As usual, I own nothing... just my wish for an Adrian/Natalie happily ever after!


Adrian Monk was browsing the greeting card section of the local card store by his apartment. He was looking for a card that said just the right thing for just the right person. Unfortunately, that person was two aisles away looking for a birthday card for her mother, so he pretended to be all casual—not his strong suit—as he silently perused the cards of interest. He tried to read the cards without taking them out of the holders just in case Natalie came around the corner without warning, as she was apt to do. She was always sneaking up on him. However, over the last seven years, he'd gotten used to it, expected it, came to want it, need it, even.

Of course, in his pursuit of stealth, he wound up making a big mess. He sighed as he went to the counter to explain that the card rack in the back aisle had come apart through no fault of his own. The card shop clerk, familiar with Mr. Monk, simply rolled her eyes and went to straighten up the mess while warning him not to try to help her. Generally, he liked the orderly organization of this particular store, so he didn't usually do much straightening when he and Natalie patronized it. Maybe he straightened some figurines or took out his ever-present handkerchief and dusted a little while Natalie shopped. That was usually it; he really didn't deserve the eye roll this time. But she was young, and everything seemed to annoy those under 30 these days. Even Julie was a little guilty. As much as he loved her, she could be such a millennial, as Natalie was fond of saying.

As he turned another corner to examine calendars for the upcoming year, a song came over the store sound system. As he spied a lovely calendar with files for receipts for each month, his mind wandered as he listened to the lyrics.

I've been alone with you inside my mind.

And in my dreams, I've kissed your lips a thousand times

I sometimes see you pass outside my door

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

I can see it in your eyes; I can see it in your smile

You're all I've ever wanted, and my arms are open wide

'Cause you know just what to say, and you know just what to do

And I want to tell you so much; I love you

Oh my God! It was like someone was singing his innermost thoughts aloud in the store while the person he wanted to hear them was a mere twenty feet away! But he did not want her to listen to them like this. Nor did he want her to listen to them from the singer the clerk told him was Lionel Richie.

I long to see the sunlight in your hair

And tell you time and time again how much I care

Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow

Hello, I've just got to let you know.

'Cause I wonder where you are, and I wonder what you do

Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you?

Tell me how to win your heart, for I haven't got a clue

But let me start by saying, I love you

Well, this was the card for which he'd been looking. The words to this song were just what was in his heart. Just what he wanted to say to Natalie. When he'd finally, after months of struggling through therapy with Dr. Bell, confronted his feelings. Plus awkward conversations with Leland and Ambrose about how he felt. He finally came to terms with what it was he felt; and how the three men had reassured him that she felt the same way but was too afraid of losing their friendship to say anything, he knew he'd have to be the one to say something first. He'd have to be brave this time.

By the time Natalie came around the corner of the birthday card aisle, she had several cards in her hands and had a look of despair on her face, and the song was ending. Perfect timing, Monk thought as the music faded with the words, "Hello, is it me you're looking for? Is it me, is it me, is it me? Is it me you're looking for? Is it me, is it me?" He picked up the calendar he'd been admiring as a cover for his flustered inner turmoil.

She frowned when she saw the terrified look on his face. "What happened?"

"I nearly destroyed a display; the clerk has it in hand," he sighed.

"Oh. The look on your face - I thought it was worse than that," she replied with relief. "Here. Look at these. What says 'Happy Birthday, Mom. Wishing you the best.' Without saying she was a great, loving mother my whole life?"

He handed her the calendar simultaneously and said, "I think this is great. What do you think?"

Adrian took a moment and read the card selections and chose the most innocuous of the cards. Natalie patted his arm. "Thank you. You always know the right thing to choose."

Did he? She had to be the only human on Earth who ever believed that aside from Trudy. Maybe because she was the only person he let see inside of himself. "I like this calendar. It's a great organizational tool!"

As Natalie paid, Adrian went to the blank card aisle and found a pretty blank card with Natalie's flower—a Butterfly orchid, on the front. He thought back to the day Joy the florist had called her a delicate flower like the Butterfly orchid, and at the time, he'd be embroiled in an investigation and hadn't really thought about it. But that strange lady had been correct. Butterfly orchids are known to brighten the winter, and Natalie had come into his life and illuminated it like the spring sun after a particularly harsh winter.

As Natalie looked at the picture frames and other assorted paraphernalia towards the front of the store, he surreptitiously paid for the card along with his File-IT! Calendar for the coming year. Then he slipped the card into his inner jacket pocket. They walked back to his apartment, satisfied they'd accomplished their missions.

Later that night, Adrian sat at his desk with a pad of paper in front of him. My Dearest Natalie, he began and struck through it. My Darling Natalie, Of all of the people I have met in my life, you have been by far my favorite "Hello." I've spent a good deal of time thinking, wondering about how to tell you what's in my heart, and I found there weren't words to express everything in my heart until we were in the card store today and a song came over the sound system. It was a song by a man named Lionel Richie (Do you know of him?), and it was as if he wrote the words that were in my heart. Although I wish I had a poet's soul, alas, I do not, so here is what I would like to have told you if I had that gift. With that, he wrote out the lyrics to the song as he remembered them. Good that he had echoic memory that was perfect, as well as eidetic memory. Both came in handy for more than crime-solving.

Of course, he rewrote the whole thing in his perfect penmanship into the three blank sections of the card—left, right, and rear. He sealed it, wrote Natalie's name on the front, and put it in the desk drawer. He tossed the scrap copy in his waste bin in the living room and determined that he needed sleep. It was 3:30 in the morning by the time he'd gotten the card just right.

𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ

The following morning at eight am sharp, Natalie unlocked Mr. Monk's door and called into his apartment as she did each day, "Hello? Mr. Monk, it's me, Natalie." She stepped in and looked into the dining room and the kitchen, surprised he wasn't in either, she stuck her head in the living room as well. Finally, she crept quietly down the hall to his bedroom and saw him, still fast asleep, snuggled under his covers like a little boy. His face was worry line-free, and his lips turned up in a soft smile. He looked as carefree as she'd ever seen him. She smiled involuntarily at the sight of him so at ease and content and made her way back to the living room to wait for him to wake, wondering what had caused him to sleep so late. This was unlike him.

She sat on the couch and turned the television on very low volume to not disturb Adrian's sleep. In her head, she always thought of him as Adrian. She watched the news for a while, getting more depressed than usual watching the litany of political upheavals, murders, accidents. It was too much. She shook her head and got up to get a bottle of water from the refrigerator. Sheets of yellow paper in the trash caught her eye, so she thought she'd empty them into the big garbage pail in the kitchen. As she carried the silver trash can to the kitchen, she thought about the day she'd met Adrian and the fire in that trash can. Okay... its duplicate. He'd gotten rid of the original after the fire.

Oh, the roads they'd traveled since then. The highs and lows of the time they spent together were literally beyond description for her. But, all she knew was at the end of the day, she loved him. Was in love with him and had been for so many years. Now, if he would ever return the sentiment…. With a deep sigh, Natalie went to turn the silver pail into the bigger garbage pail. As she did so, she glimpsed her name on the top of one of the yellow sheets of paper. Curious, she decided to take the papers out of the trash and snoop a little.

𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ

Adrian woke slowly, the sunlight was muted by his drawn shades, but he could tell it was late. Gift/curse at work once again. He stretched, happy to have committed his thoughts and feelings to paper; it seemed freeing in many ways. So, with a smile on his face, he rose to begin his day. For the first time in a long time, the shower felt perfect, the towels fluffy and soft. His toothbrush was just right, the toothpaste tasted clean, and his teeth looked sparkly white. Something nagged at the back of his mind, but it seemed like a tiny gnat in comparison to his overall happiness. As he dressed, he was excited to see Natalie appear for their day. In fact, there was his gnat... he was wondering why she wasn't here yet. He knew why he was late today; why was she?

He went into the kitchen to put the kettle on and turned on the coffeemaker. He bent to get a frying pan from the cabinet and walked to the refrigerator to get the ingredients for an omelet. As he stood at the fridge, he felt arms snake around his waist and a cheek pressed against his back. This was an altogether unexpected and totally unusual happening in Adrian Monk's life. What was happening? He almost shrieked with surprise. He turned with his arms raised—a carton of eggs in one hand and a green pepper in the other.

"Dear god, Natalie. You scared-"

The rest of his words were lost as Natalie stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his. Gently. Softly. Her arms moved up his chest, and she clasped her hands behind his neck as the kiss continued. He brought his hands down, and, weak-kneed, he held her to himself eggs, pepper, and all.

Finally, they broke apart. "Natalie?" Adrian said with a mixture of happiness and confusion. What could have brought that on?

"Adrian," she sighed. She turned to the kitchen island and grabbed the papers that had been in the waste paper basket when he went to sleep. Oh! He thought. Oh no, the draft copy.

"Natalie, you weren't supposed to see that copy!" He broke from her arms and ran to his desk. He came back moments later with the sealed card and his extra-sharp letter opener.

She looked at him with an expression that mixed humor with desire and took the objects from his outstretched hands. The card was the perfected version of what she read with the cross-outs, the rewrites, and the insertions. It didn't matter. Perfect, imperfect. Draft or final copy, the words were thoughtful, loving, and perfect. "I was your 'favorite hello, and I will be your most devastating goodbye'?" she asked through happy tears.

"Natalie, it's taken me so long to come to terms with what's happened over the last seven years. I always thought that any feelings I had that weren't about Trudy were disloyal or unfaithful. But in the year since we were hospitalized and nearly died, and since I know what actually happened to her, I've changed my thinking. I know that she wasn't perfect. I can face that now. Face it and accept it. I also know we were completely happy, if not completely honest. However, that particular happiness died with her, but she'd want me to be happy and to live because I didn't die with her and neither did my ability to love." He paused and relinquished the eggs and pepper to put his hand on Natalie's soft cheek. "The day you came into my life, kind of like a freight train," they both laughed a little, "something changed, something I couldn't name then. But because you've helped me grow and live and learn, I understand it now. I can name that first feeling now; it was an attraction. To your smile, your wit, your mind. Then later to your heart, your beauty, your body. I fought it. I hated it. I hated myself. In the last few months, with Dr. Bell, Ambrose, and Leland's help and persistence, I've finally found the courage to accept what I've probably known deep down for at least five years. I love you, Natalie Teeger. I know we could be happy. Not the happiness I had before. A different happy, one that has its own magic and bright spark. Different, but perfect. I can't do life without you. I don't want to do life without you. I never want to imagine a day without you somewhere in it, and I need to know how you feel."

He watched a single fat tear roll down Natalie's cheek as, at last, he finished speaking and gave her a moment to absorb everything he'd just admitted. She was flattered and exhilarated by what he'd said, what he'd confessed. "Adrian…" he was thrilled at hearing his first name fall from her lips. "I'm not sure you want to hear just how long I've been waiting to hear you say something like this to me. It's been years and years. Since the time I thought you were dead… I knew then that I was in love with you. But I cast it aside. I had to. I forced myself to date others. I just assumed you'd never…" and with that, she burst into sobs.

He finally let go of all of his worries and drew her into his arms. "I'm sorry, Natalie. If only I hadn't been so… me. Maybe I would have…."

She looked up at him, eyes red, "I don't think you were ready. I guess now you are. I am so grateful for this chance, this miracle. I think it may take me a while to believe it." She reached up and traced his mouth with a hesitant finger, which he kissed.

He kissed away the salty drops on her cheeks and then said, "Me, too. But I'm ready for that battle of willpower," and smiled the smile that she so rarely saw, his dimples on full display.

"What do we do now?" she asked as she tucked herself against him; Natalie felt that she was made just for him; she fit so perfectly in his arms and under his chin.

"The first thing we do is take the day off," he kissed the top of her head, "and we do what we should have done years ago. Get to know each other in a whole new way."

"That sounds so good, Adrian. Shall I call the captain?"

"Yes."

"What should I tell him?"

"Tell him that you and I have a big project we're undertaking, and it will require all of our attention. Possibly for several days. I'm sure he'll get the hint."

"He'll probably think we're rearranging the silverware again."

"No, he won't. Trust me. Remember I told you, we've had some decidedly uncomfortable and awkward conversations recently."

"Right. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall."

"I'm glad you weren't."

"You'll have to tell me about them someday when you're ready."

"We'll both be mortified."

Natalie laughed and went to make the call. Adrian made two omelets. There would be breakfast for two every day for the rest of their lives.

#FINIS#