Title: The Open Road-

Author: Kaitlyn

Summary: "I got some beer and the highway's free, and I got you and, baby, you got me."

Rating: PG-13

(In this story, Chandler and Monica have an Expedition. I love those things. They are such kickass cars!)

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One week later, the gang was to meet at Monica and Chandler's at 8:00 am to get a head start for the beach. At about 10 minutes before 8:00, Ross and Rachel entered the apartment to find that everyone else was already there. Suitcases littered the entire living room and kitchen, and Chandler was looking over a map to find the "most scenic route". Ross took the map away from him, folded it up, and stuck it in his hip pocket.

"Dude, I think there's only one POSSIBLE route. It's not that far away. Let's just get a move on; it's almost 8:00." Just then, Rachel noticed the hat that Joey was wearing for the first time. It was a white plastic visor, only it had two bills- one in the front, and one in the back. The front one was painted to look like a duck's bill.

"Joey, honey, what's with the hat?"

"Pretty cool, huh? Phoebe found it in her closet! She just let me have it! I didn't have to pay her or anything!" Joey's genuine excitement prohibited anyone from making any further sarcastic remarks.

Everyone was dressed for the beach, and the scent of sunscreen wafted through the air. Soon, the back of the car was loaded up with suitcases, beach chairs, a volleyball net, and a beach ball (which Joey had insisted on blowing up BEFORE they packed it). They piled into the car with Chandler behind the wheel, Monica in the passenger's seat, Ross and Rachel in the first row, and Phoebe and Joey in the back seat with most of the luggage. Squeezed in tightly, they headed off with thoughts of a weekend at the beach floating through their minds.

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About 10 minutes down the road, they had rolled down all the windows and turned the radio up. Van Morrison was belting out the lyrics to "Brown Eyed Girl", and Joey sang loudly along with him from the back seat. Monica sat with her right leg up on the dashboard and her seat reclined, plugging her ears with a headset of her own.

"You got an extra pair of headphones over there, Mon?" Chandler asked, gripping the steering wheel tightly.

"No, why? You want to drown out Joey?"

"No, I want to use the chord to strangle him with it."

Meanwhile, Rachel had made herself comfortable in the second row, sitting with her back against Ross' chest and stretching her legs out over the seat. She filed her fingernails, seemingly unaffected by Joey's off-key singing.

"Don't listen to them, Joey. You go ahead and sing as much as you want." Ross made a face at her.

"Really?" After a moment, she looked up at him as if she hadn't been sure that he'd said anything. She took two small piece of cotton out of her ears.

"What'd you say, honey?" He nodded and smiled, rubbing the back of her neck with his right hand. She was wearing a pair of especially small jean shorts and a white tank top, extenuated by the red, halter-style bikini top that shown through from underneath it. Her hair was in a messy bun and she wore sunglasses up on her head. He could not remember ever seeing her look so beautiful or sexy. He leaned over to whisper in her ear.

"Hey, sorry our romantic weekend kind of got ruined." She threw her head back to look up at him and smile, extending her lips to plant an exceptionally full kiss on his. Ending the kiss but not pulling her mouth away from his, she spoke against his lips.

"Oh, I have a feeling this weekend is going to be more romantic thank you think." This earned her a cocked eyebrow and an inquisitive smile.

"Yeah?" he inquired.

"Oh yeah," she affirmed, an intentional sexiness teasing her voice.

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Upon pulling up to the condo (though mansion would probably be a more accurate description), everyone starred in awe at the magnitude and beauty of it. It's was raised up on huge stilts (as most beachfront houses are), allowing for a makeshift two-car parking area underneath it. It was three stories high with a wrap-around balcony encircling the middle level, and two separate balconies coming off the back of the third to face the ocean. It's was made of a rich, dark wood that had not chipped nor faded from the harshness of time nor the elements.

"Wow," Monica chimed in with enthusiasm, "I don't remember it being this big!"

"Well, you know daddy. He always has to have the best." They climbed out of the car, grabbing armfuls of luggage and making their way to the door. When they stepped inside, the reaction was even greater than when they had first seen it from the street.

The front door opened on the second level to a sunken foyer with hardwood floors. Straight ahead, there were two steps that led up to a wide hallway, at the end of which was the kitchen and dinning area. To the left, there was another set of small stairs which lead to an elegantly furnished living room, compete with a fireplace, black leather couches, and a bearskin rug. To the right, two steps lead to a quaint study. The entire back of the second level (off of which was the wrap-around balcony) was made of glass. The staircases leading down and up were off of the kitchen.

The gang allowed themselves a moment to take it all in. After a few minutes of a silent calm, Rachel finally took the initiative and picked up her luggage.

"Come on, guys, it's just a house! There are two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. Follow me." She led them through the kitchen and up an open metal staircase, which wound around like something from a medieval castle. The stairs at the top led to a wide hallway, off of which were two doors on the right, two on the left, and one at the end.

"The two on the right are bedrooms," Rachel offered, "and the one at the end is a half-bath. There's a full bath attached to this first one on the right since it was my parents'. The second one was Amy's and Jill's to share. The first one on the left is just a small closet, but the second one is a lounge with a TV and stuff. Who wants what- you know, given that Ross and I get the one with the bathroom?" She smiled contentedly at Ross. Chandler and Monica both made disappointed faces, but quickly called the second available bedroom because of the view.

"Okay, downstairs we go." Ross, Rachel, Monica and Chandler left their luggage in their respective rooms and everyone made their way back down to the kitchen, and then down another flight of stairs which led to the bottom floor.

The bottom floor was really just one big room, with the exception of the two doors leading off (one on each side) the back of it. It appeared to be a big game room, of sorts, and would probably end up being where they spent most of their time. It was furnished with a white feather sectional couch, a black leather chair, a glass coffee table, a 51' TV set, an air hockey table, and an arcade-style Pacman game. There was even a wet bar that sat against the back wall. The guys were practically drooling.

"Rachel," Chandler asked dreamily, "can I MARRY this room?"

"Yeah, daddy really likes games...surprisingly. Anyway, those two doors back there lead to bedrooms. I guess Joey's in one and, Pheeb's, you can take the other one." Joey made a "How you doin'?" face and wrapped an arm around Phoebe.

"You know, it doesn't have to be that way." She giggled and patted him on the head. Rachel stood in front of all of them and clasped her hands together in front of her.

"So, what do you guys want to do first? There's the beach, or there are a lot of small beach shops around here to go to. Oh yeah, and there's a Jacuzzi on the back deck."

Ross and Chandler leaned into each other and discreetly tapped fingers in their college guy kind of way, exchanging respective "Sweets" and "Scores". Rachel and Monica noticed, of course, but let them have their fun.

"Let's go to the beach! I want to show off my cool hat!" Joey whined.

So, they made their way out to the sand, carrying coolers, a volleyball net and a stereo. It was midday- just around noon- but they were only sharing the beach with a few dozen other people. They cranked the stereo up to find Bruce Springsteen singing boldly about "Sherry Darling", and the guys set up the net to get a volleyball game started. Meanwhile, the girls applied their tanning oil and settled into their chairs for a relaxing day of sunbathing.

"Hey, Rach. Something just occurred to me," Monica stated after about an hour. "When you and Ross decided to come up here this weekend, did you not plan on us all being here?" Not sure quite how to answer that questions tactfully, Rachel hesitated and Monica noticed.

"No, God, I'm so sorry! I can't believe I did that! Did we totally ruin your plans?" Phoebe was now listening and piped in from the other side of Rachel.

"Yeah, did we, like, intrude on your 'bungalow of love'?"

"No, no, guys, it's really okay! I mean, look how much fun we're all having! It's no big deal! Besides, I've got some pretty romantic stuff planned for Ross and me, anyway." The conversation was quickly turning into one of their infamous girl chats as Phoebe and Monica scooted in closer.

"Really?" Monica asked excitedly. "Like what?"

"Well, you know how our first date was at the planetarium?"

"Yeah..." Phoebe encouraged.

"Tonight, I'm going to set up this telescope from dad's office out on the beach, with a blanket and some wine, and I thought we could do some real star gazing." The three girls giggles loudly underneath the big stripped umbrella, causing the guys to stop their game.

"What's so funny?" Ross asked.

"Nothing!" Monica replied quickly, trying frantically to conceal the secret. "We were just, um..."

"...laughing at Chandler's farmer's tan!" Phoebe finished. Monica smirked and Chandler looked down self-consciously.

Just then, Ross ran towards the girls, picked Rachel up, threw her over his shoulder, and headed for the ocean with her. She giggled and playfully protested the entire way, squirming in his arms. The girls watched from their place on the beach, smiling nostalgically.

"Do you think they'll be together forever?" Phoebe mused. Smiling warmly and seemingly lost in though, Monica shrugged and replied.

"Yeah, I do. I mean, they're Ross and Rachel."

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Around 6 pm, everyone came in from the beach with wet hair, sandy feet, and slightly tipsy from the half a cooler of beer they'd collectively finished off. They piled into the kitchen and began rummaging through the cabinets for food, only to realize that they'd forgotten to buy any on their way there that morning.

"We'll run out and get some," Chandler and Monica offered. "We're kind of tipsy, so we'd better walk. We'll be back in, like, an hour or so." A look of panic crossed Joey's face.

"What?! An HOUR? That's, like, the longest I've ever gone without eating!" Rachel tossed Joey an ice cream Snickers bar that had been in the fridge. She didn't bother mentioning that it was probably about a year old. She knew he wouldn't mind.

"Alright, time for my afternoon nap. Wake me up when the food gets here." Phoebe exclaimed, before disappearing down the stairs. Joey followed her, undoubtedly to either monopolize the big screen TV or to catch a game of Pacman.

Turning on her heels and offered a sexy and tantalizing smile to Ross. Sauntering across the room to where he was leaning against the counter, Rachel pressed her body up against him and ran her hands up his chest. Suddenly very aware of just how good her hair smelled and how salty and smooth her skin was, Ross smiled and wrapped his arms around her waste.

"So, uh, it looks like it's just you and me." Suddenly, he picked her up by her waist, spun around, and plopped her down on top of the counter. This provoked his favorite noise in the entire world- that unmistakable, girlish giggle of hers. He ran his hands firmly up her thighs, stopping them at the top and leaning in to suck gently on her bottom lip. She grabbed a fist full of his shirt to pull him in closer, deepening the kiss. When she scooted up on the counter, pushing his stomach right up against her opened legs, he broke their kiss and moaned a little against her.

"Hey, I have a feeling that if you did that again, I'd have had a whole lot of explaining to do to Monica and Chandler when they walked in from getting the groceries." She moaned in a feeble protest, but ultimately knew he was right, and was content to just sit there with him for a few more moments.

"Come on, let's go take a shower," she suggested, "I feel so salty and gross." He helped her down from the counter and placed an open-mouthed kiss on her shoulder.

"Mmm, salty...but definitely not gross." With that, he teasingly pushed her ahead of him and slapped her butt before chasing her up the stairs to the shower.

(End of Chapter 2. Hope you guys are liking it so far. The first night's date will come in the next chapter, which should be up pretty soon, since I have a lot of time between the end of school and going to visit the family for Christmas. By the way, the line of the song in the summary is from "Sherry Darling" by Springsteen, which was partly the inspiration for this song. Enjoy and review.)