A/N: OMG I did't realize it has been so long since my last update (though my summer and fall have been quite busy!). Here's chapter 5, there should be only 2 more after this for this story to be complete. Enjoy and please review, it takes a few seconds but it lasts a lot longer for me!

Dedicated to: Slug's bay (as usual!), AliciaFB (glad to know you still read it!), mirel (no, there won't be any spoilers for season 5 so you're cleared to read!) and chezlovesyou (Wow thanks for the fantastic review!)

Disclaimer: I don't own 24 nor the lyrics of Again, by Archive.

This chapter is set 6 months after Tony's release.

Chapter 5: Again

She doesn't want to open her eyes. The sun is shining directly on them but she's scared to move out of the ray and fully wake up. It would so much easier if she could just go back to her dream. Since she can't, the next best thing is to stay like this, in that no-man's land between sleep and awareness. She can't face that sight again. As long as she doesn't open her eyes, the bed doesn't have one side still made and the pillow next to hers do have an imprint of his head.

Regretfully, she stretches, rolls on the other side of their bed and goes back to reality, a reality as cold as the sheets in which he didn't sleep, once again.

You're tearing me apart
Crushing me inside
You used to lift me up
Now you get me down
If I
Was to walk away
From you my love
Could I laugh again ?
If I
Walk away from you
And leave my love
Could I laugh again ?
Again, again...

Later, standing up in front of the counter, she stared at the plate of over-cooked eggs. She sighed and dumped them in the trash, not nearly hungry enough to eat any of it. Normally this would have been an occasion for some teasing, the usual jokes about how terrible a cook she was. But that morning, like too many mornings lately, he wasn't around to make those remarks. This unusual silence seemed to surround her completely, clasping her in its freeezing arms. Her eyes flickered towards the living room, which had mostly become his bedroom for the past few weeks. He couldn't seem to be able to muster the necessary amount of sobriety to climb up the stairs to their room anymore. So she had to witness the same scene almost every morning. First she would hear him groan and mutter, then the aggressive sound of beer bottles being knocked over as he messily got up. He would stumble into the kitchen, still in yesterday's wrinkled clothes, his eyes red, puffy and avoiding hers. A sorry sight, nothing like the Tony she fell in love with.

You're killing me again
Am I still in your head ?
You used to light me up
Now you shut me down
If I
Was to walk away
From you my love
Could I laugh again ?
If I
Walk away from you
And leave my love
Could I laugh again ?

He did it again that morning. She let her eyes follow him as he went to the coffeemaker and started to pour himself a cup. She was about to say something, anything to fill that void between them but seeing him going back to the couch and turning on the TV, without so much as a glance to her was more than enough to shut her up. Tears began to form, caused by both what was and what used to be but so obviously wouldn't anymore. She closed her eyes for a couple seconds, breathed in deeply and went into the hallway. She looked at herself in the mirror there, slightly amazed by how little her exterior showed the distress she felt within. She grabbed her purse, keys and coat and quickly exited the house. Before closing the door, she risked a last look at him, hoping for a sign to tell her that an attempt to talk to him would not be in vain, for once. Since she saw nothing of that sort, she shut the door much more carefully that the rising anger and sadness was pushing her to.

I'm losing you again
Like eating me inside
I used to lift you up
Now I get you down
Without your love
You're tearing me apart
With you close by
You're crushing me inside
Without your love
You're tearing me apart
Without your love
I'm dazed in madness
Can't lose this sadness
I can't lose this sadness
Can't lose this sadness

She had become quite good at separating him and her job in her mind. She would just immerse herself in the paperwork and the protocols, it helped her forgetting how, ironically, her life had become empty since he came back. She had withdrawn from all her colleagues too, which spared her any kind of converstion that would be too personal. Only Jack seemed to have some clue about the troubles she had. It was the very reason why she avoided him even more. She would notice a concerned stare from him now and then but her repeated statements that everything was fine kept him at bay.

A soft knock on the doorframe made her turn away from her monitor. She looked up, surprised to see her substitute standing there. It's already 6:00… She dreaded the arrival of the new shift now. Going home didn't have the same meaning for her. She didn't even call it like that anymore. Was there a phrase, an expression that could sum up a lonely car ride that would only lead her to a cold, deserted and most of all silent house? She doubt it. She left her office slowly, silently wondering how many more rides like that she would be able to endure.

You're tearing me apart
Crushing me inside
Without your love
(you used to lift me up)
You're crushing me inside
(now you get me down)
With you close by
I'm dazed in madness
Can't lose this sadness
It's riping me apart
It's tearing me apart
It's tearing me apart
I don't know why

She couldn't bring herself to go back to their house that evening. She went to the beach and sat on the cold sand for hours, secretly hoping that a better, an easier answer to this situation would be washed over the shore. However the crushing waves brought nothing to help her. She stared at the letter she was holding, the one she had ripped from her notepad after scribbling what she would have considered unimaginable until 2 months ago. She had considered it since but only tonight did she have the courage to actually write it down. The words were dancing in front of her flooded eyes but she didn't need to see them, they were burning in her mind all too vividly.

Tony,

I can't stand that anymore. I wish I could talk about it with you face-to-face but honestly I don't think you or I could. I can't go on like this. It's like there's nothing that binds us, except our marriage. I'm letting go of that last thing now. You obviously don't want anything from me. Even though I try to help you, you keep shutting me down. The only reason I can imagine for your pushing me away is that you want me to go away. I'll do just that.

I'm sorry but that's about all I can bear.

Chelle

She folded the letter in half, stuffed it in her jacket pocket, wiped her cheeks angrily and left the shore, suddenly in an urge to get this over with. She drove rapidly, in a very inattentive stated of mind. Two distinctive lines of thoughts were battling in her brain. One would revisit all the hurtful moments she had lived recently and would inevitably end up with the assurance that she had made the right decision. The other would rebut with the all the sweet memories she had of him before and would leave her with the comforting hope that his old self would soon be back. That second, brighter ending went dead the second she arrived, when she realized that he still wasn't home, even if it was nearly 3:00 am. That was the final straw. She sensed the tears would come back soon so she almost run to the bedroom to gather her things before she could break down again. She was in the stairs with her luggage when she heard him fumble with the lock and enter.

It's riping me apart
It's tearing me apart
It's tearing me apart

The sight of him made her heart miss a few beats and she stood frozen a few seconds, enough for him to suspect what was happening.

- Going somewhere?

- …

- So?

- Well…

- Fuck Michelle answer me!

- Why should I? There's no use talking to you when you're in that state! You won't even remember it tomorrow! Anyway you know the answer!

She watched him as his face changed dramatically when that reply confirmed what he thought. It went from drunken anger to sadness, to desperation, then back to anger, all in a matter of seconds. He let out another swear before he slammed the front door behind him and she heard his car pulling out of the driveway. She managed to drag her suitcase to the door and left it there as she took out the note she had written. She hesitated for a second then searched for a pen and added those words to the letter:

I wish I could still love you enough.

I don't know why
I don't know why
I don't know why
I don't know why

As she drove away in the dark night, tears pouring down profusely, she kept thinking to herself: I never thought it would come to this…

Without your love
Without your love
Without your love
Without your love
It's tearing me apart