Title: The Prince Of Tides- Like The Tide

Author: Kaitlyn

Summary: "Man wonders and God decides When to kill the Prince of Tides"

Rating: PG

It has been almost a week since Rachel left. The unmitigated, bleak winter has begun to fade. Leaves have begun to reappear on the trees lining the street outside their apartment, and the sharp, bitter cold that had once encased their building has dulled. The tightening in Ross' heart has not, however, and he walks around the apartment in an illusive daze. He has not been to work since the day she disappeared- he has not even left the apartment. Though Monica has called every day, he feels no real connection with the outside world. She was his only connection to anything, and she had left.

He's been sleeping on the couch, gripping the framed picture of them on their wedding day tightly to his chest. He isn't really sure why he does it. It doesn't make him feel especially comforted, though he knows that it should. The phone sits on the coffee table, undisturbed, except for the once a day that Monica calls to check up. In his heart, he always wishes that it's her. In his head, he knows that it never will be. She is far too classy for that. He knows that the next time he hears her voice, it will be when she is standing in front of him. Maybe it will even be better that way.

This particular day is a Tuesday. Idle Tuesdays- except nothing and anything from a Tuesday. It is nearly 2 pm, and he has yet to move from his position on the couch. He attempted turning on the television once, but the act left him feeling guilty and barren, and he soon grew tired of it. Suddenly, the phone rings, and he jumps for it with a ferocity that is brazen and hesitant all at once.

Ross: Hello?!

Monica: It's just me.

Ross (disappointed): Hi.

Monica: Ross, you know it's me every time. Why do you always sound so disappointed?

Ross: I don't know. I'm fine, though, before you ask.

Monica: I wasn't going to ask. I know that you're not.

Ross (slightly irritated): I've got things to do.

Monica: Like what? Lay around on the couch until you fall asleep again?

Ross (defensive): Hey, what do you want me to do, huh? New York is a big place, Mon. I can't just go running around the city, trying to find her. Even if I could, that wouldn't bring her home. She's not coming back until she's ready. You know that- you're the one who told me.

Monica: Maybe she's ready.

Ross (jumping up): What? Do you know something? Have you heard from her?

Monica: Answer the door, Ross.

Ross: What?

He hadn't realized it, but there'd been nearly three knocks at the door since he'd been on the phone with Monica. Throwing the phone on the couch and rushing to the door, he swung it open.

She always was like the tide.

***********************************************************************************

"Hi," she whispered, her voice small and tentative. He hadn't expected her to look the way she did. When someone vanishes unexpectedly for a week, the image you get in your mind of their return is of someone battered and broken. She was far from those things. She looked better than he'd seen her look in nearly a year. She looked like Rachel- HIS Rachel. The unfamiliar, dark circles that had existed under her eyes had disappeared. Her skin had lost it's hollow tint and was back to it's healthy tan, despite the fact that it was still only in the upper 60s outside. Her eyes were bright and wet- not from tears, but from some confident expectancy that was so like her. She was almost smiling.

"Oh my God," he muttered, pulling her inside the apartment and into his arms. He closed his eyes and let the familiar yet foreign scent of her hair calm his racing heart. She even smelled like the old Rachel. It was something in between dew and that unmistakable scent of...cleanness. It was like the Rachel he had known and loved from so long ago had just reappeared, no questions asked. He felt as if he was not looking at a woman who he'd been missing for a week, but rather a woman who he'd been missing for a year.

He pulled away, smiling and brushing the hair off of her face with the back of his fingers. She brought her hand up to wrapped it around his wrist, making this beautiful noise somewhere between exhaling and laughing. He moved in to kiss her, but instead just rested his forehead against hers.

"Ross..." he shook his head.

"It doesn't matter. I don't care. You're here." He pressed his lips against hers. It was not a kiss. Neither moved to make it more. They merely stood there, remembering what it was like to be that close.

"What's in the bag?" She had been holding a white plastic bag in her right hand the entire time, but he had been too preoccupied to questions her about it. She looked down at it, as if she were just then realizing it's existence for the first time.

"See for yourself." She handed it to him, her face content yet expectant. He opened it and starred down calmly yet in some disbelief at it's content. Pulling it out, he revealed a tiny pink pajama suit with footies and a "trap door" in the back. It had a teddy bear print. He looked up at her, searching her face.

"What do you think about the name Emma?" she asked, smiling the biggest, most gorgeous smile he could ever remember her displaying. He shook his head in disbelief and then chuckled, pulling her in for another hug.

"God, Rach. Where have you been?" She wasn't sure if he meant for the past week or the past year. He wasn't sure, either.

"Let's just say I was doing a little soul searching."

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

"I'm standing right in front of it."

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Spring turned into summer, which turned into autumn, and along with the changing of the leaves came the birth of Emma Geller. She was the perfect combination of her parents, with her father's chestnut hair and her mother's emerald eyes. She wouldn't know it until she was much older, but she was what had saved her parents. She was the light at the end of their tunnel.

The month before Emma had been born, Rachel's cancer had gone into remission. The doctors had always told her there was at least a 50% chance it would reappear, but it never did. Just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. Like so many other things in their lives, it, too, was like the tide.

Rachel never told Ross where she had been for that one fateful week between winter and spring. He never asked. It simply did not matter. Monica, besides Rachel, was the only one who knew, and even Chandler and never been successful in uncovering the truth. Wherever she had gone, and whatever she had done, it had brought her back to him. It had brought her back to them. After all, only God controls the tide.

(The End. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. As for where Rachel disappeared to...I'll leave that one up to the your imaginations :-) Review.)