A/N I own nothing except my love of Monk and a happy ending for Adrian and Natalie


Anniversaries. They were complicated. You celebrated. You remembered. You mourned. You memorialized. You commemorated. You honored. You loved. Yet, on this anniversary, Adrian Monk had decided to lie. And confess. And obfuscate. And try to get a woman into bed. Yes, Adrian Monk had those thoughts. For most of the last fifteen years, they had nothing to do with him physically, though. It was always other people's extra-marital sex affairs, or other people getting married, making babies—legitimate or not, or something having to do with a case. His shy, reserved nature usually even prevented him from watching R-rated movies comfortably—even if he was alone. Recently, alright, perhaps for the better part of the last three years, he'd been carrying a torch that had grown heavy, and he had decided to put it down at last. That meant confessing his feelings and hoping they were returned in some measure. Dr. Bell had assured him she wouldn't reject him. Looking back, Leland had implied how she felt many times, always stopping himself before he said it outright. People always mistook them for a couple already. So did that mean she did return his feelings? Did something shine out from them that made them seem…couple-y? Was it the way they acted towards each other? Was it the way they looked at one another? Whatever it was that made other people look at them as a pair that belonged together, he hoped he could unearth it this weekend and make it real.

Even from the day they met, Friday, January 21st, 2005, he'd thought she was pretty. Empirically the fact was unarguable. She was a symmetrical, green-eyed blonde woman who clearly took care of herself. Slim, agile, and graceful in her movements. She'd been the object of men's attention on almost every case they worked. He was often annoyed by that, not understanding the annoyance for what it really was—jealousy—until recently either. As time went on, her beauty seemed to grow and become more layered, enriched. Maybe it was her own maturity. She'd been barely thirty-one when they met. Maybe it was his own feelings for her changing and growing as their relationship became deeper and closer. Over the last seven years, they'd become like family.

If one had known Adrian Monk right after the death of his wife, Trudy, they would have thought it impossible for him to get close to anyone in any way ever again. Even in the years following, many would have said it would be impossible for him to find love again despite the friendships he'd formed. But, apparently, Natalie Teeger had something magical about her. Everyone around them saw it. Felt it. Knew it for what it was. No one knew the why of it, though. The magic that made it happen. Perhaps it was that they'd each lost a spouse tragically and suddenly. They often bonded over that pain, that loss. Adrian felt she understood him in a way no one else could. Not Dr. Kroger or Dr. Bell. Not Leland or Sharona. No one but Natalie Jane Teeger could understand him and not pity him, but empathize and commiserate. Lately, they could laugh together over almost nothing. He loved the variety of laughs Natalie could produce. The fact that she could make him laugh or coax him to laugh, well, Adrian took that as a sign of progress. He was beginning to understand and accept the silliness of life. The absurd situations he and Natalie often wound up in together, the funny, often ridiculous things that Randy would say, the sarcastic jokes that Natalie made, the humor in the things she or Julie forced him to watch on television. After 51 years, he was finally starting to get life as it was meant to be gotten.

Now, as he sat silent as a statue in the passenger seat of Natalie's car, he was nervous and yet oddly hopeful. Today was Saturday, January 21st, 2012. The seventh anniversary of the day they met. He knew she didn't realize. Why should she? She didn't catalog dates the way he did. Dates and days and hours were piled in his mind the way newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and mail were piled in Ambrose's house. He remembered what she was wearing that day. A green sweater and a white v-neck cotton shirt with five functional buttons and some more buttons just for show, along with black slacks. The sweater had made her changeable green eyes look like emeralds that day. How many colors had they been since that day? Aquamarine, peridot, celadon, jade, kelly, mint, myrtle. That was one of his favorite things about her, the ever-changing color of her eyes. His mind wandered from her eyes to the date again. He knew he should be bothered by the number seven. Still, he was not waiting another 366 days, this being a leap year, for anniversary number eight to try to move on with his life. He'd done enough mourning. Enough waiting. Enough wanting.

He had gotten her into the car and on the road with a lie. The first he'd ever told her and gotten away with—he'd been astounded how well it had worked. He had said that someone he knew from the SFPD before he'd been relieved of his duties had moved to Jenner, up on the Sonoma Coast, and needed his help with a case. The former colleague was with the Sonoma County Sheriff's office, and they had been invited in by the county. Natalie simply shrugged and packed for a long weekend. Trusting him. He'd booked a suite at the Russian River Inn and Spa. When Adrian told her they would probably have some time to relax and "hang out," that did garner him an odd look, but he knew that expression; it was a mixture of surprise and hope. Just in case things didn't go his way, they'd each have their own room in which to retreat.

"I love this drive," Natalie announced, breaking into his anxious, circular thoughts. "It reminds me of that movie, the one with Julia Roberts when she was really just getting started. Dying Young?"

He shook his head, not knowing the reference. After repeated watchings of Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias, Pretty Woman, and Erin Brockovich, he did know who Julia Roberts was. The Teeger women liked fairy tale romance and female empowerment in equal measure, so he was often subjected to both. Now that Molly was in his life, he'd also seen Eat, Pray, Love, and Larry Crowne. Julia Roberts was a good actress. The movies were good. Minus the very minor sex scene in Pretty Woman, which he had been able to sit through without too much embarrassment. His mind was so far off track he didn't even realize that Natalie was still talking. "The music was beautiful too," she was saying. He guessed she was still on about the movie she'd mentioned. Maybe they could see it together. But he had other more pressing concerns, like dinner tonight. He'd made arrangements for them to eat on one of the two private terraces attached to their suite, and he hoped she would approve. It was there and then he hoped to make his feelings known once and for all.

They arrived in less than two hours. Natalie was often scolded by him for her lead foot, but unless he wanted to drive, which he did not with so much on his mind, he let her have her way on the open highway. The feel of the air through the open sunroof was pleasant, he had to admit. Adrian also liked to watch her hair blow in the rush of the breeze. When she lifted a hand from the steering wheel to push her bangs to the side, he felt the urge to do it for her, and that feeling, that urge was new, unbidden, and rather exhilarating to him. Her hair had grown to her shoulders in the last few years. He liked it longer; he liked the myriad ways she found to wear it — up or down, wavy, straight and twisted up for a fancy night out… he really didn't care—she was beautiful in all of those ways. Still, he liked it long, wavy, and loose like it was now very best. The disorder of it should have bothered him, but it came to represent all the things about Natalie that he loved. Her spontaneity, her beauty, her intelligence, and her gigantic heart.

When they rounded the sweeping curve of the driveway and parked at the entry of the main building, Natalie drew in a sharp breath and let out a low whistle. The inn was quite lovely and looked very expensive. "Are you sure you picked the place with the best rates?" Their private consulting had been going quite well in the last eighteen months, but it didn't lend itself to extravagances like this place—yet.

He shrugged nonchalantly while inside, his stomach did a flip and a flop when he thought about how he'd polled guys at the station before he chose this spot. They promised him a romantic, secluded, and private experience. He had told his first lie, that the information was for Dr. Bell. The cops and sundry others bought that because why would Adrian Monk be looking for a private, romantic getaway? He said to Natalie, "It's off-season." His lies were piling up.

She smiled and patted his shoulder. She left her seat and blithely handed the attendant her car keys as another attendant grabbed their bags from the trunk. They checked in and were shown to the suite that Adrian had booked. Natalie was both confused and impressed. "We're sharing?"

"We each have our own room and bathroom," he explained quickly as he turned to tip the attendant and shoo him away. Happy with the generous tip, the bellman left as requested before showing them the amenities or how the thermostat, lights, or hot tub worked.

"This is really beautiful, Mr. Monk. "Really, really beautiful!" She sauntered across the room to look at the view of the ocean and the decor. She threw open the doors and walked onto the terrace. She breathed the clean ocean air. "Such a difference from the city, right, Mr. Monk?" she asked without turning. He frowned. That needed to stop immediately.

"Hey," he said softly, "Now that we're roommates, I think you should call me Adrian." He was trying to be a little funny, a little coy.

Apparently, it worked because Natalie giggled girlishly. "Do you mean it? Why now? I mean, I think of you like that in my head most of the time…" she trailed off, having revealed more than she'd intended. His eyebrows rose. His heart also jumped with her words. There was that damned hope again.

"Well, we're much more like partners now, aren't we? We work together. You don't really work for me as much. You do the more difficult parts for the private consulting…." He trailed off and shrugged his shoulders and raised his hands palm up as if to say, "Right?"

Natalie considered it for a full minute and finally replied, "Okay. We'll see if we can handle it… Adrian." His name sounded rusty on her tongue, although her brain formed the word so often it had its own neural pathway. He had no way of knowing that, though, and just smiled like a fool when his name crossed her lips. He blushed.

"Okay, I'm going to unpack," he said, red-cheeked, as he fled the room.

"Okay, me too," she replied to his retreating figure—smiling at his red cheeks.

𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ𝕸ɳ

He stood quietly in the doorway to the living area a while later, simply watching her. She was reading on her tablet, face scrunched in concentration. He watched as her expression changed as she read. He leaned casually—or as casually as Adrian Monk ever could—against the door jam, arms loosely crossed against his chest, one jean-clad leg crossed in front of the other at the knee, the toe of one shoe on the floor. A smile played at the edges of his usually unsmiling lips as he watched the woman he loved do something she loved.

He contemplated her as she became further swept up into whatever she was reading and turned, so she was on her side. He sighed silently as he caught a glimpse of the perfect column of her neck and the swell of her creamy breasts at the top of the lacy blouse she wore. The blouse looked like it was made of gossamer moonbeams. He internally mocked himself: suddenly, he'd become a poet and a connoisseur of women's clothes. As he watched, tears formed in her eyes. She knuckled them away and turned again—restless with whatever was occurring on the screen in front of her. Finally, she sniffed away more tears and threw the tablet to the side. That's when she noticed Adrian in the doorway.

"Sad part of the story?"

"I didn't see you there," she replied, startled a little. Embarrassed a little more. It was her turn to blush. "Just frustrated," her turn to lie a little, "I have to wait for the next book to come out in the series to find out what happens. I hate that! It was just beginning to turn out lovely for the hero and heroine, and then something bad happened, breaking them apart again. Bah! My sappy romantic heart."

"It's a sweet, kind heart that likes happy endings. Who can blame you?"

She looked at him with surprise. She filed that response away for later consideration. "Is it time for dinner?"

"Not quite. Would you like to take a walk first?"

"Yes, please! That would be lovely." She slipped her shoes on and reached for her sweater. He got there first, held it out for her to put her arms in, and slid it over the gauzy blouse. His hands lingered on her shoulders for a second longer than absolutely necessary and a thrill coursed down her spine. An electric spark ran from his fingers up his arms straight to his heart. They both diligently ignored the feelings.

They walked down the front walk of the inn and out towards the small town of Guerneville. Picturesque didn't begin to describe the streets and the tiny restaurants, boutiques, bars, and nightspots that dotted the curving and sloping streets that ran along the river. The town was so laid-back and relaxed that both Adrian and Natalie felt the weight of San Francisco that they unconsciously carried lift from their shoulders. Natalie took Adrian's arm as she always did as they walked and was so happy as they peeked into windows of antique shops, bakeries, and clothing stores. Water bowls for dogs, along with treat jars, dotted the street at the entrances to many of the shops. That made Natalie smile. It made Adrian think about Shelby and her puppies, as he often did. When they got to an old-fashioned ice cream and pie shop, Natalie said, "Let's come back later for dessert."

Adrian nodded his agreement, they were both fond of ice cream, but he inwardly smirked. He hoped they wouldn't be leaving their suite for at least the next twenty-four hours. Each small street revealed treasures and trinkets and twists and turns until they were so turned around the river itself was the only thing that helped them find their way back to their starting point. By the time they got back to the inn, they were both famished.

Adrian swallowed with difficulty as they neared the inn's restaurant. "Oh, I have to go back to the suite for a minute."

"Are you alright?" Natalie asked, perturbed at his sudden shift in mood.

"Yes, I just…. my uh… my sock is sliding down, and it's bothering me." Making it up as he went along. He was starting to get good at this lying thing… maybe he should start being concerned.

"Oh, okay. Shall I come along?"

"Sure." He smiled at her pleasantly.

When they arrived at the suite, Adrian knew it was a moment of truth, like none he'd ever known. He slid the electronic key into the lock, and the snick of the bolt and the green light almost sneered at his nervousness.

"I'm going to freshen up while we're here," Natalie said as she turned left into her room without noticing the elaborate table set on the terrace. The staff had worked a miracle while they'd been out on their walk.

Adrian took the opportunity to inspect the table, the champagne, and the arrangement of flowers he'd requested. When Natalie came out of her room, she wore a look of surprise to see him on the couch, nervously fidgeting with his fingers. "Mr… Adrian!" She caught herself. "That was quick!"

"Well, that's because my socks were fine, Natalie. I needed to get you back here. I wanted to surprise you."

Natalie looked at him with puzzlement coloring her pretty face. "I thought we were going to dinner in the restaurant."

"Come here," he beckoned her towards him as he walked to the terrace doors. He opened the door with a flourish. "Surprise!" He exclaimed proudly with the hint of a nervous smile. Natalie's eyes grew round with genuine astonishment.

"Adrian!" She breathed his name on a whisper. "Wow. This is… this is just… I … I'm not even sure what this is… it's beautiful. It's a great surprise."

There was a moment when they looked into each other's eyes when they both knew they both understood what was happening, but the words still needed to be spoken aloud. Adrian simply pulled out a chair for her, and when she sat, he placed her napkin on her lap then seated himself adjacent to her. He grasped the bottle of champagne—a very recognizable bottle of Veuve Clicquot—that had been placed in the silver cooler next to the table. And as though he'd done it weekly his whole life, he twisted the wire cage off the top, popped open the cork, tilted the bottle at a forty-five-degree angle and spilled nary a drop, and created no foam. He tilted one flute and the second to fill them without much fuss. She never had to know he'd practiced all week, albeit on much less expensive bottles of champagne, or that he'd had help from the bartender at Pastor's Tavern. The place he'd met the con-man Gully when he'd been up all night looking for Maria Cordova.

"Happy anniversary, Natalie," he smiled at her as he handed her a glass.

"Anniversary?"

"Yes. It's the seventh anniversary of the day we met." Her eyes danced with happiness that he was able to surprise her.

"Oh my goodness! Really? It's our anniversary? How amazing. Wow, seven years, that's longer than some marriages."

Adrian smiled ruefully, "That's because many people don't take marriage seriously and don't think it through before they do it. Sometimes they fly into it without really knowing or understanding the person they marry. It's unfortunate."

"Well, we're smarter and better than that! Happy anniversary, Adrian. I hope we have many, many more!" They clinked the pretty crystal flutes together and sipped the bubbly alcohol. Me too, he thought. "Oh, yum!" She exclaimed.

He sipped. "It's good?" He asked after his own taste.

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling at his naïveté, "Oh, Yes. Very good," she replied softly. The look in his eyes had her trembling. Was it fear she felt or something more important? Adrian lifted the silver covers off their first course, chilled lobster salad.

"Oh, Adrian!" He'd really gone all out for this anniversary. "How wonderful!" She took a bite and closed her eyes as the delicious taste of the lobster slid against her tongue, and then before she knew it was gone. "That is really delicious." She sipped her champagne. Then she sipped some water. She wanted to be moderately sober for whatever was happening here.

"I remembered that case we had in the Presidio last year… remember? The one in that fancy restaurant...uh…Fruits De Mer. You spoke about the delicious lobster salad you'd had there once."

"I'll always wonder if it's a good thing or a bad thing that you can remember everything I say. But for tonight, it's a very good thing," and she took another bite of lobster and almost cried with happy delight. Adrian whisked the plates to the waiting sideboard when they were through and then uncovered the main courses. When he sat the pretty china in front of her, on her plate sat two perfect crabcakes with a generous dollop of remoulade sauce on each. They were accompanied by grilled vegetables on skewers, orderly and neat. A small swirl of linguine with red sauce completed the dinner. There on the plate were some of her favorite foods, pasta, crabcakes, and really any vegetable as long it came off of a grill. She had to blink away tears to prevent them from spilling out of her eyes and ruining this lovely thing Adrian had done for her. For them.

Her eyes sought his, and she placed a hand on one of his, "Thank you, Adrian, this looks wonderful. All of my favorite things in one place."

"I'm glad you like it. Let's eat before it gets cold." The plates had been warming on the sideboard, and he didn't want to ruin the dinner he had so meticulously planned. They spoke of what they had seen on their walk. A bracelet Natalie saw that she might want to buy for Julie for Christmas, the beauty of the inn itself, and how they would explore it tomorrow at leisure. That last bit got caught on Natalie's radar.

"Adrian, there is no case up here, is there?" Natalie asked as he sipped his very good champagne. He nearly choked when she caught on to his lie.

His ears and the rest of his face turned bright red. Finally, he admitted, "No, Natalie, I lied to you. I totally, and completely fabricated that story from whole cloth. I apologize. But you're as hard to surprise as I am, and I really wanted to do this for you," he swallowed hard, "For us."

"For us?" she echoed. Not as surprised as she might have been before this evening's turn of events. "Is there…an us?" she squeaked.

"Honestly, I would like there to be an us that was more than solving crimes and taking on private clients, and platonic movie nights and whatever else we do together. What I'm trying to say, Natalie…" he hesitated for a fraction of a second.

"Yes?"

"Is that I want you to be mine. Not my assistant, not my partner, not my friend, not anything that we've had up until this moment. I still want all of that, I do. But I want more. I want all of you—if you'll have me. I love you, Natalie."

Natalie's fork clattered to her plate. She'd forgotten she was still holding it in midair as Adrian spoke. Her heart lept to her throat, and she was utterly unable to speak. Or maybe that was just her food wanting to come back up the way it went down. She ran from the table and into her room, slamming the door behind her—she almost didn't make it to the toilet. After she flushed and calmed herself down, lodged between the toilet and the bathtub on the cold tile floor, she knew she had to regain her composure. She couldn't go back and face Adrian like a crazy person. Was this what it felt like to have every dream, every wish, every fantasy come true? She'd left the man she'd loved and wanted for years out there on the terrace under the stars without a word and threw up her champagne and the exquisite meal he'd had made for them. Nerves? Fear? Excitement? Natalie stood unsteadily and vigorously rinsed her mouth with mouthwash. Then she flossed and brushed her teeth twice and rinsed with the mouthwash again. She splashed cool water on her face, inspected her clothing, spritzed some perfume in the air and walked through it, reapplied her lipstick. Finally, she squared her shoulders and walked through the two doors back to the terrace.

"I'm sorry, Adrian." She said when she found him pacing the length of the terrace. "I ruined everything."

"You didn't ruin anything. Are you alright?"

"Yes, I was just overwhelmed and taken off-guard and happy and excited and everything all at once. I'd never known what it felt like to have your dreams and wishes and fantasies come true all at once in one single sentence. You said you love me."

"I did, yes. And you ran away."

"Oh, God, I'm sorry. Adrian… I've… I've loved you for so long, I just wasn't expecting you to ever…and I… when you… and I'm so happy!" Then she promptly burst into tears.

He stood quickly and pulled her into his arms. "Shhh, now Natalie, don't cry. This should be a happy moment for us."

"I…am…happy. So…so…so…happy," she sobbed out each word and threw her arms around his neck. He held her tightly as her body was wracked with sobs. Adrian was overcome with confusion and guilt, and happiness. This was weird. Of all the scenarios he'd imagined—good and bad—this one didn't even come close to any of those.

"Natalie," he whispered into her hair, "Na-t-a-lieeee, please stop crying and look at me." He teased her a little by drawing out her name, and she finally pulled back and held onto his shoulders for assistance to steady herself.

"I'm sorry," she sniffed. "I've never lost control like this before. I don't know what's come over me. It's like having my dreams come true has made me lose my mind a little."

"Come, let's sit down again," Adrian, suddenly the sane, rational one of the pair, led her back to the table. "Sweetheart, take a drink of water."

"Okay." She did, and she started to feel better immediately. Maybe she was dehydrated. Adrian refilled her glass from the pitcher on the table and encouraged her to drink more.

Natalie let her eyes wander over Adrian's face with fascination. He loved her. It was real. She reached a hand out to touch his cheek. He caught it and kissed her palm. No more childlike germaphobia, no more childish fear of touching. He pulled on her hand and slowly drew her closer. Adrian had always seen things in a kind of wide-eyed wonder, which helped give him a clear, objective view of things. But now, that wonder was not giving him an objective view any longer. His view was clouded with the rosy mists of adoration and devotion. The wonder was obscured by the joy he felt washing through him at the knowledge that she loved him too. Cleansing away the doubt and fear.

Finally, Natalie, practical, pragmatic, sensible Natalie, got a grip on herself and on her emotions. Adrian relaxed marginally when he saw Natalie return to herself. He'd seen the multitude of emotions that had washed over her. Disbelief, excitement, love, happiness, fear, nausea, fascination, excitement… he wasn't sure what to make of all the chameleon-like changes, but she hadn't left.

"Adrian, I have loved you and pushed those feelings aside for so long that it was just really overwhelming to hear you say you loved me. I'm so sorry for my reaction."

"I'm sorry, Natalie. I'm sorry I never realized that you-"

"No! I made it so you wouldn't realize. You weren't ready. I knew it. I think it started the day you gave up Tommy Grazer. I really saw another side of you that day. Even though it was still really about love and loss, I saw who you could be if you were free to love again. The sweet, funny, playful guy. The loving person that was under all your pain. Then when you were 'dead,' I felt like your widow, not your assistant. Like it had happened to me again. Then I truly knew I was in love with you, and I would never stop loving you. I was just hoping that one day I would be enough."

"Enough? Enough? Oh, Natalie, if only I had been brave enough years ago to act on what I was really feeling. I mean, you find a clue, you follow the clue. That's always been simple; that's so easy. But then suddenly there was you, and there was me. That was not so simple, not easy at all for me. I spent a lot of time ignoring or pushing aside my feelings for you. Stupidly thinking I was cheating on Trudy, thinking you would never return my feelings, feeling inadequate."

"Adrian, we've both been afraid and maybe a little blind. But you will never be inadequate to me. You will never be anything except perfect in my eyes."

They both took a moment, thinking of Trudy, Mitch, Adrian's police badge, and all the years they worked together towards that goal, how he gave it up and came back to her, and she to him. He looked at her then, his eyes glistening with tears. He'd waited and waited for someone to love him again. He never thought he'd find a love as true as his first again, but he'd been wrong. "You've never let me down, Natalie, you've always been by my side when I needed you, and now I'm asking you to make a choice to be with me, for now, for today, for always."

"Yes."

"That's it?"

"Yes," she said again without a hint of doubt.

"I like it when you say yes."

"Get used to it," she smiled into his eyes. The promise in hers was so stunning, he couldn't look away. "I hope you realize now that I want you. It's never going to be a secret I can hide again now that I know you want me. So what are we going to do about it?"

"Natalie, if there's only one thing I know after all of this time is that you were made to be mine, and I was made to be yours. We've each struggled and hurt. We've lost and searched. We have finally found the love we both needed, now nothing can keep us apart. You were the one I was meant to find, sweetheart. This is our moment, and I will show you what we're going to do about it." He scooped her up in his arms and carried her into his room.

He laid her on the bed, put a hand to her cheek as he covered her body with his own. "I'm yours forever, Natalie." When he lowered his mouth to hers, he let go of all of his worries. She brought him peace, and he no longer questioned why.

#FINIS#