Disclaimer: I don't own Monk. Darn.

A/N: I've never actually seen the episode with Randy's mother, but I've heard about it. So I'm going out on a wing here, with her relationships. If it's not canon, someone please tell me, and I can try to fix it. Possible fluff warning. R/R, please!

Walk

by RRP

The office was dim and everyone else had already gone home.

But Randy Disher was still at his desk.

Thinking.

Sharona had left Monk there earlier, when she realized she was going to be late for yet another date. It took all Randy had to stay silent, and not come up with some excuse as to her having to stay. He knew she could do better than him, just a lanky Lieutenant with the police. But she usually did worse. And that's what bothered him.

Randy had ended up taking Monk home. Randy hadn't said anything himself except, "Let's go."

Monk had said two things. "Thank you," and "I wish..."

He hadn't finished the second sentence. But Randy could have finished it himself.

There was more than one person tired of watching Sharona go on dates with random "perfect" men, and ending up depressed and angry for days afterward. And Randy knew he didn't even get the brunt of it– Monk did.

As he played absently with a pencil, Randy decided that he didn't even care anymore if Sharona liked him or not, as long as she found someone who treated her right. He could live with that, or force himself to. Or move to New York and never look back. Maybe India. Or China.

But at least he'd know she was happy.

It wasn't like he tried to be an idiot, Randy thought with finality. It just happened that way.

"Randy," his mother had told him over coffee once, "you're trying too hard, that's your problem."

Randy had finished his coffee with a sour taste in his mouth, and left her house knowing that the last thing he wanted to do was take love advice from a woman who couldn't keep a boyfriend or husband for more than three years at a time.

His mother was worn, exhausted, spent. And still trying.

Sharona was slipping into that pattern.

And quite frankly, it scared the living daylights out of Randy. He didn't want her to end up like that. And he didn't want to see Benjy end up like him because of it.

Psychologists could do all the tests they wanted, about successful single mothers and step-fathered families. But Randy knew the truth. How it felt to be the lonesome kid watching out the window when everyone else went on Father-Son trips, the unsure kid getting shoved into lockers, and the emotionally spent, weary teen who failed test after test because he spent all his time at home staying out of the way of another of mother's boyfriends.

That was a roller coaster Randy didn't want anyone else to have to ride, ever.

The clock glared at him, and the red lit numbers drilled themselves into his eyes.

He blinked the fuzzy red light away, and the numbers faded into recognizable shapes.

11:48...11:49...

Randy stood and stretched. He slid his chair in, and tossed the pencil onto the desk. He didn't care where it landed. The janitor, or (more likely) Monk, would pick it up later. He grabbed his jacket off the coatrack as he passed it, and then made sure he locked the door behind him.

He paused at the entrance to the parking garage, and felt the keys in his pocket.

It was only eight blocks.

Randy opted for walking, and passed the garage door. He pushed one of the heavy glass and metal front doors open with one hand, and slipped out into the street. Randy took a deep breath, letting the crisp night air fill his lungs.

He scanned the street before taking another step, cataloging everything he saw. It had started as an attempt to be more like Monk, and evolved into nothing more than a cautious habit.

There was a familiar-looking figure halfway down the block.

It only took a second to click.

Sharona.

Randy jogged to catch up with her, and slowed just as his steps matched her's. She jumped in surprise, and looked up at him.

"Randy? What are you doing here?"

Randy frowned. Her mascara was smudged, and he could tell she had been crying.

"Walking home."

"Join the club."

"But I'm walking out of choice."

"And I'm not? What if I decided I wanted to walk home? Can't I do that?" Sharona demanded indignantly, wrapping her arms around herself a little tighter.

Randy bit his lip and looked down at the sidewalk. He hated getting into these situations. How do you tell someone you know they've been heartbroken again?

"My make-up is running, isn't it?" Sharona asked quietly after a minute. Randy nodded, and Sharona turned away, digging in her purse.

Randy stopped to wait for her, trying his best not to watch. He knew she was already embarrassed enough. But it was hard not to look at her. Even with her make-up streaked, she was beautiful. She had done up her hair; it was pulled into a bun, and little stubborn curling strands of it had snaked out of their elastic cage.

The dress looked like she had been poured into it. The sweater was nothing more than a decoration, draped over her shoulders and too thin to be of any use. Then it hit Randy like a sledgehammer.

When Sharona had scrubbed her face until she was satisfied, she shoved a dirty wipe back into her purse, and looked up with a sniff. She was already a step ahead of Randy, so it wasn't hard to put her chin in the air and keep walking.

She hadn't made it two steps when something warm enveloped her. She clung to the edges of the jacket dumbly, grateful for the ward against the night chill. Sharona looked over at Randy, and he shrugged.

"You looked cold."

"Thanks." She mumbled softly.

They reached another street crossing, and Sharona turned and started going alongside the intersecting street. She paused, and didn't want to give back the jacket. They stood there, still and quiet, while she argued with herself, and then she began to take it off.

"Here..."

"Keep it. I'll walk with you." Randy interrupted, crossing his arms over his chest. Sharona looked up and down the street.

"Randy, I'm five blocks this way. You're six blocks that way."

"I'll live."

She raised an eyebrow.

"I'm walking with you, Sharona, whether you like it or not. You aren't going to get rid of me this time."

Randy did his best to sound resolute, because he really meant it this time.

"Suit yourself." She muttered, starting to walk again.

But secretly, she was glad for the company. San Francisco's streets weren't the friendliest place at night.

Randy crammed his hands into his pockets, and walked alongside her. To anyone passing by, it almost looked as if they had been on a date together– Randy in his suit from work, and Sharona in her dress, with his jacket draped over her shoulders.

Only, they stayed at least a foot and a half apart.

After they had gone two more blocks without a word, Sharona commented, "Gee, I don't think I've ever heard you be this quiet for so long. You usually find something idiotic to say every five minutes."

"Meet Brooding Randy," Randy replied drily, and a bit bitterly. "Shocking proof that I do indeed have a 3D psyche."

"And here I thought that me losing my date would make you happy." The comeback was biting with undertones of surprise.

Randy wasn't sure what it was that made him snap. Maybe it was the way she spoke, or maybe it was just months of frustration building up. Whatever it was, it cut away all calm facades.

"You think it makes me happy that you got all dressed up and excited, just to go home crying? Or that I'm overjoyed in knowing that if I hadn't been leaving work at the exact same time you passed by, you would have walked who knows how many blocks in the dark, by yourself? Or that you're going to pick up Benjy and try your damndest not to let him know you're disappointed? Of course it doesn't make me happy! I'm the furthest thing from happy right now, Sharona!"

Randy had been motioning in the air, rather violently, and he jammed his hands back into his pockets as soon as he was finished. They had stopped again, in the middle of the sidewalk. Sharona was looking at him with a shocked expression, her mouth hanging open.

He couldn't help it. Even if he had been yelling and ranting a minute ago. She looked so...adorable, like that. Randy slipped a hand out of a pocket, and used two fingers to push her mouth closed.

"Don't make it more of a flytrap than it already is."

There was a flash of renewed fire in her eyes. Then it faded, leaving simple amazement.

"I didn't know..."

"That I cared enough to be coherent about it? I don't even care if you like me or not, Sharona. I just...I want you to stop looking for men in the dime store. I want you to be happy."

"Shut up, Randy." Sharona demanded, but it was half-hearted.

"And if that means you find some guy who isn't me, and he takes care of you, and you're–"

Randy never got to finish. He didn't even remember what he had been about to say.

She was kissing him.

On the lips. In the middle of the sidewalk, while she was wearing his jacket.

And it felt really good. So he kissed her back.

When she pulled away, he realized that at some point they had gotten tangled. His arms were around her, and she was leaning against his chest.

"I thought I told you to shut up."

"Yes, ma'am," was all he could think to answer. Then, consequences flooded his mind like a swarm of bees. Unwanted, and painful and real. "Sharona, this..."

"You know how many guys I've dated that would have gone five blocks out of their way to walk me home? After I had been on a date with another guy?"

"Not really, but–"

"None of them."

"We were...I was just...you–"

Her eyes met his.

"I don't want a replacement date, Randy. I don't want another substitute, to sit on the other side of the table while I wonder if he could be the right one, someday, if I wait long enough. I've been looking for someone who will be there for me now, when I need him."

"All I did was–" Randy didn't know why he was protesting. He had dreamed about her saying a million variations of that monologue, and now he was trying to stop her. Randy couldn't fathom why. He just was.

"Walk me home." Sharona finished. "And I think that's all I've been waiting for."

She gazed at him, and Randy swallowed. She looked so vulnerable. He was afraid he'd break her if he let go, or even breathed the wrong way. So he didn't move a muscle, and he held his breath.

"We have three more blocks to go." He finally whispered.

Sharona looked disappointed.

Then he kissed her again.

When they came apart, he mumbled, "At this rate, we might make them by morning."

She laughed, and Randy grinned triumphantly. Then he linked his arm with hers, and started walking.

"You hungry?"

"I just had dinner..."

"Two hours ago. Are you hungry?"

"Maybe." Sharona tugged on his arm, and looked up at him. "Why?"

"It's Friday. We could pick up Benjy, get some take-out."

Sharona nodded, appearing thoughtful. "Sounds good."

"Good." Randy exhaled, and suddenly felt relieved. "You have a couple hours before I start sounding like an idiot again."

"You mean you don't now?" She teased, raising her eyebrows. Randy's lips curved into a frown, and he tried to look injured.

"I was just going to say, you can pick on me all you want. As long as I get to kiss you like that afterwards."

"It's a deal." Sharona laughed, and leaned on his shoulder as they walked. "You know, all things considered..."

"What?"

"This wasn't such a bad date. I might have to thank Kevin for leaving me at the restaurant."

"Before or after I beat him senseless?"

Randy knew he sounded dead serious. And in a way, he was. She peered at him, fleeting surprise on her face.

"How about I try not to see him again at all, and you keep your hands intact?"

"I can try. Won't make promises, but I can try."

"Enough for me."

They walked without saying anything after that, and when they stopped at her front door so she could unlock it, Sharona turned to him.

"Randy?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks for not going away."

He nodded quietly, and then couldn't resist.

"Next time you're trying to get rid of me, I'm going to remind you that you said that."

Sharona leaned against the door and pretended to glare. "I thought you said I had a few hours before Idiot Randy came back."

Randy shrugged, still grinning. He couldn't seem to stop. "So my count was off by a couple hours," He hesitated, then decided to risk it. "If you kiss me again, it might chase him away again."

So she did.