The Right Guy
Monica did not want anything to distract her from the one goal she set for herself when she woke up this morning: get home.
She knew last night that this would have to be the end of her little escapade in Nevada. It had been seven days of posturing as if she were the kind of person who could live life impulsively and make rash decisions that satisfied her urges for instant gratification with little regard for the consequences. It was exhilarating, but deep down, somewhere beneath the haze of alcohol, gambling and sex, she had always known that she would eventually have to abandon this temporary reprieve from reality. And while it had been the most wonderful interruption from the material world, something she could not have conjured up even in her wildest dream, she knew it was finally time for it to end. It was time to put away this childish plaything of pretending she was someone else. Time to leave Las Vegas and get back to her real life. Get back to normal. No matter what normal was going to be from here on out. She was going to have to stop hiding from it and face it head on.
It was hard to believe that it had been a full week since she dragged Chandler out of their apartment building and into this whirlwind adventure that unfolded nearly all the way on the other side of the country. She felt as though she were a different person before they had left; heartbroken, inconsolable, lost. Her entire identity was wrapped up in Richard and what they were together. When she found herself in that darkened apartment, with that relationship dissolved, she felt as if she had disappeared as well. A figment of the person she thought she was. A ghost. Now, after being here, everything was different. She was still sad that it was over between her and Richard, but she was no longer in mourning, which struck her as odd, because she would have assumed getting over him would have been the most difficult thing she would ever have to do. Yet now, after a week here with Chandler, her perspective on who she was with Richard seemed to have shifted. It was as if Vegas had been a kind of chrysalis that transformed her into a different woman than the one who was standing there on the dancefloor at Barry and Mindy's wedding. She was no longer the despondent Monica who left New York City, but she also was not the carefree Monica who galivanted about this neon playground. She was someone else now. She was ready to find out who that person was.
Yet, when she got out of her bed and looked over at Chandler, who was still asleep, quietly snoring as he hugged his pillow, all she could think about was delaying the inevitable and how great it would feel to slip into his bed right now and join him under the covers. Place one hand on his chest as she nestled in beside him to absorb his warmth and spend the next few years here in this room. Far away from everyone who knew them. Protected from anyone who could hurt them, and simply enjoy this magical world they had created. A world that existed only between the two of them.
But that would mess up her plan. And she has had her fill with her plans being messed up.
Plans like the one she had when she met her perfect man, who was mature and not still wrestling with the concept of commitment. He wasn't some arrested development case who drank too much or was too young or just used a line to get you into bed. A man who was the perfect height and not interested in playing games like the men her age often do. Someone who lived in a grown-up's apartment that wasn't decorated with movie posters or bikini models. Someone who had a grown-up's career and wasn't still fussing about what they were going to do with their life. Someone who was serious. Someone who was ready to accept her and all the craziness she brought with her into the relationship. All those hard-to-handle parts of her that she hid away from most men; the difficult aspects of her personality that she felt had sabotaged so many of her previous relationships. And once she found that perfect man she could move on to all her other plans. Like finding the perfect job at the perfect restaurant. Have the perfect wedding, with the perfect husband and make the most perfect little babies.
All of that was gone now.
No more plans.
Back to square one.
Back to being Monica, the girl most men found to simply be too much and not worth the effort.
She turned to look at Chandler again and wondered why more men couldn't be as easy as he was. He didn't care about her need for order. Her systems. Her lists. Her charts. Her alphabetized pantry. Her constant need to clean. He just accepted her for who she was. And he made her laugh and feel warm inside in a way she could barely describe. It was like being with someone who could truly see who she was. She did not need to hide from him.
And the sex.
It was fantastic. It was amazing. It was the kind of sex that happened in a movie or a television show where you roll your eyes because no one has that kind of sex in real life. But it was real, and they seemed a perfect fit. There would be no more eye-rolling for Monica. Not after this week. Not after spending a night and day in bed having some seriously mind-blowing sex more times than she could count.
It might be the best sex she had ever had.
She knew for certain it was the best sex Chandler had ever had.
But sex with a friend could be complicated. And this was Chandler. He didn't do complicated. Clearly illustrated by how he decided to sleep in the other bed on their last night in Las Vegas instead of spending the final hours here enjoying what they were so obviously compatible at doing. No doubt that by choosing to abstain, he was not simply wasting an opportunity for more sex, but instead, he was setting up boundaries and communicating to her that this was over. Letting her know he was in no way ready to take things to the next level. To take this back home. True to form, he was bailing on whatever this was between them before things became tangled, like she had seen him do so many times before with other women. She knew this about him. Even before waking up last night feeling like a jilted lover when she discovered her bed was empty. Escaping to the other side of the room was exactly who Chandler was.
Yet, even knowing all of that, Monica still felt spurned. Which begged the question, why did she care so much about this being over? Even if Chandler had miraculously changed during this last week and stopped being the guy who undermined every budding relationship he was ever in, and he wanted to continue whatever this was they had been doing, did she? Was she even ready to try something like that with another man so quickly? And this wasn't any other man. This was Chandler. One of her best friends. She learned from Kip to tread lightly when contemplating turning a friend into a lover. It usually ended in disaster for everyone involved. Perhaps Chandler was right to sleep in his own bed. Maybe this was better. End it now. Painlessly before it became more intricate. Leave this in Vegas, just like they said they would. Besides, thinking about this was not part of the plan. Chandler was not the plan. The plan was to go home.
Monica broke her plan into several phases like some elaborate organizational relay race. She pictured the end of one phase and the beginning of the next like the passing of the baton. The first stage was getting clean clothes for the trip. The second stage was packing. The third stage was checking out. Now, the next stage was in sight, as she could see the cabs waiting on the other side of the glass right outside the casino lobby. Just a few more minutes and they would be on their way. Just a few dozen footsteps away from passing the baton to the next stage. Get in the cab. Get to the airport.
She wanted to get to the airport three hours earlier than their departure time. That would give them more than enough time to make it through security and get a good seat near the boarding station. This way, when their row was called, they could quickly get on the plane and find their seats. She wanted to make sure she was able to use the overhead compartment for her carryon that was at the perfect angle from her seat incase she needed to access it during the flight.
Everything had to be perfect, orderly, neat and punctual
But Chandler was being, well...Chandler. Completely obtuse to how desperate she was to get out of this hotel. He seemed to be distracted by everything around them. lights, slot machines, music, passersby; all of it holding his attention and delaying their progress. And now, with the symbolic baton pass so close she could feel it, he was tugging on her arm, holding her back and saying something about making one last bet before they leave. It didn't make any sense to her. While he tripped over his words as he tried to explain himself, she let her eyes fall to the craps table. This was not part of the plan. She glanced at him once more and caught some of the sparkle in his blue eyes. She tried to think of anything to get out of doing this. Not because she didn't want to, but because she knew, if any of the magic from the last seven days still lingered here in this casino, and if they stood together for more than a few minutes, even in these ridiculous matching tracksuits, she might lose her nerve, grab him by the hand and force him to go back upstairs.
"Okay, so, uh, eight. You roll an eight and it is definitely a sign."
"A sign, what kind of sign?" Monica looked down at the dice in her hand. At first, she was confused by what he was saying, but then suddenly, it made perfect sense.
A hard eight.
If she rolled a hard eight, it would be a sign. If she rolled a hard eight, she would forget about the cabs and the flight home. She would abandon all her plans and all her pursuits for perfection. If she rolled a hard eight, she would take him by his neck and kiss him roughly until he melted into a quivering pool of desire. If she rolled a hard eight, she would embrace the chaos of whatever this thing was between them and throw caution to the wind. If she rolled a hard eight, she would allow it to change her life.
"You know, that, uh, we're, uh, winners?"
Monica rolled her eyes. This man could never be serious. While she was contemplating making a huge life decision solely based on the roll of the dice, he was talking about a gambler's superstitious ritual for luck. She coiled her arm and tossed the dice, holding her breath as she did. This would be it. This would be a sign that she should ignore everything holding her back from giving into how good this feels to be here with him.
She glanced over at Chandler once more. He looked excited, almost relieved. She guessed from the winnings he was collecting as the croupier pushed some chips towards him. She wanted to share in his celebration, yet she could not help but feel detached from his exuberance.
It was the wrong kind of eight.
There was no sign.
Or maybe that easy eight was the sign. A sign that she should stop letting herself think that she could live some other kind of life where sleeping with her best friend turned into something more. It was a sign that she was right and that she should just stick with her plan.
Monica stared wide-eyed at Chandler. Richard's voice from the machine hung heavy in the room. She felt as if every nerve ending in her body was raw and exposed. She had no idea what to do now, and all she could do was utter the same question over and over and.
"Old or new?"
Chandler glanced at the machine and then nervously back at Monica. He felt a rush of emotions flowing through him so quickly, that he had no idea how to properly process them all. It was as if everything he wanted to say was stuck in a doorway, wedged together and incapable of passing through his lips.
"What if that's new? I mean…that night…when we broke up…we agreed not to talk again unless it was really important."
Chandler reached his hand around to the back of his neck and squeezed it, almost in an attempt to let this tactile sensation bring the world back into focus. "Honey, I, uh, I think it's old. You didn't hear the double-beep, right?"
Monica bit at her thumb and looked down. "Maybe I should call him back?"
Chandler could see Monica's brain spinning around like the wheels of a car stuck in mud. She was going back-and-forth repeatedly with no traction.
Monica looked up at Chandler and used her eyes to plead with him for some direction. Some words of advice. He could only stare back at her; slack-jawed and silent.
She wondered, maybe this was a sign? Perhaps Las Vegas was just some wild bachelorette party. Her last time to act crazy and impulsive before finally settling down. One last fling. Monica turned away from Chandler and paced to the other side of the room. She walked around in a circle but then stopped as she reached her bedroom door. She used the frame to hold herself up as her knees felt weak.
"I have to think about this. Maybe I should call him back. I mean, I can do that, right? I just have to be breezy."
Chandler's brow wrinkled up. "Breezy?"
"Yeah." Monica forced out a strained smile and gestured with her hands like a blackjack dealer who was leaving his shift. "I'm breezy."
Chandler eyed her skeptically. "You can't say you're breezy. That totally negates the breezy." Chandler looked down at his bag. "I can see you have a lot to think about though, so…"
Monica absentmindedly entered her bedroom, unaware that Chandler had been talking to her. She muttered to herself over and over the word "breezy".
Chandler shrugged his shoulders and picked up his back. This was probably for the best. She didn't need him complicating things, telling her how he was feeling, not now. Not so soon after a break-up that she was clearly not over yet.
Besides, Richard was a good guy. Maybe they would get back together. Maybe things would go back to normal and the two of them could just chalk up this week as a blip in their friendship. A funny story to tell years from now about that wild week in Las Vegas. Richard was much more of the husband type, which was better for Monica than his momentary compulsion to try and convince her that they should continue doing whatever it was they had been doing.
Chandler raised his voice in hopes that Monica would hear him. "So, uh, Mon…I guess I'll get going. You gonna be okay?"
He waited for a response from her but heard nothing and turned to leave.
But then it hit him, somewhere in the pit of his stomach.
This was all wrong.
This was not how this kind of thing was supposed to end.
He didn't want Vegas to become an anecdote.
He turned and looked at the machine. Monica was fine up until the moment she played this message. Dare he say, she looked energetic and content and not at all like a woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend. She seemed lighter, happier. She seemed like herself, like the Monica he had always known ever since he moved into this building. Now, she was a mess of nervous energy. No doubt busying herself in her room while she wondered what to make of this message. Perhaps Richard wasn't such a good guy after all. Good guys don't play with the emotions of the women they care about. They don't break it off just to show up later unannounced and proposition their ex simply because now they are ready.
Then, like some serendipitous signal, Phoebe's words from a week ago rang through his head.
"What if the husband person is the wrong guy and you are the right guy? I mean, you don't get chances like this all the time."
Those were the right words. A sentiment he needed to hear, but now he realized that Phoebe was simply talking about the wrong girl. It wasn't about the woman he met on the computer. It was about Monica.
Monica paced in her room, taking out clothes from her dresser and folding them tightly before putting them away again just so she could keep her hands busy while she tried to wrestle order out of chaos.
"Old or new. Old or new."
She could not get the question out of her mind. What if Richard had called her while she was in Vegas, looking for her. What if he called tonight? The same night she came home. What if this was a sign that they should give it a second chance and she should take his offer and run with it. Be with this perfect man forever. And make real all her perfect plans. She grabbed the phone from the receiver in her room. She started to think should call him back.
Suddenly, before she could gather the wherewithal to dial his number, she heard a loud beep coming from the other room followed by the robotic voice of her answering machine.
"Message deleted. You have zero messages."
She dropped the phone onto the floor. She was left incredulous after those monotone words rang through the apartment. She also felt a tinge of anger. An ember of rage that had the potential to combust into a wildfire.
She stormed into the living room and pointed an accusatory finger at the answering machine.
"What did you do?"
Chandler stood there frozen. His finger still attached to the button. His entire body felt stiff and rigid. "I, uh…I deleted the message."
Monica's eyebrows flared up. "Why would you do that?"
"Because you shouldn't be with him." Chandler looked down, afraid to see the look on Monica's face as he spoke. Fearful that it would stop him from speaking and cause him to lose his nerve. A nervous smirk flashed upon his lips. "You should be with me."
Monica felt a thud in her chest as her throat went dry. Suddenly, her frustration waned and all she could do was scratch out a tender "Really?" in response.
Chandler stepped back, almost in the kitchen as he tried to explain himself. "Yeah. When you were talking about calling Richard back…that was killing me. Look, things like what we did in Vegas, they don't just happen. Or at least, not to me." Chandler looked down at his feet and a soft smile spread across his lips. "You know, with the other women I've been with, in the morning, I would just lie there and I couldn't wait to leave so I could see my friends." He then looked back up, his eyes catching Monica's. "So I could see you. But in Vegas, I mean, I was already with a friend. I was already with you."
"I know you probably don't want to go out with me. You know, because I make too many jokes and I've never been in a serious relationship and I guess I'm not technically, a doctor…"
Before Chandler could finish, Monica hurled herself across the room, closing the gap between them and crashing into him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a long, hard kiss against his lips.
Monica slowly got out of bed and slipped on her robe. She gingerly walked across the bedroom and crouched down so she could grab the gym bag she had brought back from Vegas. She pulled out some clothes and placed them in the hamper and then lifted the bag from the floor.
She turned over her shoulder to look at Chandler who stretched his arms as he yawned. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
"No. I mean yeah, but, don't worry about it. What are you doing?"
"I'm going to hop in the shower. I'm just going to put these toiletries I brought home from the hotel into the bathroom."
"You stole from the hotel?"
"What? It's not stealing. This stuff is all complimentary. Anyway, do you know how much they charge you in fees? They treat you like a sucker."
"I hear ya Mugsy. Just know, stealing soap from a hotel is how Al Capone got his start."
Monica shook her head and chuckled. "It's not stealing!"
Monica reached the bedroom, and could not resist smiling at how easy this all felt. She reached into the shower to turn on the water, adjusting the knobs to achieve the perfect water temperature. Once she was satisfied, she dried her hands and then knelt down and started to pull out little bottles of soap, shampoo and conditioner from the bag, placing them under the sink. She then looked down and stopped in her motions. She pulled out an envelope that was tucked away at the bottom of the bag. When she opened it, she found it was full of cash. She quickly counted it. Fifteen hundred dollars. She grabbed the envelope and walked back to her bedroom.
"Chandler why is there an envelope full of money..."
The words died in Monica's throat as she stopped in her tracks. A sense of déjà vu washed over her as she watched Chandler make the bed.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm making a pizza. What does it look like I'm doing? I'm making the bed."
Monica closed the bedroom door behind her. "Yeah, but, you don't have to do that."
"Oh yeah, I want to be the guy who left Monica Geller's bed a mess. I'm sure that will end well for me." Chandler stopped in his motions and mocked as if he were having a conversation, playing both parts. "Say, did you hear about Chandler Bing? No, what happened? He left Monica's blanket crumpled up in a ball at the foot of the bed. Poor bastard, he will be missed."
Monica couldn't help but let out a chuckle. "It's just, I have a very specific way I like it made."
Chandler resumed his task and gestured with his head towards the foot of the bed. "Yeah, I know. The tag goes down here on the bottom right."
"And, these flower thingees point up not down."
Monica's brow wrinkled in delighted confusion. "Yeah."
Chandler shook his head as he placed the pillows back up against the headboard. "It's totally crazy."
Monica scoffed. "No it isn't. The head of the bed is where the sun would be."
"Oh, okay, now it makes perfect sense."
"No. But you know, it doesn't have to make sense."
Chandler stopped and looked at her. "Well, it's just…you're Monica. This is just part of who you are, so while I may find it insane and your need to keep things so clean that it is borderline abusive; if you didn't need the comforter put on in a specific way, you wouldn't be you. And, I like you."
Monica folded her arms and leaned against the door as she watched Chandler tuck the corners of the bedspread in almost the exact way that she liked them tucked in. He was certainly not the perfect man. He wasn't mature. He didn't have his own spacious apartment. He couldn't name one decent restaurant. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. He certainly couldn't grow a decent mustache. He didn't really have any ambition, or work ethic of any kind. He would no doubt move at a glacial pace as they tried to define what this thing between them was.
But he knew her.
He knew all her idiosyncrasies and quirks.
And he liked her anyway.
He was not going to run away from her.
So no, Chandler was not perfect. And she was pretty sure he may never be the most perfect guy in the world. But she was starting to think, maybe he was the right guy.
"This is where you are supposed to say, 'I like you too Chandler'. You know, it's kind of customary; when someone says it to you."
Monica laughed. "We just had sex. Twice."
"That just means you find me irresistible."
Monica sauntered over and kneeled on the bed across from him. She compelled him to climb up and join her as she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him in for a kiss.
"I like you too."
Before their lips could touch, the both felt a jolt as they heard the front door to the apartment swing open amid the clatter of four familiar voices.
"Monica! We're home!"
Monica and Chandler stared at each other with wide eyes at the sound of their friends returning home from Ross's banquet. They looked at each other, and almost simultaneously uttered the exact same sentiment.
A/N: Well, this is the end of this little story. I guess I could bring this version back and explore how this could change season three, but I feel like I had already done that with "TOW the Butterfly Effect" and I am not sure I could ever top my version of Ben's "Monica bang." Hopefully though, everyone who read this enjoyed it and found the ending satisfying. As always, thanks for taking the time to read. And yes, now I will be updating TOW Rachel Meddles. I just have to watch TOW the Stoned Guy.