I wanted to ask you guys:- Would you like to read more about the past of Ross and Rachel? Like how they split or something in the form of flashbacks? Or is it unnecessary? Let me know!
And a little heads up here.. Since this chapter is pretty long, I have divided it into 2 parts, and the 2nd part will be published real soon…
‘Welcome to Charles de Gaulle airport. Passengers…’
The announcement rang throughout the Terminal as Ross slowly made his way through the crowd. Even after sleeping for most of the duration of his flight, he still felt deprived of relaxation. One of the reasons why Ross had caved into coming to Paris was because he had been pretty confident that facing her head on, all settled in her new life would give him closure. And that he was ready to go through that ‘process’. But his restless squirming in the plane had only proved the contrary. As though to add insult to injury, Emma stirred in his arms just then, reminding him of the fact that now he had to let go of his daughter as well. Excellent.
“Ross! Ross! Over here! Over here!” a voice was heard faintly over the throng. Though Rachel’s voice had been barely discernible, it had been enough to set Emma off into a rather noisy bawl. But as her eyes finally found her mother’s, her emotions made a complete somersault. She began jumping in Ross’s arms, desperate to reach out. By then, Ross had spotted Rachel as well, and was slightly taken aback by her attire. Rachel was dressed like an elite business executive, complete with a stylish yet formal jacket. Ross let out an involuntary whistle. Power dressing definitely suited her well. For she looked even more attractive. If such a thing were possible, that is.
Emma’s agitation was growing by the minute and was well on it’s way to turn into a state of a full blown tantrum. Hence, as soon as they got close enough, Ross immediately handed her into Rachel’s arms who began smothering her daughter with kisses every where she could, both shedding tears of joy at their long awaited reunion. As much as Ross wanted to hug Rachel, he restrained himself from doing so, choosing to stand about a feet away from her. Not for long though, because soon Rachel locked him in her embrace.
“Oh I’ve missed you so much Ross!” she said, holding him closely.
“Me too, Rach.” he replied.
‘You have no idea’ he whispered to himself as Rachel gently disengaged herself and turned her face towards the exit.
And talking about getting closure, Ross had already smelled her hair. It was the same old coconutty aroma he remembered only too well.
* * *
“Oh yeah?!” Rachel asked in disbelief as they headed towards the city in a car which Rachel’s company had been kind enough to offer thus relieving them of the hassle of getting a cab.
“Yeah! All by herself!” Ross answered, beaming as he did so. To his surprise, things were going pretty smoothly. They had quickly settled in to their friendly banter, which had focused mostly on Emma and their friends. However it wasn’t long until Rachel asked him the million dollar question.
“So how have you been?” she asked, out of the blue. Though the question had been asked in a casual manner, there was undeniably a serious undertone to the words.
“I’ve been… fine.” he answered, thanking his lucky stars that he had sounded remarkably composed. His abruptly tensed posture, however, had been sort of a give away.
“I mean, come on Rach! We’ve been talking almost daily, so the’s hardly anything that you don’t already know.” he continued, defending himself and pretending to have found the question formal and humorous.
“I’m not so sure about that.” she replied, passing a somewhat inquisitive look, to which Ross simply patted his knee in nervousness.
Time seemed to drag on as each waited for the other to say something. Just as Rachel was about to pursue the topic, their car stopped as they finally arrived at Rachel’s apartment.
Ross couldn’t have been more grateful at the timing.
* * *
“Did a hurricane just strike here?!” Ross asked, as he passed a look around the living room.
“Shut up!” Rachel replied, smacking his shoulder in an amicable manner. “The maid has been on leave for a couple of days. She’ll be back by Monday.”
“Just a couple, huh?” Ross asked, to which Rachel simply rolled her eyes.
“Alright. So what’s the plan for today?” he asked, as he made himself comfortable on the couch and Rachel busied herself with making coffee.
“Well, today I think may be we should…” Rachel was interrupted by a call on her cell phone.
“Hello? Yeah, that’s me.” she answered. After a couple of nods in response to the other end, she suddenly seemed agitated.
“What?! … But?…” her expressions changed from annoyance to resignation as she responded with an “I’ll be there” in a voice much smaller than the one she had started the call with. Walking over to the couch, she held her head in her hands in disappointment. Seeing her distress, Ross immediately settled down next to her and began comforting her by putting one arm around her shoulder while the other gently caressed her hand. Even now, this came to him as a reflex, and Rachel seemed to relax a bit in response.
“Who was it?” he asked, concerned.
“Work.” she replied, finally turning to look at him. “An urgent meeting turned up and I simply have to be there. Also, there’s been some fiasco in the marketing department which might take the whole day to clean up!”
On one hand, Ross was indeed disappointed that his already limited time with Rachel was getting cut short even more. On the other, Rachel was feeling guilty enough that he didn’t have the heart to make it worse by saying so.
“That’s okay, Rach. I didn’t sleep well in the flight, so I would’ve been like a zombie today anyways!” he said, smiling to make light of the current situation. Not that he was lying though.
“Really? I can make some arrangements to get the work done by mid day…” she said, but her voice made it clear that it was not going to be easy at all.
“Don’t worry, Rach.” Ross said, smiling understandingly.
Rachel smiled and gave him a bear hug in apology as she stood up and grabbed her keys from the table.
“Hey, are you not even waiting for breakfast?” Ross asked, slight alarmed to se her leaving immediately.
“Not enough time. Because my damned assistant kind enough to call me at the very last moment.” Rachel replied, just as she was closing the door to her apartment.
* * *
Ross’s sleep was disturbed by the cry of his daughter in the living room. Rubbing the sleep off his eyes, he quickly made way towards her and comforted her the best he could. She had barely gotten over her mother’s absence this morning, and now with Rachel not in sight, she was even more aggravated. Well, she won’t have to worry about her mother’s disappearance any more, he thought as she gradually quietened. It was now noon time and he was ravenous. But one glance at the kitchen told him that he would have to do something else before he could cook. And that was shopping for groceries.
He was considering simply getting a takeaway from a nearby restaurant when an idea struck him. He could not only fix lunch for himself, but also prepare dinner for them. After all it was about time that Rachel had a healthy home cooked meal. (The pile of takeaway boxes had been enough of a clue) Besides, he knew that it would make her happy. And he usually didn’t say no to things which could do so.
Thanks to his shaky yet decipherable French, he located a store within a few minutes. There, he busied himself buying items that he thought an average kitchen should have, smirking as he did so because even after a month, Rachel’s kitchen barely had anything more than salt, pepper and a coffee maker.
After satisfying his and Emma’s hunger, he also came up with the prospect of making the apartment less of a mess. Though he wasn’t manically obsessed with cleanliness as his sister, neatness was a trait that ran in his blood as well, albeit to a lesser degree. Plus that also gave him something to do rather than just sitting the day out. He had considered visiting the Louvre alone, but given up deciding that he would enjoy it more if he had company.
As he began clearing the mess, he found himself unwillingly impressed by the apartment leased to Rachel. It was simple, yet elegant. One would surely be a fool to give up such a place, he thought sighing as he did so. He managed to make the place look decent at around 5, when he decided that he needed a bath. On opening the bathroom, he let out a chuckle. There would be no need to shop for bathroom stuff at least. Rachel was prepared.
* * *
Rachel looked up at her apartment, and a fresh wave of guilt washed over her. Why did the marketing guys had to find this day to mess things up? The day which she was supposed to spend happily with her daughter and her best friend had turned out to be yet another exhausting day of workload. Now she had just this evening and the next day with Ross. She had to make the best of it, she thought to herself as she climbed up the stairs, a fancy bottle of champagne in hand.
On opening the door to her apartment, the first thought which came to her mind was that she had entered the wrong place. For one it was clean and for another, it had the mouth watering smell of lasagne. She stepped back and checked the number. It was indeed her apartment.
” Bienvenue Madame ” Ross said, greeting her with an unsuccessful attempt at a French accent.
Rachel turned to look at him, still in a state of shock.
“What? I thought you would like this.” he continued, now feeling a bit unsure about his surprise.
“Like it?!” Rachel finally uttered. “Oh my God! I love it!” she squealed with happiness and hugged him tightly. Ross relaxed as he got the reaction he had been expecting.
“What made you do this?” she asked, still glancing around and taking it all in.
“I don’t know. I just wanted to give you a nice surprise. You were feeling pretty let down in the morning, so I thought I’d make the evening special.” he answered honestly.
Rachel’s eyes filled with adoration as she managed a ‘Thank you’, her voice too thick to speak further. Ross smiled in response and suddenly they found themselves locking eyes with each other. The moment was brief though, as Emma came running out of the bedroom and clung to Rachel yet again. Ross smiled at the scene, and was relieving Rachel of her purse when his eyes landed the bottle of Champagne which she had brought.
“Champagne, huh?” Ross asked, pointing at it.
“It wasn’t just you who wanted to make the evening special.” she said, smiling. “I also bought candles. Although I was going to order food, so I must say you beat me to it.”
Ross suddenly found the room grow too warm and stuffy.
“Candles… really? Isn’t that supposed to be.. like… errrm… romantic?”
“Not necessarily. Just to make it special, you know. Like a moment.” she replied, her eyebrows rising to form a crease.
‘Balloons are special’ Ross thought in his mind. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea with a toddler around.” he said, glad to have found a perfect reason to avoid making things ‘romantic’.
“Oh Yeah! You’re right. We can’t risk it!” she exclaimed, annoyed with herself to not have thought about that sooner.
As they set the table, the expression ‘Phew!’ was written all over Ross’s face. Rachel however totally missed it.
* * *
“So… I guess I’ll sleep in the living room.”
Once all the dishes were done and Emma neatly brushed and tucked in, Ross decided it was about time they discussed their sleeping arrangements. Rachel’s apartment had a queen sized bed in one bedroom, while the other was empty at present but later would be occupied by a small bed for Emma.
“Don’t be silly Ross, you are sleeping in the bedroom with me.” she admonished.
“I…” Ross trailed, remembering the last time they shared a bed.
“Oh come on Ross! Did you honestly think that I’d let you sleep on that lousy sofa?!” she exclaimed.
When Ross didn’t reply, she continued “What kind of person do you think I am to do that, especially after you’ve been so sweet to me today?!”
Ross badly wanted to explain it to her that, that wasn’t the reason, but couldn’t find a suitable way to say it. So instead of hurting her feelings, he simply backed off, thanking her and prepared himself for bed.
As he lay awake, (courtesy of the jet lag) he couldn’t help but criticise his current scenario. He had prepared himself for distancing himself from her, yet had somehow ended up sharing a bed with her in less than 24 hours of being together. Exactly how difficult it was going to be to say goodbye once more, he had no idea. He had yet again managed to make himself even more vulnerable.
He had been pretty convinced when Phoebe had told him that his visit to Paris would be liking ripping of a bandage. It would sting at first, but only momentarily. And then there would be peace. Now, he had a feeling that this bandage would leave open a bleeding wound.