One of Those Nights
Summary: Adrian's having a really bad night with nightmares, anxiety-attacks, and symptoms getting out of hand. Sharona helps him through it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and turn no profit.
Author's Note: I wrote this fic after watching probably the second or third ep of "Monk". It's a wonderful show and I enjoy it very much, but I felt at the time that it wasn't doing as good a job as it could have of dealing with how truly horrifying and painful mental illnesses like OCD can be. The supposition that Adrian probably has had more than one night like this was my way of resolving that in my own mind. I don't think it strays at all from show cannon, just kind of shows us a different side of Adrian.
Feedback: Pretty please? I'd be really interested to know how this is received by readers.
One of Those Nights
Sharona sighed deeply as the ringing of the phone on her bedside table jolted her out of a sound sleep. She glanced at her alarm clock and sighed more deeply. Three in the morning. Most people would have been alarmed to be receiving a phone-call at that hour. Sharona knew better than to be too worried. Only one person ever called her at that hour.
"Yeah, Monk?" she asked gently as she picked up the phone.
"Sharona, I'm sorry I woke you," he began, his voice even more hesitant and anxious than usual. "I just… I…"
"It's okay, Adrian. I'll be there in twenty minutes. Will you be okay until then?"
"I… I think so, yeah."
"Okay. You call my cell-phone if you need anything before that."
"Th… Thanks, Sharona."
She hung up the phone and picked up a pair of jeans, picking up the phone again as she dressed. She counted herself lucky that her neighbor was a night-owl grad-student who could always use a little extra cash and didn't mind watching Benjie. Predictably, the young woman answered on the first ring.
"Hey, Sharona." Her voice was as cheerful as if it had not been three in the morning.
"Jen, could you watch Benjie for a few hours this morning?"
"Like now? Sure. Be right over."
Sharona hung up the phone again with a grateful sigh. She normally did not mind exposing Benjie to Adrian, but not on nights like this one. Adrian deserved his privacy when it got like this. Sharona had found out about his 'bad nights' by accident and he had, initially, been mortified. After all, he was subject to constant ridicule for his visible symptoms, and they were far milder than these occasional nocturnal anxiety attacks. Sharona, though, had never passed judgment and had always been quietly compassionate with him. Now he was simply grateful for her company when things got rough. He called her instead of his psychiatrist, which Sharona felt said a lot about how far their relationship had progressed. She was not just his caregiver. She was his friend.
Jen was waiting at the front door, an armload of chemistry texts cradled against her body. "Your boss sick again?" she asked quietly as Sharona let her in.
Sharona nodded. "Yeah. Thanks for doing this on short notice."
"Not a problem. I can pound out my dissertation on your computer as easily as mine. What should I tell Benjie if he wakes up?"
Sharona sighed. "Just… tell him that Mister Monk needed some help."
Jen nodded. "Will do."
Sharona grabbed her purse and left. As she drove, she reflected on what she always reflected on when she was driving to his house on nights like this. How would he be when she got there? In tears or angry and cursing? Talkative or brooding? Manic or near-catatonic? Would he be clingy or, as was more often the case, not let her within three feet of him? Sometimes he was all of these things at once, one after the other in rapid succession. Always, he was very, very fearful, afraid that the symptoms and his inability to control them meant that he really was 'crazy' like everybody seemed to think.
She knew from his medical records that his OCD was 'mixed-presentation', meaning that he suffered symptoms from more than one of the types of the disease. That meant that she could never really be sure what to expect. Sometimes he was obsessive, sometimes compulsive, sometimes both, but never, it seemed, about the same things. She counted herself lucky that Adrian did not also suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies. The OCD alone was bad enough. And it was also not the only anxiety disorder he suffered from. The phobias and anxiety-attacks complicated his case. The anxiety-attacks, especially, were hard for him, she knew, because they tended to amplify the symptoms of his illness.
She ran more than one red light in order to make it to his house more quickly. If she got pulled over, she would just have waved her nursing-license in the officer's face and explain that she had a very sick patient. It had gotten her out of more than one ticket in the past.
When the first few knocks did not garner a response, she let herself in. She hoped against hope that this would be one of those nights where he had been able to deal on his own and that she would find him asleep in bed. If he was not asleep and not answering the door, he was probably in incredibly bad shape somewhere. She checked his bedroom first. His bed was empty, the state of the sheets and blankets giving mute testimony to the nightmares he had suffered earlier in the evening. They were probably what had triggered the anxiety attack in the first place. Sighing, she turned to leave the bedroom, pausing when she heard running water from the bathroom.
"Damn, no," she muttered, shaking her head and walking into the bathroom, dreading what she would find there.
Sure enough, Adrian was sitting in his bathtub under a shower-jet so hot that steam was rising from his skin, scrubbing his back and chest furiously with a coarse scrub-brush. Blood was running down one shoulder, tinting the water pink as it swirled down the drain.
If it had been the first time, she would have been horrified. As it was, she was only sad. Blinking back tears, she reached into the shower and turned off the water, then quickly plucked the brush from his hand. As he looked up in surprised confusion, his hands unconsciously making the same scrubbing motions for several seconds after the brush was gone, she found a towel and draped it over his shoulders. He only dimly remembered having called her, had not even been sure if that, too, had been a dream until now. He was grateful that she had come so quickly.
"Come on, Adrian," she said softly, pulling him to his feet and walking him into his bedroom, grabbing a second towel on the way.
Sharona shivered as they walked into the bedroom which was easily twenty degrees cooler than the steam-filled bathroom. Naked and wet, Adrian did not even seem to notice the shift in temperature. She made him sit on the edge of the bed and wrapped the second towel around his lap before reaching into his drawer and extracting a clean pair of boxers and sweat-pants.
"Put these on, Adrian," she told him gently, handing them to him.
"I'm so sorry, Sharona," he whispered, shaking his head, tears in his eyes. Now that he was no longer experiencing the compulsion to scrub off the dirt and germs so strongly, he was more than a little ashamed by his behavior. After all, normal people certainly never did things like that. They might occasional think about it, but they were at least able to control it, something that he, somehow, never seemed to be able to manage to do.
She hushed him gently, touching his cheek reassuringly. He closed his eyes and, to her relief, leaned into her hand instead of pulling away as she had half-expected him to. The germ fixation was the worst. As badly as he wanted, and needed, comfort during these times, he usually would not let her near him.
"Just put these on, Adrian," she repeated gently after giving him a few moments. "I'm going to get the first-aid kit."
"Thank you," he whispered, looking up at her with an almost child-like expression of combined anxiety and trust.
"Hey, no problem."
Sharona smiled and nodded reassuringly then walked into the bathroom to retrieve the first-aid kit there. It had been well-used since she had started working for Adrian Monk. Less so in recent months, admittedly, but she had made a point of keeping it stocked, just in case.
It was a little disheartening, though. It had been so long since one of his anxiety-attacks had taken this particular form that she had hoped that it would not happen again. She knew that these were the hardest for him, and it hurt to see him in that kind of distress. Squaring her shoulders, she carried the first-aid kit to the bedroom and set it on the bed next to Adrian, who had put on the boxers and pants she had given him and was holding the damp towel uncomfortably. The one around his shoulders was bloodstained.
Sharona pulled a chair near the bed and he obediently moved to it, familiar with the hated ritual. He sat backwards in it, resting his elbows on the chair-back to give Sharona easier access to his back. He winced slightly as she peeled away the bloody towel and began dabbing at the lacerations with the other one. It was always like that. He never really noticed the pain until she started patching him up.
Growing uncomfortable with the silence, he spoke quietly, haltingly. "It was… um, the…the dreams. Um, I was… with Trudy… and I… she…"
She gave his less-injured shoulder a gentle squeeze. "I understand, Adrian," she soothed.
He nodded, then shook his head rapidly. "God, Sharona!" he exclaimed, jumping out of the chair and sending it flying across the room. "What is wrong with me? Why do I keep doing this to myself?" His voice was a near-shout, and his eyes were nearly overflowing with tears of frustration and confusion. He turned to face her again. "You must think I'm some kind of--"
Laying aside the first-aid kit, she rose and moved to stand in front of him, looking him directly in the eyes. "You think a little scrape like that is the worst I've ever seen anyone do to themselves?" she asked gently, taking his face in her hands. She pushed aside bad memories of the season she had spent Interning at an inpatient mental-health facility where many of the patients had simply been too much a danger to themselves to be treated outpatient. There had been more than one attempted suicide, and two or three 'cutters' in her unit. "At least you don't do it intentionally, Adrian."
At his strangled sob, she drew him into her arms, placing her hands on his back carefully, doing her best to avoid the worst of the damage there.
One hand covering his face, the other against her back, he stood in her arms and wept his frustration. Every time he seemed to be getting better, something happened to make him wonder if he was making any progress at all. And then there were times like this when he wondered if he was not, perhaps, getting worse instead of better. When he had first started to develop these symptoms after his wife's murder, they had told him that his progress would seem slow to non-existent at times, but they had been unable to prepare him for the frustration engendered in that. Often, it seemed like the harder he tried the worse he grew.
He tensed abruptly, embarrassed by his behavior. "I'm… sorry, Sharona," he muttered, shaking his head and pulling away. "I'm… I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Adrian," she assured him gently, retrieving the chair and placing it near the bed again. She knew better than to push him or try to touch him again. He would only draw into himself, not allowing her to give him any comfort or aid. "Come on, now. Let's get you patched up, okay?"
"Did you, um… wash your hands?" he asked quietly, sitting down.
Shaking her head, she rose and walked into the bathroom, not entirely to satisfy his phobia about germs. It was just good policy to wash one's hands before doing something like this anyway.
Once her hands were cleaned, she returned to the bedroom and once again cleaned the abrasions, some of which were quite deep and still bleeding slightly. Old scars reminded her that this was not the worst damage he had ever done attempting to get himself 'clean'. Frowning sympathetically, she applied a healthy amount of antibiotic cream to the abrasions on his back, as well as to a few on his arms and chest for good measure. After giving the cream, which also contained a topical painkiller, time to dull the pain, she pulled out a role of gauze and bandaged the worst of his injuries. The others would heal best with exposure to the opened air.
She gave him a last looking-over, then nodded, satisfied. "Okay, Adrian. All done."
"Thanks, Sharona." He smiled weakly at her.
He was, as always in these situations, an uneasy mixture of grateful and humiliated that he never really knew how to express. It was simply an awkward circumstance to be in with someone you saw every day. He was no less grateful to her for her help at these times, but he was embarrassed all the same. Sharona never acted as though there were anything unusual about these incidents, which helped somewhat. It at least allowed him to look her in the eye when he thanked her for her help.
He was even more grateful that she never mentioned nights like these in the light of day, never treated him the next morning as though anything untoward had happened the night before. He knew that there were caregivers who would have, but Sharona was different. She was as much his friend as his caregiver, more at times. She referred to herself as his assistant instead of his nurse, never mentioned or brought attention to his symptoms unless it was necessary, and was always very quick to explain them in a quiet and non-judgmental way when people took note of them , genuinely making his OCD sound like just another anxiety disorder.
"You ready to try to get some sleep now?" she asked gently, replacing the contents of the first-aid kit and glancing at the clock. It was almost five. She smiled understandingly at his reluctant nod. He was afraid the nightmares would come back. More afraid of being left alone. "I'll get you some Xanax."
"Oh, Sharona, I hate the way those things make me feel!" he protested quietly.
"Then I'll only give you half. It'll help you sleep… And it'll help with the nightmares." She nodded slightly as she looked at him, considering. "Okay?" she asked gently.
He nodded slowly, trusting her. "Okay."
She walked into the bathroom, putting away the first-aid kit and taking a half milligram of Xanax out of his almost-full prescription bottle. He really did hate them, only ever took them at her insistence. She returned to the bedroom with the pill and a glass of water, handing both to him. After he had taken the pill, she straightened the bed and helped him crawl in, face-down tonight, before pulled the blanket slightly past his waist.
"You want me to sit up with you until you fall asleep?" she offered, turning off the over-head light, knowing how much he hated being alone at these times.
"Oh, you don't have to do that," he told her softly.
"I don't mind," she assured him, pulling the chair next to his bed and extending her hand.
Smiling shyly, he slid his hand into hers. "Thanks, Sharona."
"It's okay," she assured him again, turning off the bedside lamp and giving his hand a gentle squeeze.
That was new, taking her hand like that, but she did not comment on it for fear of discouraging him from doing it in the future. There were times when he seemed almost to forget his aversion to physical contact where she was concerned. More and more often, he would absently or intentionally touch her for whatever reason without even noticing it. He still touched others only reluctantly, and always needed to clean his hands afterwards, but more and more with Sharona, that type of behavior was fading. She considered it not only a promising sign for his eventual recovery, but also a mark of just how much he trusted and cared about her.
"Good night," he told her softly, not letting go of her hand.
She sat holding his hand until he was asleep, then gently returned it to the bed. She stared at him with a sigh. He looked so different when he slept, so calm and at peace. As the tranquilizer worked its way into his system, the impression of a man at peace with himself only grew. Too bad the illusion would be shattered in a few hours by the ring of an alarm-clock. Closing her eyes against that thought, she silently picked up his alarm-clock and turned it off. Let him have this little peace while it lasted.
She walked into the bathroom then and quietly returned it to the order that he usually kept it in, picking up the wet, bloody towels as she left. Shaking her head, she carried them into the laundry room and searched through the neatly-arranged bottles of pre-treaters, one for every type of stain imaginable. She soaked the towels in the solution from a bottle labeled for 'blood and other organic stains', then dropped them into the empty washer. She checked on Adrian one more time before leaving, satisfying herself that he was still resting comfortably.
Sighing and shaking her head, she stood for a few moments, watching her friend sleep, wishing that she could do more to help him. She bent and examined his almost boyish face more closely, gently touched his cheek, knowing that he would not wake. When he smiled in his sleep and gently reached for her hand, perhaps dreaming of happier times with his wife, she straightened again, but allowed him to keep hold of her hand for a few moments before she freed it. She brushed her fingers lightly over his forehead as she turned to leave, shaking her head at the inherent injustice of his condition.
Jen was still wide-awake, tapping away at the computer when Sharona got home. She smiled up at her and rose, gathering her things together.
"How's Benjie?" Sharona asked softly.
She nodded, smiling. "Thanks. Night, Jen."
"Your boss okay?" she asked as Sharona walked her out and paid her.
"He will be." She nodded, remembering the way that he had taken her hand, not even seeming to notice that he had done so, definitely not worrying about what germs he might catch from her.
"Okay. Cool. Night."
"Good night, Jen. Thanks."
Sharona locked the door with a sigh and decided not to bother trying to get back to sleep. She knew that she would be unable to. These late-night episodes of Adrian's seemed to impact her worse than him in the long-run, perhaps because he got to get it out of his system and she did not. Shaking her head, she picked up her phone and called his psychiatrist, leaving a message detailing what had happened. She knew that Adrian would not mind, would probably appreciate her saving him the embarrassment of having to bring it up himself.
She walked into the kitchen then, starting a pot of coffee. She pulled a page off of her calendar as she did every morning as she waited for the coffee to be done. She stared at it with a sigh. Monday… Of course it would be a Monday.
"What a way to start a week," she muttered, walking back to the coffee-maker.
"Morning, mom," Benjie yawned, walking into the kitchen in his PJs.
"Hey, honey." She hugged him close until he started to protest, then let him go.
"What's for breakfast?"
"Mmm… pancakes?" she offered.
"Cool." He grinned and nodded. "Can I help?"
"Sure." She nodded and was soon absorbed in keeping him from making too big a mess of the kitchen. 'Too big a mess' being a very loose term when cooking with an eleven-year old boy. Adrian would have been appalled. Sharona sighed and caught Benjie in another hug. Thinking of Adrian, of everything he had lost, made her grateful for what she had.
"Mom!" he protested.
She smiled and let him go. "Get dressed for school while these cook," she ordered, immersing herself in her mundane, unexciting, untraumatic life. The phone rang and she picked it up, using her shoulder to hold it to her ear as she turned over the pancakes. "Yeah? Oh, hey, Captain. Yeah, I'll tell Adrian when I see him. No, probably not for a few hours… Yes, I'm sure…"
She allowed herself a faint smile. Another one of those nights had given way to another one of those days.