Title: Endure (Part of an ongoing arc, more to come later)
Author: Michelle,
Rating: Mature Readers Only
Warnings: Prison abuse.
Fandom: 24
Characters: Tony Almeida
Disclaimer: Genius to Cochran and Surnow. Credit to Carlos Bernard for playing Tony so beautifully.
Summary: Tony survives
Notes: For The Improv community on Live Journal: Challenge 13 I think: Blur-Stripe-Silhouette-Doorway
Feedback: I crave it.

He'd been sleeping. Not peacefully, no. Never peacefully in this place. But he slept, because his body needed the rest. Because a man can't live long without sleeping. He'd have stayed awake until lack of sleep killed him if only it worked that way.

The familiar sound of a billy club scraping across bars placed approximately an inch and a half apart pulled him from that dangerous blur of unconsciousness. Eyes cracked open, the shadow of the bars looked like stripes decorating the cold concrete floor of his cell.

The guard's silhouette shadowed the wall. His imposing form filled the doorway. Tony Almeida stiffened under his sheets, his mind careening to full awareness in a milisecond.

Moments later he was on his feet, yanked off his cot and swung around so his back was against the cold stone wall. "So you're the infamous traitor," the guard spit in Tony's face. Tony closed his eyes, made no attempt to explain himself. He knew why he did what he did, and because he'd done it, Michelle was alive and safe and living her life. That was enough for him.

Whatever he was forced to endure, he would endure it because it saved her. Her life was worth any cost.

"You know what we do to traitors around here?"

Tony trained his eyes on the man in front of him, careful to show no emotion, not the slightest flicker of fear. "I'm sure you're eager to show me."

The guard smiled. He patted Tony's cheek twice, and slapped him hard the third time. Tony bit the inside of his cheek and brought his head back to where it had been. He would not give this man the satisfaction of a reaction. At least not the reaction he wanted.

Tony's instinct was to over take him. He could do it easily. But then what? It would come down to his word against the guard, and Tony knew how the system worked. He knew thwarting this attack would only bring on worse.

So he would endure. He would block all thoughts of Michelle from his mind, and he would endure the punishment this guard thought a traitor deserved.

The guard wasn't wearing a nametag. Not that it mattered. Tony didn't want to know his name. Actually preferred not knowing, because in not knowing he could keep a distance between them. No name meant no identity, no humanity. And Tony knew he would find no humanity in this man.

Tony offered no resistance as he was led from his cell. The Billy Club strategically placed at his back was a slight deterrent, though hardly a true obstacle. With his training, Tony knew he could take most men, even one slightly bigger than himself, out. The nameless guard would be face down on the ground with Tony's foot firmly at his back before he could drop his Billy Club and reach for his gun.

Tony stumbled when the guard pushed him into the laundry room, and inwardly cursed himself because he should have known that was coming. He should have been prepared to resist the shove, the stumble. He should have been prepared for the sight of four leering inmates waiting for him, but that caught him off guard too.

His back stiffened as he was jerked upright again. His instinct was to attack. Five against one, rough odds, but he'd faced worse. He was confidant in his training, in his strength and ability. He could do it. But he wouldn't. Couldn't. Too much at stake.

"This the traitor?" one of the prisoners asked. The guard didn't say anything, but Tony sensed his nod. The prisoner spit to the side as he stepped closer. He ran a finer down Tony's face. Tony held the man's gaze, steady and strong. He knew defiance would only make his tormentors work that much harder to break him. He also knew in this situation, he was a fool to resist. They would break him because he had no defense. Unless he fought, and fighting was just another no win situation for him.

The warden might put him in solitary confinement for a few days. At least no one would be able to bother him while he was there. But it wouldn't last long and he'd be right back where he was, only worse. He'd be marked a fighter, and forced to fight at every turn while the nameless, faceless guards turned their backs.

Tony Almeida wasn't naive. Or stupid. He knew what these men were planning t do to him. He was fresh meat, and a criminal of the worst kind. Only child molesters ranked lower than traitors.

He braced himself for the first hit. He knew it was coming, even before the prisoner in front of him moved to do it. Men like this were too predictable. Driven by need and greed. They wanted to own him, control him, exhibit power over him. Physically, he would let them. Mentally, they wouldn't even come close.

The beating was swift, professional. The nameless, inhumane guard didn't help. Apparently he'd done his part delivering the traitor. It took only a few minutes to wear Tony down. He lay on his side, bleeding and bruising, gasping for breath. He should have fought back. He could have. He could have taken out the prisoners, if not the guard. Except the guard was armed, and on their side.

In his pain, Tony thought of Michelle. He'd done this for her. To ensure her safety.

"We got him!" one of the prisoners exclaimed. As if it were newsworthy.

The first prisoner circled around Tony clicking his tongue. "Time for phase two."

Instinct was stronger, harder to fight, as they swooped down on him and began tearing at his clothes. Down, but far from defeated, Tony lashed out, arms and legs colliding, creating a full fledged scuffle. The guard put a stop to it quickly, catching his Billy Club under Tony's neck, using that to yank him up and away from the other four.

All four of the prisoners had bruises forming on their faces, anger burning in their eyes. He'd made his token struggle. Now they would do to him what they wanted.

He wasn't the type of man to try to take his mind somewhere else when terrible things were happening. He'd seen that mechanism get more than one of his comrades killed. He needed to focus, and stay focused. He couldn't afford to think of Michelle right now.

The guard held him more or less immobilized while the other men stripped him of his clothes. The laundry table was cold and unforgiving when he was thrown down on it. The guard backed off then, taking his Billy Club with him, leaving the prisoners to hold him down, one on either side.

The first thrust tore into him with pain so intense he thought he would die on the spot. The waves of pain rolled over him, receding and renewing as the man behind him moved against him. He bit the inside of his cheek, determined not to give them the satisfaction of screams. He would not cry out.

Each of them took a turn, and when they were done, the guard escorted them all from the room, leaving Tony thrown across the table like a rag doll. He didn't move for a long time, and instantly regretted when he did. His body ached terribly from the beating and from the inside out.

He gathered his clothes with stiff, guarded movements, and limped to the nearest bathroom. His left ankle refused to take his full weight, he hadn't even realised he'd hurt it again. His ankle was the least of his worries. He washed himself as best he could, and dressed himself with all the coordination of a small child.

Finally alone in his cell, he curled up on his side and prayed for morning to come quickly.