1. A Get together
Let’s get started! 😁
3. Onboard! (And Offboard…)
“Oh, but it would be so much fun!” Phoebe wailed, trying to convince the rest who were seated on the couch and chairs in the living room of the Bing household.
Ever since the proposal of going to LA had become concrete, the energy had never quite left the group and for hours they were discussing each and every aspect like must see places, where to go first etc. In short, the whole itinerary. Ideas were placed on the table, and voted collectively. The horn had been unanimously declared ‘inhumane’ and hence been discarded.
So far, all the major debates had resolved. Except for one. How the hell were they going to go to LA in the first place.
“For the last time Pheebs! Mon is right. A road trip isn’t practical!” Ross said in an attempt to make her understand.
“Why not? There’ll be five of us in your car, five in Monica’s and two of us along with those two hunkies in the Mercedes just like our morning trip.” she said, not quite getting the point.
“First of all Pheebs. Those guys are not ‘hunkies’ alright? They are a lot more than that. And second of all, what makes you think I will be allowed to take the rented Mercedes 2812 miles away from here?! ” Joey replied, a bit agitated.
All of them looked at Joey with widened, surprised eyes.
Joey blushed and shrugged at their response.
” I kinda searched the distance on Google maps, when Phoebe first mentioned the idea of a road trip.” he admitted sheepishly, to which Chandler gave him a look which seemed to say, ‘When did you become so smart?’
“Hold on. So that Mercedes is not yours?!” Phoebe asked, taken aback.
“Of course not! Didn’t you see that yellow plate? I rented it just for today’s commute.” Joey said in a tone which suggested that it was a normal thing to rent a Mercedes every now and then.
“Hang on. Did all of you think that the Mercedes was mine?” Joey asked, incredulous.
There was a definite pause before Rachel stuttered a response.
“Oh, no, no! We wouldn’t make a mistake like THAT!” she said, blushing as she waved her hand.
The tell-tale look in everyone’s eyes was too much of a giveaway though, even for Joey, whose eyes became as wide as saucers.
“Jeez! That’s so insulting! To think that I would own a plain C200?! Do you guys even know me anymore?” he exclaimed, not quite realising that he was contradicting himself.
“Errmm… Actually, no. We don’t.” Chandler replied, who had only a vague idea of his best friend’s recent riches.
“So which car do you own?” Phoebe asked, intrigued.
“A BMW M3 Convertible. Although I do plan on buying a Lamborghini.” Joey said, smirking.
“Ooh. I like that!” said Phoebe smacking her lips.
“Errm… Pheebs? You do know that Skype works both ways, right?” said Mike, whose face was visible on the laptop they had propped open as they had a live videoconferencing set up with him.
“Oh, relax!” Phoebe replied, rolling her eyes in dismissal.
“Okay, enough debate! Let’s vote!” Monica said, banging her palm on the table.
“I think that a road trip though tantalising, would be too hectic and is bound to get off-schedule what with half a dozen kids around. So I vote for a flight, which though conventional, would not only save time and money but also be smoother and safer.” she continued, casting her vote.
“I think Mon pretty much summed it. I would like to vote in favour of a flight.” Ross said, who was seated next to her.
“I guess technically Mon, you are right. But, I mean seriously guys, how many times have we actually got a chance to do a thing like this? All of us together? Zero in the past six years! So I say that we do it good and we do it right. Which means… Road trip! Who’s with me?” asked Chandler, whose comment was greeted with a lot of whoops and cheers from Rachel and Phoebe, both of whom were already in favour of a road trip.
“Okay, so that’s 3 for road trip and 2 for a flight.” Monica announced, once everyone had calmed down. “Mike?” she asked, and everyone arched themselves so as to get closer to the screen.
“Errmm… I guess Monica’s right.” came his reply.
“Yes!” Monica exclaimed or rather, shouted.
“WHAT?!” Phoebe shouted, even louder.
“I mean honey look, Chandler and you do have a good point saying that this could be the trip of a lifetime, yet I can’t help but think that Monica’s choice is more logical. It’s not gonna be even remotely easy to manage half a dozen children on a 3 day long trip. Hence I vote in favour of flight.” he offered.
“Alright, you know what?! You shouldn’t even be allowed to vote!” Phoebe fumed.
“Well if that’s the case…” Mike said slyly, “Then all of my votes don’t count. Meaning…”
“Monica gets to veto in case of a tie! No! You cannot do this to us!” Phoebe exclaimed in horror and so did the others as they came to that realisation. Monica rolled her eyes.
“Ahemm.” she said, in order to gain attention. “Okay, so that’s 3 in favour of road trip and 3 against, which leaves…”
Everyone turned to look at Joey, who looked liked a deer in the headlights.
“Uh oh…” he said, gulping.
“Come on, Joey! You have the deciding vote! Now do the right thing and vote in my favour.” Phoebe said, while Monica swiftly disappeared into the kitchen, unnoticed.
“Errmm… yeah, I mean personally, I do like the idea of road trip more than..” he said, before he was distracted by…
“Hey, what’s that smell?”
Everyone turned towards the kitchen to see Monica wafting the mouthwatering smell of brownies by a fan.
“There’s a whole batch waiting just for you! Just vote for a safe flight…” she said in a sing-song voice, tempting.
“Joey! Focus!” Phoebe commanded, not at all impressed by Monica’s trick and the ‘effect’ which it was having on Joey.
“It’s too hard!” he wailed, not wanting to disappoint anyone. Just then however, his eyes brightened.
“Wait a minute!” he exclaimed.
Everyone did wait with bated breaths. Only for a few seconds though…
“You were gonna say something?” Chandler asked.
“Shhh! I’m thinking!” Joey said, who had both of his index fingers on his temples, as though deep in thought.
“Yeah, and I’m James Bond!” Chandler said.
Rachel looked at him with daggers in her eyes.
“What? Is Joey the only one who can be sarcastic?” he said, in justification.
“You know what?! I think we can work out a middle ground.” said Joey, beaming as he suddenly thought of an idea.
“What do you mean?” Monica asked, intrigued.
“Like halfway flight and halfway by road?” Rachel guessed.
“That’ll be even more weird, man.” Ross said, while everyone seemed to agree.
“That was not what I meant! I mean, what if we do go by plane, but… it’s just us, if you know what I mean…” Joey trailed, a spooky look of mystery in his eyes.
“So… You want us to hi-jack a plane?” Chandler asked, genuinely confused.
“Ooh! That sounds even more exciting!” Phoebe said, jumping in her seat.
“How can you guys even think of saying that with a straight face after 9/11?! ” Ross said, with a look of disgust on his face.
“Oh no! We won’t hurt a soul!” Phoebe replied, mortified.
“Are you guys done speculating, or should I wait until you are done?” Joey asked, disgruntled.
Everyone did stop ‘speculating’, although it may have been because of the fact that Joey had said such a word in the first place.
“Well.. I might have to pull some strings, but this guy, who’s sort of a friend of mine owns a private jet. And he also kinda owes me a favour. So, I’m thinking that maybe we can travel by that.”
An awestruck silence greeted the suggestion, which Joey mistook as uncertainty.
“What?! I thought it was a good idea!” he said, looking around.
The rest were still bathing in the aftershock.
“Well… if you don’t like it, then maybe we can…” Joey said, but before he could continue, Phoebe suddenly stood up and marched upto him, and halted with her face mere inches from his.
“I’ll tell you just how much I liked that idea.” she whispered and kissed him full on the lips.
It was a full 10 seconds before they broke apart.
“You liked it so much?! Thanks!” Joey answered, a bit out of breath.
“Hey, things are really getting out of hand here!” Mike’s image shouted from the screen.
Phoebe still looked lovestruck while Rachel said,
“Oh! I’m next!”
“You think so?” Ross asked Mike in exasperation as they helplessly watched the infidelity unfold.
“You know, I really can’t blame them. I would’ve kissed him myself. God knows I want to.” Chandler said.
Ross and Mike didn’t roll their eyes.
* * *
The Geller Residence
“Phew! I’m glad we finally sorted it out!” Ross said, as he and Rachel walked through the gate, to their house.
“Yeah! A private plane! Wow! I mean, who would’ve thought?!” Rachel replied, the excitement still obvious.
“Yeah!” Ross said, chuckling, as he turned in the keys to the main door.
The couple entered the house to find it eerily dark and quiet.
“You think the kids have slept?” Ross asked, although he was skeptic.
“It’s barely past nine and Emma rarely sleeps on time. You really think she would sleep when she has got five kids to play with?” Rachel countered.
Ross switched on the lights to see the living room appearing as if a tornado had struck it.
“Yeah, I knew it was too much to hope for.” he said, shaking his head in exasperation.
“Where are they, anyways? Emma?” Rachel called.
“Up here Mom!” came Emma’s reply.
“You go check on the kids while I clear this mess up.” Ross said. Rachel nodded in agreement and headed upstairs.
Ross was almost done restoring the living room to it’s normal state when Rachel appeared on the stairs.
“Honey?” she said, her voice a little too sweet.
“Yes?” Ross replied, his eyes on the cushions as he kept them.
“If you are done, could you please come up the stairs? Erica needs a little help getting her doll.” Rachel said, while a giggle escaped somewhere above.
“Oh, sure! Be there in a minute!” he replied, still not meeting eyes with her, which was fortunate. For Rachel.
Ross headed upstairs and into Emma’s room to find Erica hovering around the bed, looking troubled. He smiled. After Emma and Ben, the child he was most fond of was Erica, and he always held a soft spot for her.
“What happened, sweetie?”
“Jack threw my doll under the bed and now I can’t get it back!” she wailed.
“Did he now?” Ross asked, getting on his knees to be at level with Erica, who nodded vigorously.
“Well, we’ll get your doll right back and then teach Jack a lesson. Okay?” he said
“Okay.” Erica replied, smiling.
Ross bent down and put his hand under the bed. As nothing came to hand, he lowered himself even more, trying until he lay practically flat on the floor, while Erica still egged him on.
“You sure it’s under here, Eri?” he asked
“Yes! I saw her!” she claimed.
Ross inserted his hand just a little more inside, to find it practically stuck.
“Ouch. Erica, could you call aunt Rachel for me? My hand appears to have stuck.” he said.
Erica simply smiled conspirationally at him and turned towards the door to shout,
Ross realized his mistake too late. He barely had time to feel sorry for himself as five kids stormed through the door and launched themselves on him.
“Ouch! Ow! What did I do?” Ross wailed, finding himself effectively trapped what with Joey Jr and Jack practically bouncing on him while others grabbed his legs and the free hand.
Rachel entered the room a couple minutes later, laughing as she said,
“And that’s what you get for waking me up at 2 am in the morning and letting me make a complete fool of myself!”
“But that was Emma’s idea!” Ross said in defence. “OUCH!” he screamed as someone pulled his little finger. “Okay. Alright. I’m sorry! Rach, would you please tell them to stop?” he said, pleading.
“Hmm.” she said, pretending to consider. “Oh, I don’t think so.” she said, smirking and turned to leave.
“There’s a lot of packing to do!” Ross said.
That caught Rachel’s attention.
“Alright, kids! Off Uncle Ross if you want to go to Disneyland!” she called.
“Aww, mom! Just one more minute?” Emma asked.
Rachel looked at Ross who was casting his infamous puppy dog look before saying,
* * *
Newcastle Avenue, Westchester
As the first rays of the sun made their way to the horizon, they revealed a lot of activity in just the two houses in contrast to the rest of the neighborhood, which lay in peaceful slumber. Last moment packings, checking and (in Ross’s and Monica’s case) rechecking whatever they had packed. Not to mention getting their kids and themselves ready for the journey.
Not everything was going in tandem, however. For example, Joey had only gotten as far as brushing his teeth, whilst Monica had taken to keeping their luggage in the car. Or the fact that both Phoebe and Joey had practically nothing to pack had attracted the envy of the rest. Phoebe’s triumphant vibes definitely didn’t help lessen it.
Nevertheless, they were only twelve minutes behind (Monica’s) schedule as they put their cars into gear and headed to Westchester county airport, which was merely at a distance of 10 miles, much closer than JFK.
The airport was small and dainty and a chartered plane meant that the security checks went through a lot quicker. That was how barely an hour later they found themselves standing in front of a small, sleek jet which seemed to be a perfection of modern aerodynamics.
“Holy mother of God! Is this what I think it is?!” asked Chandler, while all others let out muffled yet similar expressions, dumbstruck.
“Presenting, Cessna 750 Citation X, the fastest civilian aircraft with a Mach speed of 0.86, capable of 3700 miles non stop journey with complimentary hostess.” Joey described proudly, with all the smugness of a rich businessman.
“How much does it cost, Joe?” Ross asked, intrigued.
“23 million dollars apiece.” Joey replied, smugly.
“Damn! I’m just 22 million dollars short! Does anybody have 22 million dollars?” asked Phoebe, looking genuinely hopeful.
“Ouch!” exclaimed Rachel, all of a sudden, and blushed when she noticed that the spotlight had shifted.
“Ahemm…Was just checking if this was real or yet another of my multi-million dollar dreams. Nope, it’s not. Otherwise I would’ve had my cheque ready by now.” she clarified, as she rubbed over the spot where she had pinched herself.
“You still have those? You told me you stopped having those years ago!” Ross exclaimed, seeming to have taken offense.
“I tried, Ross! Honestly, I did! But it’s not like one can control what they dream, you know?” Rachel replied, looking somewhat exhasperated.
The others had a look which seemed to say… ‘Why is this such a big deal again?’
An uncomfortable silence seemed to descent amongst the group as Ross lowered his gaze and shuffled his feet, whilst murmuring almost inaudibly,
“But you know how much it troubles me to hear that you have dreams which I can’t fulfill…”
“Honey, that simply doesn’t mean that I love you any less for it. I’m completely happy with what we have! And besides, not all dreams are meant to be fulfilled, you know? Some are better off as wistful fantasies.” Rachel replied, gently tugging his shoulders and taking him into a hug.
“But when some do come true, they are so much better than you would’ve ever dreamt them to be” Ross said, his eyes full of devotion.
A couple of seconds passed as the group seemingly ‘adored’ the moment.
“Oh crap! I distinctly remember you saying that how much you wished Ross could get his promotion as the head of the department so that you could buy clothes twice as expensive!” exclaimed Monica, looking disgruntled.
“What?! So, that’s why you want me to get promoted?” Ross asked. “Man, and here I was, thinking that for once you had taken a genuine interest in my job!”
“I… Well… ” Rachel stuttered, unable to defend herself. “It was difficult to pay attention to anything else once you mentioned that raise! You shouldn’t have told me about it!”
“Ha! Gotcha!” Monica said, looking triumphant.
“Well atleast I wouldn’t kill someone to win the lottery!” Rachel said, turning towards Monica with her eyes as narrow as slits.
Everyone took a step back from Monica and looked at her with shock and disbelief.
“Poultry! I just meant poultry!” said Monica, raising her hands in surrender and looking aghast while Chandler’s eyes seemed to pop as he mockingly laid his palms over his throat.
* * *
“And Ma’am, you would be taking?” the hostess asked Phoebe who had been glancing out of the window, lost in thought.
“Huh?” she asked, turning towards her, disoriented at first. The hostess smiled, and repeated herself politely.
“Oh.. Ahemm. Err.. I’ll have a Martini.” Phoebe replied, smiling.
The hostess penned it down and went down the aisle to the kitchenette of the plane.
Phoebe slumped back on her self-made, makeshift seat, trying to nod off her worries.
The journey so far had been beyond anyone’s expectations. As soon as she had entered the plane, she was mesmerized by it’s customized homey interior. Well… That was until she found out about the black leather seats. Then she refused to sit on any of them until finally they promised her a makeshift seat as soon as they were airborne.
Apart from that fiasco, everything had been perfect. Yet, she couldn’t quite shake off the feeling that something was about to go wrong. Very wrong. And her instincts usually never defied her.
“I’ll take that from here, thank you.” came Joey’s voice as he took the glass from the hostess and walked towards Phoebe.
“Hey!” he said “You comfortable?” he asked, handing her the drink.
“Very! Thank you!” Phoebe acknowledged as she gratefully took the martini and gulped it down a little too fast.
“I’m sorry about that. If I’d known of the seats before, I would’ve made different arrangements.” Joey said, eyeing Phoebe as though trying to figure her out.
“It’s cool! I mean, I’ve worn a fur coat for an entire day once, I sure can handle a seat for fifteen minutes!” she justified.
“It’s actually thirty, once you add up the landing time.” Joey added, cringing a bit.
When no reaction came from Phoebe, Joey became certain something was up.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“It’s nothing.” she said, waving her hand as she did so. “It’s just that I’ve got this feeling that something bad’s about to happen.”
“Oh. Is there something I can do?”
“No…” Phoebe trailed.
“Huh.” Joey said, visibly upset at not being able to help elevate her mood.
Seconds later however, he struck upon an idea.
“Oh, I got it! Maybe I should go and check whether the plane has both of it’s phalanges!” he exclaimed, to which Phoebe laughed her famous loud, heartfelt laugh, making Joey realise how much he had missed it.
“You do know that there’s nothing like a phalange in a plane, right?” she asked, to which Joey replied, smiling,
“Oh, you never know when we might need it!”
Just as Phoebe was about to add something, the co-pilot made his appearance, an ominous sign.
“Mr. Tribbiani? Sir?” he called
“Yes?” Joey asked.
“Could you please accompany me to the cockpit? There seems to be a complication…” the co-pilot trailed, seeming unsure of himself.
“Alright, I’ll be there in a minute.” Joey said, and turned towards Phoebe. But the co-pilot didn’t budge.
“Actually Sir, the matter requires urgent attention. So I’m afraid that you’ll have to accompany me right now.” he insisted, his tone becoming slightly more commanding.
By now, everyone’s attention had shifted to the co-pilot and all the adults seemed sonewhat worried, while the kids looked curious.
“Okay! I’m coming!” Joey said, standing up. “Why are you being so cocky?”
The co-pilot didn’t respond.
” ‘Tis no wonder you work in a ‘cock’ pit.” Joey continued, laughing at his own statement while the co-pilot plainly seemed exhasperated.
Perhaps he got it all the time.
“Passengers may I have your attention please? This is the captain of your plane speaking. I have both good news and bad news.” the voice came from the speakers, only minutes later. The voice though, was obviously familiar.
“Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that…” Chandler said, but before he could continue, the speakers sounded again.
“The good news is that we are landing.” it said, and continued almost immediately, “The bad news is that we are crash landing.”
After barely a second’s pause, there was uncontrollable laughter on the other end, followed by a shuffling sound.
“I’ve always wanted to say that ever since I saw Madagascar 2.”
Everyone roll their eyes and let out sighs of relief, but it didn’t last long since the real captain grabbed the headset from Joey.
“Attention all passengers. There’s a slight alteration to ‘s statement. We are indeed descending to make an emergency refuelling at North Platte regional airport, although it’s going to be a well controlled landing and definitely NOT a… ‘crash landing’. (The pilot’s tone changed just a bit, as though admonishing his passenger wasn’t ‘routine procedure’. But then again, he had Joey as his passenger.) May I hence request all the passengers to fasten their seatbelts.”
Before the pilot’s words could sink in, there was a short static and the speakers emitted apparent sounds of a ‘struggle’.
“No! Don’t play with that sir! It’s the manual landing gear! Henry, just take that away from him!”
(Sounds of a scuffle)
“Fine! Jeez, I’ll go! Stop being so cocky!”
A bout of laughter was heard, which stopped abruptly, as though the source was roughly pushed away.
“Dad? What is so funny about the word cocky?” Jack asked to which Chandler somberly replied,
* * *
North Platte Regional Airport, Nebraska
“Well… someone seems grumpy!” Chandler said, as Rachel finally made her appearance from the restroom lobby.
“Even you would be grumpy when you are made aware that there’s a ‘shortage’ (air tags) of toilet paper a little too late!” Rachel fumed in response. “I mean, it’s an airport for God’s sake. Agreed that it has just two daily scheduled flights, but an airport all the same!”
“Yeah, you are absolutely right!” Ross said.
“Thank you sweetie!” Rachel said, glancing sweetly at him.
“Now get your card, so that we can resume the game and I can win the full house.” Ross added, to which Rachel made a face and snatched her card back from Rain, who was the refree yet again.
It had been four hours since they had landed at North Platte regional airport, Nebraska and yet there were no signs suggestive of resuming their journey anytime soon. Joey had been positive that they would be onboard within an hour, but after a quick refuelling, it became obvious that the cause was different.
The airport wasn’t helping, either. It was tiny and desolate, showing only a few hangars, a narrow small strip as a runway and a single building performing all the functions of a terminal. Fortunately, they weren’t short of refreshments as the plane had enough stock to feed them for an entire day.
“I got the top line!” Jack exclaimed, waving his card with pride.
“Oh, let me see that!” Emma said, taking his card.
“Hey! Erica’s calling the numbers! She should be checking, not you!” Jack retorted.
“Fine!” she said, huffing and handed the card to Erica, who began checking the numbers.
“You’ve marked 55, but I called a 5! See?” Erica said, pointing out the chart.
“Ha! I knew it!” Emma said, as Jack took the card back, blushing.
“Don’t worry honey, you’ll get it!” Monica said, trying to cheer him up.
As Erica put in her hand to pull out another number, Phoebe suddenly exclaimed,
“Oh! There he is!”
Everyone looked towards the gate to finally see the pilot head towards them.
“I hope you have some good news.” Joey said, sounding buisness like.
The expressions on the pilot’s face, however, seemed to say otherwise.
“Sir, I’m sorry to inform you, but the malfunction is more severe than what we had initially thought.” he said in a tone which suggested that he was being cryptic on purpose.
“Meaning?” Monica asked, looking quizzically at him.
“Meaning that the need for refuelling was not due to overlooking of the fuel indicator by my co-pilot as was initially thought, but was due to a microscopic leakage somewhere in the circuit connecting the fuel tank to the combustion chamber, implying that the plane should be subject to replacement of the parts necessary and also a thorough testing procedure so as to ensure that it has resumed it’s optimum performance.” he ranted.
It was obvious from the looks on everyone’s faces that none of them was any wiser about their current situation.
“He sounds a lot like you, dad.” Emma said, to which everyone except Ross snickered, while Ross looked annoyed.
“Yeah, and one would’ve thought that after 20 years they would finally get the hang of it, but I still manage to zone out!” Chandler said.
The pilot looked halfway between amused and annoyed.
“I’m sorry… but…What?!” Rachel asked
“The plane cannot be chartered for carrying passengers until we are absolutely sure that this malfunction is corrected.” he clarified.
“And how long will that take?” Ross asked, sounding like ‘get to the point, will you?’
“Three days minimum sir, presuming that all the parts are available in this airport which is only a primary service center. I’m deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused. Trust me when I say that it’s been the first time I’ve had to say this.” the pilot offered, looking apologetic.
“So, let me get something straight. Are you trying to say that we are practically stranded on this airport?” Monica asked, her forehead wrinkling.
“That’s one way of putting it, Ma’am.”
Everyone felt a sinking sensation as Joey let out a wail saying,
“I had asked for some ‘good news’, man!”