The Past Comes Back

Summary: With Adrian's help, Sharona comes to terms with the events of 'Mr. Monk and the Playboy'.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just like getting inside their heads sometimes.

Spoilers for that ep, specifically the bit regarding the pictures.

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The Past Comes Back

"I just... I can't... I mean, how am I supposed to look him in the eye?" Sharona demanded of Doctor Charles Kroger, swiping furiously at her eyes with a tissue. "Those pictures," she whispered, bowing her head. "The things he saw me doing..."

"Sharona, why do you feel that this is an issue you can discuss with your own son but not with Adrian?" Charles asked gently.

"What the hell kind of question is that?" she snapped.

"An honest one." The doctor gave an unrepentant shrug. "If it were me, I'd have a harder time talking about something similar to my daughter than I would discussing it with my wife."

"Yeah, well Benjie didn't have to look at them, did he?" she demanded, not even noticing the child/spouse comparison. "I mean, my god, even soft-core porn freaks the poor man out and he sees me like that..." She trailed off, fresh tears in her eyes.

Charles sighed. "He keeps calling me. So does Captain Stottlemeyer, actually. Adrian thinks you're mad at him, Sharona, because you won't see him."

"Angry?" she repeated softly, blinking in surprise.

"Because of the pictures. He thinks you're mad because he saw the pictures."

"He does?" she whispered, staring at him with wide eyes.

"Yeah, Sharona, he really does. He's frantic..."

"God, is he okay?" she demanded, rising. "I mean, he hasn't--"

"No." He shook his head firmly. "No bad spells yet. But I really think that you need to go talk to him before he gets much more worked up."

"How? How do I look him in the eye? How do I face him?"

The doctor sighed again. "I wish I could help you there, Sharona."

"Yeah, and I wish he'd take that damned ring off," she whispered, shaking her head.

"What was that?"

"Nothing, nothing." She shook her head. "Just wonder how I'm ever going to regain his respect."

"I don't think that's going to be a problem, Sharona," the doctor assured her gently. "Just go talk to the man. He needs you. I don't normally encourage codependency of that sort but... well, Adrian needs you. You're the only thing keeping him going most days."

Sighing and nodding, she squared her shoulders and left the office.

"My God, when are those two going to see it?" Charles sighed, shaking his head and picking up the phone. "Yeah, Captain, I just finished talking to her. She's going to talk to him now."

"Thank God," came Stottlemeyer's response over the line.

***

"I know you're in there, Adrian!" Sharona shouted, pounding on the door. "You never leave there without me because you don't drive so open the damned door!" she ordered, staring down a neighbor who was curiously peering out of her own door. The neighbor immediately retreated into the apartment.

Monk's door opened slowly. "Hello, Sharona," he greeted her, trying to sound casual and failing miserably.

She tried to meet his eye but failed, fixing her gaze on her shoes instead. "Can I come in?"

"Uh, uh... sure." Adrian nodded faintly, falling back far enough to allow her to come inside. When she did not immediately enter, he told her tentatively, "I said you could come in, Sharona."

"Oh. Sorry..." Nodding faintly, Sharona entered, still staring at her feet.

"Would you like to... uh, to sit down?"

"Yeah, thanks," she mumbled, perching herself on the edge of his couch, careful not to displace the crooked coffee table. She looked up, startled when Adrian sat down next to her, far closer than she would have expected. "So, uh... Doctor Kroger says you haven't been doing too well without a nurse around..." There was a long pause, then she reached into her purse. "I know some really good ones..."

Adrian sighed deeply before answering. "I don't need a nurse, Sharona. I need you." He gasped and turned bright red, stammering. "I mean... I mean..."

"Breathe, Adrian," Sharona ordered, giving herself the same mental order. Had he actually just said that? That he needed her? "That's better. Just take a few more deep breaths," she added as his face was still slightly purple. "That better?" she asked after a few minutes, lightly rubbing and patting his back until he seemed calmer.

"Better," he agreed breathlessly, giving her a shaky nod and a grateful smile. "I'm sorry I got upset. I just... I don't want you to quit again. I hate it when you do that, Sharona."

"Adrian, I don't want to quit," she told him quickly. "I just... I wasn't sure if you would still... well, I mean, after what you saw and... oh, God, this is even harder than it was with Benjie."

"Would you like a glass of water or something?" Adrian asked hesitantly. He hated seeing her in such obvious distress, but felt absolutely helpless to do anything about it when it was really all his fault. "Please, Sharona, I'm so sorry..." he whispered, tears in his eyes.

"You?" she whispered incredulously. It took her a few moments to remember what Doctor Kroger had said. "No, no, Adrian... I'm not mad at you. I'm not!" She shook her head furiously. "I'm mad at that blackmailing bastard, and I'm pissed and disgusted with myself, but how could I possibly be angry with you?" she whispered.

He looked up at her with wide eyes. "It's a horrible feeling," he murmured.

"What is?" she asked gently.

"Feeling disgusted with yourself. It's horrible," he whispered, reaching up and lightly tracing her cheek with one finger. "I know how horrible it is. That's how it was before you came. But it's better now and you... you have nothing to be ashamed of, Sharona," he added, continuing his absent caress of her cheek.

She stared at him with wide eyes. "Adrian," she began, swallowing and trailing off, not sure where to go. The way he was touching her...

"You were young and alone and... how else were you supposed to feed yourself and Benjie after that bastard walked out on you?" he demanded, shaking his head and making no effort to hide his tears. "You must have been so scared, Sharona."

"I was. It was horrifying, being alone and having a baby and..."

"And you needed money." Adrian nodded faintly. "You had a baby..."

"And I... I didn't know... I thought they'd just... I didn't know that it might come back to haunt me. I thought they could only publish them the once and... like you said... Benjie... and..."

"Don't cry. Don't cry," he whispered, gathering her into his arms as she began sobbing helplessly.

"Adrian, what are you doing?" she managed to choke out between sobs, amazed by the display.

"I'm hugging one of the best friends I've ever had. Please don't cry," he whispered.

It was the tears she heard in his own voice that made her force herself to some semblance of composure. She hung on to him for a long moment after she had managed to contain her sobs, grateful for the comfort and especially for what it said about Adrian's feelings about her. For months now, she had been one of the few people he could touch without needing to clean his hands afterwards. She had been different, 'clean' in his mind. And, obviously, she still was, in spite of those awful, degrading pictures.

"Thank you," she whispered into his neck, very badly wanting to follow the thanks up with a more physical demonstration of gratitude. Her eyes widening at that awareness, she quickly pulled away. "I... I needed that."

"Y... yeah." Adrian gave a shaky nod, absently fingering the place on his throat where her lips had brushed. "People sometimes need... I mean you of all people... you know how I can get and you're still always there and you... you... I mean... you needed that. You'll feel better now," he promised with another shaky nod.

"How can you not... how can it not disgust you?" she asked, shaking her head in confusion. "The way you react to naked women and... those pictures, the things I was doing... how can it not..."

"Your eyes," he explained simply, reaching up and lightly brushing her hair out of them, letting his fingertips linger close to her face without actually touching it. "You had this look in your eyes like... you were so ashamed and scared and... it wasn't something you wanted to be doing. It was just different than... I mean... it wasn't something you were proud of or happy about or..."

"And that makes it all better? Just like that?"

"Yes," he answered simply, shrugging. "Maybe... maybe it's harder for you, having to relive those things you must have been feeling but..." He shook his head and gave another shrug, at an absolute loss to explain why her body was as beautiful to him as Trudy's had always been, in spite of the nature of those awful pictures. "I guess you talked to Benjie?"

"Yeah. He said that we couldn't let a murderer go just because he might get hassled at school."

Adrian could not help but smile at that. "He's a good kid, Sharona. You have done such a great job with him."

She smiled and bowed her head, blushing. "Best gift I ever got from his father..."

"His father had nothing to do with how he turned out. That was all you, Sharona. You brought him up without any help from anyone and look at what a great job you did, even if you sometimes had to do things you weren't so proud of." Adrian smiled at her. "You have no idea how much I sometimes envy what you two have," he admitted. "Trudy and I... I always said there'd be time later for kids, but..."

"Oh, Adrian. I'm so sorry. I didn't know you wanted... I mean... I always figured..."

"With the germs and things." Adrian nodded his understanding. "It would have been different, though. Like you are." He flushed faintly at that admission, bowing his head. "I can touch you. Why can I touch you?" he asked abruptly, reaching up and gently stroking her cheek again, his expression confused. "What makes you so different?"

"I... I have no idea." Sharona shrugged, trying to ignore the back flip that her stomach had just done. "Familiarity, maybe. Ask Doctor Kroger, I guess."

"Yeah. I'm going to have to remember to do that," he murmured, nodding faintly and dropping his hand again. "The... the Captain said that Disher burned the pictures and the negatives?"

"Yeah, that's right." Sharona nodded, not bothering to mention that he had probably stopped to take a good look at them first.

"That's good. It means you never have to worry about Benjie or your family seeing them."

"Yeah." She smiled and nodded. "That is definitely a good thing. Of course, I still had to tell Benjie..."

"It was the right thing to do, I think," Adrian contributed quietly. "He's a smart kid. He knows that people make mistakes."

"Everyone but you, he says," Sharona chuckled, shaking her head.

"Even I sometimes make mistakes," he said with his trademark shy smile.

"Yeah, like nearly letting a killer walk because you cared about a friend? That your definition of a mistake, Monk?" she asked with mock severity.

"No..." He shook his head faintly, no longer smiling even a little. "I'd have done it, too, you know, Sharona. I would have."

"I know. Thanks for not, though. You did the right thing, Adrian." She gave him an encouraging smile and a pat on the knee. "I want you to know that."

The shy smile returned. "Thanks, Sharona. I really... I honestly wasn't sure there for a while."

"Yeah, well... we all learn a little something new about ourselves every day, or so Doctor Kroger informs me." Sharona shrugged.

"What did I learn from this?" he asked curiously.

"You tell me."

"I'll tell if you will," he answered in a serious voice.

Sharona had to laugh. He was actually teasing her. Suddenly not so sure that she could take the revelation as to exactly what conclusions several naked photographs of herself had led Adrian to, she rose. She was, honestly, not sure she wanted to know what change his reactions had made in her.

"I need to go pick Benjie up now," she explained quickly. "Don't worry. I won't be gone long."

"Okay, Sharona." He smiled widely. "I'll see you tonight."

"Sounds good." She nodded and gave his shoulder another pat, startled when his hand came up to cover hers.

"It does, doesn't it?" he asked quietly, his fingertips lightly playing over the back of her hand for a moment before he dropped it. "You should hurry," he suggested abruptly. "You don't want Benjie to worry."

Sharona gave a shaky nod, abruptly feeling as nervous as Adrian typically looked. "No, don't want Benjie worrying."

"Yeah. We both know that's my job!" he called after her with a laugh as she quickly walked off.

The End