For one of the first times in Phoebe's adult life, she feels proud of the progress she's made, as she enters 'The Smelly Cat Café' for the first time since the completion of the renovations. She looks around, slowly, and in awe of her creation.

'Central Perk' has been kept alive, in spirit, at least, by some unchanged elements: The brick wall. The marble counter top where drinks, and now, sandwiches would be served. Some of the antique furnishings were left untouched. However, it had now acquired vibrant colors to the brand new walls, which were covered in interesting paintings of cats. The floor was painted now black, with gold and silver stars. Phoebe's idea, of course, reasoning with Mike that 'This is the place where stars will be born!'. The most impressive addition was the stage area, which was so much bigger and more profound than it had been in the days of 'Central Perk'. Complete with a very handsome, white grand piano that once belonged to Mike's parents.

"It's perfect." She tells Mike, unable to say much else in her bewildered state. Their vision had come to life before their eyes, in a matter of weeks. It hardly seemed real.

Mike grins, also pleased with the hard work he's put into this place. Brushing a lock of her blonde hair aside, he places a kiss on Phoebe's cheek, enjoying her reaction. "I think so, too. Isn't it great? Luckily we had an amazing interior designer."

Knowing he's referring to her, she turns to face him, her hands around his waist. "Not bad for an amateur, huh?" she says with a smirk before pulling him in for a kiss.

"Mom…Dad! Stop being gross and look over here!" Momentarily distracted, Phoebe turns towards her daughter, who is holding up her phone to take a picture of them.

"What's that for?" Mike question, after the picture is taken.

"I'm gonna post it on my band's instagram, for the grand opening." The teen explains. "A little free advertisement, I guess you could call it."

"Ohh…look who's suddenly interested in the family business." Phoebe teases.

Ava shrugs, indifferently. "Yeah…well…it kinda-sorta looks not bad in here. Not as lame as I thought it would be, anyways."

Mike turns to his wife with a puzzled expression. "I can't tell..was that a compliment?"

Phoebe laughs. "And here I didn't think she was capable of saying nice things to us, anymore."

"Ha-ha.." Ava rolls her eyes, and returns her attention to her phone, right as her brother enters the café, seeming excited about something.

"Hey guys," Toby greets his family. "I just talked to a friend of mine in my media arts class, and he wants to build us a website, free of charge."

"Great." Mike replies, as he lifts a clipboard off of the brand new coffee table to go over a list on the front page. "We've got the advertising underway…I took care of all the licensing crap..we've got our first band, 'The Poison Apples' booked," he jabs his pen in Ava's direction. "Our first food shipment should be here tomorrow, and we've got most of our new menu together. I'd say things are looking promising for our grand opening next Saturday."

Phoebe perks up, her eyes suddenly growing wide. "Next Saturday?" she repeats, with a hint of rising panic in her voice.

"I know." Mike tells her. "I can't believe it either. Only a few days away.. I mean time has really flown by."

Phoebe's stomach plunged, as the reality of feeling unprepared sets in. "W-wait, we can't…but…" as she stammers to form a sentence she is interrupted by the head contractor, with his crew finishing up their last day on the job.

"All finished here, Mr. Hannigan. Except for one thing…where do you want the new couch to go?"

"What? Oh, uh…where the old one is, should be fine. It can go in the trash." Mike tells him.

"Okay, you're the boss. Let's get this thing out of here, guys."

Phoebe can't believe what she was hearing. The beloved orange couch, which she had shared with her closest five friends, year after year, having multiple conversations, and making life-changing decisions, even arguments...all of which were now treasured memories. She watches in horror as the work men pick up the couch, and, in an act of desperation, makes a flying leap through the air.

"NOO!" she cries as she lands on the couch, forcing to crash back down to the ground, much to the surprise of the men holding it.

"Jesus…are you alright lady?" One of the startled men asked, as he grabbed her hand to help her up from beneath the now upturned piece of furniture.

"No, I'm not alright!" Phoebe snapped back, accepting his help, and lifting herself to her feet. "This couch you were about to carelessly throw away happens to belong to me and my friends! Mike, how could you let them do this!?"

"Pheebs," Mike begins. "Honey, look…I'm sorry. I know this couch means a lot to you."

"Uh-huh!" she shoots back, in a matter-of-fact tone.

"It's just that…well, look at it." Mike says, as he tips the sorry looking couch back onto its rather wobbly legs. "It's been left here to rot by the previous owners. It's covered in dust…it's moth-eaten…for all we know it could belong to a family of rodents."

"So what? We were raising rats before we were raising children, Mike!"

Both Toby and Ava look at their father, in the curious way they usually do whenever Phoebe brings up something from her past that seems almost too strange to be true.

"Long story.." he simply mutters to them before turning his attention back to his wife. "Look, sweetie…we're opening in just a few days, and we can't.."

"That's another thing! We can't open yet!"

"We can't?" Toby asks. "But I already gave the date to my friend who's making the website. There's an 'Opening Soon' sign out front that says we open on Saturday."

"And I already told my band we're playing here on Saturday." Ava adds.

"I know, but.." Phoebe pauses, exhaling a sigh. "It's just I haven't heard back from anybody yet. My friends, I mean. I just really wanted them to be here when we opened, that's all."

Mike places a comforting hand on her back. "Awh, Phoebe…I'm sorry. I wanted them to be here, too. But..if they don't wanna come, we can't make them, you know? Maybe they're just too busy right now. I'm sure eventually they'll be able to stop by and see the place, at least."

Phoebe lets out another deep breath, as she considers his words. She feels sadness and disappointment in knowing that maybe he's right. Maybe her friends are just too busy with their busy new lives to care about what was going on in hers, anymore.

Suddenly, Mike reaches into his pocket, hearing his phone ringing. His brow furrows as he looks at the caller ID.

"That's weird. I don't recognize this number."

Phoebe glances at the screen over his shoulder. "Hey! I think I got a call the other day from that number, but I ignored it. Thought it was a bill collector or something."

Out of curiosity, Mike answers the call. "Hello, Mike speaking." He raises his eyebrows with surprise. "Monica?"

A flutter of hope begins in Phoebe's heart at her old friend's name.

"Hey! Yeah, Phoebe's right here. Hang on, let me put you on speaker." Mike presses a button on his phone to make the call audible to them both. Phoebe is nearly jumping with joy.

"Mon! Oh my God! You called me back!"

"Of course, Pheebs! You don't think I'd miss out on some exciting news like this, do you?" Monica replies.

"That's awesome! I'm so happy to hear from you! Gosh, it's been so long! So is Chandler with you? Where are you guys?"

Suddenly, Monica's voice is no longer coming through the phone, but from the same room, behind her.

"I'm right here, silly."

Phoebe turns around quickly as her former best friend walks in, along with Chandler, and cannot resist the urge to run towards them. She nearly knocks Monica down, to embrace her, and then throws her arms around Chandler, as well.

"Monica! Chandler! Oh my God! It's really you! You're here!"

"Yes, well, we wanted to be the first people in New York to be able to say we visited 'The Smelly Cat Café'. I'll cross that one off my bucket list."

Phoebe's grin widens as she turns to her old friend, shaking her head. "Awh, Chandler, I can't tell you how much I've missed your dumb jokes. I haven't seen you both in so long! Wow! Look at you guys! You look great!" she steps back, admiring them. "Especially you, Mon..I really thought you were going to let yourself go, y'know.. after a few years of being married to him." She tilts her head towards Chandler.

Monica gives a laugh that may or may not be genuine, as though she's forgotten how to respond to Phoebe's random, unfiltered comments. "Yeah…well, thanks, I guess, Pheebs. You look great, yourself! And Mike! You…well, you kinda look the same."

Mike nods in approval. "Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment. Come on in, guys, have a seat! Can I get you anything to drink?"

"No thanks, Mike. We were just in the area and thought we'd stop by, for a quick visit." Chandler explains.

"Wow.." Monica says as she looks around, taking in all the changes of their once favorite hang-out. "I can hardly believe this used to be Central Perk. Look at this place! It looks great…" she gasps when she sees the orange couch. "Is that..?"

"It is!" Phoebe replies. "Mike wanted to throw it out." She pauses to shoot Mike a disapproving look. "Can you believe that?"

Monica takes a moment to survey the state of the furniture piece. "Kind of.." she admits, and wipes her hand over the seat to clear some of the dust before she sits down. "But I can't believe it's still here!"

"I know…I mean, I know it needs some work, but it's like a part of us all, you know? It's like part of the family."

"Ah, yes…our third child. Good old Sophie." Chandler says as he joins his wife on the sofa.

"Speaking of kids.." Monica says, glancing over at Toby and Ava, who are standing off to the side, trying to avoid an awkward introduction to their parents friends, whom they barely remembered. "Are these yours?"

"They are, now." Mike jokingly answers. "They came free along with the couch, I guess, and we didn't have the heart to turn them away. Guys, come over and say hi."

Both teens do as their told and step forward. Ava, however, seems unusually enthusiastic.

"Geez, they were so little last time I saw them! I would have never recognized them! Hi, guys!" Monica beams.

"Oh my God!" Ava tells her brother, her jaw plunging. "It really is her! The 'Psycho Master Chef Lady!'"

"Woah…really?" Toby says, his eyes wide with sudden interest, as they bounce from his sister to Monica.

Monica's expression drops, as Chandler snickers beside her, earning himself a death stare from his wife.

"Can we take a selfie with you? Please?" Ava begs.

"Ava.." Phoebe says in a warning tone. "Guess you haven't lived that one down yet, huh, Mon?"

"Yeah, we heard about your whole restaurant deal…I'm sorry." Mike offers.

Monica gives a heavy sigh, along with a shrug. "Yeah, well…what can you do when someone online starts a rumor that you serve poison to those who criticize your food."

Phoebe smirks to herself as she takes a seat on the couch, opposite of Chandler. "If slander was that easy back in our day, I wouldn't have wasted so much time singing outside of your restaurant that one time.."

"Oh yeah…I almost forgot about that." Monica says, unable to resist laughing about it now. "We sure had our moments sometimes, didn't we?"

"We did." Phoebe agrees. "But, you know, it was always out of love...because we were such good friends."

Monica nods. "You're right…we were. And are still good friends, don't you think? I mean…yeah we haven't been great at keeping in touch. But you've been on my mind."

"I have?" she questions, sounding surprised.

"Oh yeah! Always! I mean, we were always such a great team, Pheebs! Don't you remember that party we did? And you were in charge of cups and ice, and you did such an amazing job! Boy, you sure showed me!" She pauses to give a forced laugh. "And also, do you remember that..that funny time when… I let you live with me, when you used to live in a car? I mean, dozens of other people wanted that place! People who were probably less likely to kill me in my sleep, for all I knew, but…I guess I just really had a good feeling about you, Pheebs! Because you're so…so…beautiful, and unique, and so very kind to all of your friends…"

"Uh-huh..what do you want?" Phoebe eyes her, suspiciously.

Monica scrunches her nose, knowing the gig is up. "Damn…well, Phoebe…as you know, I'm kind of in a bit of a bind, here." She glances back at Chandler. "Both of us are, really. I mean, the twins are starting college this year. Well…Erica is. We'd like Jack to go, too, but…money is a little tight right now, for twin tuition payments."

Phoebe tilts her head, sympathetically. "Awh, Mon….honey, you know that we'd love to help you out. It's just, it might take a while for us to get this place up and running, to get some money together."

"Well…that's why I was kind of thinking.." Monica pauses, clearing her throat, uncomfortably. "I could maybe work here, for a little while?"

Phoebe glances back at Chandler, thinking for a moment, that this could be a joke, but he shows no indication of such. "You…you want to work for me?"

"I mean, if you'll let me." Monica carries on. "I could come up with an amazing menu for you and make everything. I mean I'm more than qualified, Pheebs. I could be your head chef!"

"I know.." Phoebe says, beginning to feel conflicted. "It's just….you want to work for me? Mon…no offense, but I know you. I know how you get when you're not in charge of things."

"Don't we all." Chandler agrees, before Monica turns to shoot him a glare that quickly silences him.

Phoebe becomes silent as well, thinking it over. She wanted to help her friends out so badly, but there was a part of her that told her she might regret it. However, what choice did she have? They needed money, after all.

"Alright, Mon. You can work here. I mean, it really doesn't pay much, but… it's better than nothing, I guess."

"That's fine, Phoebe. Thank you so much. You're a life-saver." Monica says before giving her friend a grateful hug.

"But!" Phoebe pulls back from their embrace, as an afterthought. "We have to agree that I am in charge, alright? Mike and I have put a lot of work into this place. I just…I don't want us to get frustrated with each other like…well, every other time we've worked together."

Monica nods. "Right…I understand, completely, Pheebs. This is your thing, after all. I promise I'll…try to control myself and not get too pushy. I'll just be in charge of the menu, that's it. The rest of it is all yours. I promise."

. . .

It's the following day, and Mike is the first person to arrive to the café, early in the morning..or so he thinks. Before he even unlocks the door, he notices what seems like some lights on, inside. He tries not to jump to the conclusion that they've been broken into, but knows the possibilities, in this neighborhood. He reaches for his phone, just in case he needs to call authorities, and nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels someone tap him on the shoulder. He takes a moment to recover from nearly dropping his phone.

"Sorry, man." A younger gentleman in a navy jumpsuit and holding a clipboard says. "Didn't mean to scare you. You're the owner, right? I didn't know where to unload the truck… I also need you to sign a few things."

"Ohh…you must be the food truck driver." Mike says, feeling a sudden rush of relief that his life was not in danger. "Yeah, we've got a door around back, I'll show you.."

As Mike pushes his key into the lock, the door suddenly swings open, startling him for the second time that day.

"Wait…WAIT! Mike! Don't you dare sign anything!"

It takes him a moment to process what is going on. Before him stands Monica, clad in a full chef uniform, her face and jacket spattered with what looked like flour and other questionable ingredients. She makes a grab for the clipboard in the young man's hands and gives the papers a quick glance. "Let's see here..we won't be needing this, this.. definitely not this…about half the things on this list, we aren't going to need. Here is the new, revised list of ingredients. I know it's a little short notice but there have been a few changes to the menu as of late." She hands the driver a fresh piece of paper.

Mike blinks a few times, suddenly realizing that it was far too early for him to be dealing with this.

"Monica?" he says. "I'm sorry but…how did you get in here?"

"Yeah..who is this lady?" the truck driver, who seems less than impressed with her, demands.

"Phoebe gave me a key," Monica answers "And I, mister, am the souse-chef around here, and I'm saving him a lot of money." She jerks her head in Mike's direction.

"No, no, no…look, Monica, you can't just…"

"It's alright, Mike I've got everything under control." She says, before addressing the driver. "Look, we'll take what we can from this order, but we're going to need the new ingredients as soon as possible. If you don't have them, we'll go somewhere else. Bring it around to the back." She hands the clip board back to him, before pulling Mike inside the café by his arm.

"I know I'm not working yet, but I came in here at 5 o'clock this morning and started working on a few things with ingredients I brought from home. We've got a lot to do, and so little time to do it, after all. Come on.. Wait until you see what I've done."

"I'm almost afraid to.." Mike mutters as he follows her towards the kitchen, before he stops. "Wait a minute…Monica what was on that list you gave him, exactly?"

She shrugs, attempting to remain casual and innocent. "It's just some ingredients we're going to be needing. I've cut down on a lot of things, and worked within our budget..it'll be fine, Mike. Trust me."

"What things?" He presses, more sternly.

Monica sighs and reaches inside her jacket, producing another piece of paper. "Well, this is just one of the recipes, here.."

Mike takes a few seconds to look at the ingredients. "Truffle oil? Fresh lobster? Tenderloin… Quail egg? Look…Monica. This is a just a simple deli, not the Hamptons. This stuff isn't in our budget."

"It is if we're careful! Mike, do you want people to remember this place, or not? When people come and eat the food at 'The Smelly Cat Café ', do you want them to eat 'simple deli food' that they can get at any other shop in New York, or do you want them to eat something they're going to remember?"

"Oh, they'll remember it if they have to pay $45 for a sandwich, alright…" Mike mutters in response.

"And another, thing…" Monica carries on, barely hearing him. "We need to talk about the name of this place. It just doesn't work with this new menu."

Mike pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales deeply, feeling increasingly uncomfortable to have been put in this position. He can already foresee this turning into a huge blow out between Monica and Phoebe…just like old times. He decides that he definitely does not have the energy to deal with this at the moment, and turns away from the enthusiastic chef.

"Uhm…I need coffee…then we'll talk." He utters, making his way to the brand new coffee and espresso station. He's slightly relieved to see Phoebe walk in, and also slightly nervous about how she's going to react to Monica. She approaches the opposite side of the marble counter.

"Hey! Sorry, the kids missed their bus again and I…" She stops, realizing how distraught her husband appears. "What's wrong?"

"Monica…" he mumbles in response, with no need to explain further, as Phoebe seems to understand immediately.

"Pheebs! Great, you're here!" Monica chimes, walking towards her with a very extravagantly plated dish. "You're just in time to try my gourmet hickory smoked Canadian bacon, avocado tomato and blue cheese Panini!"

"Uhm, okay, but did you forget that I'm a vegetarian?" Phoebe replies.

Monica rolls her eyes with great disappointment. "Still? Come on Pheebs. One bite of this and you'll change your mind, forever!" desperately, she turns to Mike, instead. "Mike! You can eat this!"

"Sorry…I can't eat bacon unless it's Kosher."

She heaves an exasperated sigh, setting the plate down. "How can you people run a deli and not eat the sandwiches!?"

"And besides," Phoebe adds. "Where did you get these ingredients? We don't have Canadian Bacon, or blue cheese! Those things aren't in our budget, Monica. Look at you! It isn't even your first shift and already you're getting carried away! We talked about this! You are in charge of the menu only."

"Right!" Monica agrees. "Which means…that I am allowed to make changes to the menu items if I see fit! Does it not?"

Phoebe shakes her head with annoyance. "Alright…new rule: You work with the ingredients we give you, or you don't work at all!"

Monica's jaw drops, and raises her hand to her chest, taking offense. "You can't do that!"

"Wanna bet!?" Phoebe shoots back.

Seeing it fit to interject, despite not wanting to, Mike steps in between the warring pair just as they begin to literally point fingers and shout over each other. "Listen…please, guys, let's not do this! You guys are friends, remember? And…and…I really wish Rachel were here. Isn't she the one who usually deals with this?"

Monica and Phoebe stop shouting long enough to cool off, somewhat. Phoebe stares down at her shoes for a moment.

"I'm sorry, Mon."

Monica gives a defiant shrug. "I'm sorry too, Pheebs. Maybe I did get carried away. It's just…really hard to lose my restaurant, you know? I just got so used to working in that high-end atmosphere."

"I know, sweetie." Phoebe agrees. "And I want to give you room to use your creative talents…like I'd really love it if for the holidays, you made that Thanksgiving sandwich that Ross always raved about every year. Or that really delicious meatless Philly Cheese-steak you used to make for me sometimes, when we lived together."

"Oh, the Philly cheese-Portobello mushroom melt?" Monica smiles, modestly. "Sure, I could make that. You're right…I think I can work with your menu without going too crazy. It's just… I might need some help. I need someone with a real palate for quality food with simple ingredients. Someone with who feels as passionate about food as I do."

Phoebe nods in silent agreement. "Where are we going to find someone like that on such short notice, though?"

Mike too, was thinking about who would be a suitable candidate. It was true, that it would be an important job to taste the menu items, before the customers did, and in the short time they had before their opening date. And something neither he nor Phoebe had thought of, until now. As the three stood in silence, thinking it over, the sound of the door chime, as it opened behind them, caught their attention.

Phoebe glances over her shoulder at the stranger who entered. "I'm sorry, we're closed right now." She says, automatically.

"Oh…sorry. Guess I have the wrong place. I'm looking for the owner."

Phoebe and Monica look at each other, their eyes wide at the sound of the familiar voice. They slowly turn around to address the person, unable to believe their eyes. He looks back at them with a similar expression of disbelief.

"No way…"

"JOEY!" both Phoebe and Monica shout in unison.

A/N: Long chapter is long! But hopefully this makes up for me not posting in a very long time ;D Also, stay tuned for the next chapter, as I hope to incorporate more of the kid's storylines a little more. I know people like to read about the second generation, and I intended this fic to be more about the adults, but they will still be a big part of the story :D Thanks again for all your kind reviews and for reading this!