"To ten months together."
"To amazing, wonderful ten months together," Chandler said, his voice soft as they clinked their glasses together, his blues eyes shining and his smile a little sheepish.
That damn charming smile of his. Amazing, wonderful Chandler, Monica thought to herself.
Boyfriend Chandler was nothing like Guy Friend Chandler. He was, in fact, Romantic Chandler. It was miraculous, and she'd easily admit to believing it was almost a mirage in their first get-togethers. How could she have not seen it before? Maybe that, in itself, was more amazing than ten months together, but there was also the amazing, wonderful sex and there were the amazing, wonderful late-night talks, the amazing and wonderful intimacy …
"So," he said, bringing her out of her thoughts. "I guess this is three-stars chicken, huh? Yours is better."
"Stop it," she replied, pursing her lips as she took another bite. "Though, I could give Jean Georges a tip or two about seasoning."
When Chandler told her he was taking her out to Jean Georges on their ten-month anniversary because she had mentioned his name once or twice, her chest squeezed. He was always sweet, but the tenderness in his eyes, sparkling as he awaited her reaction, had floored her. It was these random moments that reminded her why she fell for him so hard and so fast after―and during―that night in London, even when she tried her very best not to. That genuine affection she held for him and he had for her, as friends, as lovers, always and forever.
She could see it. She wouldn't tell him that, but the certainty of it grew exponentially as the weeks, months, seasons went by.
While they ordered a bottle of wine, Monica could feel Chandler's investigative eyes on her as she interacted with the waiter.
Oh, Chandler. Sometimes Romantic Chandler came hand-in-hand with Insecure Chandler. Like a package deal.
If only he could see, if only he could read her thoughts. How could he worry when she was already thinking about forever with him?
"Is that how you usually flirt with guys?" Chandler said, his body language shifting suddenly. Crossed arms, tight jaw, nervous biting of his lips, avoidance of eye contact with her. She recognized all the signs―the full checklist of his old insecurities rearing their head in.
"Only with my produce guy so I can get the best tomatoes in Manhattan. It pisses off Jean Georges so much," she quipped but he didn't smile or relax, not looking fond of sarcastic jibes with bad timing when he was at the other end of it. The irony.
She put down her fork, and extended her hand to reach his. "Chandler," she called softly as he kept looking away. "Chandler, would you please look at me?"
Still not unclenching his jaw, his eyes slowly met hers.
"Chandler, look, I know you weren't seriously flirting. You were charming her because … well, you can be a pretty charming guy."
The expression on his face she could only describe as pure shock.
His baffled reaction made her chuckle intentionally. "Yeah, you are. You're cute and handsome and funny. Women are definitely charmed by all that."
He smiled, that perfect smile, and she felt relief. She never liked fighting with him, nevertheless on an anniversary.
"I've never been described as charming."
"Do you know why I didn't worry about you flirting or whatever with Hot Pizza Delivery Girl? I've seen you try to flirt over the years, and let's say, sometimes it was ... painful to watch."
"But when you don't try to flirt and you don't try so hard, and you're just being ... you, you can be oh so charming."
She saw his grin grow bigger and it made her heart swell. It was a strange, magical thing, love. The person you loved being happy seemed to be the be-all, end-all of life. "It sure did work on me."
"Huh. It scares how much you know me."
"Trust me, it scares me too sometimes."
At that, he leaned toward her and cupped her cheeks and the second they made contact, she was high. "It scares me how good of a kisser you are sometimes," she said quietly and he smiled as he kissed her lips again.
"I love you madly."
Monica laughed lightly, dragging her hand through his hair. "I trust you, Chandler," she whispered as their mouths parted while still holding hands across the table. "With everything. For the first time in my life, I feel completely safe and wholly loved by someone. I don't care if you charm a random girl or find other women attractive or watch porn... Bottom line is, I know that you love me."
Chandler smiled softly. "I do love you," he said before taking a beat. "How did you know about the porn?"
She smirked and tilted her head, pausing a moment as her fingers played with his. "I hope you know it too. That I love you, wholly and completely. At the end of the day, it's you."
"I do know, I just... I'm not used to this. I worry because of all that stuff that happened to me."
Oh, amazing, wonderful Chandler. His insecurity was rooted in terrible pain and awful betrayals, and there was no pain like the one felt by the person you loved the most in the world. Her be-all, end-all. "Honey, I'll never hurt you like they did."
He nodded, bringing her hand to his mouth and kissing it gently. "I know."
The waiter came back again. But this time, Chandler didn't pay attention to him. He was solely focused on her. "I'm sorry we won't get dessert here."
She grinned cheekily and raised an eyebrow. "I have a feeling I'll be having a much better dessert tonight."
His eyes went wide and she very much enjoyed that look on his face. "You're right, screw you, Jean Georges!"
They made their way out of the restaurant, Monica shivered as the cold breeze of the night hit them. Chandler got closer to her and pressed his body up against hers as their arms intertwined to try and warm her up, and there again, it was small, it was random, yet it was everything. She turned him to face her, and kissed him hard and deep, melting into their embrace.
He broke the kiss, his breath coming fast, and his lips slowly curved up into a grin. "To ten months and many more to come."
She smiled, feeling her heart soar, then took his hand, heading toward the subway station. It wasn't Romantic Chandler, it was just Chandler now. "A whole lot more."
Life's been crazy, as in engaged and seriously sick in the span of one week-crazy, so please excuse my absence. I'll try to update Love Minus Zero soon enough as I'm getting back into a writing mood. This is maybe a little inconsequential and fluffy, and I'm very rusty, but I love that episode and always wanted to write about the date afterward… Hope you enjoy!
This is dedicated to all the wonderful people I've been talking it to thanks to this fandom, and the Matteney fans … Yep, they're coming back to us. *This is how we win meme*