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Disclaimer: The Friends characters do not belong to me, but to Bright,
Kauffman and Crane Productions and Warner Bros. Their use is not intended
for profit, only for entertainment.

Author's Note: Some "bad" Friends stories obsess me, and Rachel In Trouble
is one of them. As might be guessed from my writings, Rachel is my particular
love of all the Friends characters (though I am very fond of Monica and also
Janice), and I will always try to "rescue" her from the situation in any
story where she is brutalised. But there is more to it: all the friends,
especially Monica, are represented in this story in a totally
out-of-character way, completely against the spirit of the show. And although
I have "rescued" Rachel once, in Rachel Out Of Trouble, before things had got
very far, in fact, the question has nagged at me: suppose it went to the
bitter end, and the friends only realised that Madam Avenge had been
controlling Rachel all the time when she transferred control to them (one of
the many gross implausibilities, of course - how could she possibly do
this?). Taking advantage of the fact that the author completely forgot about
Phoebe, after an early reference, I have devised another rescue, and suitable
treatment for Rachel's friends.



Frined: Rachel After Trouble Part 1 (FF)
by Exintaris ([email protected])

At long last it was over. The last man had withdrawn from Rachel, and she lay
on a table, legs dangling over the side, with traces of semen all over her,
seeming not to care that she was totally exposed. But she held an arm over
her eyes as if she could not bear to look at anyone, and she was breathing
in short gasps, interspersed with occasional moans and short bursts of soft
sobbing. The sound tore at Phoebe's heart, and for the dozenth time she
cursed herself for her cowardice in failing to intervene. From the start she
had been uneasy that the dominatrix woman's claims were being so readily
accepted by her friends, although she could not see any obvious way to
question them. Later, she had been increasingly upset by the way that her
friends had shown no sympathy for Rachel at all, and had had to conceal
growing horror at the eagerness which Monica had shown in whipping her and
the avid way in which she had watched while their male friends, including her
own brother, and all the other men, and even the other waitress forced Rachel
into sex acts, exposing themselves without shame in the process. Even more of
a burden on Phoebe's mind was her growing conviction that somehow the
dominatrix woman was controlling Rachel, an idea which was strengthened by
her realisation that the only signs of enjoyment she showed were when she was
involuntarily stimulated to orgasm, like when the black screwed her up the
ass. Phoebe now felt disgusted with herself for feeling desire when Rachel
was stripped, and for lacking the guts to stand up to the dominatrix woman,
who had indeed dominated them all. But she had been afraid, remembering
similar situations when she was on the street or in prison that had turned
out badly for someone who had tried to intervene. But still, ever since
Rachel had come into the group she had felt this urge to protect her - she
had told her the truth about Paolo - and now when she needed her most she
had failed her.

Suddenly, she made a decision. Her friends were ignoring Rachel completely to
cluster around the dominatrix woman, whose aura was so unpleasant that Phoebe
would not go near her; she seemed to be telling them something. Phoebe got
up, found Rachel's clothes, took them over to her and gently pulled her
panties on, covering her poor abused crotch, then lifted her slack body into
her arms and kissed her on the cheek.

"I'm sorry, Rachel," she said quietly. "I'm so sorry. I should have tried to
stop them, but I was afraid they might turn on me too. Please forgive me."

Rachel's eyes turned to Phoebe. They had a dazed look, almost as if she were
drugged, but her mouth seemed to be trying to smile. Phoebe got out tissues
and tried to wipe the worst of the mess off her face.

"Hey Pheebs," Joey called, "what are you fussing around that little slut for?
Get over here. This is good."

Phoebe looked at them. She noticed that Ross now had an expression of growing
uneasiness on his face, but the others were looking eager.

"She says she can give us a way to control Rachel, so she'll do whatever we
want," said Joey with an unpleasant, greedy grin.

Fury lit in Phoebe. So all her suspicions were correct! She whispered in
Rachel's ear, "I won't desert you now. Clean yourself a bit and get dressed,"
pressed tissues into her hand, patted her on the shoulder, and went towards
them.

"How could you do that?" she asked the woman, controlling her expression and
sounding simply curious.

"It's something I've developed," said the woman proudly. "It allows me to
transfer my control of a subject to someone else."

"So," said Phoebe, in a suddenly steely voice, "everything you told us was a
lie. You've been controlling Rachel all along, making her say and do things
she didn't want to, and she's not your masochist sub at all!"

She stepped forward and suddenly slapped the woman across the face so hard
that she dropped the whip she was holding. Instantly Phoebe picked it up.

"Now let's see how you like it!" she yelled, lashing out at the woman
inexpertly. The woman, who was coming at her, dodged and went off balance.
Phoebe tripped her so that she fell heavily, then landed a good blow on her
back, making her scream. Then she turned on her friends.

"You fools!" she shouted. "You believed every word she said, without
question!"

"So did you," Monica objected, but her face was white. Ross and Chandler now
looked very guilty, and Joey's expression was uneasy though uncomprehending.

"I didn't do anything!" Phoebe yelled. "We should have tried to help Rachel,
not abuse her!" She swung the whip at them so that they jumped back, then
began flailing away at anyone in reach. This caused a hasty exodus. The
tough black alone showed no fear, trying to close with her, but, blessing
the impulse that had led her to wear boots that day, Phoebe pulled her boot
knife.

"Get your worthless ass out of here before I cut your dick off!" she
screamed.

Recognising that she was quite capable of using the knife, the black departed
rapidly. The other customers and Lucy the waitress had already run. Only
Max remained, cowering behind the counter, apart from her friends and the
dominatrix woman, who had clearly been winded by her fall, and was only now
sitting up.

"She doesn't deserve your protection,"she said hoarsely. "None of them do."

"None of who?" yelled Phoebe, pointing the knife at her.

"Those women who killed my husband," said the woman. "All those beautiful
arrogant bitches. I have to punish them all, don't you see?" She sounded
convinced that they would agree once she had explained.

"Oh my God," said Chandler. "She's nuts."

"This must be the woman who's been reported to be kidnapping celebrity women
and making them do awful things," said Ross, who looked sick. "Oh God, what
have we done!" He sat down and began to sob.

"You!" yelled Phoebe, pointing at the woman again. "How did you get control
of Rachel? How were you going to transfer it? Tell me, or I'll cut that
ridiculous costume right off of your back and drive you out into the streets
naked!"

She cracked the whip in emphasis.

The woman shrank back from her. "I - I inject a drug," she said faintly, "and
I have this device."

"Search her," snapped Phoebe to her friends, "and bring me everything you
find." When they hesitated, she cracked the whip again, feeling she was
getting quite good at it. "Do you want a piece of this?" she yelled.

Hastily they subdued the woman and found a variety of items, including a tiny
pointed instrument clearly intended for injecting with. The woman struggled
desperately, and seemed to be losing her grip on sanity completely.

"No, no!" she cried, as Ross put the items down near Phoebe, glancing at her
nervously. "I have to go on, I have to get them all!"

Phoebe's rage boiled over. She lashed out, and caught her across the neck and
shoulders. The woman screamed. "Rachel wouldn't have known your husband from
a hole in the ground!" Phoebe yelled. "You're doing it because you like it,
you filthy pervert! You've ruined Rachel's life, and no doubt plenty of
others, for no reason at all!"

She swung the whip again and caught the woman full across the face. The woman
screamed again and collapsed on the floor, curling into a fetal position.

Phoebe turned on those she now saw as friends no more. "Get out of my sight,"
she hissed. "You disgust me. I don't think I'll ever want to see you again."

"Pheebs - " Monica began, but Phoebe cracked the whip ominously and Monica
shrank back.

"Rachel's coming home with me," she said. "I don't trust you with her. Now
git!"

They left rather hurriedly, Ross last. At the doorway he turned and said
quietly to Phoebe, "I'll ring the police. An anonymous tip-off. It's the
least I can do. I'll wait till you're out." His face was full of remorse.

"Okay," said Phoebe curtly, "but don't think that pays off."

"The police!" she heard Max repeat. She turned, to see him open the register,
grab the notes and a handful of the silver, and run for the door, pushing
past Ross, who was too surprised to stop him.

Phoebe turned to Rachel, who had been dressing slowly, as if she had
forgotten where the items went, but was now ready. "Let's go home,
sweetheart."

Rachel looked at her, eyes now clearer. She nodded and went to look for her
coat and purse, hanging forgotten in the back. Phoebe looked in the register,
and scooped up any loose change left. Its loss could always be blamed on Max.

As they left Central Perk, Phoebe found she was carrying the whip still.
Deciding she had no use for it, she wiped it off quickly and dropped it in
the doorway. She had left the woman's implements in a place where she would
not easily find them. But the woman was still curled in on herself, moaning
and muttering, and would probably not recover enough to start looking for
them, anyway.

When they went out, she spotted Ross opposite and waved. He waved back and
instantly started using his cellphone. Phoebe had to admit, she felt sorry
for him. To realise that he had the instinct to do bad things, that he had
been a willing party to the brutalisation of the woman he had this long,
long crush on, that his sister was a latent sadist and his friends not much
better, would be very hard on him, as he was basically a good guy. So were
they all, really, she thought. It was the atmosphere that woman had created:
it had brought out the worst in most of them, though not, she realised, in
herself. She knew she had had sadistic fantasies sometimes, about Monica
when they were living together and she was being unusually control-freaky
or anal. Perhaps it was because she did not have any antagonistic feelings
towards Rachel, apart from feeling that sometimes she showed her background
as a spoilt rich girl a little too clearly, that she had not been affected.

Something suddenly occurred to her. If that woman was capable of creating a
mind control drug, maybe she could produce something she could release into
the atmosphere that people wouldn't notice, that uncovered their worst
impulses. That would explain a lot, but not why she had not succumbed like
the others.

"Perhaps I'm naturally immune," she said aloud.

Rachel looked at her questioningly, and said, "Huh?"

Phoebe realised that this was the first sound like speech that she had
actually produced for a long while. She smiled at her encouragingly and
explained what she had been thinking.

Rachel nodded slowly. "That would . explain a lot," she said in a hoarse
little voice. "But ... but I can't forget, Phoebe!" She wailed and suddenly
clung to her. Phoebe put an arm round her and patted her comfortingly.

"Never mind, sweetheart," she said. "I can tell you, the memory of these
things does fade, if you don't dwell on them too much."

Rachel pulled her head back and looked at her. "Have . have you been raped,
Pheebs?" she almost whispered.

"Near enough," said Phoebe a little bleakly. "I had to do things, go with
people, on the street and in prison, to avoid worse, and once, yes, I had to
accept a gangbang. So I, of all of them, have some idea of what you have been
through and are feeling now."

"The worst thing is," Rachel said confidingly, "I liked some of it. You saw
me come when the black screwed my ass? Well, I, I came again when they were
all screwing me, though not when Joey took my ass. I tried not to show it,
though I don't know why - they had all decided I was their meat anyway." She
sobbed.

Phoebe patted her again. "Try not to worry about it," she said. "If they
weren't deliberately hurting you, it would be hard not to enjoy some of
it, I think, and you like sex a lot, don't you? Now, we ought to find an
all-night chemist and get you a morning-after pill, just as a precaution."

Rachel actually smiled. "You think of everything." Suddenly she threw her
arms round Phoebe and hugged her very tightly. "My hero." Before Phoebe
noticed, Rachel had kissed her on the mouth. It was a fleeting kiss, come
and gone, but the touch of her lips seemed to remain, almost burning, on
Phoebe's mouth, and she felt light-headed.

When they got into the apartment that Phoebe shared with her grandmother, she
took Rachel to the bathroom to clean her up properly. It was now wellon into
the early morning, and while they were doing this, Phoebe's grandmother poked
her head round the door.

"What's going on, Phoebe?" she asked.

Rachel gave a great start and a little shriek of apparent fright, then
relaxed.

"This is my friend Rachel," said Phoebe. "Awful things have happened to her.
She's coming to stay here because she has nowhere else to go."

Phoebe's grandmother smiled at Rachel. "You're a pretty one," she said.
"That's okay, Phoebe, as long as this won't involve us with gangsters or
anything."

Phoebe shook her head. "No, the person mainly responsible should be in police
hands," she said. "I'll explain more later."

"Okay," said her grandmother and went back to bed.

When Rachel was as clean as she could be without taking a shower or bath,
Phoebe took her to her bedroom. "You have my bed, and I'll take the couch,"
she said. "We should both try to get some sleep."

A look of panic came onto Rachel's face. "Don't leave me, Pheebs," she
pleaded.

"Well, we can share the bed, if you don't mind," said Phoebe a bit
uncertainly.

"Phoebe, I'd like that," said Rachel. "Do you have a t-shirt I could wear,
over my panties?"

Phoebe found something, and put on a summer nighty herself. Quickly they got
into bed and, to Phoebe's pleasure, Rachel dropped off almost instantly. She
also feel asleep fairly soon, but was woken by Rachel crying and struggling,
evidently in the grip of a nightmare. Instinctively she put her arms around
her and murmured soothing words. Rachel sighed and relaxed. When Phoebe woke
again, it was full morning and she was still embracing her. Rachel had a
smile on her face, so enchanting that Phoebe could not resist kissing her.
She drew back hastily, alarmed at what she had done. Rachel's eyes opened,
and when she saw Phoebe her smile broadened.

"You can do that again, if you want," she said a little sleepily. "I like
it."

The temptation was too strong. Phoebe bent and kissed Rachel properly. She
was elated when Rachel opened her mouth and started trading tongues with her,
then put her arms round her and pulled her down. It was more than flesh and
blood could stand. Phoebe began to fondle Rachel's beautiful body, still
unsure how far she could go but desperately wanting to do more. Rachel made
little noises of pleasure, and eventually she grabbed one of Phoebe's hands
and put it firmly on her breast. Phoebe looked at her, her expression serious
and questioning.

"Yes, Phoebe, yes," Rachel said softly. "You can do anything you want with
me, because I want it too." Her expression suddenly became impish. "Shall we
get rid of these unnecessary clothes?"

She released Phoebe and quickly pulled the t-shirt over her head, revealing
her beautiful breasts. Hardly able to believe that her dream was coming
true, Phoebe still hesitated, but Rachel acted decisively. She took hold of
Phoebe's nighty and pulled it over her head, then reached up and licked one
of her breasts.

"Please, Pheebs," she said. "I know you want to, and I truly want to as
well."

Hesitant no longer, Phoebe swept her into her embrace. After a period of
feasting on Rachel's delightful breasts, she moved a hand, still slightly
tentatively, to her mound. Rachel, who had been running her hands over
Phoebe's body and rubbing herself against her, gave a little moan.

"Yesss," she hissed. "That's the way." Suddenly she wriggled, and Phoebe
perceived that she was rolling down her panties. Phoebe assisted in getting
them completely off Rachel's legs, then placed a hand much more firmly on
Rachel's mound. She found that her clit already seemed swollen and decided
to play with that, since she was not certain how comfortable Rachel would
find any action on her pussy. Rachel responded enthusiastically, and
shortly reached forward and found Phoebe's clit also. Kissing each other
passionately, they rubbed more and more urgently until they reached an
almost simultaneous climax. Kissing still, they relaxed in a loose embrace.

"Oh Pheebs," Rachel breathed in a while. "That was so good. I ... it's made
me feel so much better."

Suddenly she began to cry. Alarmed, Phoebe hugged her tightly.

"Shouldn't I have done it?" she said. "Did it arouse bad memories?"

"No, Pheebs," Rachel sobbed, "it overrode them. I did enjoy it, truly.
But ... I'm afraid I don't have the same feelings for you that I suspect you
may have for me."

"I have feelings for you," said Phoebe. "It would be ridiculous to deny it,
after what we've just done. But you don't have to respond at the same level,
and if I can please you, I'm happy."

"Phoebe, you've done more than please me," said Rachel, wiping her eyes.
"You're giving me my life back. It will be a different kind of life, but ...
anyway, if you are happy with this, then so am I. I am yours, whenever you
want.You have only to ask."

"Oh wow," said Phoebe. "That's an offer I can't refuse. But, Rach, I didn't
do it to get this, you know. I never expected - "

"I know you didn't, Pheebs," Rachel interrupted, looking at her tenderly.
"You did it because you are my true friend." Suddenly her face crumpled. "I
thought she was my friend, too," she said, with renewed tears. "Why did she
do it? Just because we'd had a fight ..."

"I don't know, Rach," said Phoebe. "I truly don't know. It seemed so ... out
of character. Maybe that woman did use something, to bring out their baser
instincts. Maybe some people react more readily to it than others. Or
maybe ..." She sighed.

"Yes, Pheebs?" said Rachel. "Go on."

"Maybe Monica has always had hidden bad feelings about you. You were the prom
queen when she was the fat outcast. Okay, you were friends with her, and in
my book that speaks highly for you, but you drifted apart after you left high
school, didn't you? Did you have some kind of fight? Well, I won't probe, but
I think Monica may have felt bitter, about that and about not being invited
to your wedding, and then you provoked her at the wrong time. Then, the
atmosphere that woman created encouraged her to act on her feelings." She
sighed again. "I think, already she was feeling bad about what she'd done
when I told them to leave. Ross certainly was - maybe they all were. They're
not really bad, you know."

"I know," said Rachel. "That's what makes it worse. We've all been tainted -
all but you."

"I watched," said Phoebe. "I felt desire for you when I saw you stripped. And
I didn't intervene when I could and should have done. We could have stood up
to her, you know."

"Never mind, Pheebs," said Rachel softly. "I refuse to blame you. After all,
you saved me from being made their sex slave, which I guess is what that
woman had planned next. And it certainly looked at one point as if I was some
kind of perverted slut. So maybe, in time, I will be able to forgive them. Do
you think I should?"

Phoebe lay back and thought about it. "You know what I think?" she said.
"If they have any good in them - and I think they do - they'll want you to
forgive them, but also to atone for what they've done."

Rachel lay, looking at her, for a moment. Then she leaned forward and kissed
her on the cheek. "You're really quite wise, aren't you, Pheebs?" she said
admiringly. "Your time on the street made you so much more mature than the
rest of us." Then she smiled rather impishly. "And your time in prison seems
to have taught you something about making love to women!"

She snuggled closer.

Pleased at the lighter turn the conversation was taking, Phoebe put an arm
round her, pinched her fine ass lightly, and said, "Yeah, there was one butch
in prison who was really nice to me. She taught me most of what I know." She
turned her head to look Rachel in the eyes. "There's lots more we could do,
if you're willing."

"Oh, I'm willing," said Rachel, smiling. "I want to learn more."

"Then now's your chance," cried Phoebe, turning to take hold of her fully.
This time, after preliminary caresses and kisses, she tried inserting a
finger into Rachel, but Rachel flinched and her face changed.

"Did I hurt you?" said Phoebe in alarm.

"Not really," said Rachel. "It's just ... I felt this ... revulsion. Oh
Pheebs, what if I can't take anything up there any more!" She began to cry
again. "I did want to please you and be pleased by you," she sobbed.

"It's okay, Rachel," said Phoebe, rocking her gently. "It's okay."

As soon as Rachel seemed to be recovering, Phoebe asked, "Have you ever ...
been licked?"

"Why, no," said Rachel, "though I've heard about it. Is that a thing women do
to each other?"

"Certainly," said Phoebe. "Many think it's the best of all. Would you like me
to try?"

"Oh yes, Pheebs," Rachel cried gratefully. "And maybe you can teach me to do
it to you, too."

At first Phoebe was very gentle, in case Rachel really did hurt down there,
but Rachel was soon reacting with enormous enthusiasm and urging her on
wildly, even taking hold of her head and agerly pushing it further in. She
came, eventually, with a scream of pleasure, humping strongly against
Phoebe's face, and relaxed with a long sigh of satisfaction.

"That was . superb, Phoebe," she said. "And I would so like to return the
compliment, but right now I don't feel I could lift a finger, I'm so
relaxed."

"That's great," said Phoebe. "You know, although you're shorter than me, I
have longer legs. Some time we could try doing that to each other at the same
time, what they call sixty-nining."

"Sounds interesting," said Rachel, still lightly. "Pheebs, we have just
agreed to be sort of fuck buddies, haven't we?"

"Yes," said Phoebe, "that's not a bad way to put it - but special fuck
buddies who are really close to each other."

"Very special," said Rachel, kissing her tenderly.

Phoebe felt a great warmth in her heart. If this was not love, it was the
next best thing. But a glance at the clock showed that they had no time for
more.

"Much as I'd like to enlarge on this theme," she said, "we ought to be
getting up soon."

Rachel giggled, but then her face went serious and she sighed. "What am I
going to do for a living now?" she said. "I can't live off of you and your
grandmother, and I don't want to go back to my parents."

Phoebe thought for a moment, while Rachel watched her, her face full of
trust. "I think," said Phoebe slowly, "the best thing is, show up for your
job as usual. You can bet the cops will have been on to Terry. Now, maybe
they'll have found out some of what happened, in which case you will have
to tell them at least some of the truth. You might be able to get away with
saying the customers joined in abusing you, without naming names. It depends
on whether Lucy gets questioned and how much she tells. But if they haven't
found out much, well, who's to know? As long as you can bear to set foot in
there ."

"I think I could," said Rachel, "though it would help if you went there with
me the first time. But what if . Ross and the others show up?"

Phoebe noticed that she didn't say Monica's name. "Just ignore them," she
said. "You can work it out with the other waitress - say you've had a bad
fight. But my guess is, they won't have the nerve."

"Phoebe," said Rachel seriously, "all this time I have been underestimating
you. Because I felt you were sort of weird - you don't mind that, do you? -
that made me think you weren't real smart, but you're totally on the ball on
this one, aren't you?" She put her arms round her and looked tenderly into
her eyes. "You really are my hero," she said. "I'll never forget this."

"Breakfast is nearly ready," called Phoebe's grandmother from outside.

"We'll be there soon," Phoebe replied, then, looking back at Rachel, "You
can't know what it means to me, to have been able to save you from the worst,
and to have you here with me. Can we . be open about being together? I don't
think my grandmother will mind. Once before I had a female lover, Leslie, who
was my singing partner."

"Sure, Pheebs," said Rachel., smiling broadly. "I am determined not to be
ashamed of it, or you."

They hugged each other tightly, both looking forward to the relationship
that they had agreed to have. Soon they were talking easily with Phoebe's
grandmother at the breakfast table, letting her know as much as Phoebe
thought was good; as she had predicted, her grandmother showed no surprise,
even a little pleasure, at learning that Phoebe and Rachel were now lovers.
In fact, she grinned and said that it would save making up another bed.
They all laughed, and Phoebe saw to her delight that Rachel really seemed
to be cheerful and should be recovering.

* * *

In contrast, breakfast in Monica's apartment was a largely silent affair.
Ross, Chandler and Joey were all there, but all were feeling guilt in their
different ways, especially Ross. Joey, once he was finally clear on what the
true situation had been, had almost burst into tears, and had taken his
cereal and coffee to watch TV, as if unable to look the others in the face.
Ross at least had the consolation of seeing the police arrive and take into
custody the woman who had led him into abusing Rachel, but he had departed
when they started looking around for clues and witnesses.

Monica had no such consolation, and she felt almost sick with revulsion at
what she had done.What was worst was that she could not forget the pleasure
she had felt, and the images that seemed burned into her brain. Occasionally
she broke out into shudders as her feelings warred within her. Finally she
caught Ross's eye and said hoarsely, "We must make it up to her. We cannot
leave it like this."

"Yeah, but how?" Ross was saying, when Joey called, "Hey, there's a news
story about that woman on TV."

Rushing to watch, they heard the announcer say, "New York police, following
an anonymous tip-off, seem to have found the mystery woman who has been
reported as kidnapping and abusing female celebrities for some time, but
they admit that they do not understand many features of the case. She was
discovered in a Greenwich Village coffee bar, in a state of complete mental
breakdown, dressed in a dominatrix costume, with a weapon and various
instruments. The bar had evidently been robbed. The owner of the bar, Terry
Goodman, states that he is baffled. The bar manager, Max Weingarten, is
nowhere to be found. The police are appealing for anyone with any information
to contact them at the following number ..."

They all turned and looked at Ross. "You sent the tip-off?" said Chandler.

Ross nodded. "I hope she'll never be in a position to abuse anyone again."

"One good thing to come out of it," said Chandler.

Monica got up and ran hastily to the bathroom, where she could be heard
being sick. She returned, white-faced and trembling, and went straight to
the phone. When it was answered, she began to speak fast.

"Phoebe, it's Monica. How is she? I have to know."

Phoebe looked across at Rachel, who seemed to have quite an appetite and
was happily spreading jelly on a third muffin. "She seems pretty good,
considering she's been abused, raped and betrayed by people she thought
were her closest friends."

"Phoebe, please!" said Monica, her voice shaking. "Does she ... remember
everything? I mean, she was drugged ..."

"I haven't asked her," said Phoebe curtly, "but my guess is, yes, she does.
Now, I want you to pack up her stuff and have it ready for us to collect.
She's gonna stay here."

Monica made a choking noise. "Oh Phoebe, can't we . look, can I speak to
her?"

Phoebe looked across at Rachel. "You can guess who it is. She wants to speak
to you."

Rachel froze. Then she slowly shook her head, tears appearing in her eyes.

"She doesn't want to speak to you," said Phoebe with a certain relish. She
heard Monica sob, and felt a lump in her throat, but angrily forced down any
feeling of compunction. Monica deserved to suffer a bit for what she had put
Rachel through.

"Look," she said, "Rachel's going to show up for work as if nothing had
happened - "

"Haven't you seen the TV?" Monica interrupted. "It's a news item. But the
police don't seem to know much. Max has evidently gone on the lam."

"Yeah," said Phoebe. "Well, we'll just have to see what happens. Neither of
us will volunteer information, but Rachel will have to tell some of the truth
if she's questioned."

Monica grunted. "Phoebe, is this the end of us all?"

"Probably," said Phoebe shortly.

Monica gave a sort of wail. "If only we hadn't had that fight ... But I can't
think what got into me ..." She broke down into sobs.

Phoebe swallowed. This was very hard. "Look," she said, wanting to console
Monica, "there's a possibility you were drugged too, that that woman released
something into the air that would ... bring out your bad instincts, and it
didn't affect me because I had some kind of immunity. BUT," she went on
emphatically, "it doesn't alter the fact, you did those things. Now, maybe
if you were to, like, give Rachel some kind of payback, she might forgive
you, but I can't make any promises on her behalf."

"Oh God, I would feel so much better if I knew we were under some kind of
influence and that wasn't really me," said Monica with great feeling...

"It would still have been part of you," said Phoebe sternly, "the part we
all learn to suppress normally. Well, can you have Rachel's stuff ready for
this evening?"

"I guess s-so," said Monica, her voice shaking, "but, oh Pheebs, will she
really not speak to me at all?"

Phoebe raised her eyebrows at Rachel. Putting a hand over the mouthpiece,
she said, "She seems really sorry now, but if you'll be guided by me, sorry
doesn't cut it."

Rachel nodded. "I'm not ready to speak to her, or any of them, yet," she said
firmly.

Phoebe ducked her head, and repeated that to Monica, who gave a loud wail and
appeared to drop the phone. Ross must have picked it up, for his voice was
heard next.

"What did you say?" he said reproachfully. "Monica's crying as if her heart
would break."

"Only that Rachel's not ready to speak to her, or any of you," said Phoebe
severely. "Now, if you'll forgive me, I have things to attend to." She cut
the connection.

Her grandmother, who had not followed all of this, seemed troubled. "You
don't want to turn this into a feud," she said.

"That wouldn't be good for any of you. Sometimes" - her eyes looked off into
the distance - "one just has to accept the bad things that people you are
close to have done, and live with it."

In Monica's apartment, the men tried in vain to comfort Monica as she wept
hopelessly.

    

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