Disclaimer: Obviously not mine.

A/N: The idea for this occurred to me during a bout of insomnia, and it just wouldn't leave me alone. First time posting for this fandom so the possibility of mistakes exists since it hasn't been looked over. Be gentle please.

Spoilers: Possible … for 7.06 Mr. Monk Falls in Love.

xxx

Dinner was unexpectedly quiet. The repetitive tap, tap and scrape of cutlery was the only noise reverberating through the apartment dining room.

She ate alone. Not for the first time, she thought.

Adrian had retired to the living room and sat staring off into nothingness. His thoughts collided with each other and he shut his eyes willing the building headache to give him a moment's peace.

Old memories surfaced. A beautiful face. The faint smell of something familiar. Sun ripened strawberries and a hint of lavender.

Her soft lips. An errant strand of silky blond hair being gingerly tucked behind an ear as she laughs. Simplest of gestures, one of many he'll always hold fast to.

Laughter… A sound he misses more than anything. Something he fears he'll forget entirely.

Her eyes. The light in them encompasses him in warmth, tenderness, and love.

However, memories of her soon waver then fade. Disappear.

How could he do this to her, his Trudy?

It's so confusing.

Nevertheless, his heart can't deny that for a fleeting instance he was genuinely happy then the ring grew heavy and the guilt ate at him.

xx

Adrian flinches at her gentle touch. Natalie encourages. She's prepared to listen.

The ensuing silence suffocates.

Talk to me. Please. I can't stand to see you suffer.

Adrian shakes his head and avoids the plea in her eyes. She appears on the verge of doing something drastic and he soothes her restlessness with a slight smile. Natalie recognizes that kind of sadness.

She tries again.

He rises, faces her for a few seconds and allows his emotions to run the gamut before her eyes. No, he isn't ready. Adrian glances away then leaves.

Natalie sighs and settles down to wait.

xx

Adrian stands at the kitchen counter clinging to the edge for dear life. Why didn't he follow where his heart was leading him? He wasn't expecting much, yet he got something more in return.

All of it gone now. Denied. Chances forsaken in an act of righteousness.

No more waiting. The stillness is more than Natalie can bear.

"Mr. Monk," she whispers from the doorway, "I … I really need to be going."

And there it is: everybody leaves.

Enough, Natalie decides.

"Don't you dare blame yourself for what happened." Natalie encroaches on his personal space and leans in to capture his eyes. "You did what was ethical and sometimes that's never an easy thing to do," she finishes softly.

Adrian meets her gaze and can't discern the emotion in her eyes. He rubs at his eyebrow in frustration or defeat—he can't decide—and inevitably and oh so subtly nods his head. The last thing he can't bear is to be alone, especially at a time like this.

"Natalie, I'm sorry. I … please, don't go," he speaks softly, "at least not yet."

Don't ever leave.

Fin