Chandler goes inside Central Perk and orders his usual coffee to go from Gunther, to take with him on his way to work. Normally, none of his friends are down here this early in the morning.
Not even Rachel who usually works afternoons or evening shifts. That's why he was surprised to see her there, keeping herself busy, busting tables. Chandler finds himself watching her as he waits for his coffee, and can't help but notice that she has a far-off, sad look she has in her eye, like her mind is in other places right now, and Chandler knows why. It was only a couple days ago that she and Ross broke up again after the she found out about the other girl he slept with while they were on a break. He, along with Joey, Phoebe and Monica, had heard the whole fight they had afterwards while they were trapped in Monica's room. It had been painful to listen to. Not only because it brought back horrible childhood memories of his parent's divorce for him, but because as Ross's best friend, he felt obligated to sympathize with him. He knows how much Ross loves Rachel, and he knows how hard this must be for him, but he couldn't help but feel for Rachal, too. She was the real victim in all this. Here she had been so happy to finally get back together again with the man that she loved only to for him to break her heart. She didn't deserve that. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he realized how badly Ross had screwed up. Rachel was a beautiful, kind-hearted girl, with so much going for her and Ross didn't know how lucky he was to have her. He knew how hard Ross was trying to get her back, but for what he did, Ross didn't deserve a girl like Rachel.
'If Rachel's so great,' a small voice in his head asks him 'then why don't YOU go out with her?'
Chandler snorts to himself at this idea. 'Yeah, right...me and Rachel. Boy, Ross would love that, wouldn't he?' he laughs out loud. Louder than he had meant to, and
Rachel finally notices him standing there.
"Oh, hey Chandler. I didn't see you there." She said as she walked past him, her hands full of empty mugs she had picked up from the tables. "You're up early."
Chandler cleared his throat, embarrassed that she had caught him standing there laughing at nothing, like an idiot. "Yeah, I usually am." he says. "You know..
work and all. I assume that's why you're here as well. Unless of course, you're just cleaning up around here because you've picked up on Monica's obsessive
Rachel smirks as she sets the mugs down in the sink behind the counter. "Nah, someone called in sick, and I kind of need the extra cash..plus, I thought I'd take a break from
sitting around moping.."
"Ah..yeah, I've heard that can be tiring." Chandler says, wishing he could think of something more comforting to say. He's so witty when it comes to cracking a joke at an
inappropriate moment, but when it comes to consoling someone, his mind usually goes blank. He decides to give it a try, anyways. "Hey, listen..uh, about the whole Ross thing..
I really am sorry. I mean..don't tell Ross I said this, but..what he did was pretty low. I just think..you know..you didn't deserve that."
'Woah, where did that come from?' he thinks to himself, raising his eyebrows.
Rachel just stares at him, with a puzzled expression, because it's so unlike him to say something like that. After a moment, she smirks, putting her hand on his arm.
"Thanks, Chandler. That actually means a lot to me, right now."
"Oh, well..good." Chandler says, slightly relieved. "Glad I could help."
He picks his coffee up off the counter as Rachel goes back to work, making fresh pots of coffee. He starts to head for the door, knowing he should probably get to work, himself
before he's late again. But for some reason, he stops before he gets to the door, looking back at Rachel again.
'Ask her.' the same voice in his head from earlier says. 'She is single now, you know..'
"I can't..." he mutters under his breath. "Ross would kill me."
Rachel turns around, looking at Chandler curiously. "Sorry?"
"Um..Did you just say something?"
"Yeah...I did. I was...talking to myself."
"Ah." Rachel says, nodding. "Do you do that often?"
Chandler pauses. "Yes, actually...but I'm still not as bad as the old homeless guy down the street who yells at clouds."
Rachel laughs. He loves making her laugh. She has the prettiest smile..
Taking a deep breath, Chandler takes a hesitant step towards her.
"Hey, Rach?" he says. "What time do you get off work?"
"Later this afternoon, why?"
"Uh.."Chandler pauses. He nervously rubs the back of his neck. He's always been afraid of asking girls out. He clears his throat.
"Well..I was just thinking...that maybe, um...maybe you and I could...you know, go see a movie..or grab dinner, later maybe?"
Rachel looks at him, furrowing her brow, and he immediately regrets his decision to ask her. "Uh..I'm sorry. You and me? Like...like a date, is that what you're asking me, Chandler?"
"Oh no!" Chandler says, quickly. "No..God, no! Not a date..I mean..that would be so inappropriate of me to ask you out on a date right after what happened with you and Ross!"
He lets out a loud, nervous laugh, which he also regrets. He's starting to wish that the floor would just swallow him whole so that he wouldn't be in this extremely awkward
situation right now. "No, no...I just meant...you know, as friends! I was just thinking about what you said before about the whole..sitting around and moping thing and I just thought
...you know..since Monica will probably be at work, that if you wanted someone to talk to or..even just hang out with, I'm free. That's all I meant. I'm so sorry."
he quickly adds. "You know what? Never mind.."
Rachel looks up at him with a smile. "Chandler, that is so sweet of you! I'd love to!"
"Wha- Really?" Chandler says in disbelief. He clears his throat, trying not to let her see how happy this makes him.
"Yeah! So, I'll come over to your place around 7 to pick you up, then?" she says.
"Sure! Yeah, I'll be there. I mean..I do live there." He laughs again. "I uh..I guess I'll see you later, then."
"Ok, great! Bye!"