Author's note: The characters aren't mine, and the story is! This is my first attempt writing anything for the Monk fandom, so I hope it's satisfactory. I was highly inspired and enthralled by the climax of the season 5 finale, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital." In that scene, Adrian was caught in a deathtrap where he was unable to move or speak, and, therefore, unable to voice his dilemma to anyone. Inspired as I was, I wrote this piece, which is a look into his thoughts during that scene. As such, there are major spoilers for the climax scene, though I've at least taken the measure of not mentioning the crook of the day's name.


The relative quiet of the hospital room seemed to magnify what slight sounds still remained—the sounds of the San Francisco traffic permeating from outside the closed window, the hum of the air conditioner, the casual chatter out in the corridor, and, most pronounced of all, the ticking of the clock inside the room.

For Adrian Monk, each tick was like the footfall of the Reaper coming closer towards him. It had all happened so quickly… He had figured out who had murdered one of the hospital's doctors, and just as he had gotten his hands on the one piece of evidence he needed, the murderer had waylaid him, resulting in Adrian's current state of injury.

But the murderer hadn't stopped there; having switched Adrian's chart, he had given the detective a drug that temporarily prevented him from moving or speaking, and then taunted him that a nurse would soon arrive with a dose of intravenous tetracycline—which Adrian was deathly allergic to. It would look like a tragic accident after it was all over.

Adrian had been left alone after that, literally a prisoner within himself, with only minutes to live—the Reaper would arrive in the form of that hapless nurse. He had tried to get up and call out for help, but the drug was doing its job; he could just barely move his arms, and all that issued from his mouth was a squeak.

Captain? he mentally called, having been separated from him and Randy earlier during the midst of the chase.

If they were still in the hospital, then there was a chance that they might find him in time…

Oh, it's no use; even if they get here, they don't know that I'm allergic to tetracyclineNatalie's the one who knows. Natalie, where are you?!

Who was he kidding? Natalie had the day off, with some boyfriend-hopeful. She had been bursting to get away; it was amazing that she had stuck around for as long as she had—both today and as his assistant, in general.

I can't blame her, he realized. It was my nose that was bleeding. I ended up here myself. I got involved in the case. I didn't watch my back, and now

Now, there was nothing to do other than lie and wait for the end to come. And the full realization of it was sinking in.

I'm going to die. I hope it doesn't hurt. How painful will it be, anyway? …I'm not going to vomit, am I?

He shut his eyes, a familiar face coming into focus in his mind—the face of the one and only woman he ever loved, and who was taken away from him far too soon…

Oh, God. Trudy. TRUDY!

His heart was hammering in his chest as the image of his late wife gave him a sad smile, mouthing his name.

Trudy, I'm going to die… I'm going to die without finding out who killed you… I won't be able to keep the promise I made

The first thing he was going to do as soon as he saw her again was fall at her feet and beg for forgiveness. And Adrian knew that her reply was going to be to take him by the hand and help him back up. She would tell him that there was nothing to forgive—that he had done everything humanly possible with the time he had been given…

And yet, the thought brought no comfort to him.

Trudy, I'm sorry

So lost in his own thoughts was he that it took a while for him to register that a woman's voice was calling to him.

"Mr. Monk? Mr. Monk!"

Natalie?

For a moment, Adrian was certain he was hallucinating, but then it quickly became clear that Natalie, his ever-faithful assistant and friend, was indeed by his bedside, with a handful of "get well" balloons in her hand. She stood there with a mix of pity and worry on her face, going on about the "accident" that she had heard.

Natalie… Natalie, it wasn't an accident. I know who did it, Natalie, and he's behind thisHe's going to have me killed! Natalie, you have toYou're holding my hand. Natalie, you just came from a date, didn't you? Natalie, did you wash your hands after leaving that restaurant?

Adrian's thoughts trailed off as the cheerful nurse arrived, unaware of the deed she was about to do as she started to prepare the IV of tetracycline.

Oh, God… Natalie, stop her! It's tetracycline, Natalie! Why couldn't you be a mind reader?

Realizing that there was no way for Natalie to read his mind, he desperately tried to talk to her. She didn't seem to follow him, but she was clearly able to read the distress on Adrian's face.

She gave him a sympathetic smile, beginning to reassure him that everything was going to be fine.

No, it won't! Adrian mentally screamed, as the nurse proceeded to insert the IV into his vein.

He gasped, both from his fear of needles and from the fact that it would soon release the tetracycline into his system. This prompted Natalie to begin to reassure him even more, promising that she was going to stay at the hospital until he recovered, and that she would be right back after getting him some ice.

Natalie, I won't recover! he thought, desperately, as he now gripped her hand to keep her from going. Natalie, take five seconds and just look at that IV! Look at it, please! It's going to kill me!

The liquid tetracycline was slowly making its way down through the IV tubing. He was desperately trying to move his free arm, in the hopes that he could pull the IV needle out himself, but to no avail.

Natalie now pulled her hand from Adrian's grasp, promising that she'd be back. Adrian could only lie, helplessly, as she began to chat it up with the nurse as they departed the room in search of ice.

Natalie, no! Don't go! Take the IV out! NATALIE!

It was no use, he realized. He was done for—the tetracycline was still slowly progressing through the IV tubing. Though he didn't take his eyes off it, he let his mind drift back to his beloved wife.

Was this how she had spent her last conscious minutes after the explosion? Had she, too, realized that she was going to leave this world, helpless to do anything about it? He already knew from the reports that her last words had been meant for him; it was only right that his last coherent thoughts be of her.

I'm sorry, Trudy, he mentally said again.

Though he still stared at the IV, the unlikely instrument of his demise, a part of him was vaguely aware of another presence in the room.

"…Adrian…"

Trudy?

Was she here? But the tetracycline hadn't even entered his vein yet—it was still progressing along the tubing, just a few inches to go. Was she waiting for him? Was she going to be the one to escort him to whatever was beyond this world? That… that wouldn't be so bad…

A panicked cry, punctuated by frantically running feet, brought Adrian's attention away from Trudy.

"Mr. Monk! MR. MONK!"

Somehow, Natalie had figured it out due to something the nurse had said, and not a moment too soon. In an instant, she was back at his bedside, stopping the tetracycline from progressing any further. She caught her breath, relief washing over her and then over Adrian as they both realized that she had just saved his life.

Natalie began to reassure him again (and now, perhaps, herself, too) that things really were going to be okay now.

And now Adrian knew he could agree. Still unable to talk, he managed a wan smile of thanks as Natalie appeared to blink back a few tears.

Natalie…

It wasn't that she was trying to hold back tears; it was that her tears were for him. And now it was clear why she stayed on as his assistant, and why she came back. She stayed on because she cared.

Natalie held onto his hand once again as she pulled out her cell phone, calling up Captain Stottlemeyer to tell him what had just happened. And Adrian lost himself in his own thoughts again.

You came through, Natalie. Thank you. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for giving me one more chance to find out who killed Trudy.

He sighed to himself. He could still sense the unseen presence in the room, though he could tell that something was pulling the presence away—back to another world, and his heart began to twist.

Bread and butter, he silently said.

"Bread and butter," a whisper echoed, before the presence left.

Adrian wished she could stay. He wished that he hadn't lost her—that she could have dodged the Reaper's scythe just as he had done a few seconds ago. But it wasn't over now; he still could confront her killer someday, thanks to Natalie.

He turned his head slightly, watching as Natalie got off the phone. She was still somewhat shaken, having been only seconds from losing her employer and—more importantly—her friend.

To Natalie's surprise, though, Adrian was still lying there, once again with wan smile on his face.

"Mr. Monk?" she asked, softly.

Adrian looked directly at her and managed a weak nod, indicating that he was paying attention to her.

"Mr. Monk, the captain's on his way," she said. "He's going to have a guard posted for you. But I just want you to know that I'm going to be here, too."

Adrian gave her another weak nod, knowing that the murderer wouldn't be able to get to him again. But it wasn't the promise of the guard that made him realize that. It didn't matter whether or not Stottlemeyer posted the guard, or whether the guard stood inside or outside his room.

He knew he was in good hands with Natalie.