This is a quick one-off that has no impact on any of my longer stories. A/N Shipper Fic, of course!

Adrian Monk sat in his meticulously organized apartment; his attention laser-focused on the latest case files scattered across his desk. The room was filled with a sad silence, broken only by the ticking of the clock on the wall. But amidst the chaos of his thoughts and the meticulous order of his surroundings, a melody seemed to seep into his consciousness like a whisper in the midst of a storm. It wasn't his overtaxed imagination. It was the radio from a car in the street. He closed his eyes and swallowed. He opened his eyes and focused on a tiny stain on the carpet that seemed to be mocking him. He couldn't help but feel a sense of unease, a feeling that had become all too familiar since his beloved wife Trudy's tragic death. As he compulsively straightened a stack of papers on his desk, the familiar tune drifted into his ears, breaking through the silence in his mind. He peeked out the window, and the car was parked under his apartment.

It was "After All" by Cher and Peter Cetera, a song that held a special place in his heart. He paused, his hands frozen in mid-air, as memories flooded back to him. Memories of Trudy, of moments they shared, of love lost but never forgotten.

When love is truly right

(This time, it's truly right)

It lives from year to year

It changes as it goes

Oh, and on the way it grows

But it never disappears

After all the stops and starts

We keep comin' back to these two hearts

Two angels who've been rescued from the fall

After all that we've been through

It all comes down to me and you

I guess it's meant to be, forever you and me, after all

The song wrapped around him like a warm embrace, stirring emotions he had long buried deep within himself. However, this time was different. As the bridging notes filled the room, Adrian felt something stir within him, something he couldn't quite put into words. He paused, his hands hovering over the papers, as the lyrics changed course and began to weave their new magic.

Every memory repeats

Every step I take retreats

Every journey always brings me back to you

After all the stops and starts

We keep comin' back to these two hearts

Two angels who've been rescued from the fall

After all that we've been through

It all comes down to me and you

Lost in the music, Adrian's mind wandered to Natalie Teeger, his loyal assistant and friend. She had been by his side through thick and thin, supporting, challenging him, and understanding him in a way that no one else ever had. Yet, in all his meticulousness, he had never stopped to consider the depth of his feelings for her. The music continued, and he pulled out a scrubber and the rug cleaner from the closet. Lost in the haunting melody, Monk found himself still thinking of Natalie, his loyal assistant and friend, as he scrubbed. She had been by his side through it all. As the song's lyrics spoke of love enduring through trials and tribulations, Monk couldn't help but see parallels between the song's message and his relationship with Natalie.

It all comes down to me and you

I guess it's meant to be, forever you and me, after all

But as Cher and Peter's voices soared, singing of love enduring trials and tribulations, Adrian couldn't deny the truth any longer. With each verse, memories of their time together flooded his mind—Natalie's unwavering support, her infectious laughter, and her kindness that knew no bounds. He remembered the countless times she had stood by him, her unwavering support a beacon of light in his darkest moments. He recalled her laughter, her kindness, her strength in the face of adversity. And suddenly, in that moment, it all became clear to him.

Adrian Monk realized that he loved Natalie Teeger.

The realization hit him like a ton of bricks, filling him with a mix of excitement and trepidation. He had spent so long guarding his heart, afraid to let anyone in after Trudy's death. But now, as he listened to the words of the song, he knew that he couldn't deny his feelings any longer. It all became clear to Adrian. Natalie wasn't just his assistant; she was his rock, his confidante, and perhaps even something more. She was the missing piece in his life, the one he never knew he needed until now.

As the final notes of the song faded away, Adrian made a decision. He would tell Natalie how he felt, not in his usual roundabout way, but directly and from the heart. For the first time in a long time, he allowed himself to embrace the uncertainty of emotions, knowing that with Natalie by his side, he could face anything that came their way.

He washed his hands thoroughly. With newfound determination, Adrian gathered his things and headed out the door, his heart lighter than it had been in years and racing with anticipation. He had to tell Natalie how he felt; he had to let her know that she meant more to him than he had ever realized. As he stepped out into the bustling streets of San Francisco, a sense of hope washed over him, fueled by the love he now knew he felt for Natalie. As he made his way to Natalie's house, he couldn't help but smile at the thought of what the future might hold—a future filled with love, laughter, and the sweet melody of "After All" playing in the background.