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[personal profile] jamie_dakin
Title: Of the Spotless Mind
Fandom: Friends
Characters: Chandler Bing/Joey Tribianni
Prompt: #029, Birth
Word Count: 1766
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: "Friends" is owned by NBC and Bright, Kauffman and Crane. No profit, no sue, just fun. The title comes of course from "Eloisa to Abelard" by Alexander Pope. Hey, I see a bandwagon - I jump.
Author's Notes: Chandler and the twins post-series. This is what he's giving up Joey for. For the madness that is [livejournal.com profile] fanfic100.

Joey/Chandler prompt table...



Of the Spotless Mind

When they had asked him years ago if he remembered their birth, Chandler had said yes.

He had pulled Erica onto his lap and squeezed his arm around Jack's belly, set the porch seat swinging with a careful push of his leg and told them that he remembered.

He had told them that Jack was all squishy and red and that Erica, like any proper fairy princess, had tumbled gracefully from a slowly opening daisy.

And Jack had laughed that laugh, god that laugh, and Erica had looked up and smiled Popsicle-purple at him from under her plastic sequined crown.

They had squirmed and shrieked with delight as he peppered their faces with kisses he once upon a time didn't know he had to give, giggled when he growled like the not-really-scary monsters he reads to them about at bedtime.

Monica had stuck her head through the kitchen window and ordered the three of them inside to clean up the mess they'd made with play-doh on the living room floor.

"Uh, oh, we're in trouble now..." Jack had whispered into the tunnel of his cupped hands at Chandler's ear with that warm breathy voice that used to keep
Chandler up at night, he already knew by then he wasn't allowed to keep them that age.

Their children.

And of all the proper parenting moves that Chandler should have done or the the responsible things he should have said (or even just offered a look because Chandler had never needed more than a look), all he did was grin at the both of them and waggle his eyebrows conspiratorially before watching them set off running into the house.

He'd paused a moment - as he did less often then - before following, and reminded himself that this is what he'd given up Joey for.

* * *
A few less years ago they'd asked him if he remembered their birth and Chandler had said yes.

Jack had nudged aside the Playstation VI controls, which most certainly should not have been out on a school night, to make room for Chandler beside him. Erica had swung her feet over the back of the couch, where they more than most certainly should not have been and struggled half-heartedly with the Chunky Monkey ice cream container - that she only liked because Uncle Joey did - before handing it over to Chandler, even though she could open it on her own. Her legs had swung down and squeezed themselves between Chandler's back and the cushions, bringing her up to sit on the backrest with her icy hands tucked under the collar of Chandler's shirt.

He'd told them that he remembered that Jack had cried and cried just like the baby next door did all day (Erica had giggled and wrapped one slender arm around his neck) and that he'd always thought that Erica had been smiling up at him but that he knew now that it was just gas (Jack had burst out laughing and after a few moments of blushing and pouting on Erica's part, Chandler had bowed his head down to plant a kiss on her arm and then blow an enormous raspberry in its place, which even she could not remain immune to for long).

Monica had come home early instead of the planned late, took less than a single look around the house and sent them all promptly to bed without supper (the monthly Good Parenting magazine in the bathroom had a three sheet spread on efficient old fashioned punishments).

Chandler sees the two of them trying to listen from the top of the stairs out of the corner of his eye as he tries to pick up the ice cream container and dirty spoons from the coffee table but only succeeds in getting in Monica's way as she gathered the utensils loudly. He was trying to remember if she had even acknowledged his presence since walking through the door.

He'd followed her to the kitchen and pled their case to her disappointed back as she'd angrily scrubbed at the spoons, her sharp shoulder blades twitching with every repetitious movement.

"My fault…"

"Of course it's your fault."

"They shouldn't be puni…"

The tap had been opened again, the spoons thrust under the lukewarm stream and the muscles in Monica's jaw twitched as she had calmly said "They should know better Chandler. If you're always going to be here they need to learn to know better."

She doesn't yell, so much of him always wanted for her to yell.

'If you're always going to be here…'

If.

His voice had betrayed him then, meek and pathetic as he tried to force the words out.

"That's not fair, look, I said I was sorry..."

Monica had turned off the tap and dried her hands on the kitchen towel with the red chrysanthemums before reaching into the cutlery drawer, pulling out a spoon of her own and grabbing the remains of the ice cream. She'd sat at the breakfast table and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands and Chandler had thought to himself that she was still beautiful. Even though she'd never looked like all her many years until just then under the overhead fluorescent .

"I am so fucking tired of being a single parent to three kids Chandler. I just... I can't anymore."

He had begged.

Of course he had begged, though he'd never honestly done it for anything before. But he had done it then and when he closed his eyes that night he thought that it had felt no different than if he had been begging for his life.

For all their lives.

For their children.

For his children.

The crack of his voice and her deepest fears win the battle for him but even the children know he's lost the war. They know and yet they say nothing later when Chandler sneaks them cinnamon pop tarts and juice boxes up to their rooms after the bathroom door in the master bedroom had been locked.

He had brushed stray bits of hair off their foreheads and tucked them in even though they were getting far too old for it. Jack fell asleep before
Chandler had even shut the lights off on his way out and Chandler had pressed his forehead against the smooth paint of the door frame and watched his son and thought about Monica crying behind the audio shield of the shower.

He reminded himself that this is what he gave up Joey for.

* * *
Not enough years later they won't ask him if he remembers their birth but Chandler will tell them anyways.

He will stretch his arm across Jack's chest to the popcorn perched on the other side of the couch and grab a handful to bring back to Erica on his other side. He and Jack will both pretend not to notice Jack tilting his head up as Chandler fumbles with the kernels in the bowl. One arm will already have been stretched across the back of the couch over Jack's skinny teenager's shoulders and the other one will now wrap him up almost completely into Chandler's chest.

He will fumble with the popcorn on purpose and let Jack smell the old cologne he only wears when they come over. He will pull back before Jack has a chance to shrug him off though. It's never happened but the fear is too ingrained and the idea too awful to bear. Chandler will empty his hand into the makeshift bowl that Erica makes with both of hers and bring his head down to eat from it like a dog.

"Dad..."

But she will be smiling. And so will Jack, shaking his head and looking at Erica. And Erica will look at Jack and Chandler will watch them both and his heart will make an odd cracking noise as the words 'son' and 'daughter' chase each other around his ribcage.

They will nod at each other with that twinnish grin reflected in their eyes and proceed to spill the entire contents of the plastic bowl over Chandler's head.

The popcorn will squish under their colored socks as they smack pillows against each other, butter and salt tattooing the upholstery with his love for them.

They'll collapse tiredly in front of an old western on TCM with the volume turned down and Chandler and Erica will do all the voices. Animals too. And Jack won't even pretend to be too cool for that anymore.

He will tell them even though they won't ask.

He will tell them that they had made him a daddy.

Or without the 'a', just made him daddy.

And he will listen to them talk about Monica's husband.

Chandler will think of him taking Jack to saxophone lessons and picking up Erica from tennis and maybe teaching them how to drive one day.

He will run his fingers through Erica's hair, her head resting on his knee and her fist closed around the spare material of his slacks around his shins.

He will close his eyes and think about the man raising their children.

His children.

Only ever his.

A car outside will honk for them and they'll pick up their mess in silence even when Chandler says to let it go. They will let him wrap them up in
sweaters and coats and scarves and sorrow and he doesn't know why they let him do all this.

He doesn't deserve it, any of it, doesn't deserve them.

He will have failed them in the end or maybe even before that.

Just like he had always known he would.

Just like Joey had always believed that he wouldn't.

There will be a knock at the door and the exchange of false niceties between the victorious and the defeated.

Erica will hug him to her slender frame too tightly and Jack will just nod at him, remembering that he's almost a man after all, with a step-father to impress and a real father to not break.

The door will shut softly behind them and Chandler will choke back something he doesn't quite have a name for yet as he looks around the apartment
pathetically for a book bag or a single glove left behind.

He doesn't remember all of the things he's ever told them about their birth.

He remembers fear and panic and a curious need to either get an intravenous feed of nicotine or maybe vomit into a nearby sink for a very long time.

But then there they were.

And all he remembers from then and until now is looking at their tiny hands and open crying mouths and thinking to himself that this is what he's giving up Joey for.

His favorite secretary will call with a worked out schedule for tomorrow with adequate time allotted for him to meet with his lawyer in the city.

He will be circling houses in the paper when the phone rings again but Chandler won't answer Joey's customized Baywatch theme ring.

He will bite down on his pen, hard, and remind himself that this is what he's still giving up Joey for.

Because even though Monica will win in court just like she wins everything, he still owes them the best fight he can give.

A mother with a proper new doctor father and a decorated suburban duplex vs. an overworked executive, even if he is the boss these days, with a butter and tear-stained apartment and one decidedly male starving actor sharing his bed and his heart.

The ring will die down and Chandler will doodle on the newspaper corner for a moment before going back to circling ads.

There will be no message left on his machine.


Date: 2005-12-07 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] violetfishy.livejournal.com
Oh my god, you have made my heart ache. I really felt for Chandler nad you made all the emotions so strong in such a short work. Kudos.

Date: 2005-12-07 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jamie-dakin.livejournal.com
aw, shucks... *blushes*
I'm glad you liked it.

Date: 2005-12-07 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kai-the-great.livejournal.com
Aww =( Angsty Chandler. I feel so sorry for him.

Date: 2005-12-07 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jamie-dakin.livejournal.com
ah yes, teh Chan-Chan angst...
;)
thanks for reading!

Date: 2005-12-08 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] illgetmerope.livejournal.com
ohh, poor chandler!

ps. i think that be Lance's beautiful eye in your icon!!

Date: 2005-12-08 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jamie-dakin.livejournal.com
hee, actually it be Jon Stewart's beautiful eye in the icon but now that you mention it I see the resemblance.
thanks for reading!

Date: 2005-12-08 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riverflame.livejournal.com
Chandler with kids is the most wonderful thing I've ever seen! Oh, lovely. And I like the repetition within the story :D

Date: 2005-12-08 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jamie-dakin.livejournal.com
merci for reading.
I thought he would look at parenthood differently from Monica, especially with his history and whatnot.

Date: 2005-12-14 07:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pomegranate-red.livejournal.com
I'm going back and reading some of your fics, because I have such love for your style and all, and:
The popcorn will squish under their colored socks as they smack pillows against each other, butter and salt tattooing the upholstery with his love for them.
is so absolutely gorgeous that I can barely handle it. And the ending- so honest and fitting and right despite the pain.
Just wonderful.

Date: 2005-12-14 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jamie-dakin.livejournal.com
*blushes*, I never know what to say when someone picks out my favorite line...
There's some stuff in the works but I keep having to remind myself that this is fanfic_100 and not Chandlerbashing_100...

Date: 2005-12-18 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gato-sucio.livejournal.com
holy crap... i dont know what to say. that is one of the greatest friends fanfics i've ever read and i love you for it. i didnt expect it to end either.

very well written. now i'm off to read the other one. :D

Date: 2005-12-21 05:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paperthin-sin.livejournal.com
this ...agfgfkgd? asdsdg. i was cracking everytime he mentioned that THIS was what he was givingjoey up for, and when he leaves no message i cried. :( so sad and so true and wah. this is gorgeous.

Date: 2005-12-31 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heartscientist.livejournal.com
This was gorgeous. You got the emotions so right and it was painful because of that but it hurt in a good way.

I cried.

Date: 2006-01-03 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blu-cookie.livejournal.com
*Falls down and sobs uncontrollably*

I just want to sit in a very dark room for a very very long time now.

Date: 2006-02-01 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strifechaos.livejournal.com
Wow, this is so full of emotions. Brimming with them. You could just feel Chandler's pain, very vibrant. You did an amazing job. This broke my heart. I feel for him and *sigh* your story was beautiful. *smiles* *glomps*

Date: 2006-05-10 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
brilliant!
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