Disclaimer: All the characters mentioned are property of Fox, not me.

Pain. Pain and emptiness. That was all Tony Almeida had left. Ever since he had learned of his beautiful wife's death, all he had wanted was for death to find him and soon. That was, until he had learned the name of Michelle's murderer.

'Christopher Henderson.' He rolled the name over and over again in his mind. It was venom; it was poison; it was all he had. Then he had another purpose for living. Vengeance. Vengeance forced him to carry the numerous pills the doctors threw at him to his mouth. Vengeance made the muscles of his throat contract and swallow them. Vengeance kept his lungs drawing in air. Vengeance kept his heart pumping. Vengeance kept him alive, at least for a time.

And then, there he stood. Gun in hand, the object of his hatred so close. But he couldn't. Jack, one of the few people he would still listen to even in his current state, asked him not to. He pleaded with him not to. So Tony conceded, lowered the gun, walked away. But he did not leave; he could never leave. He would let Jack get what he needed, but then Henderson was his. He could wait.

'End it,' he thought silently. He willed the vengeance that had gripped him so firmly before to once again take control of his muscles. There was Henderson, helpless and in a coma. Nothing stood in his way anymore. Jack couldn't get anything useful out of him, not now. But Tony could. Tony could get some peace of mind.

Jack had tried to stop him of course. But Tony wouldn't budge, not from this. He had heard Burke. Henderson couldn't be woken. He was completely and utterly useless.

'Do it,' Tony pleaded with himself once again.

"What are you doing, Tony?" Tears welled up in his eyes. He could hear her. "What is this going to accomplish?" She wouldn't want this. He knew that…he knew that. But what was he to do? "Don't do this, Tony."

He could almost see her now. Through the tears that were blurring his vision, a perfect picture of Michelle appeared before him. He could almost feel her hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him down. He could almost smell the smell that was distinctly Michelle. Once, he had gone digging through all of her lotions and shampoos, trying to identify which one caused such a perfect scent; but he hadn't found anything even remotely close. He had always had to content himself with finding her if he wanted a whiff of that scent. A perfectly agreeable situation for both parties.

He would never smell that smell again. He would never hold his wife in his arms again, like he had done last night and the night before and the night before. How would he ever sleep without her in his arms? Without being able to hear her gentle breathing before falling asleep himself? Without being able to run his fingers through her curls or up and down her back as he pleased?

"Please." It was her voice again. He couldn't. He just couldn't. His arm lowered ever so slightly as he truly admitted defeat. It was in that second when Henderson woke up. When he snatched the syringe from Tony and did probably the kindest thing he could have done for the man whose life he destroyed. He plunged the syringe into his chest, its lethal contents pouring into him.

Tony staggered back and collapsed in agony. He knew it was over the second he felt the stab of the syringe. He had filled it with more than enough to do the job five times over.

His first thought was to fight the pain, but it felt so good. It's funny; that such indescribable anguish could be deemed sweet relief. But it was. It was for Tony.

He was still plenty aware when Jack came in.

"I couldn't do it," he explained, fighting, for his friend of so many years, to hold onto consciousness a little bit longer.

"I couldn't do it," he repeated. Shadows were now creeping into the corners of his eyes. If it had been a week ago, he would have fought them. If it had been a day ago, he would have fought them. If it had even been twelve hours ago, before he knew Michelle was dead, he would have fought them with everything he had. But now…

"Hold on," Jack said furiously to, potentially, his greatest friend. "Hold on! Somebody, I need help in here!" There was no one to come to his aid. Jack knew this, and Tony knew this. Tony felt himself slipping away; but unlike when he was shot in the neck years ago, he didn't push away the darkness. He embraced it.

"She's gone, Jack," he managed to croak out through tears. Jack shook his head furiously. Tony felt bad, leaving him like this. But he couldn't hold on anymore. The time he had spent apart from Michelle had been hard. But at least he had known she was alive; he had even fooled himself into thinking she was happy. (Something she had furiously denied the first day they went home together after reconciling.)

It was then that Tony found himself praying. He was never a very religious man; but if believing in some higher power meant that he would be with his Michelle in a few moments, he could make his peace with whatever god there was. As he lay there dying, he continued to pray. He prayed for Jack to find some semblance of happiness. He prayed that Bill Buchanan would find someone to love him back. He prayed for Audrey to get out of her own way and give Jack another chance. He prayed that Kim wouldn't have to lose her father now that she had found him. Hell, he even said a little prayer for Chloe and her personality. But those prayers were fleeting at best. Mostly, he prayed for what he really wanted, what he really needed. He prayed to see her again. He prayed to find her in whatever lied beyond this life.

Jack was still cradling him, very obviously sobbing. It was then, amid Jack's tears, that he saw her. She was leaning on the doorframe, obviously waiting. Her face was graced with a soft, loving smile she saved for him. It was her, not a mirage or hallucination. It was her.

"It's okay, Jack," Tony whispered to his friend. Jack pulled away abruptly, staring him down. "You didn't let either of us down. You never did."

"Don't you do this, Tony. You're gonna make it." Tony just shook his head in response, glancing over Jack's shoulder to make sure she was still there. She gave him a sad but reassuring gaze, assuring him she would wait for him to finish what he needed to.

"It's okay," he repeated, his body now starting to shut down. "Let me go."

Then everything stopped. He wasn't a part of his body anymore, yet he could still see everything. He could see as Jack tried desperately to revive him, but didn't care. All he cared about was the woman who remained standing in the doorframe.

She smiled and extended a hand to him. He approached slowly; terribly afraid Jack just might, once again, succeed in doing the impossible and jolt him back into his body.

Then she flew at him, slamming, almost violently, into his waiting arms. She was real, or at least as real as he was. She smelled the same, felt the same, she was his Michelle.

"It's over," she whispered into his neck while placing numerous feathery kisses there. That was it. No more pain. No more emptiness. No more vengeance. No more worry. No more loss. Just his Michelle. Just her Tony. Just love. Just freedom.

A/N:

Well, I love 24, and after last night's episode….I just had to write them a happy ending. Actually, I have a whole elaborate story about how Michelle is really alive. Maybe I'll actually write that. But I was really emotional when I wrote this, so I don't know how incoherent it is because I get kinda emotional reading it too. But in some small way, I'm kinda glad they're both gone rather than having one still alive and depressed. Because this way they're together, sorta. Tony and Michelle we shall never forget you! So, if any 24 fans actually find this and want more, just let me know. I have a couple more lighthearted ideas bouncing around. Until next time! Ta!