A/N: Alright...Out of all the Phoey stories I've written, this is one that they are sadly not together. Although I have a soft spot for Phoey, I wanted to keep this one as close to the show as possible. I would really appreciate feedback in the reviews, hope you like it :)
The sound of Phoebe's high heels clicking against the gritty hardwood surface echos throughout the empty building. Although it's been empty for a few years now, she can still remember the sounds that once filled this place like yesterday: clinking spoons against over-sized coffee mugs, chattering customers enjoying each other's company over a strudel or a muffin. So many memories she held dear to her took place right here, in this old cafe. And now, it's absence of life almost gave her a chill. While feeling around for a light switch in total blackness, a musical note emits from something she rests her hand on, giving her a startle. She jumps back from the unexpected sound.
"Ooh!" finally finding a switch she flicks it upwards, filling the room with dull, florescent light, and a obnoxious buzz. She looks down at the what she bumped into. Mike's old piano, covered in a white sheet of tarp. Her husband must have had it moved into the shop recently. A smile crosses her lips as she looks around, visions of the thriving coffee shop it once was, filling her imagination.
She hears the familiar sound of the small bell above the door
Three figures appear, shuffling awkwardly through the door way. The one in the middle is her husband, with two teenagers on each side, he holds a hand over both of their eyes. "Alright guys, no peeking...are you ready?"
Phoebe grins with excitement, waiting for their reaction as Mike removes his hands from their eyes.
"Surprise!" she and her husband chime in unison.
They watch their children look around the room, in wide-eyed confusion.
"What is this old place?" fourteen year old Ava Hannigan asks, with a tinge of disgust in her voice.
Phoebe refrains from heaving a sigh, as she should have known her daughter, in her adolescent phase of being impossible to impress wouldn't react with the excitement she was hoping for.
"Don't you guys remember this place?" Mike asks. "This is Central Perk. Or at least it was. We used to come here all the time, when you guys were little kids. You'd get all hopped up on cookies and chocolate milk and run around like hooligans with little Jack and Erica, and Ross and Rachel's kids. Until it went out of business during the recession. It's been empty for years now."
He smiles as he places an arm around Phoebe, pulling her close to him. "This is where your mom and I first met."
Phoebe gazes at her husband, returning his smile. "I remember you woo-ing me with your invisible piano skills like it was yesterday." she plants a kiss on his lips until she hears a dramatic gagging sound from Ava.
"Oh my God, ew! Seriously?"
Their first born, seventeen year old Tobias (more commonly known as Toby) seems unphased by his parents display of affection as he continues looking around, blinking beneath his spectacles. He looks at his parents.
"This is the surprise?"
"Well," Phoebe begins. "Actually...the surprise is that we've bought it."
This seems to get both of their attention, but they still don't seem anywhere near as excited about the news as their parents were to deliver it.
"You know that your dad's been wanting to retire from law for a while now." she continues. "But let's face it. We're not going to able to put you kids through college with our music, or with my job at the massage parlor. And besides, they were going to turn this place into a sex-shop!"
"Gross!" Ava says.
"I know!" her mother agrees. "Like we need anymore of those in this city. Anyways...we thought we'd fix this place up, and make it our own. It's going to be an all organic, vegetarian-friendly, musical deli and coffee shop."
"Musical deli?" Ava repeats, again making it known how unimpressed she is.
"Uh-huh. 'Music & Mocha's'" Mike tells his daughter and looks at his wife proudly. "It was your mom's idea."
"Obviously..." Ava mutters, insinuating her mother's ideas are usually batty.
Phoebe chooses to ignores her disrespectful fourteen-year-old attitude and attempts to explain her visual better. She puts an arm around her daughter's rigid body and points to a dusty, antique style, orange sofa that is very familar to her. "See, people will come in to eat organic food, or sit there, with their coffee, and we'll entertain them! Your dad's gonna play piano, and I'm gonna play guitar and we'll have an open mic for local bands, so you and your band can play here whenever you want. I mean, this'll be a great starting point for you guys."
Ava responds will an eye-roll and mutters "Yeah...right."
"I'm serious! All the greats start out small, sweety. Including me! Mike, honey, don't you remember all the songs I played here?"
"Oh, yeah...all the greatest hits started right here. 'Double Jointed Boy', 'Sticky Shoes', 'Jingle Bitch', and of course, everyone's favorite, 'Smelly Cat'. People came from all over New York just to hear your mom." Mike says, before he yanks the tarp from his piano, creating a plume of dust. He ignores his family's coughs as he sits down at the instrument and begins to play his wife's most infamous song.
Phoebe nods, her arm still around her daughter. "It's true."
Ava sighs and flicks her bob of half blonde, half bubblegum-pink hair out of her eyes. "So then how come you're not famous now?"
"Well..because I never wanted to be. And because I had you guys. But both of you are talented enough to make it big, if you wanted to."
"You did learn from the best." Mike agrees, over his music. He begins to play a more upbeat, jazzy tune. One that Phoebe can imagine customers enjoying in the near future. It was true that both of their children were as talented musicians as they were, even if Phoebe and Mike's taste in music was seen as brutally out-dated by their children.
Ava, who received her first electric guitar for Christmas at age 12, had formed a band with three of her best friends, and had won many contests and talent shows. Toby dabbled in not only acoustic guitar, but piano, like his dad and had quite an ear for music but was shy about his talent.
"And besides," Mike continues, as he plays. "not only would this be a great starting point, but I'm sure the two of you could bring in a ton of customers."
Phoebe takes a seat next to her husband on the piano bench, facing her kids. "That, and you could have jobs here. We're going to need to hire people anyways, might as well make it a family affair."
"Dad, please stop!" Ava requests, ignoring her mother's suggestion. "Nobody's going to want to come here if you play that old crap."
Mike denies her request and keeps playing. "It's not crap, it's from Star Wars! I thought Star Wars was cool again!"
"That's not from Star Wars." Ava argues.
"It's the Cantina Band song! It's from the first movie...awh, forget it." Mike abruptly gives up playing and turns around on the bench. He looks in the direction of his son, who unlike his sister, wasn't quite so out-spoken.
"Toby, what do you think, bud?"
Toby takes a seat on the old sofa, giving an indifferent shrug, as his eyes meet his father's.
Both Hannigan children have vibrant, olive-coloured eyes, much like both of their parents do. And although Toby, with his wavy brown locks, very much resembles Mike at a young age, he has his mother's gentle spirit, regarded as a sensitive, quiet boy by his peers. Ava is polar opposite, and often reminds Phoebe of herself as a teenager. Tough, but with a sweet and caring side she saves only for those she feels deserve it.
"I think it's okay." Toby finally decides.
"Well I think you wasted your money." Ava puts in, her iPhone in hand. "I think we're going to end up in the poor house because of this place! I might as well sell my guitar, now!"
Having about enough of her disrespectful attitude, Phoebe's mom-voice comes out. "Ava Lilian Hannigan, what have I told you about putting out negative vibes in the universe! They're just going to come back and bite you in the ass!"
"Can I go now?" the teen says with a sigh. "My friends are picking me up to go to the mall."
Phoebe starts to say something even angrier until she feels her husband's hand on her arm.
"Let her go, honey." he says, as Ava heads for the door, without their permission.
"Ugh...that kid drives me nuts sometimes..." she mutters under her breath.
"She's exactly how I imagine you, at fourteen.." he mutters back giving her a half-smile.
"But I lived on the streets." Phoebe points out. "What's her excuse? Ava, sweety, wait!"
She rises to her feet before her daughter steps outside, and rushes over to her to plant a kiss on her pinkish bob. "Be home by dinner time, please. We're going out tonight to celebrate. I mean it, or I'm sending your father looking for you.
"In a clown suit." Mike adds, prompting a groan from his youngest child.
"Be safe, okay? I love you." Phoebe tells her.
"Yeah, yeah..." Ava mutters, attempting to leave.
"Ava!" Phoebe says sternly, as she grabs her daughter's hand, waiting for a proper answer.
A half-smirk that reminds Phoebe of her husband appears on her daughter's face. "Love you too, Mom. Bye Dad." she calls and then looks at her brother. "Bye, geek."
"Shut up!" Toby shoots back, but Ava disappears to quickly to hear it.
"Ignore her, sweety." Phoebe says and sits down next to her son on the dust-coated orange sofa. She looks around at the large, dirty window, the ghost of the torn-off Central Perk logo still present. "Man, this place brings back so many good memories. This was where me and my friends hung out all the time."
"Really?" Toby asks with slight interest.
"Oh, yeah. Y'know...before wifi was even a thing, people actually used to go out and drink coffee and socailize, face to face, if you can imagine such a thing. And it always seemed to be busy, but this is where we would sit. Right here on this couch. Me, Joey, Rachel, Ross, Monica and Chandler. And then your dad came along, and well...you guys. But it seems like just yesterday." She gives a thoughtful sigh, as she rests her chin in her hand, still vividly remembering good times, and is soon joined by Mike, as he takes a seat next to her on the other side of the couch.
"Do you really think it'll be like that, again, Mom?" her son ponders.
"I hope so." she tells him. "But it really doesn't feel the same, y'know, without the old gang?"
Mike nods in agreement. "I miss those guys, too sometimes. Did you tell any of them that we bought this place?"
"Well, Ross and Rachel know." Phoebe tells him, as she recalls phoning Rachel to tell her the good news as soon as she got it.
Rachel and her family still lived in the same apartment building, though they had long since upgraded to one with more bedrooms to fit their kids. Phoebe and Mike kept in touch with them, as their own apartment was just a few blocks down the street. They tried to keep in touch with Chandler and Monica, too, but it was difficult, with the distance of their new house. And as for Joey, Phoebe only really saw him on tv. His perseverance in L.A. had landed him some success in Hollywood, having some minor, but memorable roles in some movies and tv shows. Last she heard, he was appropriately the host of a popular tv show on the Food Channel, and also had dated some soap opera actress a few years back, though she wasn't sure if that was true, or just a rumor in the tabloids. Still, it would be wonderful to see him in person again, after all these years. Or any of her friends, for that matter.
She gives a nostalgic sigh as she remembers them all. Her first real friends. More like the family she never had, before she found Mike, and created one of her own. Oh, how she missed them.
Sensing her emotional feelings, Mike places a comforting hand on his wife's back. "We should make sure we tell them. All of them. I mean, once we get this place up and running, it'd be great if they could come and see it."
She smiles at this idea, filling with excitement. "Do you really think they would? Even Joey?"
"Oh, yeah. Just tell him we have sandwiches, and I'm sure he'd be on the next flight out."
Phoebe laughs. "That would be amazing to have them all here. Just like old times, except instead of Central Perk it'll be...Phoebe's Perk."
Mike snickers at the disapproving look his son shot him at this suggestion. "I think we should stick to Music & Mochas, hon."
"It does have a nice ring to it." Toby agrees. "Besides, Mom...I've heard so much about these people and all the things that you guys did, but I hardly even know them, except Ross and Rachel."
"Well, you will." Phoebe declares, she digs through her phone for her purse. "I don't care that it's been 10 years since we've been in the same room together...they'll be here when we open this place, if I have to drag them all here myself."