It's Always Darkest Before Dawn

In A New York Minute

As Monica and Chandler were busily putting away the groceries, Ross and Rachel were sitting on the wooden swing on the patio, the silence only broken with the sounds of chimes, that were swaying in the night breeze. Lightning was dancing, in the far distant sky as the bright moon slowly dissolved as clouds were rolling in. "Look like another storm is heading our way", Ross observed. "Mmmm", Rachel mumbled, not really paying attention as her mind was elsewhere. A sharp cool breeze made Rachel shiver as Ross removed his jacket and wrapped it around her. "When did life become so complicated", Rachel asked as she and Ross huddled together. Ross shrugged and said "I'm not sure". Rachel snuggled next to Ross, as close as she could and said "Right when you have life all figured out, and all the answers, suddenly the questions change"

Ross pulls Rachel in close, in a tight embrace as Monica steps outside and sits next to her brother, as Chandler went to check on the kids. "You guys doing ok", she asked and Rachel sighed and said "We're ok. Not great, but we're doing ok". Monica nodded and the three of them sat outside, listening to the sound of distant thunder, as the lightning was getting closer. Precious, the family cat had returned from her evening of prowling the neighborhood and made her way to where everybody was sitting, looked up at Monica and meowed. She picked up cat, scratching her ears and said "Are you hungry", as she took the cat back inside.

"Precious", Emma squealed as she pet her gently on the head, as the cat purred contently. Monica asked if Emma wanted to help her feed the cat, and she said that she would. "Ok", Monica said, "Why don't you grab a can of cat food from the pantry". Emma walked over to the pantry and selects a can of cat food and hands it to Monica. "Now Better Tasting", Monica said as she read the label, gave Emma a funny look and said "And how would they know". Emma giggled as Chandler said "You know, they have people who actually taste pet food, for a living". Emma made a gagging sound as Monica said "It give "will work for food" a whole new meaning.

Monica opens the can of food and gives it to Emma, who plops it down in Precious' dish, as she scampers over, and starts to eat. Then they all head outside, as Emma climbs into her mother's lap and she smiles and says "Are you having a good time". Emma nodded and said "We're playing on the X-Box, and Uncle Chandler told me he'd teach me how to play Monopoly" Chandler said it was fun and easy to learn, and he goes to get the game out as Monica makes some more tea and sets out some chips and dip. A few hours later, and everybody is playing Monopoly as the game is just down to Chandler and Rachel. "So what did you want to do, tomorrow", Chandler asked and Emma said she wanted to walk to the top of the Empire State Building

"I should really learn to keep my mouth shut", he joked as he rolled the dice and moved his token. "Oh yes", Rachel said, "You just landed on boardwalk with a hotel. That'll be $2,000 please" Chandler hands Rachel some money, she counts it and said "You're $500 short". Chandler looked around, trying to mortgage his properties, but still came up short. "Well, I guess that's the game", he said as he took a sip of tea. "Let's play again", Emma said as her mom chuckled and said "Sweetie, it's late and well past your bed, and we have a big day tomorrow". Chandler stepped outside to watch the rain for a few seconds, before turning off the light in the back yard, and making sure all the doors were locked.

"Do we have to go to bed", Emma whined and Rachel said "It's almost midnight and we're getting up early in the morning so we can go to the city". Rachel and Monica took Emma to the guest room and Rachel tucked her in, gave her a kiss and said "You need to get some sleep, because we're getting up early in the morning". She turned to leave, flipped the light switch on and said "We'll be up, in a few minutes", as she closed the door and joined the others in the living room, just as Chandler returned from putting the twins to bed. Ross was standing outside, leaning against a pillar as Rachel stepped outside next to him. watching the rain fall.

She placed her hand on his shoulder and whispered "It's going to be ok". Ross looked at her and said "Is it? How do you know". Rachel knew how much he was hurting, and she was hurting as well and softly, and gently said "Because I have to believe it... we have to believe it" Ross tried not to cry again as Rachel could see his eyes water and she said "Oh, come here honey" as she hugged him tightly, gently caressing his back as he broke down, sobbing. "My daughter is sick, and there is nothing I can do for her". She stayed out there with him for a few minutes, just holding him, trying to comfort him as best as she could, and Ross never felt safer than he did, in her arms. "Sweetie, everything is going to be ok. We have to believe that. Right now, that is the only thing keeping me going", Rachel said. "Nothing will ever be the same again, will it", Ross said. Rachel didn't answer, she just took his hand and said "Come on, it's getting late" as they go back inside

- To Be Continued -

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