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Author's Note: Another with no explicit sex, but some drama. This could,
potentially, go on for a lot longer, but I never intended to go much beyond
this point in the story. So, this is the last chapter but one.



Friends: Ross' Revenge - What Monica Did Part 15: Ross's Repentance (FF, ref)
by Exintaris ([email protected])

Over the next weeks Chloe settled into the household very well. She was
popular with everyone in the household, and endeared herself particularly to
Jack and Judy Geller by treating them as surrogate grandparents and, as such,
the founts of all wisdom; she told everyone that she had not had a very
normal home life and did not remember her own grandparents. She was also
eager to be assistant nanny to baby Jack, because, she said, she wanted to
learn, but she told Rachel that she would put off trying to become pregnant
herself for a while, wanting to bond with Emma first. Rachel did not really
need help very often, but she was delighted to be able to include Chloe, and
started teaching her everything she had learned.

Chloe had not been with them long when she announced at dinner one evening
that she was going to drop out of the porn industry and find other work.

"It just doesn't feel right, when I'm involved with children," she said, then
looked at Monica nervously. "Of course I don't mean to be disapproving of
you, Monica, I'm just saying that's how I feel."

"Quite okay," said Monica nonchalantly. "I'll have to do some thinking about
my job, too, when Jack gets older, but luckily he cannot have the least idea
what I do for a living at the moment."

Rachel was looking extremely pleased, and when she and Chloe were in bed
together that night she lavished love upon her, to the extent that Chloe's
cries of ecstasy were clearly audible to Monica and Phoebe, whose bedroom was
not too far away (Chandler was not there that night; he was being a guest at
a creative writing conference).

Phoebe gave a little laugh and said, "We were right, it seems. Rachel must be
giving Chloe the loving of a lifetime, and my guess is, it's because Chloe's
dropping out of porn."

"Yeah, isn't it nice?" said Monica. "I'm so pleased that they have found
happiness together. Mom said, it's like having a pair of newly weds around."

"Yeah, they're so sweet," said Phoebe enthusiastically. "And Emma certainly
seems to like having Chloe as a second mom."

Monica chuckled. "We'll have to take care that Emma doesn't get spoiled too
much, with Chloe as well as all the rest of us."

"Well, Chloe's very good with her, and so is Rachel," said Phoebe. "No
super-spoiling there that I can see. You know," she rolled over onto her
side, "it makes me feel like I want to get pregnant again, now we have this,
like, ace nanny team on tap."

"If you want a child, go for it," Monica said. "This household is bringing in
enough to support another child or two."

"It's not just that," said Phoebe seriously. "If last time is anything to go
by, I'm gonna be sick and cranky at first, and too fat in the last months to
do anything much, so I won't be much use to you."

"Phoebe, sweetheart," said Monica warmly, "you know I won't go short, and
it's not just the sex that makes me care about you. You go right ahead and
have your baby. Only question is, who by? I mean, do you want to ask
Chandler, or Joey?"

"Chandler would be my first choice," said Phoebe decisively, "if it doesn't
bother you."

"Do it," said Monica firmly. "That means, you get first call on his cock,
every time we're in bed together. Of course, we have to make sure he's okay
with it, but my guess is, he will be."

In fact, when he returned and was made aware of what Phoebe wanted, Chandler
was perfectly relaxed about the idea.

"No more fooling around with condoms for a while," he said with satisfaction.

Everyone else in the household was pleased when the news was announced, but
privately Rachel asked Chloe if she would be willing to put off any attempt
to get pregnant.

"Of course, there's no real reason why we shouldn't have two pregnancies at
once," she said, "but, you know, I think Phoebe might not want to share the
attention with you."

"Sure, I can wait," said Chloe cheerfully. "I mean, I'm not even thirty yet."

"Not quite thirty yet," said Rachel, grinning. "Remember, you confessed how
old you were a while back, when I told you my age."

"So I did," said Chloe. "Well, who cares, anyway? Thirty's nothing these
days. Just as long as I don't have to wait years."

"Maybe you should start trying when Phoebe's about halfway through her
pregnancy," said Rachel, "assuming everything goes well."

A month passed, and Phoebe did not conceive, which slightly disheartened
her, since after her swift conception of triplets for her brother and
sister-in-law she had been convinced that her body's functions were superior
to the average. The reassurances of the other women did not help as much as
they wanted them to, but she found an answer that satisfied her. She
contacted a local group of Wiccans who would perform a ceremony to boost her
fertility. When, another month, she proved to be pregnant, she was exultant,
and went around telling everyone that it proved the superiority of "the old
ways" over modern scientific medicine. Chandler preferred to take the line
that his guys had needed the stimulus of early disappointment to get off
their asses and really try, but he and Phoebe were too pleased to let their
different viewpoints start fighting over this.

Rachel suggested to Chloe that she be Phoebe's particular attendant, to get
some practical knowledge about pregnancy, and Chloe was perfectly happy to do
this, since she was not working at a regular job. She had found that her best
prospects lay in continuing modelling work. Her slightly wicked smile was
discovered to be quite a selling point, and she began to make a reasonable
career in advertising work and promotions. She also did some naked modelling
still, if offered tempting fees, but she always cleared it with Rachel and
never accepted anything too blatantly porny.

Rachel was delighted to be consulted, and when she next phoned her mother she
finally told her all about Chloe, about whom she had spoken before only as
someone with whom she had reconciled and become friendly.

"It's one of the best decisions I ever made," she said. "We get along so
well, mom, and I'm so happy."

Sandra Green was not entirely surprised to hear that Rachel had formed a
steady couple with another woman, though she thought it slightly strange
that Chloe should be the woman in question. But when Rachel told her of
the circumstances in which she had finally agreed to be Chloe's lover, she
uttered loud approval.

"That's very good to hear, sweetheart," she said, "and I'm sure your father
and sisters will also be very pleased to hear that Ross has got some more of
what's coming to him. Chloe sounds like quite a woman; you must bring her to
see us some time."

"I will, I promise," said Rachel, "but I can't commit to a date just now.
Chloe wants to have a child, you see, but we've agreed to wait until Phoebe's
about halfway through her pregnancy."

Sandra Green was most intrigued and demanded full details. She was privately
relieved to hear that Chloe had no intention of asking either Chandler or
Joey to impregnate her; she felt that the relationships in the group were
complicated enough as it was. But she was fully supportive of Rachel's wish
to see Chloe's hoped-for child as also her own, and said that she would like
to consider herself the child's grandmother, to Rachel's delight. It was
agreed that Sandra could spread the news around, asked her to pass on
affectionate messages to her father and sisters, and ended the call feeling
on top of the world.

Rather to her own surprise, Phoebe did not suffer from morning or evening
sickness this time around, and so she was notably less irritable than before
in her first months, to everyone's relief. She refused to be told the sex of
the child, wanting to know only that there was no more than one and that it
was healthy. Reassured on these points, and not, this time, plagued by
hankerings for meat, she went around serenely confident, informing Chloe of
each new development with the air of a veteran and taking the opportunity to
give her an opinion on many other matters. This clearly caused Judy Geller
and Rachel a little heart-burning, as they had previously been Chloe's
sources of knowledge on pregnancy as on much else, and Monica and the male
members of the household derived considerable amusement from the often rather
oblique manoeuvres between Phoebe, Judy and Rachel to hold the position of
Chloe's favoured adviser. But though occasionally some sharp remarks were
passed, they kept their tempers and the household remained a happy one.

The only minor but recurrent worry was over what had become of Ross. After
his appearance at the house, Judy Geller had been vigilant for a while, but
when nothing further happened she began to relax. Wondering how he was
managing if he was short of work, as he had said to Rachel, she asked Shelly
Russ and others if they could find out anything. But enquiries turned up very
little, except that the producer he had been mainly working for had sacked
him for "bad attitude", which apparently included showing up late and drunk,
and that he was not seen around much.

When Phoebe had passed the three-month mark without any problems, she gave
her consent in a rather queenly fashion that Chloe should try to become
pregnant. To everyone's delight, she "took" first time, and once the
pregnancy was confirmed they decided to have a celebratory meal, which
Monica would cook herself, with helpers.

It was when they were towards the end of the meal, and everyone was in very
good humour, that Monica's attention was caught by a strange noise that
seemed to be coming from outside. She listened with more attention, and heard
it again. Now it sounded like a wailing human voice.

"Hey," she called, then louder, "HEY!" When she had got their attention, she
said, "I hear a sound like someone calling, outside."

They were all silent and listened. The sound came again, and several nodded,
while Rachel sat up straight, her face tense.

"Keep quiet," she said. "I want to hear it again." When she did, she seemed
to pale. "That's Ross," she said. "I'm sure of it, and I couldn't swear to
it, but I think I heard the words 'I'm sorry'." She jumped to her feet.
"Maybe he is sorry, finally," she said. "Shall we go out and see?"

"No, darling, it's too dangerous," said Chloe, jumping up also.

"It might be a trick," said Phoebe. "But ... the voice sounds sort of ...
genuine."

"We'll go," said Judy decisively, "but we'll be very careful - I'll take my
gun."

Jack looked startled, but said nothing as Judy produced her pistol from a
drawer in the dining room dresser. She marched to the front door, followed
by the others.

"Stand away from the door," she told them. "I'll open it and call to him."

They did so, and she opened the door. Almost at once they heard wailing in
a voice that sounded full of grief and despair, occasionally varied by a
shouted "I'm sorry!"

"Is that you, Ross?" she called.

There was a pause. Then the voice said, haltingly, "Yes, it's me. Oh God,
mom, I'm sorry!"

She peered into the darkness. "Where are you? Come closer to the light. And
this had better not be some kind of trick. I have my gun trained on you." In
fact she was pointing it at the ground, but, as everyone realised, Ross could
not know that.

It took them a while to realise that what they were seeing was Ross
grovelling on the ground and occasionally rubbing his face in the dirt and
bawling, "I'm sorry!" again.

"Ross," called Judy in a stern but maternal voice, "stop crawling. Get up and
face us."

Slowly he did so, and Monica gasped as she saw Ross clearly. His clothes were
ragged and he looked dreadful - unshaven and dirty, with great lines in his
face and bloodshot eyes. His expression was one of utter misery.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he kept repeating, now in a more ordinary,
near-conversational tone. "I, I came to tell Monica how sorry I am."

"I hear you, Ross," Monica said, and then, deciding to do at once what she
had often thought of recently, "and I accept your apology."

His body seemed to relax and he tried to smile. "Then I can die in peace," he
said.

She saw him fumbling in his pocket, and seized by a dreadful premonition
screamed, "Ross, don't do it!!!" A moment after her, Judy called Ross's name
equally urgently.

Ross had pulled out a knife, and now froze, holding it in mid-air with the
point towards him.

Rachel now cried out in pleading tones. "Ross, please, please don't!" she
begged. "Think of Emma, and Ben."

Judy stepped forward, walking slowly and steadily towards Ross. "You have to
learn how to live with what you've done, Ross," she said quite sternly. "You
won't be the first to think, suicide is the only way out. But like many
suicides you think you'll be doing us a favour, forgetting the pain you will
cause. Don't you see what a legacy of sorrow you'll be leaving to all of us,
your parents, your children, Monica, Rachel, all who knew and loved you
once?" Her voice softened. "Come earn forgiveness, Ross."

Ross seemed to slump. "Oh god, mom," he said brokenly. "Can I really earn
forgiveness?"

Judy continued to approach him, and when she reached him simply took hold of
the wrist of the hand holding the knife and brought his arm down. She looked
into his eyes. "Drop it," she said evenly.

He dropped it, and she turned to the others.

"Wouldn't we rather have a live Ross than a dead one, whatever he's done,
however he's flawed?" she said.

Tears were running down Monica's cheeks. "Yes," she wailed.

"Oh yes," cried Rachel, moving to throw her arms round Monica, and Chloe
repeated "Yes," and embraced them both.

"Yes," said Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe soberly when Judy's eyes turned to
them. Then she turned to her husband.

He sighed and nodded. "We ought to try," he said.

"You see, Ross?" said Judy. "We all want you to live. Come along now. We must
get you cleaned up, and I guess you need food."

Ross let himself be led into the house like a child, his dazed-looking eyes
going to and fro between everyone there. He paused to look at Rachel.

"Can I see my little Emma?" he said pathetically.

"Ah, you acknowledge she's yours, do you?" said Judy a little sharply. "I
heard something different."

Ross winced and gave a little groan. "I was ... I was crazy mad then. I'm
sorry, Rachel - sorry for everything."

Rachel nodded. "I accept that. Of course you can see Emma, once we've got you
cleaned up."

Phoebe came close and looked into his eyes. "Have you driven it out, Ross?"
she said. "That evil spirit that infected your mind so badly?"

"I hope so," he muttered. "It does feel like a cloud has lifted from my
mind."

She nodded. "That sounds good. Your aura's like totally messed up - I can see
it very clearly just now - but, yeah, there's hope in there."

Monica moved close to him, feeling no emotion but pity. Tears came to her
eyes and she let them run.

"I'm sorry, Ross," she said. "Sorry for pushing you over the edge."

There was more than one gasp at this. His eyes met hers, filled with
melancholy.

"Thanks for saying that, Monica," he said slowly, "but I don't deserve it. I
have come to see - I have been brought to see - that at many points I could
have chosen not to do ... what I did."

"Come along, Ross," said Judy firmly. "We can talk about this later." But as
they walked on towards the nearest bathroom, she said, "You said you were
brought to see it. Have you been talking to someone?"

He nodded. "A rabbi," he muttered. "I was feeling low and I went into a
synagogue. I ... I broke down, sitting there, and he came and talked to me.
I told him ... most of it, and he said, even now God might forgive me, if I
truly repented and apologised to those I have harmed," - his eyes turned to
Monica and Rachel, who were walking the closest to him - "and atoned for what
I had done."

"You shall have the chance, Ross," said Judy in a decisive way. "Now, get out
of these filthy clothes and have a bath. Chandler, you're closest to Ross in
size; could you spare some clothes for him? And someone get Ross something to
drink - a small glass of wine shouldn't do any harm."

Ross shuddered. "No, no wine," he stuttered. "I mustn't have any strong
drink."

"Coffee, then?" Judy offered. "Some nice strong coffee with cream and sugar?"

He nodded, and sank onto the bathroom stool, as if he had suddenly lost the
will to keep himself upright.

Judy looked at the others. "This will take a while," she said. "Monica
darling, could you see to the coffee?"

"Of course, mom," Monica said and hurried off. Chandler went for clothing,
and the others, recognising that they had been dismissed, went to clear away
and wash up.

Jack spoke for them all when he said, "I know he did vile, dreadful things.
But I feel easier in my mind now that he's back with us."

* * *

It took a very long time to rehabilitate Ross. He had not turned to drugs,
but he had become an alcoholic, and he had to be helped to recover from
his addiction as well as to cope with his feelings of self-loathing as he
confronted fully what he had done. Monica did as much work as she could,
to help pay for his therapy. She now found it impossible to connect the
broken man that he had become with the near-demon who had changed her life
for ever, especially when, as sometimes happened, he was found crying in
his room, or a corner somewhere. Soon she was feeling a degree of affection
for him. Somewhat surprisingly, Rachel seemed to be much the same, but the
others were less readily forgiving. Joey would not speak to him for a long
time, Jack would only do so if asked a direct question, and Phoebe, Judy and
Chandler were all rather stern with him. Chloe showed him sympathy, but acted
rather wary of him, and so did Abby on her visits.

As Ross's health improved, he mixed with the others more. He acted very
subdued, only showing much animation when playing with Emma, which Rachel,
who had apparently lost all fear of him, insisted that he be allowed to do.
It was not clear if Emma had any memory of him, but he accepted this and
managed to establish a relationship with her, and he showed himself fond of
baby Jack as well. He even asked to be allowed to baby-sit, and after
conferring the women agreed that he should be allowed this. This enabled
Rachel and Chloe to go out on dates sometimes, but Chloe was showing some
effects of early pregnancy, so they never stayed out very late.

Ross acted rather bemused by the relationship between Rachel and Chloe, and
even more by that between Monica, Phoebe and Chandler, but the nearest he got
to criticising either was through dropping occasional oblique references to
his admiration for the traditional Jewish way of life, and wish that his
parents had followed it, though he never dared say so in their presence. But
he seemed genuinely pleased that Phoebe should be having a baby of her own,
and also that Emma would be getting, in Chloe's child, what Rachel was very
insistent that she would treat as Emma's sibling; soon, they knew it would be
a brother.

He did show much more open unease at any reminder of what Monica did for a
living, whether in comments of her own or Judy's, or Abby's when she came to
visit, and he did once ask Monica, when they had just finished a fine meal
that she had done most to prepare and cook, why she did not go back to chef
work.

"I couldn't take the stress," Monica said frankly. "And if I had carried on
in that job, I would have been a nastier person, I think, because of all the
stress. I'm much better off as I am now."

Ross said nothing, but he frowned, and Judy, watching him closely, thought
she knew what was in his mind. "I hope you're not setting up to criticise
Monica, Ross," she said sharply. "Not only does her work pay very well and
help to keep a roof over your head. It gives her the chance to fulfil needs
that she developed as a direct result of what you did to her." She looked at
him challengingly.

Ross dropped his eyes and mumbled, "I'm sorry, Mon," then got up and went to
his room.

There was a silence, broken by Judy. "I won't have it!" she said fiercely.
"I won't have him criticising you, Monica. It's sheer hypocrisy, coming from
him."

Monica got up and ran round to her, to kneel down and hug her. "You're so
good to me, mom," she said in a rather shaky voice. "Having Ross around, and
knowing he disapproves of what I do, does make me wonder sometimes ... if I
ought to give up ..."

"Ignore him," said Judy briskly. "Just because he's got religion or
something, does he think that gives him any right to sit in judgment? When
he was in the business himself, not so very long ago? No, you carry on.
You've got some good years left in you, I'm sure." She patted her on the
back. "Okay, let's agree, once the children have grown enough to understand
a little about the world, then, yes, it would probably be best if you stop -
though you could still do modelling work, I guess."

There was more than one slight gasp at this. She looked at them all with a
slight smile. "Why shouldn't Monica go on sharing that beautiful body with
those who appreciate it?" she said firmly. "In a tasteful way, of course,
like Chloe."

Chloe blushed but looked pleased, and even more so when Rachel chuckled and
leaned across to take her hand and squeeze it.

"Judy, you're a marvel," said Phoebe approvingly. "That's such a good way to
look at it."

"I am very proud of my daughter," said Judy, with an emphasis that seemed to
imply that she was no longer proud of Ross.

Jack Geller said nothing, though he sighed very quietly. Only Chandler, who
was sitting next to him, noticed.

"Maybe you could move into production," said Judy thoughtfully. "You could
buy into an existing studio as a partner and give them the benefit of your
expertise."

Jack shook his head and sighed again, loud enough for Judy to notice. She
smiled a little wrily. "Jack, it's a multimillion dollar business," she said.
"It's so mainstream that even in good hotels you can watch 'adult movies' on
pay-tv. Why shouldn't Monica exploit the name she's made in the industry?"

"Yeah, and you can get sex scenes in mainstream movies that are very close to
porn these days," said Joey. "With well-known actresses like Sharon Stone and
Halle Berry, who put it almost all on show."

His evident enthusiasm caused a general lightening of mood as the others
looked at him indulgently. Even Jack chuckled.

"I guess I'm too old and set in my ways to be comfortable with it," he said.
"But sweetheart," - he looked at Monica lovingly - "I don't mean to criticise
you. I'm too happy that you have come through what ... happened to you so
well."

"That's okay, dad," said Monica, going round the table to hug him in turn.

* * *

When Ross was considerably improved, Carol and Susan flew over from New York
with Ben to see him. This was potentially traumatic, but in fact it passed
off quite well. Although pleased to see his aunt Monica, which made her feel
good, Ben was initially very shy of his father. In time, though, he warmed
up, which had a good effect on Ross. But Ross was very uneasy with Carol and
Susan, deferring to them but in a way that suggested it was an act he felt
he had to put on. Susan told Monica in a private conversation that she would
rather he was a bit edgy and sharp in her presence, as he used to be.

"I don't think he can ever be his old self again, any more than I will,"
said Monica honestly. "We've both been through such traumatic, life-changing
experiences."

"But you have come through so well!" said Susan admiringly.

"I have accepted what happened to me, and what I am now," Monica said
tranquilly. "It helps that I get such great support from all of you, which
means I just don't see my way of life as anything to feel very guilty about.
But" - she frowned - "I do feel responsibility for providing the last
ingredient to set off an explosion of what was brewing inside Ross, though
I had no reason to suppose he was so unstable."

"No, indeed," said Susan. "None of us spotted anything wrong. And he still
has to take almost all the responsibility for what he did to you, and had
done to you, and certainly all for what he did to Rachel."

"He does," said Monica. "It preys on him still; you can see it."

Susan nodded and sighed. "It would help if he could find something to do, to
take his mind off it," she said, "but the chances of that are not great, I
can see."

Judy and Monica had already told Carol and Susan that Ross had shown no
interest in resuming his academic studies, and Monica did not have the heart
to drive him out to look for work. As it was, he helped out at the synagogue
where he attended services regularly, which was the one he had entered when
at his lowest, but had no proper job.

Carol and Susan had discussed the situation with Monica, Judy, and the other
women. But in the end all had to agree with Phoebe's assessment, which fitted
what his psychotherapist had to say.

"He has to work through it," she said. "He has to regain some pleasure in
life at his own speed. His love for Emma and Ben and baby Jack will help,
I'm sure."

It was with regret that Monica said farewell to the visitors. She had been
hoping that maybe she would find a way to get together with Carol and Susan
in the course of their visit, but they did not seem to show any particular
interest. She wondered if they did not fancy her any more, an idea that she
found surprisingly depressing. But in their parting embrace Susan whispered
in her ear, "Why don't you come over and see us some time?"

When she drew back Monica could see a wicked glint in Susan's eye, and smiled
in response, heartened. Susan winked, as if to make the message perfectly
clear, and she winked back.

"I'm sure I can find some reason to come to New York soon," she said.

Carol, hearing, said, "Great! And don't you dare think of staying anywhere
but in our guest room."

Ross seemed generally improved after this visit, and even began taking an
occasional look at some of his academic books, which had been put in store
when he left New York by Carol and had recently been sent to California. But
it looked as if more would be needed to revive his interest in his old
speciality.

    

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