Title: Never Again

Author: Vera Steine

Summary: Post midnight on Day 1, Tony reflects on his day and makes himself a promise.

Disclaimer: I don't own them and I'm not making any money from them. '24' and Tony Almeida belong to Fox.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Day 1: 11PM-12AM, a tiny bit of Day 2 (if you can spot it)

Author's notes: Since I love Carlos Bernard as Tony Almeida, I thought it was only justified that he got a little ficlet. This is my two cents in. Please review!

Never Again

12:55 AM

There is only so much a man can do, his father used to say. But Tony Almeida didn't feel like he had done enough. In truth, he felt sick.

He didn't know how he found his way back from the ITS room to his desk, but here he was. He was sitting there with his head in his hands, feeling utterly guilty. Somewhere in the background, he heard Kim Bauer sob as her father told her what had happened. He heard her scream something, then Jack's reply, too low to be heard. There were footsteps and then Jack's voice, shouting, "Kim, no!"

Tony looked up. Kim was going in the direction of the ITS room, and Jack was going after her to stop her. He knew he should help Jack, should go after Kim as well to keep her from that horrible scene, but he couldn't. So he just sat there.

About thirty minutes earlier, on request of Kim Bauer, he had gone into the ITS room looking for Jack. After the horrible news that Nina had betrayed them all, Tony had stumbled upon something else that was equally devastating.

Jack Bauer, sitting on the floor of the ITS room, cradling his wife's dead body in his arms.

He didn't remember how long he had stood there in the door opening before the reality of it all set in. He had tried to get Jack out of there, keep Kim from seeing her father break down, and keep everyone else from going into the room as well. And when he had finally managed to make everyone understand, the events of the past day and night had caught up with him. He had stumbled into the men's room and thrown up the meager contents of his stomach. Then he had wandered back to his station, unable to process the entirety of what had been the past twenty-four hours, but most of all, the last hour.

Nina, his Nina, who had killed Teri, and Jamey, and how many more? All for what? Tony ran a hand through his hair. He didn't know what to do anymore.

Looking around the room, he saw CTU was virtually abandoned, excepting the few people that worked the night shift. After everything that had happened today, how could they just go on?

A hand fell on his shoulder and Tony looked up, startled. George Mason was standing there, looking down at him with a frown on his face.

"George," Tony managed to say. He felt angry, angry with Mason for the way he'd been running things today, but he couldn't even find the energy to say something.

"Go home, Tony," Mason said.

Homeā€¦ For what? To get some sleep? He wouldn't sleep now anyway. But it dawned on him that he couldn't stay here. He got up slowly. "Okay." He looked around the room and saw Jack and Kim standing in a corner, Kim sobbing. The look of pure anguish on Jack's face made him look away.

Mason followed his gaze. "I'll take care of them," he said calmly.

Tony looked at him. He knew Mason would do what he said, but he felt that he had failed Jack. Of all the people who should have seen what was going on, it should have been Tony. He should have seen what Nina was up to.

But he hadn't.

There's only so much a man can do, his father used to say. But he hadn't done enough. As Tony got up from behind his desk and took a last look around, he vowed one thing: never again.

The end