May 1997- December1997
Phoebe's mind was whirling. So much was happening and she wasn't sure what emotion she should be feeling. Her mother was not her real mother? Lily, the woman she had called mom. The woman who had taken her own life when Phoebe was just fourteen. That woman was not her actual mother. Her actual mother was a woman who lived in Montague. She lived in a beach house and shared her name This was too much for her. Too much for her to think about and what was worse was that neither her grandmother nor Ursula had ever mentioned anything.
"Why didn't you tell me this?" Phoebe asked soon after she returned home from the beach with the rest of the group. The minute she walked in the door, she confronted her grandmother.
"No, you knew who Ursula and I's real mom was. You knew it wasn't your daughter. Why wasn't I told?"
"I thought I was protecting you," Frances said.
"From getting hurt...we thought we were protecting you."
"You knew all this...I could have grown up in a family."
"No...no, not with Phoebe Senior. As soon as she had you and Ursula, she left."
"So did you. I just...I spent ten years on the street. I just reconnected with my step brother. This isn't fair. I should have known these things."
"No...I'm...no," Phoebe shook her head. She didn't want to hear excuses. She wanted answers. Why didn't she get any of this information? Why did Ursula get it? When she had tried to talk to Ursula about it, Ursula blew her off and it ended up causing another fight.
She had to get out of the apartment. The more she stayed, the angrier she got. So she left. She wanted to go to Central Perk, perhaps check in to see what had happened with Ross and Rachel or maybe Chandler. She still could not believe that he had actually peed on Monica. But she had plans first, she had promised her old friends, SueEllen and Marjorie that they would meet for lunch along with Bonnie and her roommate, MaryEllen. Phoebe had so much to tell them and had to check in with Bonnie after her break up with Ross. She walked into one of the many Port Authority restaurants and ordered drinks and food.
"I can't believe you would set me up with a guy who is clearly in love with his ex-girlfriend," Bonnie mused as she took a sip of her martini.
"I'm so sorry...I thought it was over between them. I know, it's just..."
"You know, from what you've told me, they have such an unhealthy relationship," Marjorie said.
"Wait, wait...Ross and Rachel, didn't you call them, 'the lobsters'. You called them lobsters," SueEllen said.
"I did, I did," Phoebe said.
"You set me up with another woman's lobster?" Bonnie asked.
"Yes," Phoebe said.
"Bitch," Bonnie said.
"I know...but I'm-" Phoebe tried.
"You know, I should have known Rachel still liked him. She was the one that wanted me to shave my head again. She handed me the razor and made sure I didn't miss any spots," Bonnie said.
"Of course she did. I thought Rachel was over him. Well, you know what, you could do so much better than Ross. He gets very jealous and whiny...he's obsessed with Rachel," Phoebe said.
"You know who I want to be set up with?" MaryEllen asked.
"Who?" Phoebe asked.
"Your actor friend," MaryEllen said.
"Joey?" Phoebe asked.
"So hot," MaryEllen said.
"Maybe...actually, you two would go well together. He also likes meaningless, casual sex," Phoebe said.
"Oh, he's my lobster," MaryEllen joked.
"Guys...why is my family so fucked up? I mean, my father runs out on everyone. My grandmother lied about who my father was. I apparently now have a step brother and my sister is a raging bitch and now, now...I find out my biological mother isn't the one that killed herself. I am in hell...and Ursula still thinks I ran away to play the victim."
"You know what? No. No, we did what we needed to do to survive. We chose to live on the street because we were afraid of what would happen otherwise. You didn't know you had other family out there and this should not have been secret," Marjorie argued.
"I agree...I wonder how different my life would have been had I known. I would never have met Duncan," Phoebe said.
"Or me," SueEllen said.
"Or me...and you wouldn't have run into that Chandler guy and he would never have paid for your education," Marjorie said.
"Very true," Phoebe said. "Although, by the way...Chandler is a drug addict."
"What?" MaryAlice asked.
"The funny guy?" Bonnie asked.
"Yep...although, he seems to have recovered. But oh yeah, around the time Ross and Rachel broke up, serious drug habit," Phoebe said.
"What did he use?" MaryAlice asked.
"Pills," Phoebe said.
"I never would have suspected that, although he totally has a hard on for that Monica chick. I walked downstairs to get something to drink and they were playing a game. Chandler kept knocking on the door and Monica was opening it and he asked her out in like silly voices and she kept slamming the door in his face. It was kinda cute. I think they'd make a sweet couple. Much better than Ross and Rachel, but whatever," Bonnie said.
Phoebe let out a little laugh as she imagined the scene Bonnie was describing. It was sweet although it did irritate her with how long Monica and Chandler getting together was taking.
"They are sweet. He loves her so much. He peed on her, by the way," Phoebe grinned which resulted in her friends staring at her, mouths wide open.
"When?" MaryAlice asked.
"Did they have sex?" Bonnie asked.
"No, it happened at the beach house. Apparently, Monica got stung by a jelly fish and Chandler to help her relieve the pain...peed on her."
The group started laughing at that image, as did Phoebe. She was thankful for the break from dealing with her crazy family.
"Oh my G-d," Marjorie said.
"I've heard that's a myth," Bonnie said.
"I don't know but he peed on her. Ewwww," Phoebe said.
"Could you like imagine their wedding vows if they ever got married? I promise to love you and protect you from harm and if you are ever in pain, I promise to pee on you," SueEllen said.
"That's gonna be my song. I have another lyric. 'I told you that you would eventually get together despite Chandler peeing on you in hot beach weather,'" Phoebe said.
"Grammy," Marjorie laughed.
The girls continued drinking and laughing. Phoebe was grateful for the break although she still was not in the mood to go home quite yet so after her lunch, she headed over to Central Perk to hang out with her other group of friends and saw Joey and Chandler sitting on the couch.
"Hey, boys," Phoebe said, plopping down in the big chair.
"Where have you been?" Chandler asked.
"With my other friends. I had to check in with Bonnie. I owe Bonnie a guy," Phoebe said.
"I'll date her. I love her. I want her," Joey said with all the enthusiasm of a happy puppy which made Phoebe laugh.
"Calm down there, Sparky. Although, Ross is single again," Chandler said.
"What?" Phoebe asked.
"They broke up again last night," Chandler said.
"Seriously?" Phoebe asked. "G-d, they are so dramatic. Okay, can I ask you two something and we can't tell the others?"
Joey and Chandler exchanged looks and shrugged. They looked back at Phoebe and nodded.
"I know I thought Ross and Rachel were soulmates...lobsters...but are they? I mean, their fights are so brutal and you know one of my friends was saying their relationship wasn't healthy. Is it?"
"I don't know. Maybe they just need to grow into having a healthy relationship. They belong together. They're Ross and Rachel," Joey said.
"I guess. How are things with Monica?" Phoebe asked..
"She informed me that I am definitely not boyfriend material or at least not her boyfriend material," Chandler said.
"Ouch. Because you peed on her?" Phoebe asked.
"No. Well, before I peed on her, she basically said she wouldn't date me if I were the last guy on Earth and now...because I peed on her, she definitely won't," Chandler said.
"Oh, G-d...I'm sorry," Phoebe said.
"Yep. I am definitely going to die alone," Chandler said.
"I'm gonna punch you in the head. Stop being so negative," Phoebe said.
"So how are you doing, Pheebs?" Joey asked.
"I don't know. I have to talk to Phoebe Senior. Why wasn't I told any of this? Ten years, you guys. Ten years of living on the streets and curled up in boxes and...you know, I never did anything typical. Although, Chandler, now you see why I'm so grateful you paid for that movie back then?"
"I am...and I'm glad I could help you when I could," Chandler said, giving her a knowing smile.
"Me too. So I was a worthwhile investment," Phoebe grinned back before realizing what she had just said. Chandler's eyes widened as Phoebe covered her mouth with her hand.
"What?" Joey asked.
"Sorry," Phoebe said.
"Have you kept this a secret from anyone?" Chandler asked.
"Yes...but well, Joey's like your brother. I figured you would have told him," Phoebe tried.
"What's going on?" Joey asked.
Chandler let out a sigh, "I'm a trust fund kid. I ran into Phoebe on a subway years ago and she told me her story and I used my trust to pay for her education."
"Really?" Joey asked.
"Yes...but I'm keeping it secret because I don't want the world knowing," Chandler said.
"I do. It was an amazing thing you did. What you did...just wonderful," Phoebe said.
"Hey, is that how you're paying for all my acting stuff. Like the head shots, acting classes, dialect coaches?" Joey asked.
"Huh?" Phoebe asked.
"Well, okay, I can't really afford rent...ever-" Joey said.
"That's not true, this month...you contributed ten bucks," Chandler said, patting Joey on the chest.
"Yeah, but...you pay rent, utilities, groceries...and my career. How are you doing that?" Joey asked.
"I make good money and I do a fantastic job at saving, something you two need to learn how to do," Chandler said.
"Wait a minute...are you using your trust to pay for Joey's career?" Phoebe asked.
"Well...alright...yes. I can't use it for rent, utilities and groceries...so Joe, anytime you want to help out with that and contribute more than ten bucks... that would awesome. I won't argue that. But basically it's there to invest in people or things that will help someone's life be better...like an education or if I believe in someone's career...or if I want to ever get a house, you know to start a family, which will never happen. But I can use it for that and just like Phoebe...I also believe that Joey, you will be successful one day so...there you go. But please, both of you...do not talk about it."
Joey and Phoebe both exchanged looks and stared back at Chandler who was looking uncomfortable.
"Dude, you're awesome. This is why you're not my best friend, you're family," Joey said.
"Thanks, man," Chandler smiled.
"And Monica will one day see how amazing you are and you will no longer be the guy who peed on her," Phoebe said.
"You know, maybe I should take my trust fund money and use it to kill all the jelly fish."
"No, they have benefits...scientists have found they are helpful in curing diseases," Phoebe said.
"I want them all dead," Chandler said, matter-of-factly which made both Phoebe and Joey laughed as Chandler took a sip from his coffee. "Hey...I have an idea."
"What?" Phoebe asked.
"Let's go back," Chandler said.
"To the movie theater?" Phoebe asked.
"No...to where you got that purple guitar? To where I got my plane that I flew into Kip's head," Chandler said, grinning and clearly wanting to her to guess. Phoebe smiled.
"Oh wow...yes, let's go. Joey would love that place," Phoebe said.
"Where?" Joey asked.
"FAO Schwartz?" Chandler asked.
"Oh, yeah...I had sex with a sexy elf behind the Christmas display one year," Joey said.
"Of course," Chandler said.
"Let's go,"Phoebe stood up as did the other two as they walked out, got a cab and headed to FAO Schwartz. Phoebe had not been there in so long and it was thrilling for her to walk in and play again but this time with both Chandler and Joey. The love she had for those two boys was beyond anything she could comprehend. She felt protected with them.
It took her four months before she could finally speak with Phoebe Senior again. Her biological mother had walked into the coffee house while she was singing and wanted to talk with her. Phoebe wasn't quite sure about doing that. After coming back from the beach, her biological mother had tried getting in contact with her but Phoebe blew her off. She had eventually forgiven her grandmother because after all her grandmother was old and letting Phoebe live with her rent free. Phoebe still did not speak with Ursula upset by being kept in the dark about everything.
It was an awkward dinner between biological mother and daughter. Phoebe had decided on the restaurant. She took Phoebe Senior to Port Authority and they sat at the restaurant her friend SueEllen used to work at. Phoebe chose that on purpose. She wanted Phoebe Senior to see how her biological child had lived.
"You lived here?"
"Yeah and before that I lived in a junkyard."
"No...why didn't anyone tell me? Why didn't anyone come and look for me? Or come to the funeral. Ursula and I planned the entire funeral."
"Phoebe, your mom never said anything. Lily kept everything hidden so tightly and if you made her mad, she would cut you out of her life."
That made Phoebe a little uncomfortable. She knew that quality well as it was something she knew she did. It scared her that she had inherited that quality from Lily, a woman whom up until a few months earlier, she had thought was her mom. When people pissed her off, she cut them out of her life. Leslie, Duncan...she no longer spoke to them. They had hurt her too much. Although, she did find it interesting that Monica and Chandler had also pissed her off a lot. Monica, when Phoebe had first moved in and Chandler most recently, with his battle with drugs but she was unable to cut them out completely. In fact, she did everything in her power to keep them in her life. Whether it was moving out or yelling at Chandler. So maybe she wasn't as like Lily as she thought.
"You still could have found me."
"I didn't know she died, Phoebe. Not until months later."
"I wish Ursula had told me this. She knew, right?"
"I guess...but you survived. How did you-"
"I had to. I mean, yes, I had help. Chandler had unbeknownst to me at the time paid for my education. But it was anonymous. He had no way of knowing whether or not I'd stay in school. He was so amazing and wonderful and I worked hard. I worked so hard to survive but...I get jealous sometimes. I do...because the friends I have now, well one of the groups of friends I have now, they all got to have childhoods. Sure, they all had crap but they all had place to go to sleep every night, they never went to bed hungry or cold or...they had someone who loved them. Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, sure they had some crap happen to them...but there was never any doubt in their minds that would live to see the next day or the next birthday. I had to...I wanted a life. I wanted a prom and I don't know, maybe I did play the victim by running away but I don't think I did because I was never told anything and I've cut people out of my life too that have pissed me off...but the ones that I love. The ones that are like family to me..I will never cut them out no matter how much they piss me off."
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...I would love, if you would let me...to know you. I'm not asking to get to know Ursula, but I would like to know you. If you'd let me."
Phoebe took a deep breath. Her mind kept saying no, but heart was a whole different matter. She craved family. She wanted it so badly. Her step dad was still in prison, Ursula wasn't part of her life. Her grandmother was getting older and she barely saw her step brother. This woman did have her name and did seem nice enough. Maybe she was worth knowing. It was a start and so for the next several hours, the two sat, talking, sharing memories and at the end of the night, a relationship that resembled the closest thing to a mother daughter relationship that Phoebe had ever known was born.
Of course, just as things got better family wise, drama began again in her group of friends. Phoebe had known Chandler was crushing on Joey's new girlfriend, Kathy. She knew he could not stop thinking about her but when he admitted to making out with Kathy a week before Thanksgiving, Phoebe's anger bubbled again. She could not believe his stupidity, could not believe how careless he was. They had just help him off drugs. He had been sober for nine months and Joey, of course, being the roommate had ended up being in the position to help Chandler the most with the withdrawals. Phoebe knew Joey had stayed up all night before auditions just to make sure Chandler was comfortable while Chandler spent nights shaking and throwing up. Joey had gone above and beyond and now Chandler had paid him back by kissing his girlfriend. Chandler had tried to make it up to Joey by buying an expensive new entertainment center and new furniture to replace all the stuff that had been stolen from them a few months back but that just made Joey angrier and Phoebe witnessing this, found herself wanting to kill Chandler. She didn't get it. She didn't understand how anyone could be so self destructive.
It was now Thanksgiving and it was filled figurative and literal ice. The figurative ice between Chandler and Joey had not cooled and neither had the literal ice that had lodged itself in Monica's eye prompting an emergency run to the eye doctor with Rachel leaving Phoebe and Chandler alone. Normally, this would have been fine but Phoebe was furious with Chandler, something he could read immediately.
"Are you pissed at me too?" Chandler asked as the two sat side by side watching the parade.
"You are so self destructive. I mean, what is the point, Chandler? Do you not want us to be your friends?"
"No. No, of course not...I made a mistake."
"Which okay yes...but Joey probably helped you with withdrawals more than anyone and you were sober? When you kissed Kathy...right?"
"Yeah. Sober nine months."
"Which makes it worse. A million times worse. You did that sober. You knew what you were doing. He's your best friend and you screwed him over. Why are pushing everyone away? I mean, you peed on Monica which made her not like-"
"Wait, wait...what? Was I supposed to let her be in pain?"
"You weren't supposed to pee on her. You almost got Rachel fired by ending up handcuffed in her boss' office-"
"That wasn't my fault."
"Now this...if you don't watch out, you'll end up alone. You are so self destructive. Stop."
"I'm gonna go find Joey," Chandler said, getting up and walking out. Phoebe let out a sigh as she continued to watch television. She didn't get him. She knew Chandler had had a rough life, as did she although some might argue hers was rougher but when she did have friends, when she did find family, she always held on to them or at least tried. When she found happiness, she would enjoy it. Chandler seemed scared of happiness. He seemed so much more comfortable in people being upset with him and Phoebe didn't get it and it was first time in all the years she knew Chandler where she actually founding herself liking him less.
Chandler and Joey did make up after Chandler had spent all of Thanksgiving in a box to prove how much Joey meant to him. This thrilled not just Phoebe but everyone in the group. Joey and Chandler had what could only be considered a true bromance. It was a friendship so close, so tight that when there was tension it threw everyone for a loop. Sure, Ross and Rachel could fight, Monica and Rachel or Ross and Phoebe...but Chandler and Joey could not fight. It went against everything.
That New Year's Eve, instead of going out, the six friends sat together. It felt strange to Phoebe. She had not gone out all night in years but now they were all 27, 28 and 29 years old. Next year, Joey and Phoebe would be the first to turn thirty, followed by Chandler and Ross a year later and the year after that, Monica and Rachel. Rachel would be the last to turn that big 3-0. It felt very odd indeed. Instead of getting trashed and stumbling to Times Square, Monica had made a fancy meal and the six popped open bottles of champagne and they talked about what 1998 could possibly bring. Through this discussion, Chandler said he needed to make a toast. He stood, holding his glass up and all eyes were on him.
"I wanna say something. To all of you...ten months ago, I was in a very dark place. I was not doing well, you guys know that. It was pretty horrible...I was way too thin and I was taking way too many pills...and you guys were incredible. I mean, I know you kept trying to break through to me and I...I know it was rough for you guys and I am so sorry that I put any of you through any pain. Most of all... Joey, you were an amazing friend. I can't-I can't apologize enough for what I did-"
"It's okay, man," Joey said.
"It's really not."
"Where is Kathy, by the way?" Ross asked.
"She's spending the holidays with her family. We're gonna do New Years when she comes back. But Joe...you stayed up with me and took care of me. Thank you. , I'm sorry about what happened with Joanna-"
"Why didn't you pick up the chair?" Rachel asked.
"The chair in Joanna's office moves...I was thinking about that...why didn't you pick up the chair, walk to the door and get the key," Rachel said.
"Too much work...but I am sorry. I am...I screwed up a lot these past ten months. Thank you for sticking with me and Phoebe, to answer your question, I don't know why I'm so self destructive or have no self confidence...but I'm absolutely thrilled to be ringing in New Year with five people that mean the world to me and I hope I never lose you guys," Chandler said.
"Chandler, you can't lose us," Monica said, gently touching his hand.
"Good...'cause you guys will never be able to get rid of me," Chandler said.
"Good...our life would be too boring without you," Rachel said.
"Here, here," Phoebe said as she raised her glass. The six clinked their glasses together and drank. Phoebe smiled as she noticed Monica lean over and plant a kiss on Chandler's cheek as Chandler grinned wildly.
"1998...1998 will be the year," Rachel whispered to Phoebe.
"You think? What about Kathy?" Phoebe asked, whispering back, looking back at Chandler and Monica. Chandler reached over to Monica's salad bowl and grabbed a cherry tomato. Monica's mouth dropped as she playfully poked him with her fork. He popped the tomato into his mouth.
"It'll never work. She's not even here on New Years. Please, next year will be the year they finally get it together and we can work on out song."
"I hope so. I just wish they'd get it together faster."
"I know. Where the hell is a crystal duck when you need one," Rachel muttered which caused Phoebe to laugh.
"What are you two talking about?" Monica asked.
"Nothing," Phoebe said.
"Crystal ducks," Rachel said, her face dead panned. Phoebe let out a snort as Chandler's eyes widened. "I love crystal ducks. Monica, do you like crystal ducks? I think Chandler should get you a crystal duck."
Chandler glared at Rachel and reached for another cherry tomato from Monica's salad and chucked it at Rachel's head. Rachel started laughing as Ross looked confused.
"What?" Ross asked.
"Guys, look, the countdown," Joey said.
The group got up and walked over to the television. They sat close as the countdown to 1998 continued wish would usher in a whole new series of adventures as they would all soon be saying goodbye to their twenties and hello to their thirties.