Title: Nothing Else Matters
Author: Michelle, (http: 24
Pairing: Tony Almeida (implied Tony/Michelle)
Rating: R
SPOILERS: Through Day 3
Disclaimer: Not mine. The living angst that is Tony Almeida belongs to Fox and Real Time Productions, and credit for his irresistible charm goes to Carlos Bernard
Improv #: 11 (Stick, Billow, Rugged, Puncture) (http: Time slips away until you've only got time for regrets
Author's Notes: First 24/Tony fic. Please feedback. If you stand at the alter of the Almeida is love fandom, please let me know if I've got his voice at all.

Word Count: 525

Standing under the stream of the water, he could easily imagine he was at home, in his own shower, getting ready for work. No, not getting ready. He'd just gotten home from work, and Michelle was waiting for him in the other room.

He took his time, effectively losing himself under the rhythm of the water beating down on him, cascading over his head, down his back and chest. The heat felt so good, penetrating his muscles.

If he concentrated really hard, he could imagine he was out of the shower now, moving into the bedroom with the towel draped around his waist. Michelle was there, dropping the towel, hands gently stroking and caressing his tense and scarred skin.

"Let's move it, Almeida," the guard's rough and b ragged /b voice pulled Tony out of his reverie just as he was about to kiss his wife. The bubble of bliss he created for himself was b punctured /b just as effectively as if it had been poked and popped by a pin.

Tony Almeida believed in the system, and he believed in his country. He knew neither was perfect, and sometimes the good guys got the short end of the b stick /b , but he never thought he'd be the one to get screwed.

He allowed the nameless, faceless guard to escort him back to his cell. He had no choice, really. And in his small, dark corner of the world, Tony would find some comfort within his mind.

Laying in his lonely, isolated cell with no light and no window, his thoughts b billowed /b in on themselves until he couldn't think straight. He squeezed his eyes shut tight and tried t concentrate on his breathing, counting each breath as he inhaled. He turned on his side, once again imagining the tender caresses of his wife's hands, because that was the only peace he knew in this place.

He'd devoted his entire adult life to serving his country. First in the Marines, then at CTU, the LA branch of the Counter Terrorist Unit. He'd worked closely with Jack Bauer who was more or less the right hand man to the president. But when it came to his wife, Tony would, and did, sacrifice it all.

Tony didn't, couldn't, regret the choices he'd made. He knew he'd endangered the entire country for the benefit of one person, but that one person was his whole world. He could face life in prison, he could face the label TRAITOR because he knew Michelle was safe. He'd saved her. He'd honored the vow, he'd protected what was his.

Nothing else mattered. /lj-cut

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