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The Bridesmaid and the Groomsmen
This story takes place in season ten, during Phoebe's wedding to Mike.
Ross Geller walked into Joey Tribbiani and Rachel Green’s apartment in the heart of New York City. He had a problem that only Rachel could fix. Phoebe Buffay’s wedding was the very next day, and he still did not have a part in the wedding. It feels weird not being in a wedding, I’m always in weddings he joked bitterly, referring to his constant string of divorces. Phoebe’s fiancé Mike Hannigan needed a groomsmen at the last minute, and Phoebe had left Rachel with the responsibility of picking which friend to take the spot: Ross or Chandler Bing.
Ross confidently held the bottle of wine and two glasses under his arm. He was positive that he had the upper edge over Chandler where Rachel was concerned: given their history of marriage, divorce, and parenting, she was sure to see his side….or throw him out the door. With one quick knock, Ross slowly opened the door, reveling a weary Rachel sprawled on her bed with a bridal magazine.
“My God, you are breathtaking,” he stammered, knowing that his statement was partly grounded in truth.
“Excuse me?” Rachel said surprised, not looking away from her magazine.
Ross took the opportunity to come inside. “I just don’t know how you do it,” he murmured.
“What do you want Ross?” Rachel asked, slightly agitated from a long day of taking care of the final details for Phoebe’s wedding, which culminated with Monica – Ross’ sister – being fired at the rehearsal dinner.
“I thought you could use a drink after a long night,” Ross offered, holding out the wine and two bottles.
Rachel peered at the label. “You went for the expensive stuff,” she complimented.
Ross nodded his head. He was going to get that groomsmen spot at any cost. “You only live once and if Phoebe’s wedding isn’t a time for celebrating, I don’t know what is.”
Rachel took a glass from Ross, unable to fight with his logic after a long day.
“What are you looking at?” Ross asked.
Rachel pulled out a notebook that went with the magazine. “These are the last minute details for Phoebe’s wedding. There is just so much more to be done – and with Monica being fired, everything is passed down to me.” Rachel took a greedy sip of her drink. “I swear when I get married I am going to elope.”
“Really?” Ross asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No,” Rachel joked. “Truth is, I love weddings. And after tomorrow, everything will be over with and Phoebe can start her new life with Mike.”
Ross scooted closer to Rachel and began to rub her back. “So why don’t you forget about the little details for now, and worry about them in the morning,” he suggested amicably as his fingers moved up and down her body.
“Oh Ross, you’re right,” Rachel sighed, giving in. She carelessly brushed the magazine and notebook aside as she leaned into Ross’ cooling touch. “This is exactly what I needed after a day like today.”
“I’m just here to help,” Ross offered as he leaned in to inhale the scent of Rachel’s perfume, still lingering on her body. He moved his hands lower, reaching down to her waist. It had been so long since he had touched another woman, and no one ever came close to being as ascetically pleasing as Rachel.
“Well your timing is too perfect,” Rachel moaned, sitting up and facing Ross. She gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek in thanks. Ross caught her eyes, and Rachel didn’t want to pull away, so she scooted closer into his arms. Ross instinctively pulled her into a long kiss. Rachel slowly unbuttoned Ross’ shirt, casting it aside on the floor. Turning out the light, Rachel and Ross found themselves reuniting in a typical Ross and Rachel, on and off fashion. For now, the relationship was on.
The clock on Rachel’s night table flashed 2:00. She had fallen asleep in Ross’ arms; it felt so good to feel his touch again, after more than a year apart. It seemed so natural to Rachel, to be with Ross; she attributed that to their frequent on and off relationship, something that she was still trying to understand.
“Hey,” Ross said gently, caressing Rachel’s hair.
“Hey,” Rachel said softly.
“Would you like another drink?” Ross asked. “We have half the bottle left.”
Rachel nodded her head as Ross reached for the wine and glasses.
“Phoebe’s getting married in less than twelve hours,” Rachel laughed.
“You know, I never thought Phoebe was the marrying kind,” Ross joked.
“Me neither,” Rachel remarked; “But I am so proud of her for doing this. Do you think she’ll be happy with Mike?”
Ross nodded his head. “Mike’s perfect for her; he’s just sane enough to handle all of her crazy.”
“We should toast to Phoebe and Mike,” Rachel suggested as Ross handed her a glass. Ross agreed and they clinked their glasses together.
“There was another reason that I came by tonight,” Ross said softly, taking Rachel’s free hand in his.
“That pesky ulterior motive,” Rachel chuckled. She traced her fingers up and down Ross’ chest. “After last night, you can have whatever you want,” she purred.
Ross braced Rachel against his body. “Pick me to me Mike’s groomsmen,” Ross whispered into her ear. “You and I, together again at the wedding and…”
“Yes,” Rachel mumbled, as she leaned up to press her lips against Ross.
“Rachel,” Ross murmured into her hair as they placed their glasses on the floor and fell onto the bed.
“Do you want me to tell Chandler?” Ross asked he and Rachel finished getting dressed for the morning.
“No, I’ll tell him,” Rachel offered. “He’ll understand.”
Ross came up behind Rachel and gave her a kiss. “Last night was amazing.”
“And so was this morning,” Rachel commented. “Though I have to ask, was last night a one night thing?”
Ross turned to face Rachel.
“Just a bargaining chip to make sure you’re in the wedding,” Rachel continued.
“It wasn’t that,” Ross swore. He took Rachel’s hands in his. “Last night meant something to me.”
“It meant something to me too,” Rachel said softly.
“Do you have any plans after the wedding?” Ross asked.
Rachel shook her head ‘no’.
“Well you do now,” Ross winked as he left the room.
Rachel smiled and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Last night had been a pleasant surprise, a windfall for both them, and now they were going to be able to enjoy Phoebe’s wedding together.
Several hours later, Rachel was touching up her make-up in her bedroom. An unusually large and ill-timed blizzard forced the wedding party to relocate to the street outside of Central Perk for the ceremony. The club where the event was going to be held had lost all power and Rachel had suggested to get married outside, amidst the snow drift, music, and twinkly lights. Phoebe jumped at the chance to bring the event closer to home; she never told anyone this, but she couldn’t have been happier with the new location; the grand hall was Monica’s idea, and now that the two friends made up, Phoebe promised herself a simple life with her new husband – which was all she could really ask for.
Ross knocked on Rachel’s door once more, dressed in a tux and holding Rachel’s bouquet for her.
“Hi,” Rachel said, spinning around for Ross to get a full view of her bridesmaid dress.
“Wow,” was all Ross could muster as he stood in the doorway.
Rachel happily took the flowers. “The wedding’s in an hour.”
“I wanted to get a look at you before we headed down to the coffee house,” Ross admitted. “You look amazing.”
“Thanks,” Rachel blushed as she reached for her coat. “If it weren’t so freezing out there I wouldn’t have to bundle up with this coat.”
“Well I don’t want you to turn blue after the ceremony,” Ross grinned as he took a seat on her bed. “Did you hear the news about the minister for the wedding?”
“No,” Rachel said quietly as she finished her hair. “What happened?”
“He’s snowed in.”
“Nooo,” Rachel exclaimed standing up.
Ross quickly calmed her down. “Joey still an ordained minister from Monica and Chandler’s wedding – he’s going to perform the ceremony.”
“So who’s walking Phoebe down the aisle?”
“I am,” Chandler said, poking his head in the room. “Come on you two, Monica wants everyone at Central Perk right now.”
Rachel indicated that they would be a minute, and Chandler left the room.
“So no one is left out,” Ross remarked.
“And Phoebe is getting her dream wedding,” Rachel finished. “I really am glad to be going down the aisle with you Ross.”
Rachel kissed Ross on the forehead. “Don’t tell Chandler, but you were the one I really wanted.”
Ross leaned in to kiss Rachel but as interrupted by Chandler. “I heard that,” he called.
Ross and Rachel laughed as they headed out the door.
The group bundled together in Central Perk for one last pep talk from wedding coordinator extraordinaire Monica. Monica emphasized the need for the wedding to go smoothly, before the snow started to kick up again. Ross and Rachel held hands as they listened, and followed Joey and Monica out the door.
Ross and Rachel were the first to walk down the aisle. “You look amazing,” Ross whispered as drops of snowflakes fell on Rachel’s golden locks; they looked like diamonds to Ross as they stood with Joey and Mike. Monica walked down the aisle with Mike’s best man, and Phoebe was next, led by Chandler. All eyes were on Phoebe that night, though Ross couldn’t look away from Rachel.
The wedding went off without a hitch, in spite of every inconvenience thrown at it.“Everything went great,” Chandler boasted, patting Ross on the back at Central Perk for a very informal reception. The coffee house held plenty of gatherings and meetings over the years, but it had never held a wedding party until that night.
“Yup,” Ross echoed, looking at Rachel sitting at the bar. She had taken off her coat and looked amazing in her bridesmaid dress; Ross truly believed that she was the most beautiful woman in the room.
“So,” Chandler whispered to Ross, “What exactly did you say to Rachel to convince her to choose you over me.”
“Well,” Ross chuckled, “Last night I paid her a little visit….”
“I knew it,” Chandler remarked.
“And I think we might be getting back together.”
“Well that’s great,” Chandler complimented as Phoebe and Mike waved to the group, giving their last goodbyes before the honeymoon.
Ross bid a goodnight to his friend as he stole Rachel away from the guests. “How about starting that date,” he whispered.
Ross offered Rachel his arm as they walked out the coffee house. Love was in the air in New York, and it was becoming very contagious; you never would know who would catch it next, or how long it would last, but while it was around, all you could do was enjoy it.
The One With the Charity Ball
Season Six. When Rachel can't find a date to a charity event for Ralph Lauren, a friend steps in.
Rachel Green fumed as she stormed into the apartment that she currently shared with her friend and new roommate Joey Tribbianni. Throwing down her purse she sat on the sofa to ponder her predicament. She had mistakenly told her friends that she was looking for an escort to a charity ball hosted by her boss Ralph Lauren to benefit diabetes. She wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment and wanted to bring someone who could make her look good in front of her coworkers, who had asked before about her personal life. Rachel was always comfortable with saying that she was ‘between relationships’, which she was, but she didn’t know how long she could keep using that excuse for not being in a relationship, or at least dating someone. The truth was that Rachel hadn’t been serious about anyone since her drunken Vegas marriage to former boyfriend Ross Geller earlier that year. After marrying Ross and divorcing Ross, Rachel had been slightly turned off by the concept of dating. She didn’t know if the thought of commitment scared her, or the fact that she wasn’t yet over Ross kept her from someone else, but she was very blocked in the relationship department. Having a full life – which included a great career and strong friends – kept her from thinking about being single, but now the thought was haunting her like an unwanted ghost.
They meant well, she reminded herself as she recalled two simultaneous set-ups with guys whose names she couldn’t even remember. Her friends had bombarded her at the coffee house with the idea of setting her up with an eligible bachelor, but when both men showed up at the same time, it became a competition between Monica and Chandler, and Phoebe, which resulted in both men being scared away, and Rachel alone, declaring that she could find her own date – which apparently wasn’t even true, given her less than stellar track record.
Rachel was so engrossed with her own thoughts that she didn’t notice when Ross came into the apartment.
“Rach, have you seen Joey?” he asked, setting his basketball on the foosball table. “We were going to go down and play ball with Chandler.”
Rachel shook her head slowly, resting her head in her hands.
Ross quickly picked up on Rachel’s quiet mood, and took a seat next to her at the couch. “Is everything okay?”
Rachel let out a sigh. “Am I that transparent?” she asked.
“Only to the ones who know you best,” Ross grinned, resting his hand on her knee.
Rachel looked down at her knee. If it were anyone else, this gesture would be taken as a romantic overture, but with Ross, it felt comfortable, natural, and familiar. “I’ve got this big charity event that I need to attend for work and….I don’t have a date,” she laughed, saying the situation out loud.
Ross tilted Rachel’s chin up so that she was now forced to look at him. “You mean to tell me that Rachel Karen Green, captain of the cheerleading squad at Lincoln High, can’t find a date?”
Rachel nodded her head. “Pathetic?”
“Never,” Ross assured her.
“I can’t just go with anyone,” Rachel commented. “I was even desperate enough to let Monica, Chandler, and Phoebe set me up with dates. But even that went horribly wrong.”
“Because you can’t just go with someone random,” Ross commented aloud. Rachel looked to Ross to tell her more. “You’re too special for that.”
“Ross,” Rachel half chuckled. “How can you say that?”
“Because I know that it’s true.” Ross reached for Rachel’s hand. “Finding a date should be the least of your worries.”
“Thanks,” Rachel grinned. “If worst comes to worst I can always backtrack to my high school days. I’m sure there are plenty of Lincoln High survivors that would love to go out with a former head cheerleader,” she joked.
“Or,” Ross suggested casually, “I could escort you.”
Rachel looked taken aback by Ross’ bold gesture.
“I mean if you want me to,” Ross suggested, casually backtracking. “If you don’t, then…”
“I do,” Rachel blurted out. “I mean, thank you.” She felt her face turn red, which felt so unusual around Ross, who she spent so much time with. Looking into Ross’ eyes, she realized that this was the first time that they would be going out alone together since the divorce, since she moved out of his apartment. “It’s Saturday night,” she said, her face returning to its normal glow. “Are you busy?”
“No. My Saturday nights usually consist of grading papers.” He grinned at Rachel. “It’ll be a good change for me.”
Maybe for both of us, Rachel thought as she gave Ross the final details.
Saturday night came and Rachel stood in front of her mirror in front of a myriad of dresses that she had collected over the years. She finally settled on a simple dark blue floor length number with a sweetheart cut. Rachel pulled out a sterling silver necklace and bracelet to match and started the process of preparing for the evening’s event. She found herself looking forward to going, now that Ross was going to be there with her. She would have someone to talk to when the ball got boring, and Ross was actually a very good dancer, aside from his attempt at trying to win a talent show competition with his sister Monica. As Rachel finished straightening her hair she reevaluated her relationship with Ross. Things had been pretty chilly between them after the marriage and divorce in Las Vegas. Ross didn’t help matters by delaying the divorce proceedings and by the time it was all over, Rachel just wanted to move as far away from him as possible. Lately things seemed to return to a state of normalcy, where they were able to co-exist in the same room without dragging up the past or making awkward conversation.
Rachel did another full turn in front of her mirror as she walked out the bedroom door and grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge. Sipping the cool beverage, she drummed her fingers on the counter with anticipation. Hearing Ross’ shuffled feet down the hall, she gave him the go ahead to come in.
Rachel beamed when Ross opened the door, carrying a single white lily for her in his hand. She knew that they would look great together that night, with his black suit complementing her dark dress perfectly.
“You look great,” Ross admired, taking her hand as they went to get a cab.
“So do you,” Rachel complimented. “I really do appreciate you doing this.”
“It’s my pleasure,” he promised as they stepped onto the New York City streets.
The ball was in full swing when Ross and Rachel arrived. Rachel quickly pointed out Mr. Zellner, her main boss at Ralph Lauren. Mr. Zellner seemed genuinely pleased with Rachel’s choice of a date that evening.
Ross watched while Rachel schmoozed with potential donors to the charity fund, glad to know that an open bar was available to all of the attendees. People give more when they’re drunk he reminded himself as he watched the various guests. Ross turned to survey the rest of the room and nearly spat out his drink when he saw a beautiful young blonde being escorted in by an older gentleman.
“Elizabeth,” Ross muttered under his breath, attempting to hide behind a pole. Ross had been spending a bit of time with one of his former students, Elizabeth Stevens. In Ross’ defense, Elizabeth had been the one to approach him when she had completed his course for the semester. Ross knew that he shouldn’t start a relationship with a student at the university, former or not, but he was so struck by Elizabeth’s natural beauty, and knew that he would never find a college girl like that through any other way. Their relationship was fairly tame, consisting mainly of make-out sessions in his office; both parties were committed to keeping their relationship a secret, knowing the stigma that both would face if they were to be discovered together.
Ross felt embarrassed over his actions in the past few weeks and firmly decided that after tonight he would end it with Elizabeth once and for all. Ross wondered who she was with for the evening, and didn’t notice when Rachel tapped him on the shoulder.
“You must be having a great time,” Rachel noted.
“Oh,” Ross fumbled. “I was just looking at the artwork,” he said lamely, gesturing to the various paintings on the walls.
Rachel nodded her head and asked Ross if he would like to dance. Glad for a distraction, Ross led Rachel to the middle of the floor and held her in his arms. “Is the fundraising going well?”
“Very,” Rachel nodded. “Mr. Zellner thinks that we’ve raised an extra twenty percent compared to last year.” Rachel studied Ross carefully, observing his tense body. “Are you okay?” she asked softly, wondering if bringing him tonight was weird for him.
“I’m fine,” Ross promised, holding her a little closer.
“It’s amazing how perfectly everything turned out.” Rachel looked into Ross’ deep eyes, wondering what was behind them this evening. “Now that I think of it, I can’t imagine coming here with anyone else.”
Ross smiled back at Rachel, attempting to ignore Elizabeth as she and her date danced closer to them. “You want to get something to drink?” he offered, presenting any excuse to leave the dance floor.
“Sure,” Rachel said, following Ross’ lead to the bar at the other end of the hall.
Ross took two glasses of champagne and handed one to Rachel. He found himself once again looking at young Elizabeth and scolded himself once again for starting anything with her.
“Who is she?” Rachel asked, slightly amused.
“Who?” Ross countered.
Rachel shook her head in disappointment. “The girl that you keep staring at – the one with the older man.” Ross let out a deep sigh, saying nothing. Rachel placed a hand on her hips. “I can see you looking at her, you’ve been looking at her all evening.”
“It’s not what you think,” Ross promised.
“You know what I’m thinking,” Rachel continued a small frown crossing her mouth. “I am thinking that maybe I should have come alone. At least then I wouldn’t have to compete for my date’s attention.” Rachel turned to leave the dance floor.
“Rach,” Ross grabbed her arm, pulling her toward him. “It isn’t what you think.” He pulled her into a corner of the reception hall.
“A little young for you, isn’t she?” Rachel scoffed. “I thought Joey was the only one who dated high school girls.”
“She goes to NYU,” Ross explained, resting a hand on her shoulder. “She’s a student in one of my classes.”
Rachel’s mouth opened wide as she thrust Ross’ arm off her body. “Is she the one that wrote you the review?” she demanded, referring to a highly flattering and slightly flirty anonymous review that Ross received a few weeks back. Since things like this never happened to him, he opted to share it with his friends.
As Ross stood in front of her, he wished he had kept his mouth shut about the review and so many other things. “It’s not that important.”
“But it is,” Rachel insisted, standing up. “She’s one of your students….did you know that she was coming tonight?”
“No,” Ross said firmly as Rachel raced out of the hall, ignoring the onlookers who were bored at an event that was dragging on too long.
“Rachel,” Ross chased her down the long winding halls, wishing he had been more athletic as a teen. It was embarrassing to be out-raced by a female, but it was a feeling that Ross had grown accustomed to, never being first in P.E. or sports.
“Hey!” Ross grabbed her arm as she went out the door, prepared to hail a cab to back to the city.
“You have just as long as it takes me to get into a cab,” Rachel said crossly, hailing one long beautiful arm into the air, the universal symbol for requesting transportation in the city.
“Fine,” Ross muttered, agreeing to take what he could get. “It’s nothing serious…we’ve never even been out on a date together….it’s against school policy, and I am not going to lose my job over a student.”
“So what exactly happened with you two?” Rachel asked, eyeing a single yellow cab that was beginning to pull forward.
Ross stepped to block Rachel from leaving. “Let’s go get some coffee together, and I’ll tell you everything.”
Rachel gave Ross a skeptical look.
“You said you wanted to know.”
The yellow cab stopped in front of the couple and the driver looked expectantly at Rachel, waiting for her to get in.
“Go on ahead,” Rachel said to the cabbie, turning back to Ross. “You’re lucky I’m thirsty,” she muttered, walking several paces ahead of him.
They finally reached their destination, a new little quaint coffee place, not Central Perk, but it would do for the circumstances. Ross ushered her to a corner table, where they were assured maximum privacy. Ross took the liberty of ordering coffee and muffins for both of them; Rachel was still too stunned to speak.
“I was lonely,” Ross began. “I’ve been lonely for months, and I know that’s no excuse…”
“You bet it isn’t,” Rachel muttered, battling with the pangs of loneliness herself.
“She was available, she came on to me,” Ross continued. “And I knew that I should have put a stop to it, but I didn’t.”
“The mysterious good review,” Rachel muttered. “Too good to resist.”
“I was going to end it,” Ross finished.
“Because you found someone else?” Rachel inquired, slightly curious.
“Because it can’t go any further. Even when she graduates, the age difference is too big to make a relationship work…and I don’t think I like her enough to bother trying.”
Rachel nodded her head. “I’m sorry you felt so lonely.”
Ross took a bite of his muffin. “Monica and Chandler moving in together made me realize that I still have no one.”
“That’s not true,” Rachel said softly. “Monica is your sister and she loves you, Chandler and Joey are your best friends, and then you have Phoebe and….and me,” she finished.
“I’m glad that you let me take you to the ball,” Ross said. “You and I haven’t spent much time together since the divorce.”
Rachel nodded her head. She was feeling more guilty for purposely avoiding Ross after the Las Vegas mishap, but it was easier than dealing with her unresolved feelings for him. “I’ve missed you,” she said out loud, drumming her fingers on the coffee table. “Things haven’t been the same since last year.”
“I miss you too,” Ross admitted.
“You weren’t the one feeling lonely,” Rachel admitted. “I was so lonely that I couldn’t even find a guy to ask to a company function. And then, when my escort looked at another woman….I felt jealous.”
Ross let out a small laugh.
“Well, I don’t think it’s that funny,” Rachel said, crossing her arms.
“Just think of all the guys that I’ve been jealous of over you,” Ross grinned. “Barry, Paolo, Joshua, every guy at Lincoln High…”
Rachel’s face broke into a small smile. “It must be nice being on the other end,” she admitted.
Ross took her hand in his. “You know, if you’re lonely, and I’m lonely, maybe we could fix each other’s problems.”
Rachel laced her fingers with Ross’. “That is one of the best ideas I’ve heard all year,” she grinned. As Ross ordered another round of coffee, the couple began to catch up on the past several months, surprised to find out that even after all the time apart, they were very comfortable together – a fact that several of their closest friends knew all along.
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"I love you, that's all I got." - Rick to Lori