A/N As always I own nothing of Monk... just my belief that Adrian and Natalie belong together! (Post-End Natalie and Monk Short Shipper Fic!)


Natalie Teeger looked around the supper club from her position at the bar. She was nursing an extremely watered-down Jack and Ginger and scanning the room impatiently, waiting for something to happen. They'd been there for a couple of hours. It was growing late, and she was beginning to long for the comfort of her bed. She wasn't tired, just wound so tightly that the tension was driving her a little batty. This was the most unusual stakeout she'd ever been on with Adrian Monk, and they'd been on some doozies together. The setting was weird, the fact that she was wearing a cocktail dress and heels and not jeans and sneakers was bizarre, and the fact that she was sitting at least thirty feet away from Adrian was also odd. They were normally no more than four feet apart. Be it a stakeout or anywhere else. She watched him as he did his best to appear casual, sitting at a table by the dance floor. He was sitting with Leland. Anyone who carefully followed the police blotter in the paper or crime reports on TV would immediately know who the two men were. Still, Adrian had refused to separate from Leland despite the risk to the mission. Plus, he had vigorously protested Natalie being so "damn far away from me," as he'd put it. She thought about his protest. Was he worried about me? That thought made her tingle all over.

Natalie shook off her musings and continued to examine her surroundings in the guise of a bored barfly. In Natalie's estimation, the music was moderately loud, but it was Latin, and it was good, so she enjoyed the ambiance. She spied Adrian swaying unconsciously to the rhythm. Natalie had noticed him moving to music more and more lately. He'd begun enjoying life's simple pleasures in the two years since they resolved Trudy's murder. He'd become stronger, less self-absorbed, and more likable in so many ways. Of course, he still had his eccentricities. No doubt he always would. But in Natalie's eyes, he had always been an endearing, broken creature. Someone who needed tending, supporting, loving. The tending and supporting were her job; the loving was pure instinct and her pure pleasure, though unrequited. Natalie sighed and looked back into the mirror behind the bar. She scanned the room's reflection for the person they sought, to no avail. She'd practiced this "reverse surveillance" for years, as far back as when she and Adrian had reluctantly tailed Leland's first wife, Karen. She caught Adrian looking at her, and when she met his eyes in the silvered glass, his eyes skittered away, and she quickly turned back to scanning the room.

She spotted Randy casually talking to the stage manager next to the burgundy curtains drawn over where a band played on the weekends. He, too, was no more than thirty feet from her post at the walnut and brass bar. Listlessly, she wondered where TK and Sharona were and what they were doing on this Thursday night while the four of them risked their lives to resolve a case so evil that it made her tremble just to think about it.

Indeed, Natalie did shiver slightly as she sat in a provocative pose wearing the backless pink dress she'd worn way back during the Jimmy Barlowe case in Los Angeles. The delicate vibration continued and ran up her back just as the target of the investigation hit her peripheral vision. He walked in as if he owned the club, not a care in the world. As if he weren't the subject of a city-wide manhunt. A state-wide dragnet. At least the information they'd uncovered about this being one of his haunts was accurate.

The handsome, lethal man approached the bar. Natalie and Adrian each noticed the very second the criminal took note of Natalie at the other end of the highly polished length of mahogany and brass. Adrian's fists clenched, and his jaw tightened. Leland, facing the opposite direction, noticed his friend flinching out of the corner of his eye and turned slightly to get Natalie in his sight. Neither man liked the vulnerable position Natalie was in, alone by the bar, but their target would never approach her if she were talking to a man. Leland quietly gave the "Go" order into the microphone hidden behind a handkerchief in his breast pocket.

Alonso Fedde approached the bar, all charm, and confidence, teeth whiter than the bottle of Malibu behind the bar. That was unsettling. He ordered an expensive scotch and casually sent a drink to "the lovely lady in pink" at the other end of the bar. Natalie looked up in coquettish pleasure and curiosity, her acting skills now almost as good as Julie's. She sent him a smile that would have melted ice in the Arctic, and he strode towards her. She couldn't know that Adrian was filled with jealousy when she gave anyone that smile but him. Alonso and Natalie made the usual small talk, as men and women do when they meet for the first time, exchanging names and vital information. However, when he kissed the back of Natalie's hand, Adrian bristled and swore silently. Leland noticed his reaction and smiled to himself.

All the while, cops swarmed outside at every possible exit, and plainclothes cops started to wander closer to the bar inside. Finally, Adrian nodded at Natalie, and she excused herself from her companion to use the ladies' room. Just as she made it to the ladies' room door, Adrian was there, enfolding her in a warm, if unexpected, embrace. He almost buried his face in her hair. Her private investigation license might be pretty new, but this outward show of concern from Adrian was newer. His concern was gratifying and welcome. Meanwhile, Leland, Randy, and several others were arresting a murderous child sex trafficker.

By the time they started back towards the bar, the police had the situation well in hand, and the crowd knit back together as if nothing strange had happened. Apparently, just another night at Club Iguana. The two private investigators spotted Leland as they walked back towards the bar.

"Hey, you two," the newly minted Commander of the SFPD Homicide division said as he reached them. He noticed Monk's arm was around Natalie's waist. Natalie had noticed, too but kept quiet; she was enjoying it too much to cause it to end.

"That went well," Leland said. This was his last case as Captain of the Homicide Division. On Monday, Leland would be moving to an office upstairs from the one he currently occupied. Randy had also received a promotion—to Captain. The world around them was changing. Natalie knew she and Adrian would still be working with both of them. Often. Now, their cases would include much more than just murder. That would be exciting and different, adding robbery, narcotics, and other crimes to their list of possible investigations. Each with its own challenges and dangers. Leland was saying something, and Natalie tuned back in. "So, we're good; you're free. We can do the paperwork tomorrow, okay?"

"Sure," Natalie smiled, relieved for this particular situation to be over. Adrian nodded.

"You did well, Natalie. Very well. I didn't like putting you in that position, but you were calm, and you were superb," Leland praised her.

"I second that. I didn't like it either. At all. But you were brave, Natalie. Very poised," Monk chimed in. Natalie turned to look at his proud, happy expression as he smiled again. Leland nodded at Monk from behind Natalie and wiggled his eyebrows up and down.

"Why don't you two stay and have a little fun? You deserve some time to relax. Have a late dinner. Add it to your expenses," Leland said, playing matchmaker for his brilliant but dense best friend.

After she got over her surprise, Natalie said, "Thank you, Commander! We'll take you up on that!" Adrian looked at her in shock, but she ignored him.

"Okaaaay! I'll see you tomorrow." Leland slipped away as stealthily as a man of his stature could.

"Natalie..." Adrian gave a token protest.

"Come dance with me, Adrian."

"Wha- what?"

She narrowed her eyes. "You heard me, Adrian. The music isn't that loud. Come. Dance. With. Me." Natalie took his hand and pulled him towards the dance floor as a new song began. Enrique Iglesias was pouring his heart out as Natalie and Adrian made their way to the shiny black dance floor.

She turned to him and put herself into his personal space in a way she never had before. Maybe it was the adrenaline from the success of the case, or perhaps it was something else. But tonight, she wanted to see how far she could get Adrian Monk "3.0" to bend and try something new. He placed his hand gently on her silk-covered hip and raised his left hand to grasp her right.

Tonight we dance

I leave my life in your hands

We take the floor

Nothing is forbidden anymore

Don't let the world dim my sight

Don't let a moment go by

Nothing can stop us tonight

Bailamos, let the rhythm take you over

Natalie looked into Adrian's eyes; the fear and anxiety she usually found there had melted away into something that looked more familiar to her when she looked at a man while they danced. Desire. Her eyebrows raised a fraction, not enough to scare him away, but enough to let him know she noticed something was different tonight. He slid his hand from her hip to her bare back, pulled her to him closely, and a tremor went through each of them. He drew their clasped hands against his chest. It felt like heaven to Natalie to be tucked against him so snugly. He led them effortlessly and smoothly. Although she'd seen him dance a couple of times before, she was still surprised he was such a good dancer. The rhythm of the Latin music swept them along in its trance-inducing beat. The words simply spoke the feelings neither had yet developed the courage to say—in any language. A flamenco guitar and some southwestern influences amid the contemporary shuffling beat made the song easy to dance to, easier still to fall under its sway.

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío, bailamos

Gonna live this night forever

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío, te quiero

She leaned her head back to look into his eyes again. They were so profoundly, gorgeously emotional. The depth of the emotion was stunning and made Natalie breathless. He spun them around wordlessly, and Natalie tilted her head all the way back and laughed. When she leaned back towards him, his lips quickly brushed her temple.

"I was so worried about you being near that monster before, Natalie. It was all I could do not to leap over the railing and throttle him for touching you." Natalie smiled against the lapel of Adrian's suit jacket. Feeling protected in a way she hadn't for many years.

Tonight I'm yours

We can make it happen I'm so sure

Now I'm letting go

There is something I think you should know

I won't be leaving your side

We're gonna dance through the night

I'm gonna reach for the stars

Bailamos, let the rhythm take you over

"Thank you for worrying about me, Adrian. It makes me feel safe and cared for," Natalie whispered under the music into his ear. He smiled and held her tighter.

"I do care about you, Natalie. Very much."

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío, bailamos

Gonna live this night forever

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío, te quiero

(Whoa, oh oh oh)… tonight we dance

(Whoa, oh oh oh) like no tomorrow

(Whoa oh oh oh) if you will stay with me

Te quiero, mi amor

Bailamos, let the rhythm take you over

Bailamos

The music continued to swirl, and the feelings continued to build. Neither could stand the tension that thrummed between them a moment more. The feeling of his hands on her skin was definitely more than she could bear. She lifted her hand from his shoulder, reached for his head, sank her hand into his hair, and pulled his mouth down to hers. To Natalie's surprise, Adrian didn't protest or struggle against her. In fact, he seemed to relax into the joining of their lips.

When the kiss ended, Adrian breathed her name in surprise, "Natalie!"

"Yes?" She asked coyly as she kept running her fingers tenderly through his curls.

He smiled, looking slightly nervous, but never stopped moving them around the dance floor.

"What was that for?"

"You just looked extremely kissable in that moment; I couldn't help myself. I thought I'd never get a better chance to show you how I feel about you."

He just stared at her. Chocolate eyes wide and amazed, happy, excited. He bent and kissed her again, gentle pressure on her lips, and then moved his lips to her cheek and then her forehead.

"Adrian?"

"You just looked so beautiful and adorable and happy; I couldn't help myself, either," he said with a sly smirk.

Natalie's eyes grew huge with relief. "Well, I wouldn't mind if you did it again," she said with a shy smile.

So he complied, but he went less slowly and less gently this time. In fact, his long-hidden feelings for Natalie were quite evident in the passion he put into that kiss. When he broke the kiss, they smiled at each other. At last, Adrian received that smile that he deemed was only his. That should only always be for him.

"Is this real?" she asked with wonder.

"Well, if we are dreaming, we're having the same dream," he answered.

Te quiero amor mío, bailamos

Gonna live this night forever

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío

… Bailamos, let the rhythm take you over

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío, bailamos

Gonna live this night forever

Bailamos

Te quiero amor mío

The dancing continued, and they stared into one another's eyes without flinching or hesitating. Small smiles played on their lips as they just held each other and allowed themselves to feel. As the song came to an end, Adrian pulled her impossibly closer and echoed the lyrics in a whisper, "Te quiero amor mío. I love you, Natalie." He held her for a long moment and finally released her to find a tear trickling down her left cheek. Consternation filled him and informed the expression on his face. They came to a standstill on the dance floor.

"Oh, Adrian, no, love, I'm so, so happy, don't be worried," Natalie said as she swiped at the tear staining her cheek and caressed his cheek with her other hand. "I love you. I've loved you for years and years. I will always love you."

The smile that Adrian gave her then outshone the gleam of the full moon peeking through the skylights above them. "You do? You have? You will?" he asked, his voice trembling.

"I do. I have. I will," she gave him a beguiling smile.

"Oh my god."

"What?"

"I am…I am…I feel…" Adrian was unable to voice his new and unnamable emotions.

"Happy?"

"Beyond that."

"What's beyond happy?"

It finally dawned on him. "Complete. I feel complete in a way I've never imagined I could feel. In a way I've never felt before." Natalie murmured her agreement and caught his hand in hers.

They walked away from the dancefloor hand-in-hand. When they returned to the table previously occupied by Adrian and Leland, it had been set for dinner for two. A bottle of champagne was chilling in a cooler by its side. A folded note sat on the table.

"Dear Adrian and Natalie, Enjoy the bubbly and have fun tonight! - Leland and Randy." There were a bunch of hand-drawn emojis and hearts that made Natalie giggle.

Adrian turned at least ten shades of red, and Natalie laughed. "I think they may have detected something without your help this time," she snickered and patted his arm as she watched him try to get his humiliation under control and laugh at her joke. Eventually, his color returned to normal, and he remembered his manners. He pulled out her chair and draped her napkin on her lap. Then, he slid into the chair adjacent to hers and took her hand.

"Frankly, Natalie, I can stand the endless teasing that is sure to happen after tonight, but all I want to concentrate on right now is you, me, us, and the future."

The future. That word excited Natalie almost as much as Adrian's kisses had. Thinking of the years behind them that would now stretch out into the years they had ahead of them in this new and wonderful way sent a thrill up her spine as she imagined what that future might hold.

#FINIS#