A/N: Alright...I'll warn you right now, this chapter is a long one! BUT! That's because, it is the final, conclusion to this story. And I hope it doesn't suck! I'm always a little self-conscious when it comes to writing endings, but, I did my best, and I hope you all like it! Thank you all, once again for reading this story! :D
The building Miss Tabitha's business card took Phoebe and Joey too was anything but a typical 'office-building'. For one thing, it was in a dark, strange part of the city, which Phoebe seemed to know her way around pretty well.
Joey follows her down the side-walk. The streets are filled with spilled garbage cans, infested with rats or stray cats. Sketchy-looking homeless people hudled together, shooting them dirty looks as they walk past. Joey steps behind his 'male' companion, nervously.
"Joey, would you relax?" Phoebe says, grabbing him by the wrist.
"Pheebs, this is a bad part of town, and I'm a woman now. I got a lot more to protect than my wallet, y'know? Doesn't help at all that you're hot."
"Never stopped me from living here." She remarks. "Besides, you have nothing to worry about. You're with me, and these people are harmless. Trust me their not at all as scary as they look. They just don't like you because you're rich, y'know. But thanks for calling me hot." She grins, before excitedly waving to an old man, sitting on a pile of cardboard in the street.
"Ooh! Hi Gary! It's Phoebe! Remember me?" she seems confused by the silent, puzzled expression she gets from the man, in response, before she realizes that he can't recognize her, in Joey's body.
Finally, they stop at what Joey pressumes is the right address. He looks up at the dingy, 3 story building. Apparently a community building where many assorted offices are shared by many people. Joey looks up at the questionable building.
"This don't look like any stock-brokers offices I've ever seen. You sure this is the right place, Pheebs?"
Phoebe gives him a doubtful expression. "Joey, how many stock-broker's offices have you seen? Do you even know what one is?"
He gives a shrug. "A peron who breaks stalks? I dunno. Ya hear a word, ya see a thing..."
She rolls her eyes. Glances down at the address on the business card again, as she approaches the front of the building, and checks the list of names. "Tabitha Price. Room 039...Ooh, that must be downstairs! Come on."
She ushers a reluctant Joey around the side of the building, and down a dark staircase. He's beginning to regret coming here at all. This is clearly not what he was expecting to find here. For all he knew, this crazy woman could be plotting to murder them, both, and do God only knows what, with their remains. Some kind of strange human sacrifice ritual, he would presume...
His vivid imaginary scenario is interrupted, suddenly. He flinches at the sound of Phoebe knocking on the door.
"Welp, she's not here...let's head back." He says, and turns around, not waiting around to find out if his fears were true. Phoebe grasps his shoulder to stop him.
"Joey, how am I supposed to get back into my body if you leave with it?" she knocks again. "Miss Tabitha? It's Phoebe!" she calls. No answer. She tries the door handle, and finds it unlocked. "C'mon.." she coaxes Joey to follow her inside.
He maintains a safe distance behind hers he steps inside the incense-scented room. This place had 'Phoebe's Weird Friends' written all over it. There were all kinds of odd decor filling the room: African masks on the walls. Candles. Empty bird cages. And oddly enough, a stuffed raven, perched on a twisted branch along the ledge of the wall. Phoebe, completely unphased by it all, lets the door fall shut behind them, and takes a further step inside.
"Miss Tabitha?" she calls out.
"This place gives me the creeps..." Joey mutters. He bends down to take a closer look at the dead stuffed animal. As he reaches his hand out to touch it, it suddenly turns it's head and sqwaks, loudly.
"AAAAAHH!" Joey gives a high-pitch, startled wail and shrinks back. He quickly throws his arms around his former body. "I'm scared, I wanna go home!" he cries, burying his head into 'Joey's' chest.
"Ah, I see you've met Edgar-Allan." He looks up at the sound of the Miss Tabitha's voice. "No need to be afraid. He was just saying hello."
The bird stretches towards her hand as she strokes the top of it's head.
He lets go of Phoebe, feeling foolish.
"I wasn't scared.."
"Sorry about that. Joey isn't used to birds that aren't poultry." Phoebe explains.
"No harm done." Miss Tabitha says. "Now, I assume you'd both like to get down to business, about this soul-switching mix-up."
"Yes, that would be nice." Joey states. "And I gotta tell you lady, this is the weirdest stalk-broker's office I've ever seen. I don't see any stalks anywhere.."
"Yeah.." Phoebe agrees. "Y'know, I have to agree with him that this business card is a little misleading. "
"Of course it is." Miss Tabitha tells them. "How else do you think I get clients to come here? Besides, it's a better job title than 'Voo Doo Psychic Witch Lady', wouldn't you say so?"
"Yes." Joey replies, at the same time that Phoebe replies "No."
"Now...right this way, you two. I think I know exactly what has gone wrong here. Did you bring the stones?"
"Yes." Phoebe replies, as they follow her into another room, that looks more like an actual office, despite the book shelf behind her desk contianing rows of small glass viles, of God knows what. Along with some disturbing-looking dolls, a crystal ball, and other odds and ends. Phoebe takes a seat in one of the two chairs across from the desk and places the red and blue stones on the desktop.
"We've tried about everything we could think of to get them to work again." she explains. "It's weird, y'know.. all we did in the first place was touch them and then it was like, Poof! I wake up, and I'm him!"
"Well. It wasn't simply a matter of touching the Soul Stones. But touching them at the right moment."
Joey and Phoebe exchange a puzzled glance, and look back at her.
"I suspect you must have touched them at the exact same moment."
"Yeah, but look.." Phoebe pauses to reach out and touch the blue stone, while Joey places his hand on the red one to prove their point. "See? Nothing is happening. But when we touched them that night...I dunno, there was like, this zap!"
Miss Tabitha nods, knowingly. "Almost like an OBE, was it?"
"OBE?" Joey repeats in confusion.
"Out of Body Experience." Phoebe explains. "That's when you're asleep, or you're meditating, and then all of a sudden, you look down, and.. it's like 'Oh, hey! There's my body!'. Ugh! It's annoying! Especially right before you have to go to work!" she gives an exasperated sigh, as though she's all too familiar with the experience.
"But, see..it wasn't like that, Miss Tabitha. I was in my boyfriends apartment..." she pauses, and angrily corrects herself. "I'm sorry...EX-boyfriend's apartment..by the way, can I talk to you afterwards? I may need to borrow one of your voo-doo dolls or something. Anyways...I just blacked out all of a sudden, and that was it."
"But your soul did leave your body, correct?" Miss Tabitha inquires. She picks up the red stone, examining it carefully. "Ah, yes. Exactly what I thought."
"What?" Joey asks, anxiously.
"This is not the right Soul Stone that I gave to you. Let me see here.." She opens her desk drawer, and rummages through it, taking out a few other stones. Joey tries not to flinch at the sight of a live mouse she places on the desk, from inside the drawer. "Aha. Here it is." Miss Tabitha opens her hand revealing another stone. Ruby-red in color. Near identical in shape and size, to the other one. And like the other two she gave Phoebe, it has an odd glow.
He and Phoebe lean closer to get a better look.
"What's the difference?" Joey asks.
"This," Miss Tabitha begins, pointing out the small marking carved on top of the stone. Joey notices, upon closer inspection, that it is a different marking from the original. "Is called the Love Stone. Very powerful. Especially in the presence of pure love. It can make all of your deepest desires manifest, when used with proper care. And even more-so, when used together with the blue Twin Flame Stone. This one.." she lifts the other red stone. "Is the New Life Stone. It's purpose is to create a new beginning in one's life. However, if paired with this stone, here...Well, I don't need to tell you of their power."
Joey's head was swimming. The only thing that she said that made sense to him was that this whole mix up, was her own fault. "Wait, so you're tellin' me..." he begins. "That this whole thing started because you gave her the wrong stupid rock!? You're a Voo-Doo Lady! How hard is your job, really?"
"Joey, enough." Phoebe warns. She turns to Miss Tabitha. "Ok, so how do we switch back?"
Miss Tabitha sighs, her fingers steepled on her desk. "Well...I'm afraid that may not be possible."
"What!?" They simultaneously cry out, in horror.
"How can that not be possible!? You got us out of our bodies, you better get us back into them, woman!" Joey shouts, his Italian-temper beginning to flare up.
"I mean, come on!" Phoebe agrees. Look at all these spell books you have! There has to be something...some way to change us back! There just has to be!"
"I am very sorry, my child. But the Soul Stones are very rare. They were imported to me from Egypt, where they're existence was hidden, for centuries. These may very be the only ones left. I'm very sorry. But once they are used, as is their power. They can only be used, one time."
Phoebe gives a nod. "Ah...Egypt. Aliens. It all makes sense now.." she muses, before she remembers how angry she is. "But that's not the point! The point is...I want my body back! I want my life back!"
"Yeah, me too!" Joey agrees. "Look, I've learned my lesson, alright! I'm not cut out to be a lady! You're telling me I'm stuck like this, forever, and there's nothing you can do? Nothing at all?"
"I am so sorry..." Miss Tabitha repeats, shaking her head sympathetically. "Perhaps in time, you will grow to love yourselves, for who you are, on the inside."
Joey gives a loud, sarcastic snort. "Yeah, right! Come on, Pheebs." He urges, as he stands up. "Coming here was a huge waste of time! I can't believe this..."
Miss Tabitha rises from her chair, as Phoebe starts to follow Joey out the door.
They both pause, hopefully.
"Take this." She holds out the other red stone, and places it into Phoebe's hand.
"Will it change us back?" Phoebe asks.
"..I can't say, for sure." Miss Tabitha replies. "But I feel that it will help you both, when the time is right."
Joey rolls his eyes. "Oh, Gee, thanks, lady. Another useless rock. Just what we need. What's this one gonna do, turn me into a squirrel? You know what you can do with your stupid rocks!?"
"Hey, hey!" Phoebe quickly interrupts her angry friend's rude remark. "Let's just go... come on. Bye, Miss Tabitha. Always a pleasure..." she mutters, while ushering Joey towards the door.
"So that's it?" Chandler says, staring from one friend to another, in disbelief. "You guys really are stuck like this, forever?"
Neither reply, as they slump down, sullenly on the orange sofa in Central Perk.
"Wow...bummer." Chandler comments, in lack of anything better to say. Yet the two words seem to sum it up, perfectly. "You know...for what it's worth...I kinda like you guys like this."
Both Phoebe and Joey give shoot him a tired, unimpressed glare.
"I mean, Pheebs...you've been a great roommate. You're like Joey, except much cleaner. And you don't eat all my food, or drink all my beer...you're never late on rent."
"Oh, shut up, would ya!?" Joey suddenly snaps. "You live with Monica, now, anyways!"
"Alright...I'm sorry." Chandler raises his hands, defensively, realizing his attempt to lighten the mood has, once again, made the situation worse. "Despite all that, you weren't that bad, Joe. I'm gonna miss all those fooseball games. And Baywatch nights. And building box-forts...Oh, God, I live with Monica now! I can't do any of that stuff with her!" he repeats as though it's suddenly dawned on him how different his entire life is going to be. "God, I'm going to miss you guys, so much!"
"Well, we're not dead, Chandler..." Phoebe mutters.
"I know..but it really isn't the same."
Joey shakes his head. "Tell me about it..."
Chandler sighs, as the three sit in silence, all mourning the lives they once knew, and trying to accept that things were going to be very different from here on out. Chandler looks up, from absentmindedly stirring his coffee cup.
"Uh-Oh...Rachel's coming." he says. "Do you want me to lie for you guys again, or...?"
"No.." Joey says. "We're gonna have to tell everyone the truth, now."
"I just don't think I'm ready for that..." Phoebe says, with a sigh. "Chandler, could you just do us a favor, and keep her distracted for a while? I really don't have it in me to pretend to be Joey right now, and I just need some time to think."
"Yeah, of course." Chandler agrees. He pastes on an excited grin as Rachel enters the cafe. "Rachel Green! Just the woman I've been looking for! Listen...I...need to buy some...shoes."
"Shoes?" Rachel repeats.
"Mhm. They're for Monica. Y'know...a bit of a surprise gift. Because that's a romantic thing to do for your woman, am I right?"
"Well...not really." Rachel admits. "But I can still help you pick something out, if you want. I'm not busy now."
"Great! So let's do that! Let's go pick out some shoes! That sounds like fun!" Chandler says, as he guides his friend, with an unintentional shove towards the door.
Once they are both gone, Phoebe releases a deep sigh. She allows herself to fall to the side, until her head lands comfortably on Joey's shoulder.
"I can't believe I'm stuck like being you, forever, Joseph...I mean, no offense, but...I miss being me. I LOVED me. I miss wearing long skirts. I miss having blonde hair. I miss my amazing singing voice..."
"Yeah.." Joey agrees, placing an arm around her shoulders. "I mean there's one thing I miss the most about being me. I think we both know what that is.."
Phoebe gives a small smile and shakes her head. "If it means that much to you, you can have it back. I mean, I have no use for it."
"Pheebs, please...I'm gonna have a hard enough time getting girls, now as it is. Not that you ain't a total hottie or nothing...and I mean, there are a lot of hot lesbians out there. It's just...I dunno. I just thought that maybe someday, I'd find the right girl for me, and settle down and all. My mother's always nagging her to give her grandchildren..despite the 9 she already has. It's just...I don't see that happening, now. I mean, who would wanna settle down with me, now? People are not gonna see me as me, anymore. They're gonna see me as you."
Phoebe contemplates a few seconds. "I would." she lifts her head and looks at him.
She her former mouth curve into a small smirk. "You'd wanna be with me?"
"Yeah, why not? I mean, let's face it. I'm probably the only guy you'd be comfortable being with. I am you, after all."
Joey nods, in agreement. "I am a handsome devil, what can I say?"
"Besides..you could look like me, or you could look like...Pamela Anderson. But you'll always be Joey Tribbiani to me. You're still the same guy I knew and loved."
Joey's smile broadens, as a spark of confidence appears on his face. "You know what? You're right. I'm still me, and you're still you. And I love you, for who you are on the inside."
"Awh.." Phoebe says modestly. "That's really..." she pauses. Something about what Joey just said sounds famliar. It was something Miss Tabitha said, earlier that day. "Oh my God...Oh my God, Joey, that's it!"
"What?" he asks.
"I think I...I have an idea." From Joey's coat pocket, Phoebe takes out the red stone. It's glow seems more luminous than she remembered. It feels warm. What was it Miss Tabitha said about it? She thinks back...'Very powerful. Especially in the presence of pure love.' her words replay in Phoebe's mind. 'Perhaps in time, you will grow to love yourselves, for who you are, on the inside...'
She looks from the stone in her hand, to Joey's face. Her face.
"Joey...close your eyes, ok?"
"Just do it!" Phoebe snaps, in the demanding manner that is typical of herself, when her friends question her logic. He quickly obeys.
"Now...I want you to try and imagine that you're you, and I'm me, alright?"
"Ok.." Joey agrees, his eyes still closed. She grabs his hands, unconvinced that he's doing it right.
"Really try, alright? Try to remember exactly what it felt like being in your own body. Got it?"
"Uh-huh." Joey replies.
In one of her hands, which is holding Joey's is the stone. She can feel it getting warmer. She can see the faint light seeping between their fingers, growing brighter. 'Come on..come on, please work...' she silently prays. She stares at it, waiting for something to happen. Her eyes return to Joey, who's eyes remain closed. She sees herself..really sees herself, for the first time, through someone else's eyes. It feels like she's seeing, and feeling what Joey feels, when he looks at her. Pure love.
Something must be working. She hasn't felt this kind of sensation before. She takes a deep breath and closes her own eyes, and visualizes that the person sitting across from her is in fact, Joey, and that she is herself. Just as she told him to do. After a few seconds, the strange sensation remains, but nothing major happens.
"Phoebe...I feel weird." Joey tells her. She can tell that whatever this is, he's experiencing it too."But...nothing's happening."
She keeps her eyes closed. "Just relax. Keep focusing. I have an idea...alright, this is going to seem weird, but...just go with it, ok?" Taking a deep breath, while still holding the image of Joey in her mind, Phoebe does the only thing she can think of that might speed up this process. She leans in towards him, until she feels her lips upon his. And oddly enough, if her memories of kissing Joey served her well, they did feel very much like his lips. As she pulls back, she opens her eyes, and to her amazement, she's looking at Joey. The real Joey.
'This can't be real. I'm dreaming.' is her first thought, as he too, slowly opens his eyes. She can tell by the expression on his face, that he too, sees Phoebe, instead of himself. She reaches out, grabbing the sides of his head, a little harder than she means to. "Oh my God..." she hears the sound of her own voice.
"Wait.." Joey said, his cheeks still squished between her hands. "Is this real? Did it really work!?" As she releases him, he stares down at his own hands. He stands up he touches his clothes, his jaw gaping open. He looks at her, his eyes wide.
"It did! I'm...I'm me! Pheebs, how did you do that!?"
"I don't know!" She shouts, with excitement, as she too gets up. "But it worked! It really worked!" She bounces on her feet, and Joey throws his arms around her with gratitude. He pulls her into a near bone-crushing hug, as though he's been in Phoebe's body so long, he's forgotten his own strength.
"Ok...ok! Joey!" She exhales. "You're crushing me!"
"Sorry.." he lets her go, still grinning from ear to ear. "You did it, Pheebs! I can't believe it! We're us again!" With his hands on either side of her face, he pulls towards him again. Still expressing his gratitude, he tries to plant a kiss on her lips.
"Woah, careful!" quickly turning her head away. "I mean..what if you accidentally change us, back, y'know?"
He looks down, at the Soul Stone, which has ended up in his hand, being that Phoebe was holding it, as him. The glow is gone. It's become dark red, cold, and lifeless. "She said they can only be used, once. Besides, there's only be one Phoebe Buffay. And I wouldn't trade you for anyone in the world."
Feeling flattered by his words, she allows him to kiss her, this time. She also kisses him back, realizing for the first time, how much she missed him, as well.
"Rachel...I think you and I need to go over the concept of 'a' pair of see, when I said, 'a', I did not mean 'sixty' pairs of shoes, I meant one...Woah! Heh-llo!" Chandler stops dead in his tracks, at the sight of his two friends making out. Several boxes of shoes fall from his arms and spill all over the floor of the cafe. He waits for them to stop kissing, as he and Rachel look on. They finally do break apart, when he clears his throat.
He waits for some sort of explanation. As far as Chandler knows, the two were still doomed to each other's bodies for all eternity.
"Oh...hey guys!" Joey says. "Man...I am starved! You know what I could go for? Anything, that's not made out of soy! Oh! How bout a bucket of chicken? Actually, better make it two, since I'm only eatin' the skin."
Phoebe rolls her eyes. "Ugh...that sounds repulsive."
Chandler's jaw plunges. It takes him a minute to form his question as he points from Joey to Phoebe. Putting on an act in front of Rachel was one thing, but he didn't think Phoebe's acting was good enough to legitimately crave meat. Or for Joey to turn it down.
"Wait a second...are you guys... did you..?"
Phoebe nods. "Mmhm."
"No way!" Chandler says, with excitement, before he remembers Rachel's presence. She's still standing next to him, a bag of shoe boxes in each hand, as she stares in confusion.
"Did they what, Chandler?" she glances from him, to them, and her eyes grow wider. "Oh my...they ARE sleeping together!? Why else would they be kissing like that!?"
"Rachel, don't be ridiculous." Joey remarks. He shrugs. "I...I always kiss Phoebe like that. Oh, by the way, Rach.." He pauses to flash his friend a flirtatious grin. "How you doin'?"
Chandler gasps, his hand flying up to his mouth. He grabs Joey by the shoulders. "It really IS you! Oh my God!" He gives him a hug, and then turns to Phoebe and does the same. "Pheebs! It's you! I've missed you!"
Rachel, who has become completely lost throws up her hands. "Alright...you know what? If you guys don't start acting normal, I'm going to need to find some new friends!"
"Don't worry, Rach." Phoebe says. "I can assure, everything is as normal as it can be. And I feel great! Joey, lets go get your damn dead bird carcases."
"Alright!" Joey exclaims, excited by the mention of food.
"We'll come with." Chandler tells them. "As soon as we find a forklift, to put all these shoes in Monica's closet." he starts picking up the boxes.
"Hey, I told you, this is what good boyfriends do!" Rachel insists.
"Maybe in your world!" Chandler argues, as he carries the boxes out the door.
Rachel turns back to the other two. "Guys, you coming?"
"Yeah.." Joey answers. He looks back, and notices Phoebe, lagging behind. She stands before the coffee table, looking horrified. He steps over to where she is.
"What is it, Pheebs?" he looks down. Chills shoot up his spine as he catches sight of what she's staring at. On top of the table, sit two small red and blue, glowing objects.
"Uh-huh.." Phoebe answers before his question is out.
"How did they get here?"
"I...I don't know. did you have them?"
"No." He answers. "I thought we left them with that voo doo lady..." He slowly reaches down. Phoebe makes a quick move to grab his arm.
"What are you doing!? Don't touch them!"
"Well..what should we do?"
Phoebe pauses a moment. "Just...just run. Go!" she cries, quickly ushering him towards the door.
"Ughh.." Monica groans, as she walks into Central Perk, tennis racket in hand. "Where IS everyone?" she asks her brother, as they take their usual seats. "Chandler's been spending a lot of time with Joey and Phoebe lately, and he won't tell me why! It's really annoying!"
"Oh.." Ross muses. "You know what else is 'really annoying?' When your sister dates your best friend, for months, in secret. And you have to find out, with your own eyes."
"Oh, would you get over that!? You're just mad that I beat you at tennis, again!"
"Hey, your ball nearly took my arm off, that is so unfair! You clearly don't understand the meaning of the word 'sportsmanship'!"
Monica mimics her brother in a silly voice. "Can I help it if you're just a big loser?"
Ross gives a scoff. "If I'm such a loser, then why did I always get better Christmas presents, from Mom and Dad?"
"Oh, I dunno...maybe because you still believed in Santa at age 14, and I didn't!"
"Hey! It was 13!" Ross corrects. "And besides, I didn't even get to try my new remote-control dragon, that year, because SOMEONE sat on it, and broke it!"
Monica grasps her brother's uninjured arm, with both hands, and twists until he cries out in pain. "You want me to even to even things up for you, and take the other arm off? Huh, Science-Boy!?"
"Aahh! Ok! OK! I GIVE!" Ross shouts. He glares, rubbing his arm. "I'm going to get a drink.." he mumbles, getting up.
Monica smirks in celebration of her victory. She reaches for the newspaper on the coffee table. As she lifts it, something catches her eye. They look like two gems. One red and one blue, and they appear to be...glowing? She picks them both up.
"Ross, look!" she calls. He turns back, returning to the table. "Someone left these here...what do you think they are?"
Ross stares at the stones in her hands, as though they're hypnotic. "I don't know. I've never seen anything like them before." He takes them from her hand.
"Hey..what're you doing?" His sister protests.
"I'm gonna take them to the lab! Maybe someone will know what kind of rock they are."
"Ross, give them back! They're not yours! Besides, I found them!" She snatches the red one back.
"It's mine! I saw it first! You can have that one, and I'll keep this one!"
Ross sighs. "Fine!" he begrudgingly agrees.
"Fine!" She shouts back as he leaves to get a drink. She stares at the mesmerizing glowing object a few seconds longer, wondering what it could possibly be. With a shrug, she places the stone in her pocket, and gets up to join her brother in line.