Double Date Part 1
Chandler and Monica were enjoying the crisp, late October early morning air as they walked back to their apartment. Chandler's hands were full as he kept up with Monica's brisk pace. In one hand he had a shopping bag filled with groceries. A fresh loaf of French bread poking out the top. Over his shoulder he held tight to some dry cleaning wrapped in plastic. He was tired and cold.
Monica found the chill invigorating and had a little bounce in her step. One of her arms was hooked through Chandler's. Her hands clasped together and she would lean against him whenever they come to a stop. She could not seem to lose the excited smile that was plastered on her face.
She beamed with pride as she looked up at him. "See. Didn't I tell you this would be fun?"
"Sure. I can't believe I had no idea how much fun shopping at 6am could be? Or how cold."
Monica playfully tugged on his arm. "C'mon sweetie. There's so much you can do this early, and it guaranteed us some time alone, right?" she pulled herself up on her toes to reach him and placed a single, soft kiss on his cheek. "You have to at least admit that you liked the warm rolls."
"Warm rolls are nice." He looked down at her and smirked. "But I don't think anyone should get as excited as you did when you realized we got to the dry cleaners before it opened."
Monica shrugged her shoulders. "I'm glad you came. I feel like we have hardly had a minute alone with Ross being so needy lately. All of this Emily stuff. I feel bad saying this, but getting away from all that, well, it's nice for it to be just the two of us."
Chandler eyed Monica slyly. "I'm pretty sure you just brought me along to be a pack mule and carry all this stuff."
Monica gave him another tug and laughed as they turned the corner. They looked up and saw their building in view. Both of them sighing as they realized their morning alone was about to end.
Monica squeezed his arm tightly. "Well, no one is going to be up, we can at least walk into the building together."
"Sure." Chandler leaned down and kissed the top of Monica's head causing a smile to spread across her lips.
As they entered their building, Chandler gestured with his head at the door leading to the basement. "I can't believe you guys threw a bug bomb at Danny."
Monica stiffened up with embarrassment. "To be fair, Rachel fogged him. I just told her to do it. Anyway, when the lights go out, it can be kind of creepy down there."
"It isn't that bad. There's just old furniture and boxes of clothes down there."
"Well if you're so brave, then next time I need something from down there you can go get it."
"But it's dark and creepy down there."
Monica rolled her eyes and shook her head. "My hero."
"Anyway, I normally just bribe Joey with a sandwich and he goes down there for me."
Monica laughed and then stopped as they reached the stairs. "Okay, maybe I should go up first and then you follow. Just in case someone is up."
Chandler handed her the dry cleaning and the bag of groceries. "I really hate this. I wish we could have more time."
Monica walked up a few steps and turned around to face him. She leaned over and placed a slow kiss on his lips. "Maybe we can make more time. Would you want to try another weekend trip?"
"Are you sure you want to do that? We don't have great luck with weekends."
Monica's eyes sparkled as her mind began planning. "Oooo! Maybe we can rent a car and go upstate. I always wanted to go apple picking! We could go and have warm cider, and I can pick apples to use in pies for Thanksgiving, and we can try some farm fresh jams."
"Cider and jam? Just what every guy dreams about!" Chandler paused for a moment and looked off to the side. "There isn't by any chance naked apple picking, is there?"
"No." She shook her head and tried to suppress a smile. "How about this; we do my thing this time and then next time we do something you want to do. Plus, if we stay overnight, there could be naked bed and breakfasting."
"You had me at naked." Chandler placed a small peck on her lips. "Okay, this weekend we're supposed to help Ross move, so next weekend? I'll say I have to work; Joe will cover for me. What will you say?"
Monica narrowed her eyes, searching her mind for a plausible alibi. "Well, last time Rachel caught me on the phone with you, I told her you were Sad Linda from camp."
Chandler looked up reflectively. "I haven't been called Linda since junior high."
Monica shook her head in an attempt to brush off his joke. " I could say I'm going to visit her. We could go up early Saturday and come home Sunday. What do you think?"
"Sure. Let's do it." Chandler leaned in for one last kiss. They lingered by the stairs for a few more moments before Monica spun around and made her way upstairs. Chandler resigned himself to watching her leave, leaning over so he could catch one last glimpse of her backside as she turned to take the next flight of stairs. He waited a few minutes and then started his own ascent up the stairwell. He paused every time he reached a landing just to make sure she would already be back in her apartment by the time he reached their floor.
Chandler and Monica found themselves trailing behind Phoebe and Joey as they made their way back to Ross' apartment. Phoebe was excited as she carried her guitar and Joey looked depressed and guilt ridden.
Chandler glanced over at Joey with a flash of concern on his face. He leaned over slightly so he could speak softly to Monica. "He really feels terrible. I hope we can smooth things over with Ross to make him feel better."
"It will be fine. We'll go up there, apologize, let him know we support him and everything will be okay. Trust me. I know Ross. A few kind words, a dinner invite, his friends all around him, and everything will be back to normal. If that doesn't work, we still have Phoebe's apology song."
"Phoebe's song? I thought we wanted Ross to forgive us."
Monica ignored his joke and grabbed his arm, compelling him to slow down. She seemed intent on making more space between the two of them and Joey and Phoebe. "Days like this are why I am looking forward to next weekend. Just to get untangled from all of this mess. Even if only for a day."
Chandler bumped her playfully with his shoulder. "I know. I'm glad we aren't telling anyone about us. I can't imagine trying to do this," He gestured between the two of them "as an entire group and be like…" he paused for a moment as he tried to choose his next words carefully. "Well, and be like Ross. I don't think he has had one relationship that we all weren't a part of somehow."
Monica glanced at Chandler and then continued focusing on their walk. "This wouldn't happen to us. Neither of us are Ross. Plus, if we were out in the open and having a fight, everyone would be on my side anyway."
Chandler laughed and gave her a quick, light pinch on her side. She giggled as he slowed down so she could walk a few paces ahead of him as they made their way through the crowded city sidewalk.
It felt as if this was the first time in months where Monica found herself alone in her own apartment. She made sure to take advantage of her good fortune. She took a bath, put on some comfy clothes, and made some tea. She had just curled up on the couch under a blanket so she could read a book that she had been holding off on starting for a few weeks.
She was enjoying the solitude. It has been a busy weekend with Rachel dragging her into whatever it was that she was doing with Danny, and Ross bringing boxes over all day to the boy's apartment so he could move into his third apartment in about as many days. She could feel the tension of the pressure she put on herself when she tried to keep her brother and her best friend happy. It took all her willpower not to let it boil over and completely wreck her day.
Before she could crack open her book and lose herself in her copy of "Practical Intuition in Love", the door opened and Chandler poked his head in. He entered and had a pensive look on his face.
"Hey, is Rachel here?"
Monica put her book down on the coffee table and smiled. "No." She got up from the couch and walked over to him. She hugged him and placed a kiss on his neck. "I see someone got out of helping Ross move boxes today. Where have you been all day?"
"Oh, around." Chandler pulled back and looked down at her. "I've been thinking, with Ross moving in, I don't know if we can go away next weekend. I just can't think of how to explain to him that I will be gone overnight the same time you are and not have it look suspicious."
Monica bit her lower lip in frustration. "I know. It is such a nice thing you and Joey are doing for him, and I feel bad for saying this, but I'm really mad at him. I was looking forward to this trip. You were right. We don't have great luck with weekends."
A puckish grin started to form on Chandler's lips. "Well, maybe we don't have to miss out completely. Do you have a few minutes?"
Monica looked at him, and although she was confused, she nodded enthusiastically.
"Great. Grab your coat and come with me"
When they stepped out of her apartment, Chandler took Monica by the hand and led her to the stairway. She started to look down, assuming they were headed to the lobby, but he lifted her chin and pointed up. She wrinkled her brow, but then shrugged her shoulders and followed him until they reached to door to the roof.
Chandler turned around and faced her. " Okay, close your eyes."
Monica exhaled a laugh and shut both of her eyes. She smiled, but tried to play it off as if he was inconveniencing her. She reached for Chandler's hand, and he took it in his once more before opening the door and leading her out onto the roof. Once she heard the door shut behind her, he stopped them both in their tracks.
"Okay, you can open them."
Monica opened her eyes and started to spin slowly around in a circle. The first thing to catch her eye were the Christmas lights. There were five or six strings that looked to have been dragged across the roof creating this low glow of red and green. She continued to scan the area and saw a bowl overflowing with apples set on a small plastic table.
"Chandler, what is this?"
"Wait. That's not all."
He lifted up a small backpack and pulled out a thermos and two mugs. He puts them down on the table. "Warm cider and…" he dug his hand back into the bag and pulled out a compact disc. "The Best of the Jam. Sorry, I didn't have time to pick up any real jam."
Monica exhaled and smiled.
He looked at her and his face began to twist up as a wave of self -consciousness washed over him. "I know it isn't exactly a weekend away, and probably a little hokey and cheap looking, but…"
Before he could finish, Monica turned to kiss him and ran her hands behind his neck, squeezing him adoringly. "When did you do all this?"
Chandler looked down, his face now a mixture of pride and embarrassment. "Well, when everyone was helping Ross move his boxes, I went down to the storage room and found the lights and the table and chairs. Then I went to that grocery store you took me to last week and they showed me what apples were good for baking. I got the cider from Central Perk and…"
Monica cut him off again with another kiss. "Chandler. No one has ever done anything like this for me before."
"I just thought, you really wanted that weekend. I gave Joey some money and he took Ross out for dinner. I know we can't stay up here too long, but maybe for a little while we can block the door and kind of pretend." He looked down again and made circles with his foot.
"Chandler. This is really amazing. I can't believe you did all of this today." Monica pulled in close again and they shared several long, deep kisses. She took him by the hand and brought him over to the two chairs so they could sit down. She flashed him a devilish smile and held out her cup so he could pour her some cider.
"You know, once everyone goes to sleep, we are definitely going to be doing some of that naked bed and breakfasting back down in my room."
Chandler tried to subtly pump his fist in celebration but stopped when Monica glared at him playfully. She stood up from her seat and pushed him down so she could sit in his lap. He wrapped one arm around her waist and poured cider out with the other.
She looked out at the Manhattan skyline and smiled. "I guess, technically, we got to do my apple picking. Have you thought about what is your date night going to be?"
Chandler perked up and started to get excited. "I got these great center ice tickets for the Rangers next week! I was going to take Joey, but…"
Monica rolled her eyes. "Hockey? Wow. That really sounds romantic."
"That's what I was thinking."
Monica took a sip from her cider and then shook her head. "I was being sarcastic."