Monk felt helpless.

This was a different feeling than usual. Even though many people tended to act as if he was helpless, Adrian always knew differently. He *could* get along without help... it just wouldn't be in the same manner normal people lived their lives. In order to exist with the outside world, he did need help, and he never begrudged that, and he certainly appreciated it coming as it had. Shortly after Trudy's death, on his long spiral downward, he had rejected help, striking out at everyone, pushing people away. That is, until he found someone he couldn't push away. Since then, he had trusted Sharona with everything, and she had helped him to do things he never thought he would be able to do again. She made his accomplishments and victories his, gently nudging him (or sometimes giving him a swift kick in the pants) along to get where he was going. She was content to wait in the background until she was needed, and when she was needed, she was instantly there. In all the time she had been with him, he never felt helpless.

Until right now. Waiting behind a lamppost as Sharona sweet-talked her sister into letting him stay with them at her house.

Adrian watched as Sharona and Gail went at it. They were like alley cats, always scratching and hissing at each other. Until he met Gail for the first time several years ago, he had never quite understood Sharona. For as sweet and wonderful as she could be, she could dig in her heels and argue with the best of them. It was that skill that had kept her around him in the first place- she could argue, insist, squabble and bicker till the sun went down- and in the world of Adrian Monk, to protest as equally as he did was an Olympic feat.

Growing up with Gail as a sister, Monk knew that she had needed every bit of spit and vinegar she could muster. But the idea of a childhood with Gail, now that was a hell that Monk didn't even want to imagine. As an only child, he couldn't fathom growing up having to share and compete for things. Besides, from what he saw from Gail, he had no doubt that had he had a sibling, luck would have dictated it be a messy one, and Monk had no doubt he would have spent his childhood cleaning up after his sibling. But growing up with Gail... now that had explained just about everything he had ever wondered about Sharona within about 10 seconds of meeting her.

Sharona beckoned for Monk to cross the street to Gail's apartment. She had worked her magic once again... that dammed bargaining. He had half-hoped that she would fail, and he would be allowed to go home alone. And once again, Monk felt helpless.

He hated the feeling.. it was like being a child, waiting till your friend asked his mom if you could sleep over, after already being invited by him. Dr. Kroger had told Sharona not to leave him alone after this mornings little "episode". Sharona had tried to convince Monk that he had in fact been speaking gibberish, but he didn't buy it. After all, everything he said made perfect sense to him... but if it was gibberish, how could he understand it? No, he was quite sure Sharona just didn't want to be chasing him around the city while she was also trying to figure out when she could move back into her apartment, and work on flirting with that Australian reporter she had met earlier.

He and Gail exchanged tight greetings. His experience with Gail told him to be on his toes. Although Sharona had assured him that Gail was seeing somebody at the moment and there wouldn't be a repeat of that last time, Monk was still apprehensive. If he thought Sharona was aggressive about seeking out dates, he had not been prepared for Gail whatsoever. Pit Bull- wasn't that what Sharona said Gail's high school nickname was? Once she latched into a man, she didn't let go.

As Sharona and Gail settled down in the living room to catch up, Monk headed to the guest room to get settled. Sharona wouldn't let him bring more than the two suitcases to spend the night- after the sleepover with Monica she had taken most of his other bags and hid them so he couldn't pack so extravagantly the next time. As he carefully put things away in drawers and set up a few of Trudy's photos on the nightstand, his thoughts wandered back to that first time Sharona had introduced him to Gail. That was the day he thanked his lucky stars that he had managed to wind up with the much safer Fleming sister.