Author's Note: Ok, so this is the final chapter! A BIG, BIG, BIG thanks to everyone who read/reviewed/and added this story to their favorites. It meant a lot to me and I am really going to miss writing this story! Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed it!
"Did you read the newspaper? Did you read it?" Adrian enthused to his mother and brother later that week. He was clipping it out to send to them as he talked to them both on speakerphone; but he knew they must've already received their own edition.
"Adrian...it says 'Adrian Monk: San Francisco's Gift." His mom read slowly, and he could picture her holding it out slightly away from her; squinting beneath her reading glasses. "Adrian...it says here that you're a hero...it says you're a genuine American hero."
"I know." Adrian laughed, blinking to keep the tears from entering his eyes.
"Hey, Adrian, the girl who wrote this article...the girl named Trudy Ellison. She's the girl. She's the girl, isn't she?" Ambrose asked, quietly. "I—I can tell. I can tell that it's her by the way she writes about you."
Adrian smiled; lifting Trudy's smiling black and white picture up in the newspaper. He had placed her old picture near his new picture; the picture they had run across the front page. "Yeah. Yeah, that's Trudy. We're—we're meeting later tonight. To—to chat. She likes to chat...with me. That's what she said. She said, 'I like chatting with you, Adrian'. And she likes poetry and music and this guy named Willie Nelson...he's a singer...I'll bring a tape of him to Mom's birthday party...it's great stuff..."
"You're..." Adrian could hear his brother swallowing heavily on the other end, choked with emotion. "You're coming to Mom's birthday party, Adrian?"
"Of course I'm coming." Adrian smiled, straightening the mirror that was hanging on his wall. That mirror he used to hate so much. "We have to celebrate Mom's birthday. As—as a family. Together."
Adrian straightened up, looking into his own eyes shining back at him in that mirror. His childhood house might've been filled with terrible memories...a dark and hopeless past...but he almost felt that this new life he created...the police department...his work for the city as a detective...maybe even beautiful Trudy...could help redefine him. So that when he went back to that house...it wouldn't be his life anymore. He could visit...but now he knew he could also leave again.
"I'm—I'm glad you found this girl, Adrian." His mom replied, and Adrian was thankful to hear that she seemed to be in better spirits today. Adrian knew it was hard for his Mom, it was hard for her to try and be happy, after all that happened...because of all she was going through...but it pleased him to think that his heroics detailed in the paper might've helped her a little.
"I'm glad you found this girl." She continued; and Adrian could see her in his mind's eye: long textured, black hair laying down her shoulders; her dark brown eyes looking so much like his own. "She can help take care of you...so that I don't have to worry...don't have to worry so much about you, Adrian."
"Yeah, Mom." He nodded, smiling at himself in the mirror. His dark eyes looked back at him; and he felt a glimmer of hope...a glimmer of hope of what just might be somewhere deep inside of him. Maybe in the place only beautiful Trudy seemed able to reach. "I'm glad I found her too."
"So would you like something to drink? I'm getting some milk, would you like some too?" Trudy asked, now wearing what he liked her in the best: a simple white blouse and the knee-length blue skirt; her golden hair falling placidly down her back.
He was over at Trudy's later that night, they had spent their opening minutes together talking and congratulating each other on the case and front page article.
Adrian stiffened on the couch, shaking his head quickly. "Milk? No...no...God, no."
Trudy lifted an eyebrow uncertainly but nodded. She placed a cup of water next to a box of powder. "How about juice?"
"Orange juice is fine." He nodded, watching her pour the powder into the water and begin stirring. "You drink...powdered milk?"
"Yeah...I've never liked the taste of real milk." She shrugged, walking back towards the couch with powdered milk in one hand and orange juice in the other.
"You don't like milk?" He asked, in awe as his hand took the glass of orange juice out of hers. He still got shivers every time their fingers brushed together. "You're perfect."
Trudy gave another one of her loud laughs; now he knew he liked it. "Cheers." She said raising her glass. "To the best detective and the best journalist in the city of San Francisco."
"I'll drink to that." He smiled, playfully, clinking his glass on Trudy's before taking a drink of orange juice. "Wow...that's some good stuff."
Trudy laughed, placing her glass down on the table. She turned to him; a light shining in her eyes. "How did you do it?"
He smiled back at her...he loved her smile. "Do what?"
"Do all those...amazing things you did. I have to admit, I was genuinely impressed, and not too much impresses me." Trudy raised an eyebrow teasingly. "You have to have some cynicism to be a good journalist, after all."
Adrian gave a soft chuckle; he couldn't imagine anyone less cynical than Trudy but he also couldn't imagine anyone being a better journalist. "It's a gift...and a..."
"No, no...don't say it." She interrupted, holding up the front page of the newspaper. "I read an article by a journalist named Trudy Ellison. She seems to think it's gift."
"Well...I guess I shouldn't contradict her." Adrian grinned, folding his hands nervously on his lap, surprised that their chatting had been going so well. "So...how did you do it?"
"Do what?" She smiled, leaning back into the couch, one of her beautiful arms propped behind her head; this caused the blouse to pull back slightly and put some of her bare arm on display.
Adrian tried his hardest not to stare. Shaking his head and clearing his throat he continued, "How did you decide to...to give me a chance?"
And now the tears were rushing into his dark brown eyes making them glassy again. He blinked furiously; frustrated with himself that he was so prone to emotional showings.
Trudy titled her head to one side; a small smile still playing across her soft, pink lips. She placed a hand on his shoulder...it felt so warm...so warm. "I've been looking for a real man. I didn't think they existed anymore. Someone who...feels as deeply as you do. So deeply it hurts sometimes...I know...but maybe so deeply that it can feel—it can feel wonderful too."
Adrian blinked, trying his hardest not to let the tears fall from his eyes; but he could feel the tips of his dark lashes becoming wet. "It—it does feel wonderful."
Her words hadn't sunk in and become real yet...they were only hitting him in bits and pieces. The part where she had called him a real man...that was enough to focus on for an entire week alone...he would put the rest away for contemplation later.
Soon he could not contemplate thoughts at all, however, as she leaned in and placed those soft, soft pink lips up against his cheek. He felt the pressure on his cheek...how silky smooth her lips were...pressed to his skin. It felt like a scorching fire was raging there before she finally pulled away again.
He closed his eyes tightly; intent to let these new feelings and sensations sink in. These were the feelings he thought impossible for him to experience...the most beautiful woman in the world...kissing him on the cheek...him with all of his hopelessness...he hardly felt worthy.
He opened his eyes slowly to gaze upon her face with perfect adoration. Small wisps of golden strands fell along her sweet, round face. Her sapphire eyes gazed at him just as lovingly...her soft, soft pink lips...he knew how soft those lips were now...parting slightly...
He slipped his eyes shut again; a new sort of confidence and desire pulsing through his veins, and he leaned forward slightly. He felt her heated breath warm his face as he leaned in closer to her...daring to believe that any of this was real...
He felt his lips brush up against hers tenderly. He pushed himself forward a little more, and she met him this time, pressing her lips softly into his. Her lips were soft...softer than he ever imagined...softer than they had even felt on his cheek. Her lips felt so good on his lips...it wasn't supposed to feel that good...not for anyone else...only for him...for him and Trudy...
He opened his eyes slowly and pulled away from her; his breath coming out in deep and ragged bursts. He swallowed heavily, his mouth now feeling very dry. He reached his hand out slowly—it was trembling uncontrollably—and cupped her cheek in his hand.
"Trudy." He whispered, his eyes searching her face closely...trying to see if the kiss had impacted her as deeply as it had impacted him. He was pleased to find that she too was taking in deeper breaths; her small chest rising and falling rhythmically.
"Adrian, I..." The words slowly faded into silence...but Adrian understood. He understood perfectly what she wanted to say...for the first time in his life he felt the same way.
"Trudy," He murmured again, and this time when he blinked the tears finally dripped down onto his cheeks. He pressed on; trying not to falter now...to ride this wave of confidence she was inspiring in him. "You want to go out sometime...I—I mean, have...have a real date sometime? You know...together. I could take you someplace really nice..."
"I'd love that, Adrian Monk." She smiled, tenderly thumbing away his tears. She then slipped one hand into his before leaning her head on top of his shoulder; he felt warmth course through his entire body. He tried to control his heartbeat; it felt like it was pounding out of his chest.
Adrian rested his head on top of hers and glanced up towards the outside windows. He saw his own reflection staring back at him in the clear glass. He gave a small smile; his reflection smiled right back. He nodded at his reflection...it nodded back. He slowly closed his eyes...his reflection didn't bother him so much right now.
"Do you like rock museums?" Adrian asked, thoughtfully, lifting his slightly trembling hand so that he could gently stroke it through her long strands of golden hair.
"I've never been to one." She replied, and he could see the small smile on her face.
"I could take you to one sometime." He offered, softly. "You can take me to hear Willie Nelson and I'll—I'll take you to a rock museum."
"I'd really like that."
Adrian closed his eyes slowly, his one hand entwined in hers, his other hand still tenderly stroking through her soft, soft hair. His mind was still reeling...so unfamiliar was he with all that had happened already...but he finally settled on a thought that brought him some peace...some contentment away from his usually anxious mind.
It was her smile...he first fell in love with her smile...