for sex in one night?" Both couples whisper and write down a number. They then pass their answers to Joey.

"We so got this!" Mike says smugly, "yeah," agrees Phoebe, "I mean it's Chandler!" She adds.

"Hey!" Monica says while Chandler rolls his eyes, not rising to Phoebe's comment.

Joey looks at both answers, "whoa! Those are both high numbers!" Phoebe and Mike's confidence dips at Joey's reaction.

"So the winner of the tie-breaker, and officially the hottest couple is…" Both couples lean forward, eager to hear the result.

"Chandler and Monica!"

Chandler and Monica jump up, high five and hug. Monica spins around to the other couples. "I told you we were the best couple!" She triumphs.

"How could you two beat our record of 9 times in one night!?" Phoebe demands.

"Ten times baby! The night we got engaged!" Chandler answers, bouncing happily.

"I think tonight will give me nightmares for weeks, I know far too much information." Ross groans with his face in his hands.

"Anyway guys, we are going to bed - it's been great!" Chandler says hastily as he drags Monica towards the stairs. "Chandler?" Monica asks confused, "we need to celebrate our victory," Chandler says in her ear and Monica grins. She turns to the others, "Ross, Rachel, guest room is ready for you. Joey so is your room. Good night!"

Joey grins at the retreating couple, he's glad they won. He would never say it out loud but he thinks Chandler and Monica are the strongest couple of their group. And he knows their strength will continue to grow over time. He was awed watching them today, especially Chandler. He's taken to fatherhood so naturally. Definitely a lifetime away from when they left Ben on a bus!

[-]

Monica sighs contently as her husband showers her in attention. What a great end to a great day; Jack and Erica are now one year old, their friends and family celebrated this special day with them; and then they had a fun evening chatting and hanging out, like old times. Winning the game was the icing on the cake - a day which will be remembered forever. Her train of thoughts is stopped abruptly as Chandler pulls her into a passionate kiss, "I'm going to make love to you now Mrs. Bing." He whispers. She looks deep into his eyes, "I love you Chan." He smiles and then proceeds to make love to her. Two words linger on Monica's mind.

Total perfection.

AN: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please review! Don't forget to check out my other fics set in the Chandler and Monica - Their Story universe. See my profile for details.